Mimi Kennedy’s Keynote speech for the JFK Scholarship Dinner, presented by the Madison County Democratic Women

 

 

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Huntsville, Alabama – May 4th, 2017

 

“I DON’T MIND TELLING YOU I’VE BEEN REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT THIS SPEECH. IT’S THE FIRST TIME I’VE SPOKEN PUBLICLY ABOUT POLITICS SINCE LAST NOVEMBER. AND THE STATE OF THE NATION IS DIRE. THE HOUSE JUST GOT THEIR VOTE TO REPEAL OBAMACARE AT LAST, LESS FOR POLICY INTEGRITY THAN TO PLACATE BRUISED EGO.  WHAT TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? I THOUGHT MAYBE I COULD JUST LEAD US ALL IN A PRIMAL SCREAM.

WELL, I’M GONNA AIM HIGH, TO QUOTE ONE OF THE BEST FIRST LADIES WE’VE EVER HAD. I’M GONNA TALK ABOUT HONESTY, POLITICS, AND HOW OUR POLITICAL CONSCIENCES ARE FORMED BY WHAT WE’RE TAUGHT AS CHILDREN AND WHAT WE EXPERIENCE ONCE WE’RE GROWN. AND HOW WHEN THOSE THINGS COME INTO CONFLICT, IT TAKES WISDOM TO STAY POLITICALLY INVOLVED, FOR OUR CHILDREN’S SAKE AND FOR THE PLANET’S FUTURE. BECAUSE NOTHING LESS IS AT STAKE. I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE. THAT’S WHAT PROGRESSIVE MEANS TO ME. I BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE AND WANT TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS IT. PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME WHY I CAN’T JUST SAY I’M A ‘LIBERAL’ WHAT’S WRONG WITH ‘LIBERAL?’ AND I TELL THEM THE RIGHT-WING TALK MACHINE WAGED A WORD-WAR ON ‘LIBERAL’ AND WON WHEN WE WEREN’T LOOKING. THEY TURNED IT INTO ‘LIBERTINE’, INTO BEING SEXUALLY PROMISCUOUS AND CARELESS WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY – A LIBERAL SPENDERS, A SQUANDERERS OF TAX DOLLARS. TOO OFTEN LIBERAL POLITICANS EVEN SEEMED TO PLAY ALONG.

 

I LEARNED, AS A MOTHER, TO PICK MY BATTLES. SO RATHER THAN FIGHT THE WORD-WAR I DECIDED ‘PROGRESSIVE’ WAS A WORD WE COULD REDEFINE;  THOSE OF US WHO BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE AND WANT TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS IT.

I THINK REPUBLICANS ARE FURIOUS BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO CLAIM IT AS TEDDY ROOSEVELT’S PROPERTY AND THEREFORE, THEIRS. BUT THEY’RE NOT WILLING TO BE PROGRESSIVE. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ON THEIR SIDE ARE IN DESPAIR BECAUSE THE FUTURE THEY BELIEVED IN DIDN’T ARRIVE. THE AMERICAN DREAM – THAT EACH GENERATION WOULD DO BETTER THAN THEIR PARENTS – DIDN’T HAPPEN. NEITHER DID THE RAPTURE. OR IT DID AND WE’RE LEFT BEHIND – SO WE’RE NOT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT WE WERE. IF WE’RE GOING TO HELL ANYWAY, LET’S END THE SUSPENSE – LET’S START ARMAGEDDON AND BRING ON THE APOCALPYSE! I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT, IF EVERYTHING THEY BELIEVED WAS A LIE, IT’S OKAY TO LIE TO EVERYBODY. ABOUT EVERYTHING. WHY BE HONEST IN A DOG-EAT-DOG WORLD IF THE LIARS ARE GETTING RICH? WELL, AS THE NATIVE AMERICANS POINT OUT, WHEN THE LAST RIVER RUNS DRY AND THE LAST TREE DIES, IT’LL BE TOO LATE TO FIND OUT YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY.

