Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's Never Going to Get Better. I Don't Even Think There's An, "Unless," Here.

Race.  Better yet, race relations.  They are not going to get better, folks.  Immediately, you're thinking (I know I am), "Gee, what a pessimistic attitude."  Maybe...but let me tell you what sparked this post on a day when I swore I had many other things to do.  A picture was posted on social media showing a white female police officer in Ocala, FL sitting on a curb sharing a meal with a black homeless man.  The picture was taken, not as a publicity stunt but, rather, by a lady at a stop light who happened to notice the random act of kindness.  She posted it on the internet and it went viral somewhat quickly.  Obviously, the Ocala Police Department was notified, they identified the officer, and commended her for this act - To Serve & Protect.  Simple, right?  Something that, I think we can all agree (apparently not), was a simple kindness shown to someone down on their luck (for whatever reason).

In the interest of this story, did you notice that I didn't even hint at the fact that this man might have been a junkie, alcoholic, or criminal?  Let's set the record straight for anyone that doesn't know me, too, that might be reading this - I'm white.  All I said, and all that was mentioned in the title of the original post, was, "Police Officer Shares Meal With Homeless Man."  If you want to read the actual article, it can be found here -  You'd think this would generate positive reactions, right?  One would think that, in light of all the recent events and stories in regard to policemen (and women), a story like this would make people feel better.  I did, anyway, and I appear to be extremely naive.  For it was after I read the article, then the comments, that I realized that race relations in this country are an absolute joke.  Now, before anyone chastises me for generalizing, I will admit that I am.  Too often, in light of these stories and prior to my reactions, I find myself prefacing my responses with, "I have black friends," or, "One of my partners with a previous company was black."  Why?  Why should any of us have to justify that we have friends of a different race to make our comments legitimate?  Honestly, if we are truly for civil rights for all, we should never have to make those statements or justifications.

So the article was posted on Facebook by Kandi Burruss (singer-songwriter and of, "Real Housewives of Atlanta," fame, among other  things).  I didn't see it originally but it was brought to my attention by the sweetheart in my life that happened to 'join the mess' and make a comment in response to the article.  Her comment, listed below, gives a glimpse into her beliefs and speaks volumes.

"The officer didn't do this knowing she was being photographed which shows it was a true RANDOM act of kindness. It hurts my heart to see so many people throwing around race comments rather than appreciating it for what human being showing compassion for another. Until we ALL realize we are part of one race...the HUMAN race...and stop labeling each other as white, black, Latino, oriental, Asian, etc we will never move forward. I don't care what color your skin is, your sexual orientation, democrat or republican, if you treat me with respect I will treat you with respect and kindness."

And there it is.  The HUMAN race.  We all bleed the same color.  We are all sitting on the same little orb in a big galaxy.....and none of us is getting out of here alive.  The comments made after reading the post above, though, are the reason I say we just don't get it.....and probably never will.  Yeah, yeah...I'm generalizing again.  Let me share some of what I read, though - "Cops did it as a publicity stunt because they are trying to take the attention off their recent actions in Ferguson, Baltimore and (fill in the blank with whatever story you want."  Then there was the classic, "She a bitch - shoulda brought him a whole meal," (one of my favorites, I think, because no one EVER does enough), or better still, "Now is not the time for empathy for  cops. I want to see posts and articles about cops being held accountable for their heinous actions against black citizens."

Honestly, I don't know why I am still amazed at some of the reactions.  Probably because I was raised in a time when our parents taught us to see past the color of someone's skin.  What amazes me the most, I think, is that I don't see the different skin colors until they are pointed out.  Do you want to know who continues to make the point of differentiating?  Do NOT say it's the whites.  Hell, at this point, most of us are too scared to point it out.  If anyone dares say the dreaded, "N-Word," we could lose our jobs and things we have worked many years to achieve.  Blacks, on the other hand, not only use it freely, but it permeates much of the music from black artists.  Watch a white artist put that word  in their song lyrics and you'll se a music contract.....and career....gone.  Oh, but it's okay because there are certain circumstances when blacks justify it and it is totally acceptable.  To that double standard, I call bullshit.  Until it stops coming from EVERYONE, things will not get better.

As I continue to write this, I'm going from feeling hopeless for race relations in our country, to seething.  I continue to hear that more needs to be done and the white man is holding the black man down, or simply killing them and getting away with it.  There is a pervasive sense of entitlement and, honestly, I'd like to ask from where that emanates.  Seriously, why do the blacks in the inner city and the ones making the most noise (think the Baltimore situation shown on CNN) think they are owed something?  Slavery?  Is that really the core issue?  I'm dead serious when I ask the question.  I ask it, too, because I look at situations like the minimum wage issue in Seattle, WA recently.  I'm sure it wasn't just blacks, however the people there screamed that they felt they were owed a minimum wage of $15.00/hour.  Well, they got their wish....and we are already seeing the fallout.  Apparently, someone should've stayed in school to take math classes because they now realize, with the increased wages, that they will no longer qualify for welfare.  My response is, "That's awesome - it worked!  We offered a hand-UP rather than a hand-OUT and they can do better now.  Work more hours and finally get themselves off welfare."  I'm an idiot.  Not only did they not see it that way, the workers are now asking for decreased hours so they can still continue to receive welfare.  I think that, in and of itself, speaks volumes.  How dare I speak to this?  Well, folks, because I am one of the people (as are all my friends and coworkers) that gets out of bed on a daily basis and goes to work so they can receive welfare.  I'm qualified to make the statements because I make sure that my taxes are paid so the HAND-UP is given, not the HAND-OUT.

Our country is more divided than ever, I think, in my lifetime.  That lifetime, ironically, includes the 60's and, while many will think that's not possible, I disagree.  Whites are not being asked to help, it's being demanded and we are being held hostage.  We have 'Race-baiters' like the criminal, Al Sharpton, or the Dr King-wannabe, Jesse Jackson.  They are prime examples of why they do NOT want civil rights for all - if it happens, they're out of a job and their voices are useless.  I firmly believe Dr King would've happily ridden off into the sunset had 'civil rights for all' been a reality.  It was, after all, his dream and with its' fulfillment, he would've believed his mission in life was a success.  Much like President Kennedy, I think Dr King, too, believed in the hand-up rather than hand-out.  It was a time when people were told to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, rather, ask what you can do for your country." (Close to the right quote - don't sue me)  Somehow, we've gotten to a place where we, "Don't bother doing anything for your country, just ask what someone else will do for you."  It is, by all accounts, sad and pathetic.

