Segregation Among Failures Triggering Bursts of Animosity

After the events of the past week, including last night’s shootings in ‪#‎Dallas‬, I fear that my choice of 2040 as the setting for Melting Point 2040 didn’t recognize how quickly our ongoing segregation could tear us apart. The prologue to that book is certainly true today. Below is a portion of that prologue, with a couple of particularly important points highlighted in bold:

“Racial, ethnic and religious tensions have troubled the United States since its Declaration of Independence, and even earlier since Europeans first anchored along America’s shoreline. All that’s needed to again boil these issues over the sides of America’s melting pot is the addition of a few more briquettes to the grill or the quick turn of a stovetop dial.

“America’s founding fathers wrote that “all men are created equal,” but even they failed to recognize that “all men” rightly includes all men and all women regardless of race or other characteristic. So it’s perhaps not surprising that America’s multi-cultural society continues to battle the implications of its diversity 264 years later as the year 2040 starts. America’s challenge is little different from the divides that have tested the world throughout its history.

“Pockets of hate and intolerance have dotted the U.S. landscape in its less than three centuries of existence, though the objects of the greatest vitriol have changed repeatedly. Anti-black laws and sentiment lasted longest and resulted in the greatest cumulative violence. Italians were victims of the largest mass lynching in U.S. history. But many others have faced or still face discrimination as well. Irish. Hispanic. Arab. Asian. American Indian. Jew. Catholic. Mormon. Muslim. Women. Gays.

“Conceptual truths embedded in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights helped shape the United States into a frequently positive global force. Failure to abide by these tenets has, at times, allowed others to surpass America as beacons of democracy, capitalism and freedom. Even on its best days, America must battle with demons of hate, fear and anger – confronting ignorance, narcissism and arrogance along the way.

At home, tensions erupt into violence when multiple failures overtake the nation’s ability to solve problems. Failures to communicate, understand, tolerate and respect trigger these bursts of animosity.

“Passage of civil rights laws in the 1960s moved America toward a period of integration that increased opportunities and requirements to work together. Then, after decades of progress, Americans started moving to live with people who shared their personal politics, values, religion, race and language. In doing so, the cross-fertilization of ideas and knowledge needed to reach consensus and solve important issues has become increasingly difficult.”

Whether the tragedy is in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Minnesota, New York, Cleveland, Orlando or any of the dozens of other recent examples, the path forward starts with talking together, finding solutions and implementing them.

 

Integration Movement Needed During Divisive Election

IMG_0814Elections are inherently divisive, with deep contention portending for November, but ruptured personal relationships aren’t a predestined outcome of differing political views. While the ballot box garners attention, groundwork for unification starts in local communities. This concept was reinforced during an engaging recent discussion with a University of Illinois student working to create a campus integration movement.

Although our discussion focused initially on her pursuit of a leadership certificate at the Urbana-Champaign campus and my role as her coach in that endeavor, it was quickly clear that our pairing has a broader purpose. Whoever created the partnership saw past age and ethnicity differences to focus on what matters most; common interests.

The increasing political segregation of our nation and risks associated with this division inspired my first two novels. Having identified potential solutions to these problems, I had thoughts to share. She also imparted her experiences and insights—highlighting safety, inclusion and opportunity concerns based on obstacles in daily life, and compounded by a “Build the Wall” rally held by one candidate’s supporters outside La Casa cultural house and other venues frequented by Latino/a students.

Several integration movement paths forward that don’t need to wait for November are evident, including many highlighted in Brandeis University Professor Susan Eaton’s book: Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees, and America at its Best. [Read more…]

MSNBC’s Matthews Frets On U.S. Language Segregation

At the conclusion of his MSNBC Hardball show tonight, host Chris Matthews recognized the problem of America’s growing language segregation. Speaking in context of Scotland’s secession vote today, Matthews said he worries “occasionally where we are headed in the United States as we see the erosion of English as our agreed upon, common language. Nothing is easier than to break apart over language. Nothing is harder than to unite across the barriers of language.”

Well said, Mr. Matthews. If nothing else, the secession vote in Scotland alerts some among us to the dangers of growing divides by race, ethnicity, class, political party and, yes, by language. My first two books tell a story of where this may take us. For the rest of the Hardball commentary:

Scotland Secession: Warning for U.S.?

Just a few months ago, political pundits treated tomorrow’s secession vote in Scotland as no more than a passing nuisance.