REGARDING HONESTY, SEAN PENN ONCE SAID MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR PROFESSION, ‘AT LEAST WHEN WE’RE ACTING WE KNOW WE’RE LYING.’  

I NEED TO BE AN ACTRESS BECAUSE IT’S MY OUTLET. IN REAL LIFE, I’M A TERRIBLE LIAR. I JUST CAN’T DO IT.
MY FIRST SPANKING WAS FOR LYING – (IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU, RAISE YOUR HAND.) I EMERGED FROM SNEAKING CANDY IN THE KITCHEN AND MY FATHER HAPPENED TO BE STANDING THERE. I WAS ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE, AND I MUST HAVE LOOKED LIKE ONE GUILTY PUPPY, BECAUSE HE ASKED WHAT I’D BEEN DOING. I CONFESSED. EATING CANDY. HE ASKED IF SOMEONE GAVE ME PERMISSION AND THAT MADE A LIGHTBULB GO OFF IN MY HEAD. I COULD GET OUT OF TROUBLE! I SAID THE BABYSITTER HAD GIVEN PERMISSION. UNFORTUNATELY FOR ME THE BABYSITTER WAS STILL IN THE HOUSE AND MY FATHER-LAWYER CALLED HER TO THE WITNESS STAND. SHE SAID NO, SHE’D GIVEN NO PERMISSION. AND I UNDERWENT A RITUAL I’LL NEVER FORGET. IT DIDN’T PHYSICALLY HURT. IT JUST LET ME KNOW THAT MY FATHER DIDN’T LIE, AND DIDN’T ALLOW LYING. TOP THAT OFF WITH THE FACT THAT THE FIRST GROWN-UP PLAY I EVER APPEARED IN WAS “SPIDER’S WEB” BY AGATHA CHRSTIE, AT THE COMMUNITY THEATER, IN WHICH A CHARACTER QUOTES THAT LINE FROM SIR WALTER SCOTT ‘OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE.’

 

SO EXPERIENCE WARNED ME EARLY THAT I NEEDED A BRIGHT WHITE LINE BETWEEN PRETENDING AND BEING MYSELF, AND WHEN SPEAKING AS MYSELF,  I MUST CAREFULLY EXAMINE MY CONSCIENCE TO BE AS HONEST AS I CAN. TONIGHT I’M SPEAKING AS MYSELF. SO-

 

LET’S START WITH THE FIRST THING EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT ME: AM I A REAL KENNEDY?

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HERE IS JFK AS A YOUNG CONGRESSMAN AND MY FATHER – DGK, DANIEL G. KENNEDY – AS A YOUNG LAWYER.

I ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY LOOKED A LITTLE ALIKE. THE TRUTH IS, THEY MET IN 1952 AND PORED OVER A MAP OF IRELAND TO SEE IF THEY WERE RELATED. THEY FOUND OUT THAT AT ONE POINT OUR FAMILIES WERE IN ADJACENT COUNTIES, SO WITH 10 KIDS IN MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER’S FAMILY NOT BEING UNUSUAL, IT’S POSSIBLE BACK ON THE OLD SOD WE SHARED THE SAME ROOTS.

 

BUT NOT HERE. HERE, THEY WERE DEMOCRATS. AND WE WERE – DON’T RUN ME OUT OF THE ROOM NOW – REPUBLICANS! AS JFK SAID WHEN HE MET DADDY, “I DIDN’T THINK THERE COULD BE SUCH A THING AS A REPUBLICAN KENNEDY!” SO HOW DID IT HAPPEN? AND HOW DID I ESCAPE THE CULT? THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME A DEMOCRAT. AT THIS POINT, I WANT TO STOP AND THANK PAM MILES. WHAT A DYNAMO. SHE’S THE ONE WHO BROUGHT ME HERE. PAM’S A DEMOCRAT – IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED.