Here's the thing, people - going full circle to where this post began, we need more random acts of kindness.  We need to look at each other while being colorblind.  That's ALL of us.  If you want a better world, work for it.  Do not tell me black lives matter - ALL lives matter.  If you want the cops to stop shooting you, stop breaking the law (blacks, whites, hispanics, orientals).  Don't charge a cop and go after his gun, then expect he will not use deadly force.  You KNOW you'd do the same so stop making this an issue of race.  Are there bad cops?  Yes.  Are there bad 'anything'?  Yes.  Conversely, there are good cops, whites, blacks, hispanics, orientals - the 'Yin' always has a 'Yang'.  To think otherwise is ridiculous.  Night and day, summer and winter, good and bad.  If you want change, work for it.  Do it legally and responsibly.....and I will stand by your side working for that same change.  Until then, though, if you ain't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.  I hate to think of the world we are leaving for our kids.  Seriously, it's time for us to get our acts together.  Stop the hate.  It's not a difficult message and random acts of kindness are a lot easier to deal with than random killings.

Peace out......or, until next time..........

Monday, July 20, 2015

Are We Prepared To Let This Continue? Time To Hit the 'Reset' Button

I am not even going to go into the recap of the news - we've all heard it and listened in shock and horror. Five of America's finest - 4 Marines and one sailor - killed senselessly in Chattanooga by a Muslim that couldn't deal with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as depression.  Five service men lay dead and, as importantly, our President did and said little.  This was 'in cold blood', too - these men were not armed.  Why we cannot arm our servicemen, even in recruiting centers, is beyond me.  We trust them with weapons to protect us and keep us safe, yet they couldn't protect themselves here at home.  I have yet to hear a solid reason for why these men were unarmed.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, is the lack of leadership by OUR leadership.  The Commander-In-Chief.  He is, after all, the Commander of the Armed Forces.  Here's my struggle - a few weeks ago, Dylann Roof, a white man, walked into a church in South Carolina that had a black congregation.  He shot and killed nine black people and, as the investigation ensued, he was seen in pictures holding a Confederate flag.  That flag became the talking point, ad nauseum, and major focus of the story.  It represented racism and was a symbol of hate.  Let's remove it from the State House and government buildings.  Okay, I'm with you so far.  We are, after all, the United States of America and the only flag flying on government facilities and buildings should be that flag.  Got it.  We didn't let it go, though.  To end racism and show our total disdain for the hatred associated with this flag, we not only removed it from said buildings, but we also had retailers refusing to sell it and a television network refuse to air reruns of a program where it was prominently displayed.  I refer to this as the 'knee-jerk' reactionary phase.  I'm still with you, though, on the flag part.  Ridiculous, yes, but we allowed it to happen.  We watched as the funeral services were held and President Obama did what he does best - he spoke, in person, before leading the congregation in, "Amazing Grace," along with the choir.  The President told us, too, how, as a black man, blacks being killed in an overt show of racism 'hit close to home'.  He immediately called for tougher gun laws (yeah, none of us saw THAT coming, huh?), yet said nothing about mental illness.  Again, more knee-jerk reaction as we found out that we really don't need tougher gun laws - we need a system that works.  Had the appropriate information been entered into the computer, the shooter would have been unable to purchase the gun in the first place and this conversation, along with nine funerals, would not have taken place.  This was not on the guns, Mr President - this one fell squarely on the system designed to protect those nine people that died (along with the rest of us).

Fast forward to last Thursday.  Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born man, kills four Marines and one sailor and the response from the President was, "My main message right now is obviously the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed.  It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals to be killed in this fashion."  Wait, what?  That's it?  Mr President, no disrespect, but I heard you say more, with more passion and anger, about the situation in Charleston than about the senseless, avoidable tragedy and deaths of some of America's finest.  Will you be flying to Chattanooga and speaking at the funerals while denouncing Muslim terrorists?  Let me guess - there's nothing to point to the fact that this was, in fact, terrorism, right?  Let me be the first (though I'm sure I'm not really) to point out that armed civilians are now valiantly guarding recruiting centers to protect our unarmed servicemen.  That's terrorism.  When we have to be concerned that ISIS and other Islamic jihadists may, in fact, kill us here in America, that qualifies as domestic terrorism.  Still, Mr President, since we're already on the subject of flags, let me ask - why were flags across our country not ordered to be flown at half-staff?  Not the Confederate flags, but the American flag that these young men swore to protect & defend.  I realize they swore an oath to protect & defend the Constitution of the United States, but what symbol more openly symbolizes our Constitution and country?  I just don't understand and, dare I say it, neither do the rest of the people I've spoken to.

While the family of this freak has already said he had a mental illness, do you think this time we could maybe, just maybe, start the conversation about mental health rather than guns?  From everything I've seen, and I'm just spit-ballin' here, guns really don't kill people, but people with mental health issues are pretty damn good lately at showing what they can do when armed with a gun.  Are we going to continue to blame the guns because it's such a 'hot-button' issue, or can we now focus on the real issue - mental health?

Lastly, Mr President, I need an explanation and some understanding.  When, in my lifetime, I watched planes that were hijacked by Islamic radicals fly into our World Trade Center, then see the growth of ISIS, followed by this singular attack on American soil, can you please explain to me why I need to be concerned with offending Muslims?  We can claim that whites that have the Confederate flag are racist because one idiot held a flag and believed our country would be better off without blacks, yet Muslims can kill thousands and we are not supposed to generalize and we hold their opinions in higher regard than the country's citizens?  I have a problem with that.  Big problem.  Huge, even.  Quite honestly, Mr President, I can tell you things are about to get worse if the country continues to be divided.  Here's a thought....and one that many people (ones that I know, anyway) will agree with - if the people of the Islamic faith do not like the way they are being treated here in the US, we are fine with them going home to their country.  The same country that beheads Americans and a place that is not safe for us at all - we're fine with their return.  Sadly, I do not want to generalize like this but it's difficult to feel otherwise.  Again, let me get this straight because I'm a bit shocked and appalled - we allow foreigners to move to our country, then we have to grant them more consideration than our own citizens?  That's what you're saying?  As a fed-up American, I can only offer this:  NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

In closing, I'd like to offer a challenge.  A challenge that goes, not to the President, but to those that will read this that I know are staunch supporters of the President.  There are those that have adamantly supported him in the past few years that, oddly, have been quite silent recently.  I challenge anyone in that category to debate me (or anyone else that can keep it civil) about the President's actions over this past week.  You've gotten loud, at times, in your defense of him because you think he is doing an amazing job as our Commander-In-Chief so now I offer you the floor - let's debate.  Tell me how you justify his actions toward our military men....especially when some of you were in the military.  Tell me how you think you'd feel if it were your son or daughter that had been killed, yet our President was more outspoken on the Confederate flag and the notion of its racist past.  Tell me how you support his actions, yet he can barely utter more than a few sentences about our Marines, all while offering warm wishes to Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr.  Anyone?  Show of hands - anyone?  I didn't think so, but I will still be waiting.  A peaceful, open-minded, spirited debate.  That's all I want.  

Until next time.................

