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Border as Politics

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BORDER AS POLITICS

A legal immigrant being harassed by the U.S. government, threatened with deportation . . . because his music threatened their political aims. Sounds like a nightmare from a Donald Trump presidency, doesn’t it? Good guess, but it’s Richard Nixon.

A lot has been written about the comparative mental states of Trump and Nixon, and I’m not going to go there. I am still trying to take a Trump break, difficult as it is. So this morning instead of reading and obsessing about his latest tweets and insults, I checked out a historical site (website, not tourist attraction) and found this:

“On this day in 1975, a New York State Supreme Court judge reverses a deportation order for John Lennon, allowing him to remain legally in his adoptive home of New York City.”

What? I had completely forgotten about this. Turns out that Nixon was worried about Lennon’s influence over young people, in particular 18-to-20-year-olds who were about to vote for the first time in the 1972 presidential election. Lennon was outspoken in his opposition to the Vietnam War and after moving to New York City had begun hanging out with people who were anathema to Nixon, people like civil rights and anti-war protesters Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.

A Presidential Enemies List

Nixon had the FBI investigate Lennon, and although no wrongdoing was uncovered, the case was sent to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which began deportation proceedings against John and his wife, Yoko Ono based on a 1968 marijuana charge in England.

During Watergate, it was revealed that Nixon maintained an active “enemies list,” the purpose of which, according the White House Counsel’s Office, was to “screw” Nixon’s political enemies through tax audits, litigation, prosecution, and manipulation of federal grants and contracts. On the list were politicians, actors, authors, and journalists, among others.

Newscaster Walter Cronkite later said, “I suppose if you were going to list your enemies and decide who is most dangerous, if I were Nixon, I would put Lennon up near the top.”

John Lennon & Yoko Ono Face Deportation

John Lennon & Yoko Ono Face Deportation

This American Dream

The U.S. vs. John Lennon was in the courts for more than four years. Finally on this day in 1975, the deportation order was reversed and John received a green card within a year.

Judge Irving Kaufman wrote that “The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds . . . Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in this American dream.”

I still have faith in this American dream. Let’s not elect another paranoid, authoritarian man with an enemies list who is temperamentally unfit for the job of President of the United States.

My First Protest: May 6th, 1970

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I was scared, of course. We all were. Just a few days before, four kids had been shot dead and nine wounded by the National Guard on the campus of Kent State in Ohio, and nothing seemed safe anymore. Our nation and our family dinner tables were in complete chaos.

May 4th, 1970. Photo courtesy of Kent State

May 4th, 1970. Photo courtesy of Kent State

I had just turned fifteen and probably wasn’t in much danger of being shot on the steps of Kensington Junior High School, but my pulse was pounding and I felt sick as our group moved down the yellow-tiled hall. We were mostly the “good kids,” certainly not the type to walk out in the middle of a school day without permission.

But those pictures from Kent State haunted us — they looked like our older brothers and sisters. I remember wanting desperately to show solidarity with my big brother who was at college in Texas. I knew he was marching.

The Kent State students shot on May 4th had been protesting Nixon’s announcement that he was expanding the Vietnam war by sending troops into Cambodia. It was now May 6th, and we were joining thousands of college students boycotting classes in a nationwide strike to protest Kent State and the Cambodian invasion. More than 500 campuses had been shut down, including the entire university system of California.

Confronting Authority

It was lunchtime when about a dozen of us ninth graders moved uncertainly towards the big man in the black suit whose outstretched arms blocked the front doors. He looked like a buzzard with his sharp nose and cold eyes and long arms. We had not anticipated the principal’s presence when we planned our walkout.

One brave girl spoke up. “We’re leaving, Mr. Gaub. Please let us pass.”

Mr. Gaub cleared his throat but did not lower his arms.

“It is my duty to tell you that if you walk out this door, you will have an unexcused absence. This will go on your permanent record and could affect your grades.”

We stood just a few feet from him and he looked each of us in the eyes. “I know who you are; I know your names,” he said. He cleared his throat again. “And I’m proud of you.” He dropped his arms and we marched past him into the sunlight.

We milled around in the parking lot for a while chanting “Out Now” and feeling very grown up. Then we walked up to the 7-11 store for cherry cokes and red licorice. After all, we were just kids.

A "good kid" finding her voice

A “good kid” finding her voice

In memory of Stanley Eugene Gaub, February 8, 1925 – January 6, 2009. Thank you and rest in peace.

mr gaub

▶ You Hold the Key to Love and Fear

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“You hold the key to love and fear. All in your trembling hand.”

Do those words sound familiar? Do they unleash a rush of images and emotions? Probably so, if you are of a certain age. They surely do for me. Actually, the song “Get Together” by The Youngbloods makes me cry. It brings on a sense of longing that I’ve written about before.

Back in the sixties and seventies when I was growing up, there were these beings called hippies. They dressed in bright colors and denim and had big hair that smelled like patchouli oil, a scent that still intoxicates me and makes me feel instantly alive and in love.

Back in the day with George & Arlo

Back in the day; in love with George & Arlo

Mostly, though, hippies made beautiful music. They sang about love and peace and togetherness; and here’s the thing – they BELIEVED in it. They were imperfect people like you and I, and most of them were “just kids,” at least that’s what politicians and corporations supporting the Vietnam War called them to belittle their demands for peace.