WE MET AT A DNC MEETING 11 YEARS AGO – 2006. I WAS 2 YEARS INTO BEING ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, AND I WAS ON A PANEL ABOUT STOLEN ELECTIONS. I’M STILL WORKING TO GET THE NATION ON A MANDATORY PAPER BALLOT AND THE RIGHT TO HAND-COUNT THE BALLOTS IN PUBLIC AS VERIFICATION OF THE SCANNER COUNT. SHE TOLD ME ABOUT DON SIEGELMAN AND HOW HIS RE-ELECTION FOUNDERED IN 2002 WHEN A LATE-NIGHT ELECTRONIC GLITCH SHIFTED 300O VOTES AWAY FROM HIM HIS OPPONENT. WHILE NO OTHER RESULTS CHANGED. YOUR THEN-ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ALABAMA  IMPOUNDED THE PAPER BALLOTS UNDER THREATENED TO PROSECUTE ANYONE WHO TOUCHED THEM.  THEY’VE NEVER BEEN CHECKED TO THIS DAY.

Don Siegelman and his daughter Dana

THE MORE I LEARNED, THE ANGRIER I BECAME. BECAUSE DON REMINDED ME OF MY FATHER – A GOOD MAN, AN HONEST MAN – AND HE’D BEEN RAILROADED INTO PRISON ON LIES IN A WAY THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN THIS COUNTRY. THE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JURY WERE RIDICULOUS. MY LAWYER FATHER WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED IT. ‘INFERRED FRAUD’ –  TELLING A  JURY THAT THEY CAN CONVICT BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE SOMETHING HAPPENED, NOT BECAUSE THEY HEARD CORROBORATED TESTIMONY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, OR SAW EVIDENCE WITHOUT ERROR PRESENTED IN COURT! I REALIZE, SADLY, THAT MY SHOCKED OUTRAGE WAS PARTLY DUE TO MY WHITE SKIN. PEOPLE OF COLOR KNOW THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY FOR A LONG TIME.

SO WHY WAS DADDY A REPUBLICAN?

HIS FATHER, DAN KENNEDY, DIED WHEN DADDY WAS 7. SO I NEVER KNEW MY KENNEDY GRANDFATHER, SON OF AN IMMIGRANT. I KNEW THE STEPFATHER WHO SAVED THE WIDOW KENNEDY AND HER FOUR YOUNG CHILDREN FROM HARDSHIP, AND HE WAS A REPUBLICAN JUDGE – JUDGE LOVE. HE LIVED UP TO HIS NAME. HE WAS A GOOD MAN. AND HE WAS AN ELECTED JUDGE, SO MY FATHER WALKED THE PRECINCTS TO GET OUT THE VOTE FOR HIM. THAT CEMENTED MY FATHER’S ROLE IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK  AS A LOYAL REPUBLICAN. BACK THEN NEW YORK STATE REPUBLICANS WERE LIBERAL.  THEY WERE CALLED ROCKEFELLER REPUBLICANS. GOVERNOR NELSON ROCKEFELLER PASSED SOME OF THE NATION’S STRICTEST ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS TO PROTECT NEW YORK STATE FROM AIR AND WATER POLLUTION.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THINK THAT MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, WHO WE KNOW HARBORED SYMPATHIES WITH THOSE FIGHTING FOR AN IRISH REPUBLIC, ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY WHEN HE DID, 1868, FOUND OUT THAT LINCOLN FREED THE SLAVES, AND ADMIRED THE FACT. WHEN HE FOUND OUT THERE WAS A REPUBLICAN PARTY IN AMERICA, HE THOUGHT, ‘THAT’S FOR ME!’ BUT I DON’T KNOW THAT- SO PUT IT IN THE FICTION COLUMN. TO BE HONEST, I DON’T KNOW THE FULL TRUTH ABOUT OUR REPUBLICAN ROOTS, AND NOBODY’S LEFT TO ASK. ANYWAY – OUR FAMILY STOOD ON TWO SACRED PILLARS. ONE WAS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND THE OTHER WE SHARED WITH THOSE OTHER KENNEDYS- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 