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Day We Lost Our Collective Minds

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Once again, it's been quite some time since I've posted anything.  Honestly, the priorities have been directed elsewhere and, as you'll read, I think I was overtaken by some of the same apathy that has gripped our country lately.  I'll explain shortly, but first let's get to the particular day that I mentioned in the title of this post.  The day we lost our minds was preceded by a very sad, horrible day.  By now, you know I mean the church shootings in Charleston, SC.  While I think it will always deserve mention, I'm not going to dwell on it.  Let's face it, we've all heard the horrid details over and over.  To me, the other important part of the story, and the basis for the title above, concerns the days after.  Many may disagree with what I am about to say or my reasoning, however I am leaning toward the fact that more will agree than disagree.

So this began in a church with a lost soul harboring hate in his racist heart.  As the investigation began, pictures emerged of this psychotic individual holding, as we now know, a Confederate flag.  For all the issues that created, it might as well have been a green flag because, at that point, we were 'off to the races'.  This was our nation's starting point for, what I see anyway, as the beginning of the end.  Oh, we can argue that there have been different things that could be construed as that same starting point, but the way we have lost our minds after this episode marks it as a more defining moment.  Obviously, too, the initial 'knee-jerk' reaction by our leaders, namely our President, was to call for stricter gun laws.  He came on television and remarked in a stern voice that he has seen too many of these situations while in office and, as a black man, these are particularly offensive.  As we now know, and something that NEEDS to be pointed out, it wasn't that the laws weren't strict enough but, rather, the system failed.  Let that sink in for a minute as I did when I first heard it.  As the SC Governor did when she first heard it and remarked that, upon getting the news, she wanted to be sick. Yes, here we are in the midst of having to bury nine more Americans (not black, white, pink, purple, African, Italian or otherwise, but Americans) and, as our leaders further their own personal agendas, we find out that the system that is in place is, in fact, strict enough IF there are no 'glitches'.  I'm a big fan of analogies, so let's see if I can throw this out where it makes sense to these 'leaders' - a coach can draw up the most effective game plan ever and, if the team doesn't implement the plan, it fails.  No, Mr President, we DO NOT need tougher gun laws - they already exist.  What we need is a system that does not fail the people of this country that these laws were designed to protect.  You can have the best fire prevention system in the world but if the smoke detectors don't work or the batteries are dead, the house is going to be ash.  Period.  In other words....IF THE SYSTEM HAD WORKED AS IT WAS SUPPOSED TO, WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.  Period.  Your system, Mr President.  Maybe that's unfair, but you're in the office and MUST own it.

What happened next is, again, something of which we are all aware.  Once the pictures emerged of this racist piece of trash (I'm being oh, so kind) holding a Confederate flag, the screams were almost immediate.  "Take down that flag - it's a symbol of racsim!"  Okay, regardless of what you think that flag stands for, I have to agree that it should NOT be on government buildings.  I would disagree, though, with the idiocy that has followed.  Again, I am being kind when I say idiocy.  In Birmingham, AL, there was a call for the removal of a civil war monument in a park because, well, it was a monument to a Confederate general.  It's a symbol of racism and, apparently, is hurtful to blacks.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure who has the time to be hurt by it (perhaps I am being naive and a monument honoring a general from 150 years is hurtful) because I see most of us, blacks and whites, so caught up in trying to feed our families that civil war monuments are more an afterthought than anything else.  Regardless, the proposition passed and the monument will be relocated.  I assume that means it will no longer hurt anyone - are we putting it in a closet?  It's about two stories high so I'm not certain how that works exactly.  In Memphis, TN, there was a proposition and movement to have another general and his wife, as I understand it, to be removed from their graves and relocated somewhere else because they were, well, Confederates and represented racism.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Is the title beginning to make more sense now?  Many retailers removed anything with a Confederate flag from their shelves and a television network will no longer show reruns of, "The Dukes of Hazzard," because (yeah, this is particularly laughable) their car had a Confederate flag on the roof.  Seriously, I cannot be the only one to think we have gone off the really, really deep end, can I?

Regardless of what you think of that flag, there's one thing that we all NEED to see in the bigger picture - this is causing a greater division than unification of our country.  With this issue, it seems we have found the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back' as whites and, as a race, are feeling that we continue to be held hostage and responsible for the sins of our forefathers.  I can tell you that, going back at least five generations, I know for a fact my family never owned slaves.  I have yet to meet anyone, honestly, who can tell me they remember their families owning slaves or, conversely, anyone that was owned as a slave.  Some people will say, "Well, does that mean it didn't exist?"  No, we know it existed and you, understandably, want me to acknowledge it.  I get it.  We cannot, however, continue to have things both ways.  The Civil War, right or wrong, happened, folks.  There is a famous quote about ignoring history and being doomed to repeat it that is on your mind right now - let me help.  The actual quote is,

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Folks, we can pretend it didn't happen but that's all it will be - pretend.  It is a matter of fact and a very real part of our history.  It's a very ugly, horrid part of our history, but real nonetheless.  I grew up less than fifteen miles from Gettysburg, PA and I can honestly say that I want us to remember it because we should, in no way, be condemned to repeat that dark time in our country's history.  Sadly, that is where we are headed.  Some of you are thinking the same and agree with me.  How long can people be expected to simply accept riots in the streets and demands that whites pay, in any shape or form, for the acts of our forefathers.  Honestly, we are trying to rectify the situation as quickly as we can, however anything less than peaceful protests or changing things in the manner with which we are all expected to act will only result in that greater divide.  If you want change, work for it in the same manner we all must.  Do not demand simply because you feel you are owed something.  Let's be honest, we tell our children daily - "Life isn't fair and no one owes you anything."  The American way, or at least the way people of my generation knew it, was that you get up, you go to work, and you do everything you can to provide for your family and help make this country greater every day.  We've gotten to a point where that is no longer our goal.  We are, for all intents and purposes, a lost, rudderless ship at sea with no direction.

Lest I sound like an 'old guy', I want to say that I remember a time, not so long ago, where we stood in solidarity as a people.  I'll go back to THAT day - the one moment in time that our generation remembers as our, "I remember exactly where I was," moment.  September 11, 2001.  Even mentioning that day evokes feelings of loss, sadness, grief, despair, hate.....and lastly, hope.  When the planes flew into those towers, the Pentagon, and the field in PA, we felt all those feelings.  The hope came soon after.  American flags flew from houses in numbers we rarely, if ever, see.  We spoke a little more kindly, treated each other with a bit more respect, helped each other, cared for each other and, most importantly, loved each other.  We weren't African Americans, White Americans, Spanish Americans or Italian Americans.  We were, together, AMERICANS.  That was the point in time that, rather than think of the initial emotions, I choose to recall as a time of hope.  I felt like, if we could just make it last, there was hope for us to regain our stature in the world and be, once again, a nation that was greater than the sum of its parts.  Sadly, here we are today - more divided than I can ever recall, even more so than in the late 60's when Martin Luther King led a march across the bridge in Selma.