After 307 years together, Scotland and England are so intertwined that most firmly believed Scots would overwhelmingly vote to remain invested in the relationship. Several months ago, polls suggested they were right.

Now, less than 24 hours before voting begins, polls suggest it is just as likely that the Scottish people feel more than a bit aggrieved by perceived and real transgressions. Even if a “no” vote succeeds tomorrow, it comes only after the three major U.K. political parties promised in recent days to step up Scottish authority if voters reject the referendum.

Regardless of the vote’s outcome, there are real lessons to be learned for the United States and other nations, particularly those countries of the increasingly segregating sort. Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, news stories are routinely recognizing the re-segregation of America’s schools. A move toward more integrated living that started in the 1960s began reversing in the 1990s. We are segregating in where we live by race, ethnicity, economic class and, increasingly, language and political party.

At some point, this re-segregation will lead to divide. I believe the point is approaching far faster than most conceive today. Nationalist efforts frequently cloak themselves under the veil of progressive ideology, the idea that target voters are being treated as a separate and unequal underclass able to obtain their fair share of economic and political power only through independence. Do you see any precursors of this movement in today’s political climate?

Peaceful voting and separation is the best secession outcome, but is no means assured as attested [Read more…]

Is U.S. Segregation Leading Us to Being the 2040 Ukraine?

The United States has lessons to learn to avoid being the 2040 Ukraine.

Strong parallels exist between the stories in my first two books and the situation playing out in Ukraine today, so much so that a reader teased me yesterday that I had provided Putin’s playbook. Several parallels are particularly concerning.

Russia seeks to expand its territory to include more ethnic Russians ✔

In my books, Mexico is part of a coalition working to annex Southwest U.S. territory heavily populated by Mexican Americans and Mexicans. (The book is not an anti-immigrant or anti-Mexican rant, so you’ll need to read to understand the full context.)

Speakers of minority Russian language considered “oppressed” ✔

Schools in the Southwest and other parts of the country are increasingly teaching in all-day Spanish, including at the community college level. Not expecting immigrants to learn English is increasingly being advocated as a civil rights issue, when it is instead a path to another layer of societal segregation on top of our existing segregation issues.  Segregated societies are historically ripe for secession and annexation efforts.

Geographic concentration of Russian speakers provides clear starting point for invasion ✔

There are already several U.S. areas where speaking Spanish is critical to finding employment and fluency in English is not necessary. The scope of these territories is expanding.

Several internal political leaders in Crimea welcome invasion ✔

Too many political leaders focus on their own self-interest. For many in Crimea, the opportunities for political and economic gains may be greater under Russia than under Ukraine. It is certainly conceivable that we will have U.S. politicians who think they’ll have more power if the nation divides.

Weakened, indebted economy in Ukraine undermines border protection resolve and economic response options ✔

My distaste for our high and growing debt levels is driven, in part, by my belief that it substantially restricts our crisis response options. Ukraine’s response options are highly restricted by both Russia’s military superiority and Ukraine’s tenuous economic circumstances.

[Read more…]

Does Coca Cola Ad Celebrate Diversity or Segregation?

The Super Bowl failed to generate much conflict, but Coca Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” advertisement is stirring generous gulps of internet angst. At the heart of the controversy is this complex question: 1) Was Coca Cola celebrating diversity by having “America the Beautiful” sung in a multitude of languages or is the iconic brand instead suggesting that we should become a nation segregated by language?

Coca Cola could easily have sent a powerful message of unity by having all of the singers come together at the end of the commercial and sing the last few phrases together in English. Such a commercial would have sent a powerful message that America celebrates diversity, honors multilingual citizens and welcomes immigrants from all over the world to join in becoming part of a nation that shares important common bonds.

I suspect that most but not all of today’s trauma could have been avoided had the producers not worried about offending people who believe it’s good to create new communities segregated by race, religion and language. Suggesting that people who move to the United States should learn English over time is racist to some academic elites and particularly to self-interested politicians who see personal gain in dividing America along language lines. It’s possible that the ad’s producers worried that having everyone sing in English at the end would have been taken as a slap against those in the United States illegally, because legal immigrants are required to learn English as a condition of citizenship. Whatever the reason, Coca Cola missed an opportunity to create a point of unity. If their intent was to generate controversy, they have succeeded.