St. John Evangelist 1955

St. John Evangelist 1955, 1st Communion Mimi Kennedy

 

HERE I AM ON THE DAY OF MY FIRST COMMUNION WITH 60 OF MY FELLOW SECOND GRADERS. THIRD ROW DOWN FROM TOP, THIRD FROM LEFT. NOW, I STUDIED UP ON ALABAMA TO PREPARE FOR THIS SPEECH,  I FOUND OUT YOU ARE THE NUMBER ONE BIBLE-READINGEST STATE IN THE NATION. I KNEW YOU’D GET ME. MY ATTEMPT TO BE AS MUCH OF AN ANGEL AS I LOOKED IN THIS PICTURE WAS AND IS VERY REAL. I REMAIN THAT KID INSIDE. BUT ALONG WITH READING THE BIBLE, I READ THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM. IT WAS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR CHILDREN, AND WE HAD TO MEMORIZE IT FOR MAKING OUR FIRST COMMUNION AND FIRST CONFESSION AT AGE SEVEN, THE AGE WHEN THE CHURCH SAID CHILDREN OFFICIALLY AND SUDDENLY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL.

HERE’S WHAT WE WERE TAUGHT ABOUT CONFESSION.

Story of a Bad Confession

JOHN IS SEEN HERE CARRYING FOUR MORTAL SINS INTO CONFESSION. WHAT HAS HE DONE THAT’S SO BAD HE’LL GO TO HELL IMMEDIATELY WHEN HE DIES? MURDER? STEALING AN ELECTION?

MORE LIKELY, EATING A HOT DOG ON FRIDAY, PERHAPS FOUR TIMES IN A ROW, KNOWING IT WAS A MORTAL SIN AGAINST CHURCH TEACHING. BUT FOUR TIME SEEMS LIKE TOO MUCH, AND HE’S ASHAMED, SO HE SAYS HE ONLY DID IT THREE TIMES. NOW HE HAS LIED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF HIS MORTAL SINS, SO, INSTEAD OF WALKING OUT OF CONFESSION WITH A CLEAN CONSCIENCE, HE HAS FIVE  MORTAL SINS ON HIS SOUL, NONE OF THEM FORGIVEN. NO CONFESSION JOHN EVER MAKES IN HIS LIFE WILL TAKE UNLESS HE GOES BACK AND CONFESSES THE FOURTH MORTAL SIN.  IF HE DOES WANT TO COME CLEAN BY, SAY, THE AGE OF 30- MAYBE HE WANTS TO BE A RESPONSIBLE HUSBAND AND FATHER – HE’LL HAVE ABOUT FIFTY THOUSAND MORTAL SINS ON HIS SOUL THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN FORGIVEN. THIS KIND OF THINKING LEADS TO DESPAIR.  IF I’M ALREADY DAMNED, WHAT’S THE USE? I CAN’T GO BACKWARD AND MAKE A FULL ACCOUNT. NOBODY’ S PERFECT, I’M A LIAR IN GOD’S EYES, SO I MIGHT AS WELL LIE AND GET BY. THIS FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE WOULD BE FUNNY IF IT WEREN’T SO LETHAL TO OUR CURRENT POLITICS. IT’S THE KIND OF THINKING THAT LEADS TO COVER UP. IT LEADS TO HYPOCRISY AND A LACK OF COMPASSION. I TRAVELED A LOT WITH PDA AND OFTEN I’D DRIVE TO MY HOMETOWN OF ROCHESTER, NY TO SEE RELATIVES. I FOUND A RADIO SHOW, THE CATHOLIC HOUR, WHICH CONSISTED OF A 90-YEAR OLD NUN CONSTANTLY RAILING AGAINST OBAMACARE BECAUSE IT ALLOWS THE TRAGEDY OF ABORTION. IT HAD TO BE REPEALED. IT WAS A GREAT SIN FOR CATHOLICS NOT TO GET ACTIVE.