My fellow Americans.....we need a leader.  Period.  I realize this is the point where some, those who support President Obama, may begin to bristle - let me finish before doing so please?  You see, these past few weeks and months, you'll almost certainly have to agree, has seen our leadership cause the greater divides of which I've already spoken.  True, these are only my thoughts and opinions, but have an open mind for a minute.  Our leader, the President, is supposed to unify and lead while being impartial.  His job is to lead ALL Americans, not select people.  He spoke out publicly to denounce the situations in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, then sent a delegation to investigate the death of a black man.  He did NOT, however, even make mention of a young white woman gunned down by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times.  One can only assume this was because the situation involved policies that he supports.  Again, take responsibility - if it failed, admit it and fix it so that it doesn't happen again.  Instead he said......nothing.  His silence was louder than anything he could've said.  It was, in my opinion, deafening.  While we're on the subject of division, let's also talk about one of the other 'big' news stories of the day - gay marriage - and the reaction of the White House and our President.  To be clear and so those reading this understand my opinion, I have friends and family that are/were gay.  For them, the ruling of the Supreme Court was a great victory and, as it went through the court systems and is now law, I (as an American) will respect that.  It's how it is supposed to work.  Still, in my opinion, the White House caused a divide in the people of our country by showing they clearly supported it.  The multi-colored lights bathed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue brightly in a show that was, clearly, divisive.  In short, it was wrong.  The President could've easily applauded the decision without blatantly throwing it in the face of the opposition.  He chose to divide rather than unify.

I want us, as a country, to be proud again.  I want us to be viewed all over the world as we once were - a leader and one that others look to for guidance and direction.  There was a man that once occupied the office that not only led, but inspired us to a greatness we haven't seen since.  Imagine.....there was once a man that said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what YOU can do for your country."  Rather than set an expectation of the government giving handouts, he found a way to put people to work.  He challenged us to give the best in science and math, to better ourselves, and we met that challenge.  Imagine.....someone that is going to give us little more than opportunity.  How would that be received today?  I think we can all agree that it would cause protests like we've never seen.  Yet, when this man was killed, the nation wept.  Our hope was gone and Camelot, along with JFK, died.  The last President that could even somewhat rally us as a country and provide opportunity was Ronald Reagan.  Okay, these are simply my opinions, however I venture to guess that many of you, if not all, lived a better life back then.  President Obama is not a great leader, he is a great orator.  I challenge anyone to show, with actual facts, how the past seven years have been beneficial to us as a whole.  That's usually the cue for the, "Well, that's because Bush..." retorts.  Ladies & gentlemen that, too, is a cop out and to that, I say, when a corporation has a CEO that fails, they replace him.  The replacement does not need to make an issue of the successes or failures of his predecessor.  He simply moves the corporation forward.  It's time for the Bush-blaming and race-baiting to stop from someone in the office of President.  We need real leadership and we need it now.  If not, I fear a Civil War is yet again on the horizon.  I think we all have heard, at least, how that worked the last time.

Until next time.............

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Do We Debate Yet Again.....Or Act?

The interval between these episodes seems, in my opinion, to becoming shorter and shorter.  They're beginning to become an almost-monthly occurrence.  Now, nine people are gone, another life ruined (presumably  to be ended after a trial, countless appeals, and any number of years on death row), and countless family members and friends of these people have yet another mark on the calendar that will forever haunt their memories.  I don't, however, have to go through the horrid details for you.  We've seen them on television for the past several days repeatedly.  Therein, my friends, lies a huge part of the problem.  Let me tell you why some of us, as white people, have a unique perspective on why this has happened.

As I sat watching yet another story covering this horrific tragedy, a black television host interviewing a black community leader, the question was posed again - "Why do we think this happened?"  Well, fellas, let me tell you that you're part of the problem, in my opinion.  How so?  This kid (okay, adult, but still a kid by my standards) made comments while standing over his victims about his feelings that, "You're raping our women, taking over our country.  You have to go."  Even after admitting he almost did not commit this act because the people in church were so nice to him, he still felt strongly compelled to take the lives of nine people.  To say he did it because of the color of their skin, I think, is oversimplifying the issue.  He didn't do it because they were black - he did it because they were black and his perception, based on what he has seen in the media (again, just my opinion), is that blacks are taking over the country and he didn't like it.  Oh, I'm sure there is far more to the hate he felt, and fairly certain his past is riddled with troubled situations, but let's be honest - the media has done nothing more than fan the flames of racism.

Now, we're going to remove the Confederate flag from the state house in South Carolina because that, finally, will eliminate racism.  Okay, I know you're going to say, "No, but the flag needs to go because of what it represents."  Fair enough.  What does it represent?  It represents a time in our past when southern states were determined to secede from the Union.  They wanted out and, by God, they were going to do it.  To them, the flag was no different than the flag the Union used - red, white, and blue with thirteen stars.  Just because this is now associated with 'southern rednecks and hillbillies, let's not make it something it isn't.....or wasn't.  Yes, I know - I have sufficiently be made aware of the fact that the south wanted to continue the practice of slave ownership.  When was the last time anyone owned a slave in the south?  If recollection serves, it's been more than 100 years, right?  Look, I'm not saying the flag should or should not stay where it is.  All I am asking is, in the whole scheme of things, what difference will it make?  Are we really saying that this kid killed nine people because of a flag??

No, my friends, he did it because he felt a growing hatred that continues to be perpetuated by the media.  For days we watched, all of us, the city of Baltimore as it teetered on the brink of anarchy.  We watched as fires were set to a local CVS pharmacy and, once the firemen arrived, knives boldly and brazenly taken to the hoses so the fires could not be extinguished.  Seriously, I watched one person, a cowardly black man with his face covered, walk up to a fire hose and slit the material twice.  I say cowardly because he would not show his face, yet let his own neighborhood burn intentionally.  This arrogance and stupidity was shown on national television, live, and was broadcast repeatedly.  Would any of you have wanted to walk those streets?  My guess is not and, as much as the Charleston killer's acts were hate crimes, the acts in Baltimore and other areas, those of civil disobedience, are something I would consider domestic terrorism.

Here's my point to the rant above - our compass and direction is so badly skewed that we can no longer focus on what the real issues are.  Did it truly escape everyone's attention that a 21-year old kid was filled with such hate that he opened fire in a church on unarmed people?  Are we seriously going to blame that on a flag?  Are we going to blame it on guns?  I own two handguns and have yet to shoot anyone.  Want to know why?  I respect the law...and life.  Unless I, or someone else is threatened with loss of life, it will not be used for that purpose.  So this kid had his picture taken with the Confederate flag and hated blacks, huh?  Well, certainly removing all the Confederate flags will stop this type of behavior.  Wal Mart, Target, eBay and others refusing to sell anything with this flag will go a long way toward....ending these killings?  No, it will go a long way toward stopping the sale of the flags.  Period. Ah, but that's a great start, right?  Yep.  A great start to ending freedom of speech and history lessons.  Most people accept that flag as representing slavery, eh?  Only if you're drunk or stoned or can't read a history book.