Songs of Peace

Songs of Peace w/ Dennis & Mike

But  those kids believed. They thought if they just took over enough college admin buildings and held enough sit-ins and boycotts and rallies and marches on Washington that they could end that war. And they did. They dragged their aunts and uncles and mothers and fathers and eventually the politicians towards peace.

We Believed

We Believed

That’s why The Youngbloods song makes me sad. Because I still want to believe in the power of love and peace that they sang about; I still want to believe that if the people lead, eventually the leaders will follow.

Look at Us

But look at us now. Look. Look at the bombs, look at the destruction, look at the trillions America spends on spreading fear and death – I can’t even keep track of the number of wars we’re engaged in.

Lately I’m hearing dire warnings from the Pentagon that if their budget is cut, they “won’t be able to go as many places or do as many things.” Read: “We won’t be able to kill as many people.”

Look at the assault weapons spraying our schools with bullets and the arsenals being built up in private homes and the hate speech on the TV and the radio.

We are going the wrong direction. The Youngblood’s message didn’t take. Or it hasn’t yet.

Keep Hope Alive

I’m a Christian. I believe that Divine Love runs through every human being. If we allow it, this mighty river of love will wash away our pride and fear and ego so that we can become little rivulets of Divine Love in the world.

Rivulets run together and become rushing rivers that become oceans. This gives me hope.

That’s why I’m a Blogger for Peace — to join other rivulets of peace. This month, we’re issuing a challenge to raise the visibility of peace in the blogosphere.  If you blog, please join us by clicking here. You just need to blog about peace once a month – inner peace, family peace, world peace – just speak for peace. If you’re not a blogger, would you please consider stopping by the Be 4 Peace blog and “following” it? It doesn’t sound like much, but it didn’t sound like much when the hippies held their first sit-in either.

C’mon People — Unlock Peace

You hold the key to love and fear

All in your trembling hand

Just one key unlocks them both

It’s there at your command

So c’mon people now, smile on your brother – everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

This month Bloggers for Peace suggested we write about music and peace. That’s what prompted this post, and it’s why I’m asking you to listen to this beautiful anthem and then say a prayer that you might use your key to unlock love, not fear. Please listen:

 

Related Posts:

Here’s a nice post for peace from a fellow blogger for peace: http://bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/letter-to-divine-creator-monthly-peace-challenge/

http://bloggers4peace.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/kozo-cheri-asks-that-you/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/the-bombs-bursting-in-air-330000-lives-four-trillion-bucks/

http://everydaygurus.com/2012/12/20/we-can-make-a-difference-right-here-right-now/

CIA Unrest: An Untold Story

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My years working at the CIA seem eons away, and so they are. Most of my memories are fuzzy, which is probably the way the agency would prefer it. But apparently there are untold inner stories agitating to be free.

I went to see the movie Argo this evening and came home with my insides churning. The movie is about the CIA efforts to free the American hostages from Iran in 1980.

American Embassy in Tehran, 1979

I can’t quite put my finger on why the film upset me, but I know it has something to do with Maya Angelou’s statement :

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

I’ve already shared one CIA secret that needed to be purged, the one that’s flopping around out in the daylight this week after General Petraeus’ unfortunate nose dive. Sexual mores at the CIA aren’t what they could be, or at least they weren’t in my day.

I have no comment on the General’s performance, except to say that unless they found evidence of some truly egregious classified pillow talk, I think the resignation is an over-reaction. But what do I know?

Besides, I’m sick of sex at the CIA. I’ve said what I needed to say about that, here:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/rubber-ducky-exposes-cia-sexual-harassment/

There’s something else causing me agony tonight. Some untold story.

I was at the agency during the Iranian hostage period, and I had a good friend who had only just escaped Tehran before the fiasco. Perhaps the movie simply stirred up the fear and upset of those times. Although I was just a lowly clerk, I certainly absorbed the crisis vibes all around me.

I think, though, it’s something more personal. More like,

What the #@$%!! was I doing at the CIA??

The -foot ( m) diameter granite CIA seal in th...

The sixteen-foot diameter granite CIA seal in the lobby of the original headquarters building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a psychological term, cognitive dissonance, which describes what must have been pounding inside my brain and my heart the entire seven years I worked there. It’s a situation where you’re trying to live with two conflicting beliefs, or where your behavior and beliefs don’t match.

Say that you are demonstrating in front of the White House against nuclear power on Sunday, and then filing documents promoting nuclear power abroad on Monday. Or maybe you’re hoarding a closetful of anti-Vietnam war buttons, posters, and flyers while microfilming documents detailing the long history of U.S. aggression there.

I did not belong.

I told myself I didn’t care when one friend stopped talking to me because I’d chosen to work “for the dark side.” I told myself I needed the money to pay for college tuition, which was true. I was working two jobs.

Still, I might have paid more attention to the bizarre juxtaposition between a degree in Environmental Studies and a career at the CIA. Crazy, right?

I had stumbled into a career that was taking me far from my values. I was 18, for Heaven’s sake; I didn’t even know what my values were.

Apparently, though, I did. Instead of facing it, I just drank and partied and tried to numb the cognitive dissonance. That’s why it’s still in there, deep in my gut, an untold story.

The emotional unrest I felt during those years got stirred up tonight, watching scenes of stressed-out white men in black suits stalking the marble halls in McLean.

I was there. And I shouldn’t have been.

<Disclaimer: I do not mean to say that I don’t respect part of what the CIA does. I knew some true patriots there, including my Dad. I honor those people.>

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