THAT’S WHERE WE RUN INTO THAT DARNED PROBLEM OF CONSCIENCE AGAIN: HERE’S ANOTHER PAGE FROM THE CATECHISM:

 

Another Page from the Catechism

HERE WE SEE A GOOD CATHOLIC FAMILY DOING WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO, WHICH IS SAFEGUARDING OUR FAITH BY, AMONG OTHER THINGS  “NOT READING BOOKS AND PAPERS OPPOSED TO THE CHURCH AND HER TEACHING.” ANSWER 205 STATES THAT CATHOLICS SIN BY TAKING PART IN NON-CATHOLIC WORSHIP, BECAUSE THAT IS THE SIN OF ‘INDIFERENTISM’ – WHICH IS BELIEVING ONE RELIGION IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER. AS IT STATES IN SUMMARY, ‘THESE SINS HURT GOD DEEPLY.” NO-ONE WANTS TO HURT GOD DEEPLY – EVEN PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD. SO WE STRIVE TO OBEY.

 

WELL, HERE’S HOW THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME DISOBEDIENT ENOUGH TO BECOME A DEMOCRAT.

IN HIGH SCHOOL, I’D ONLY READ THE LOCAL PAPERS, WHICH SAID THE WAR WAS ABOUT OUR BOYS FIGHTING COMMIES.  THE COMMIES WERE GODLESS. THE BODY COUNT WAS FEATURED ON THE FRONT PAGE LIKE A BOX SCORE.  WHEN THE VIET CONG HAD MORE DEAD GUYS THAN AMERICAN GIs, I FELT GOOD. THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE  WERE MOSTLY CATHOLIC, AFTER ALL – SO THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR THE ONE TRUE RELIGION. AT FRESHMAN ORIENTATION AT SMITH COLLEGE, I FILLED OUT A QUESTIONNAIRE ABOUT THE WAR. I’VE SEEN IT SINCE, AND I’M HORRIFIED. I WROTE THAT I SUPPORTED LYNDON JOHNSON’S ESCALATION OF THE WAR. “BECAUSE WE’RE FIGHTING AETHEISTIC COMMUNISM AND IF WE DON’T DEFEAT IT OVER THERE WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT IT HERE.” AT SMITH, I READ THE NEW YORK TIMES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. I FOUND OUT WE WERE NAPALMING CHILDREN AND MASSACRING VILLAGES, AND THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY WAS CORRUPT. I HAD TO CHANGE. MY CONSCIENCE TOLD ME I WAS LETTING CHILDREN SUFFER AND DIE FOR MY BELIEFS, SO THAT I WOULDN’T HAVE TO BE DISTURBED IN MY OWN COUNTRY, AND THAT WAS WRONG.

THE 1968 ASSASSINATIONS OF BOBBY KENNEDY AND MARTIN LUTHER KING MADE MY GENERATION FEEL THE WAY SOME TRUMP VOTERS MAY HAVE FELT BEFORE THE 2016 ELECTION; EVERYTHING’S GOING AGAINST US- WHAT’S THE USE?  MY GENERATION LOST OUR HOPE WITH BOBBY – WHATEVER HOPE WE HAD LEFT AFTER JFK’S ASSASSINATION IN 1963.

 

THE VIOLENCE CAME HOME.

MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD WARNED US VIOLENCE HARMED BOTH VICTIM AND PERPETRATOR. KENT STATE HAPPENED THE YEAR I GRADUATED. I JOINED THE NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM AND WORE A BLACK ARMBAND AT GRADUATION.