We need to get our collective acts together and focus on making sure we help each other.  We need to be 'color blind' and see people as....well, people.  Lest anyone think this isn't a 'two way street', though, let's also point out that others have to stop acting barbaric and with a sense of lawlessness.  If you want to protest, do it without civil disobedience.  Take notes from Dr King, not the rantings of Al Sharpton.  Seriously, we all....ALL....have to stop acting like fools and being discriminatory.  Let's help each other.  Let's be kind to each other.  In the end, as simplistic as this approach sounds, we're all we have, gang. Make an effort to care about black, white, green, yellow pink, and purple. Do your best to just be everyone.  We're making it harder than it has to be and focusing on the wrong things.....and, ultimately, we all made a promise (or should have) - we all promised to, and have the responsibility to, make this world a better place for our kids.  Do we want to leave them with the world the way it is?  Let's change it now.....with one kind word at a time.

Until next time.................

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Did You Think Would Happen? Sharpton, Jackson, and Entitlement

Unbelievable. I'm sitting here watching the news and Baltimore looks like a scene from a movie....and it's not a good one.  So here, finally, is my open letter to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and anyone else that thinks they are 'leaders' in the black community.  This is for all of you that want to disgrace the name of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and act as if you have the same ideals. What I am seeing is pathetic and disgraceful. If this isn't the End of Days, I don't know what is.

So, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton - where are you? I would like to think you are standing in your offices or homes, wringing your hands, wondering how to bring this situation under control. I'd like to think you are in contact with the Mayor of Baltimore asking what you can do to help. I'd like to think you want to come to Baltimore and, with bullhorns and the voice of authority and leadership, appeal to the greater senses of the neighborhoods to stop these travesties. I'd like to think all these things, but somehow I cannot escape the image of you both sitting at home, your neckties loose and sleeves rolled up, drinking a nice scotch with some of your cronies with feet propped up as you watch Baltimore burn. I envision you holding the glass and pointing at the television, saying things like, "Damn, look at the arm on that kid throwing that rock 30 yards at that cop," as you smile at the unrest and destruction. Seriously, that is the image I have of you both. Why is that the idea running through my mind?  Simple - neither of you ever shows up for anything bordering on true civil unrest unless it is a call to arms for what you perceive as blacks being slighted.

Black lives matter? I absolutely agree, HOWEVER.....what makes a black life worth more than ANY other life? Before you tell me that police officers have killed blacks and you don't feel that justice was served (think Ferguson, Freddie Gray, fill-in-the-blank), let me just reiterate one thing that MIGHT just have avoided these situations - When a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. You obey them. I know that sounds like I am oversimplifying things, but that's the case. It really is that simple. Oh, I know you will now say that, especially with Freddie Gray, the cops were dirty or racist or just wanted to kill him. I grant you that there are some bad cops. I'll also say it's a small percentage and, like anything else, this will always be the case. So let's work to weed them out and eliminate them from the police force. Tell me how you are any different than the dirty cops when 15 other officers, in an attempt to restore order, are injured by rioters. Tell me how burning a CVS pharmacy or looting a 7-11 helps the cause. Better yet, when the fire department shows up to extinguish the fire, tell me how you are helping anything in your neighborhoods when someone blatantly walks up and cuts the fire hose....on national television!

Let's be clear - this is a riot, not a protest. Martin Luther King and his followers held protests and marches. They peacefully moved their agenda forward - WITH SUCCESS! If you don't believe me, let's pull out the history books for a lesson, shall we? Blacks couldn't use public restrooms or drink from the same fountains as whites. Blacks did not have the same opportunities as whites in the workforce. And lastly, and most importantly - there's a black man as outré President! What more can we do to show you that civil rights have advanced??

Ah, but that's not it at all, is it? None of this is because people don't think black lives matter or civil rights need to be advanced, is it? There's a different reason for all of this, yet no one wants to discuss it. In the name of civil rights or because blacks were once enslaved, there is a deep underlying sense of.....entitlement. There's a sense of being owed something. It's because, dare I say it, you really do want a hand-out rather than hand-up. It's because someone, somewhere, mistakenly used the word 'entitlements' when it came to providing help. No one is 'entitled' to anything, period, in life. Yet here we are watching looters walking into drug stores and a mall, taking whatever they choose, and simply walking out. Tell me how this shows me that black lives matter. This shows that blacks are thieves, common criminals, and thugs. Let me say, too, that before that labels me a 'racist', I have yet to see one white person walking out with their arms filled with property that is not theirs. You don't want me to generalize? Then how about you change the behavior by getting involved and making this stop. No, it's not your job....though neither was inciting them to behave this way.

I am so utterly disgusted right now that my thoughts...all of them in this post....are scattered and seemingly random. All I can think is that, in your efforts to advance civil rights, you have set the movement BACK many years. What makes me say that? Well, for starters, I can envision the authorities preparing to do what they should have earlier - turning the fire hoses on the rioters and doing whatever is needed to disrupt them. Remember those days? Almost 50 years ago, actually, and what I think might be effective tonight. Sadly, though, the crowds are probably better armed than the police and firemen.....and, as we've seen far too often, not afraid to use their weapons AGAINST the police. The officers today, in an effort to ensure the don't further fan the flames of protest, didn't even assert themselves when under attack and aggression as these thugs were stoning them. The police officers retreated. This, more than anything, makes me fear for our collective safety. If the police are more concerned with perception, then what purpose do they serve? If they cannot perform their duties for fear of your riots, then what will we do to preserve order? Right. There will be no order.

I don't know what to say. This is a random post and I cannot even articulate my thoughts. I'm appalled, shocked, concerned.......and disgusted. I'm pissed off. Sharpton & Jackson, here's my request to you - Go earn our collective respect and get your asses out there. Make this madness stop. You want to be a 'leader', then go lead. Right now you are both a bunch of self-righteous cowards and I, just another concerned citizen, am calling you out. 

Now, I'm going back to the news. There is a black Vietnam veteran speaking some sense. "These kids should be at home, studying. I'm not black, I'm American." Finally, a voice of reason. So, let's see how bad this gets.....and make sure these thugs get what they deserve. An until someone goes out there and does something to help restore order, don't you DARE say one thing about black lives matter or the cops are wrong. You want justice? work for peace.

Until next time..................

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What It Means To Be A Crimson Tide Fan - The Role We Play and The Expectations

I have to admit, there were plenty of mind-numbing, thoughtless, hateful comments that pushed me to write after the loss to Ole Miss this past Saturday.  I read many hateful, negative comments on various pages and sites, as well as criticisms of the fans.  I have to admit, I was even a bit upset at myself after it was pointed out to me that I had allowed myself to get pulled into it.  I was angry and embarrassed, as many of us were, about several incidents that took place during, and after, the game which got me thinking. A lot. Especially on a long drive with nothing to do BUT think.  From nowhere, a long-forgotten quote came to mind:

"To those whom much is given, much is expected." 