My first two novels — Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041 — tell stories of what awaits if we allow ourselves to be re-segregated by race, religion, class or language. We should welcome voices in every language to America. But we should also want to welcome immigrants into a nation where we can speak together and develop a united direction, rather than further segregation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=443Vy3I0gJs#action=share

 

 

DHS Admits U.S. Losing War on Border Tunnels

In an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released this week, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that the United States is ill-prepared to locate and deter the rapid expansion in drug cartel tunnels, a capability gap with dire consequences as explored in my first two novels. The OIG report states:

Illicit cross-border tunnels along the southwest border are primarily used by criminals to transport illegal drugs into the United States, and they are a significant and growing threat to border security. In an effort to counter this threat, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has modified its operations through patrols, intelligence gathering, and closing of illicit cross-border tunnels, but it does not yet have the technological capability to detect the tunnels routinely and accurately. To best address this capability gap, CBP needs to develop and acquire tunnel detection technology, but it has not been able to identify existing technology that functions effectively in its operating environment.

Read the full OIG report here to read more about CBP’s plans to create a Tunnel Detection and Technology Program. Hopefully, such a program will also be able to prevent the type of tunnel-based attacks predicted in Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041.

NSA Game Snooping Predicted in Novels

In Melting Point 2040, survivalist gaming and weapons development company New Rite tries to protect its on-line gamers from government snooping and control by building its own highly encrypted global server and connection network. Even with this, the government uses New Rite and other survival and war games as recruiting sites and methods to identify potential criminals and terrorists. Pete Roote, hired by New Rite to take out drug cartel leaders, escapes government detection of his actions by completely avoiding on-grid contact through New Rite’s training and advanced detection-interference technology. Based on what we found out yesterday, should the book have been Melting Point 2014?

Government Games Snooping

Six Questions Syria Raises for America’s Future

Syria’s collapse into ethnic and religious civil war carries with it lessons for the United States perhaps far more important than current missile-launch debates.

Two lessons are critical:

  • Segregated societies can be divided easily, just as Syria is being torn between Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and other religious sects in their different geographic strongholds.
  • Politicians who exploit divisions, or fail to heal wounds of divisions, can quickly turn nations into bleeding grounds.

After substantial advances toward racial integration in recent generations, progress has halted in many parts of America and even moved toward re-segregation in many regions by race, ethnicity and, recently, language.

Syria reminds us that we need to answer different questions beyond those being debated today in order to create a more unified society. Following are six questions particularly worthy of introspection and debate:

[Read more…]

My Deleted Words Deemed a Threat by CNN

An article popped up yesterday on CNN.com with good news about the arrest of Mexican cartel boss Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino. As I do from time-t0-time under the alias “Mike Bushman” (I don’t hide my identity well), I posted a comment that quickly gained enough of CNN’s version of likes and no dislikes to be the top comment. Moments later, I turned back from watching “Cutthroat Kitchen” to see the comment was gone. Deleted.

Given my introspective nature, I wondered what I’d said that was so threatening to require removal. Fortunately, more than half of what I’d written was contained in an email alert of a reply to my comment about the difficulty of stopping cartels when “Fast and Furious” guns are still turning up.

Here’s my offending statement, with the second half recaptured to the best of my memory:

“The fates of the U.S. and Mexico are intertwined. We must defeat the drug cartels, who otherwise will eventually combine, strengthen and wreak even greater havoc on our society. It will get even worse once radical Islamic terrorists figure out how to team up with drug cartels to attack us.”

Perhaps, I thought, the statement was deemed racist by the thoughtful administrators at CNN. I did say our fate was intertwined with Mexico and my picture shows me clearly as white, but I couldn’t believe this was the reason. The comment simply acknowledges that the cartels are a scourge to both of our nations. I thought that was clear. Maybe CNN opposed my reference to “radical Islamic” terrorists? Perhaps I should have just mentioned terrorists, rather than identify the dominant type of terrorist attacking America in recent decades.

In commenting on the potential combination of cartels and terrorists, I simply reacted to the fact that terrorists and cartels have already been caught linking together on low-level activities. My concern is that these relationships will expand. Readers of Melting Point 2040 and Secession 2041 will recognize that cartels and terrorists play plot roles in these novels, though I didn’t mention my writing when commenting on CNN.com.

There is one other explanation. Removing my comment allowed it to be replaced by a new top comment: “Legalize Marijuana and those drug cartels will be pharmaceutical reps. Problem solved.” That must be it.