 - John F. Kennedy

For some reason, it stuck in my mind and I questioned, if only for a brief moment, it's correlation.  Was it applicable to my thoughts and our responsibilities as fans?  I've come too the realization that it is...and there are many reasons I feel that way.  Much has been given to us as fans of the program.  "Given to us," is the term I use because, I dare say, no one reading this has actually been a part of the team that plays on the field.  Don't get me wrong - I share Coach Saban's ideal that we, as fans, have our own particular job to do and our own special part of the 'Process' which is to provide support.

I remember walking into Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first time.  The south end zone had not yet been enclosed.  As we walked through the walkway leading to our seats, I was aware of the sense of anticipation.  Oh, sure, I had been in other stadiums...but this was Bryant-Denny.  This was the place built by the Bear and the champions of years gone by.  As we made the last two or three steps toward the seats and came out of the walkway....there it was.  It opened before me and, I have to confess, it still does.  I make myself aware of it every time I walk into these hallowed grounds.  This is a special place, my friends.  A place where the grass is greener, the sun shines brighter, the atmosphere is....well, electric.  It doesn't matter who they are playing - Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida, or Auburn or any number of so-called 'cupcake' teams - every time I go to a game in this stadium, I make myself keenly aware of what I am about to see.  As we sit and watch the videos on the large, oversized screens in each corner of the stadium, I silently glance at the clock in the corner.  It tells me how soon we can expect the walk from the Tunnel and kickoff.  When a few players run to the field to warm up, they are always greeted the same way - with cheers and applause.  We love these kids and what they are about to give us yet again.  When the time finally arrives - less than half an hour before kickoff - for the team to take the field, I feel it.  I kid you not, I literally feel wave of unbelievable good fortune wash over me yet again.  I am about to see the Alabama Crimson Tide play football.  I DO NOT CARE WHO THEY PLAY!  I just know I get to watch them......and that, to me, is a gift no one can give me but the team wearing crimson jerseys with white numbers on the helmets.  THEY give me this gift....and they don't even know it.  Nick Saban has assembled the finest staff of coaches and players IN THE NATION right her in Tuscaloosa!  He has NO IDEA what he is giving me as a gift...which is why I choose to support them.  Look at what they are doing for me....FOR US!  Don't get me wrong, I know why they do it. the game and the competition.  Some are playing so they keep their scholarship and get a quality education.  Others, still, are trying to get to the next level and become professional players.  Yes, they're doing it for themselves...HOWEVER...Coach Saban also instills the values that they are doing it as, and for, the team.  He is teaching these boys to become men.  Better people, if you will, by instilling values they will carry with them through life.  Still, I have to admit, they're doing it for us, too.  And we should be DAMN GRATEFUL!

Show of hands - how many of you, when the mercury topped 100 degrees, would be willing to strap on the pads and jersey, buckle the chinstrap, and spend hours playing this game?  Let's try to go back a few months when we sat, transfixed, listening to the evening news and waiting for the sportscaster to give us the Tide practice update.  Do you remember counting down the days until the season began?  I do.  It was....well, it seemed to last forever.  The season is 1/3 over already.  These young men have been there in the grueling heat of summer and will be there in the cold hours of winter pounding into each other, tackling each other, and practicing the same play for hours in the relentless pursuit of perfection.  My question to you is, "Why do they deserve less from us?"  If these young men are willing to do that so that we can do our part and bear witness to their efforts, why is it okay for us to give less than 100%?  Why is it okay for us to criticize them or the coaching staff?  Honestly, why is it okay for us to do anything other than support them in every endeavor?

Along with being a cheering section, we have other responsibilities, too.  One of those is to perform with the same level of class that is expected of this team.  I'd like to point out that this town did not bear witness to a 13th Championship for 17 years.  17 YEARS!!!  We, along with the school, found that unacceptable.  Mal Moore found it extremely unacceptable as he had been part of this university as a player, coach, the AD.  What did Mal do?  Only went out and got the 'Ungettable," Nick Saban.  The university and we...WE...have been reaping the rewards of his work for several years now.  This past week, I've heard more than enough criticism of both the coach and his staff to last for the rest of my lifetime.  I want to personally slap someone every time I hear them do it.  Why?  Well, I can give you 17 very good reasons. Lest you think he's 'lost it', you might want to check the recruiting classes we get each year...for the past 5 years! Coaches Saban, Smart, Kiffin, and the others cannot perform on the field.  Their position is excellence in play-calling and game management.  The players have that responsibility.  I said it earlier in the week and will say it again - please, will the person who never commits an error or makes a mistake at work kindly make your presence known.  I have yet to meet them.  These are 20-23-year old kids and, though they appear to be brick walls with clothing, they are kids.  Let's try to be understanding that they are in the pursuit of excellence...not excellent every time.  If they make a mistake, we want nothing more for them to admit it, correct it, and not make it again.  Period.  We can ask nothing else.

While we are on the subject of class, let's deal with the treatment of opponents and other schools.  I have heard one of the Ole Miss players being called everything from a criminal to a thug to a....well, I can't repeat some of the things I've read.  Many Alabama fans have been calling for his dismissal and stating that he should be charged with assault.  We act, dare I say, 'holier than thou' on these occasions and it honestly bothers me.  Why, you ask? (go ahead, ask)  I'll tell you why - it wasn't that long ago that we had a few players charged, publicly, for beating a student, taking his debit card, then using it. Yes, they were removed from the team - I understand that.  My point is, if you're living in a glass house, drop the rocks.  We have had our share of problems with this program, though they (fortunately) dealt with quickly.  Still, there is NO reason to be saying some of the hateful, horrid things directed at other teams and their fans.  We are better than that.  By now, many (if they are still reading this) are saying, "What are we supposed to do? Just say nothing about the actions of another team or their fans??"  That's exactly what I am saying.  I remember several years ago when Penn State came to Tuscaloosa for a renewal of that rivalry.  They came to town and, much to their actual surprise, left feeling like they had been at the most hospitable place on earth (short of Disneyland, I'm sure).  Seriously, when we travelled north the following year, their comments to fellow PSU fans was, "Please show the Alabama fans the same hospitality we were shown and treat them as well as they treated us."  You have NO idea how good that felt.  Did Bama beat them?  Absolutely?  Were they unkind toward us or the team?  In no way, shape, or form.  We need to have class in everything we do, every day, as we strive for the same degree of excellence that is expected of the team.  They, as players, deserve that and should expect nothing less.

I realize there are points I will want to make later but, for now, this is a start.  This is my message to the Crimson Tide faithful and, I hope, the feelings of many rather than a few.  Perhaps I am wrong and I am in the minority.  I hope not.  For those that take the time to read this, I thank you and hope that you, too, will join me in doing our best always for this amazing team and university...while making sure that we discourage others from giving any less than their absolute best in supporting the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Until next time..................

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Disappointment & Contempt for a Few Alabama 'Fans'...and the Bad Name They Give Us All.

I'm pretty sure your mindset, upon reading the title of this post, is one of defensiveness.  I beg you not to feel that way until you read it all...please try to have an open mind and read what I am saying completely before forming an opinion.  If, however, you are one of the fans I am addressing, your mind will already have been made up and you're already muttering negative things, both about me and, worse, about the Crimson Tide team. Still. I fear this will a rather lengthy post as many of the things I want to say have been on my mind for some time, yet I haven't written about them until now. Sadly, especially in light of yesterday's game, they need to be addressed.

First, allow me to set the scene.  I have been an Alabama Crimson Tide fan since I was in high school in PA, a feeling borne out of respect and admiration for Bear Bryant and his ability to keep his program in the national spotlight year after year.  In later years, I moved to Alabama and have called it home for more than a few years now.  Earlier this year, my daughter (who fell in love with the Tide upon seeing her first home game at the age of 11 and deciding she wanted to go to school there) enrolled as a full-time student.  She is part of the Crimson Tide family and is now forever linked to the school and its traditions.  While being proud OF her, I am as proud FOR her.  Her love of the school, the town, and the team is unmatched. 

We attend most, if not all, of the Crimson Tide home games in Tuscaloosa.  The away games we've seen have either been the Kickoff Game (twice in Atlanta) or the National Championship Game (in Miami) against Notre Dame.  I had not, until yesterday, experienced the rich traditions of the SEC and pre-game activities of any of the other universities.  I decided to make the trip to Oxford, MS to watch the matchup between the Ole Miss Rebels and Alabama mostly because I have a customer that is an Ole Miss alumnus.  I had hoped to meet them at The Grove - the renowned site of their 'tailgate' pre-game festivities.  Ironically, I never found them...but it certainly didn't diminish the atmosphere felt walking through The Grove.  ESPN's Gameday made its first trip ever to Oxford and the school deserved it.  For the first time since 1962, their team is undefeated after the first 1/3 of the season.  The Ole Miss fans were gracious and kind, asking that we, "not hurt them too badly today," as we walked toward the stadium.  The air was crisp - what we all know as a perfect Saturday afternoon in the fall that is reserved for football.  A slight breeze, temperatures in the low 60's, sun shining, not a cloud in the sky.  I, personally, was wedged into a seat between Ole Miss fans - two on my left and two on my right.  Through the game, we praised the good plays of each team, and criticized the poor. We were in agreement on most things, both positive and negative, as we had a civil conversation while watching the game.  THIS is what I am accustomed to.  These are the fans with whom I enjoy interacting.  In short, it's how we, as fans, should act (in my opinion).  Early in the 4th Quarter, I said goodbye to these fans and walked toward the end zone so I could get more photos.  As I watched Alabama commit mistakes, while Ole Miss rose to the occasion, I began heading toward my car parked about three miles away.  I left after Ole Miss tied the game and Alabama fumbled the ensuing kickoff knowing the end was, almost certainly, a foregone conclusion.  Ole Miss scored again, then proceeded to miss their extra point.  It was actually missed initially but a penalty gave them another try.  The second attempt was blocked leaving the score at 23-17.  As I walked, my thoughts were of the cliches of Saturday afternoon college football - I literally heard the roar of the crowd diminish as Alabama began their final drive. Less than two minutes remained and they were moving down the field, a fact evident in the lack of crowd noise. I could hear the PA announcer as I walked and knew the Tide could pull it off...until I heard that 'roar' again.  Blake Sims had been intercepted with :37 seconds remaining to seal the victory for Ole Miss.  I later found out that the fans stormed the field (I expected it when I heard their announcer reminding them they were NOT to do that) and that a goal post had been brought down.  It was, though Alabama lost 23-17, a memory that will not soon fade from my mind.  It was, literally, perfect.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been a final drive resulting in a touchdown and and extra point conversion for a final score of 24-23 in Alabama's favor.  

It didn't happen that way.  Oh, everything described above happened, yet the final score remains 23-17 and Alabama lost to a very good Ole Miss team.  Still, I won't forget it because the scene, with setting sun and temperatures dropping again, was such a perfect memory for me.  Again, I know they lost, but guess what?  It's Sunday afternoon and I sit here writing.  The sun actually came up, the earth didn't spin off its axis, the apocalypse isn't upon us.  Well, not this week, anyway.  There are still very real concerns and priorities we all have to deal with.  The economy is still in disrepair, there are people starving and homeless, the Ebola virus is a very real threat to life.  THESE are things that matter.  In addition, let me add that there are a few other harsh realities that take importance over this loss - three very good players were injured yesterday and one, God forbid, may never play again.  I truly hope I am wrong, however watching it happen and seeing the replay makes me question how anyone could come back, whether it's because of the physical or mental aspect.  Kenyan Drake, a very big part of the offense as both a receiver and rusher, broke his leg.  That, in itself, would be bad but it was the way it happened.  When he went down on the field, my view was blocked by the medical staff that ran to the field immediately.  The only indication we had of the severity was the 'cart' driving to midfield within seconds.  As they were tending to Kenyan, I got a text from my daughter watching at home saying, "Oh, my God, did you see that? His leg is completely broken."  When I told her the cell service was spotty and they were not showing the replay (which, to the credit of the Ole Miss folks, they didn't) in the stadium, I asked if she was sure.  "Did you see his ankle? Dad, it was completely sideways."  My immediate thought, as it was for many I now know, was a flashback to Joe Theisman when he played for the Redskins.  For anyone that witnessed it, you will not forget it.  My mother then texted me telling me she could hear his screams as it occurred.  In reviewing the game, I heard them, too....and I felt physically ill.  He was shown wiping away a few tears on the cart as he was taken from the field, though he did what we had hoped - he gave a 'thumbs up' to the crowd before being airlifted back to Birmingham.  He's a junior and, though Dr James Andrews and/or many other amazing surgeons are here in Birmingham to fix the injury, it's almost a safe bet that this was his last game for the Crimson Tide.  Many that know the program had our thoughts turn to another former player - one with speed, agility, ability, and class from several years ago - that had his career cut short as well - Tyrone Prothro.  We only hope it isn't the case.

So with all this background, nothing makes you relate the title to the story so far.  I understand.  It isn't what happened before or during, it's the reactions afterward.  The reactions to the loss by a #3 team to a #10 team.  At this point, there are a few other things that need to be pointed out, too.  You are aware that Nick Saban has had only one undefeated team in all the years he's been coaching, right?  It was the 2009 team that beat Texas in the National Championship.  He's been the winning coach for 4 National Championship teams, yet had only one undefeated season.  Hell, when he won it at LSU, they had TWO losses!  Let's keep that in mind, shall we?  As soon as the team loses a game, there are suddenly a multitude of people that are immediate experts at coaching a college team.  I've heard that Saban must go because he is a DB coach and that's the weakest part of the team.  I've heard Kiffin must go because his play-calling on offense sucks.  I have heard that we need to get rid of Kirby Smart as the Defensive Coordiantor because they cannot stop, or at least couldn't stop, the no-huddle, spread offense.  I have seen people saying hateful, vile things about some of the players.  Based on what I've read, some of you would be happier scrapping the whole program and starting over.  To those people, I'd like to say.....well, I can't say because I don't want some people to think less of me.  Suffice it to say, though, that you people are idiots and what we refer to as 'fair weather fans' - the kind that are only there when a team is winning.  It isn't going to happen, folks.  Here'a harsh reality - the percentage of undefeated teams is almost nil.  As in none.  As in, are you stoned or stupid enough to think a team can win every game?  As Hugh Freeze, coach of Ole Miss said in victory, "We beat a very good program that is considered the Gold Standard for years now."  Everyone prepares for Alabama and wants to beat them.  It's no different than everyone wanting to beat the reigning champion FSU Seminoles.  It happens - it's the price of winning.....and a good problem to have.

I'd also like to submit this little tidbit to those of you that expect a perfect season year after year.  I see you come to the stadium wearing your houndstooth or sporting the hat made famous by Bear Bryant, coach of 6 National Championship teams.  "By God, Bear was the greatest to ever walk the sideline," are words that come forth effortlessly, though I'm pretty sure you don't mean the teams in 1967, 1968, 1969, or 1970.  So we're all on the same page, The Crimson Tide, in those years, posted records of 8-2, 8-3, 6-5, and 6-5 respectively.  Let that sink in.  6 wins and 5 losses....two years in a row.  How many of you would be hanging Nick Saban's likeness in effigy if that happened now?  So you know, Bear followed those years with 4 teams that went 11-1 and one that went 10-2.  Why?  He was considered the brains of the operation and everyone, including the fans, listened to what Bear said.  Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea now.  Maybe, just maybe, some of you could let Nick do what he does best.  In the past 5 years, they've had the #1 recruiting class in the country every year.  Guess what?  he still has to get great individuals to play together as a team.  Great individuals don't always make the best team, though his record speaks for itself.  Bear Bryant was at Alabama for roughly 26 years and won 6 Championships.  Nick has been here 8 and has 3 Championships.  Do the math - he is here for a reason and it's time we start following, blindly if you must, his lead.  It's called trust and he is, per the University President, the best investment the school has ever made.  Who in the hell are you to question that?  Maybe it's because your only affiliation to the school is watching the football team and yelling, "Roll Tide," rather than, "War Eagle."  That's great, but when you voice the things you do, whether in person or on social media, you portray ALL Alabama fans as the senseless, thoughtless, hateful people you've become.  It isn't fair to those of us that try to win with class and lose with dignity.  MAKE NO MISTAKE - We ALL hate to see them lose!  Most of us, though, are realists and took our own lesson from Bear Bryant and applied it to our lives - "When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before."  When you lose with dignity and respect, and you show respect for the performance of the opponent, you are perceived as someone with class and, honestly, they won't be able to say anything bad, nor find fault.  Trust me, it is better to have the reputation as the classy, kind Bama fans than the hated fans most perceive.  Their perception is the reality and, while most of us spend time trying to be classy to our opponents, your actions make us have to work harder.  I am NOT saying to be complacent or that we like to lose - we don't - but you have to respect and appreciate the fact that the program IS the gold standard and the one that others are hoping to become.  It serves no purpose to be boastful, rude, arrogant, or hateful to others, though that is what I have seen from many.  It truly disgusts me and makes me distance myself from that portion of the fan base.  It says a lot, too, about how those people are in their everyday life.

Let's try to remember this, too - these are kids.  Oh, they are huge and can eat a side of beef in one sitting, but they are just out of high school and have to perform in front of hundreds of thousands weekly.  Yes, yes, I know we give them scholarships and an education to do it, I realize this is what they have been training for, etc.  I get that.  Still, I have yet to see 101,821 people show up to watch me do my job.  If I have a bad day, there might be a handful of people, at most, that know of it.  If they have a bad day, it is seen by millions, especially when televised nationally.  I know few of you, and fewer still that I am addressing with this post, but can guess that you are in the same position.  What, did you file something incorrectly?  Did one of your welds break?  Did you dump trash on the ground rather than hit the truck?  Again, not many know of your mistakes and fewer still watched you commit them.  You aren't perfect and do not perform perfectly every day.  Don't expect it of others if you cannot do it.  Think about that the next time you are criticizing OJ Howard for dropping a pass, TJ Yeldon for missing a first down, or Blake Sims for overthrowing his receiver.  

I am going out on a limb here but think I can safely say, based on the friends I have that are fellow Tide fans, that you are giving us a bad name and we don't appreciate it.  More importantly, if you cannot support the team when they are down and experience a loss (and need it MOST), please go cheer for another school.  Alabama has enough fans that are there through both the good and the bad that we don't need you on the bandwagon.  If you only want to be a Crimson Tide fan when they are winning, that's fine but do us ALL a favor - Keep your mouths shut when they are losing.  Your ignorance seeps out.  This pertains to ALL fans of every sport.  If you cannot be there and give them 100% support, your team not only doesn't need you, they don't want you.  I know you question the abilities of the coaches and the players when they lose, but I will submit this - if you were any good as a player, you'd either be out there or would've been previously.  If you were, I'm guessing you weren't good at it because you'd never hear anything but positive comments coming from former players and coaches.  If you think you can do a better job than Nick, Kirby, Lane, or the others, show us.  Show us how you can coach a national powerhouse or, better yet, turn a 7-5 team into a perennial champion.

For now, though, lay off.  Stop being rude, hateful, and critical.  The Alabama Crimson Tide are off limits if you want to be a fair weather fan and only ride the bandwagon.  Period.  We support them 24/7/365.  We do not find fault, we offer encouragement.  I have to admit, it was extremely evident yesterday at Ole Miss - there fans are hungry and so is the team.  We have taken winning for granted and almost look at it as a birthright.  It is not.  It has to be earned, year after year, which is how you get respect and build a dynasty.  Alabama fans get the opportunity, every week, to watch one of the most storied programs in college football history take the field.  I don't care if they are play Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Auburn, Florida Atlantic or Georgia Southern - keep your asses in the seats and encourage the team.  They have earned it and, as Nick pointed out years ago, it is OUR responsibility as part of being 'ALL IN' as a team.  You'd never expect them to play in an empty sit and watch them win, and lose (as infrequently as possible), with class.  If not, there are other teams that you can bitch about.  Matter of fact, why not go be a Michigan fan.  That ought to keep you busy this year.

Thanks - I had to get that off my chest.

Until next time...................