 

THEN I WENT TO NEW YORK CITY, I STARTED MY ACTING CAREER AND FORGOT ABOUT POLITICS FOR WHILE. BUT I REMEMBER A COVER OF THE VILLAGE VOICE THAT SHOWED A COMIC-BOOK WOMAN HOLDING HER HEAD IN CLOSE-UP AND SAYING “OH NO! NUCLEAR WAR? THERE GOES MY CAREER!” THAT’S PRETTY MUCH THE WAY I AND MY FRIENDS FELT. BUT I VOTED AGAINST NIXON IN ’72. AND SAW THE PHOTO PUBLISHED THAT YEAR THAT WAS TAKEN BY A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO SAID, WHEN HE TOOK IT, HE KNEW IT WOULD END THE WAR. IT EVENTUALLY DID. PHOTOGRAPHER NICK UT WON THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR IT. I CAN’T SHOW IT AT A DINNER. BUT IF YOU SAW THAT GIRL RUNNING AWAY FROM HER NAPALMED VILLAGE, YOU REMEMBER IT.

 

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IN ’76 I WAS IN THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY RUN OF ‘GREASE’ WHEN JIMMY CARTER RAN FOR PRESIDENT. I LOVED HIM, AND I RAN UP BROADWAY ONE DAY TO CATCH ONE OF HIS RALLIES BETWEEN THE MATINEE AND EVENING SHOWS. I’’LL NEVER FORGET A BLACK DOORMAN CALLING OUT TO ME, “YOU GONNA TELL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN YOU SAW JIMMY CARTER?” I SHOUTED BACK “YES!”  I FELT SO GOOD, SO HOPEFUL THAT WE WERE ALL TOGETHER AGAIN IN A GOOD COUNTRY!

 

GREASE LED TO LA AND TELEVISION

The New York Times March 30, 1977

ACCORDING OT THE NY TIMES I WAS AN INSTANT STAR!

I WAS ON THE COVER OF TV GUIDE!

‘THREE GIRLS THREE’ LASTED FOUR SHOWS AND ‘THE TWO OF US’ WAS CANCELLED AFTER ONE SEASON. I WAS LEARNING THE ROPES. AS TONY CURTIS TOLD ME IN A ‘THREE GIRLS THREE’ SKETCH, “THE LADDER GOES UP AND THE LADDER GOES DOWN.” BUT THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS OF LADDERS, ON ONE LADDER I WENT WAY UP. I BECAME A MOTHER AFTER THREE YEARS OF WORRYING IT MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN. I WAS PREGNANT IN THAT PICTURE ON TV GUIDE. I REMEMBER THAT MY SKIRT DIDN’T ZIP IN THE BACK.

WHEN YOU’VE GOT LITTLE KIDS AT HOME, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH THE RADIO AS YOUR ONLY ADULT COMPANY. ON A PACIFICA STATION I HEARD ABOUT SECRET WARS IN EL SALVADOR AND NICARAGUA, AND HOW VILLAGES WERE BEING MASSACRED AND CHILDREN TORTURED AND NUNS AND PRIESTS AND UNION ACTIVISTS SHOT, SOMETIMES IN CHURCH. MY MOTHER-HEART IGNITED. I WROTE LETTERS, DID MAILINGS, WENT TO MEETINGS WHERE I MET ACTORS WHO I ADMIRED LIKE MARTIN SHEEN AND MIKE FARRELL.

Dharma & Greg

9-11 HAPPENED IN THE LAST YEAR OF “DHARMA & GREG”. THE CAST AND CREW WERE CALLED TOGETHER AND TOLD THERE WAS A CREDIBLE THREAT AGAINST THE STUDIO AND WE’D HAVE TO ARRIVE AN HOUR EARLY TO GET THROUGH ALL THE NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES. I LOOKED AROUND THAT GROUP THINKING, “WHO WOULD I SAVE, IF THAT FIREBALL CAME THROUGH THE WALL RIGHT NOW?” – WOULD I BE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO ACT LIKE THE HEROES OF 9-11? THE ANSWER MADE ME ASHAMED – I FELT I’D SAVE MY OWN ASS. I HAD TO STEP UP MY ACTIVISM. I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE BECAUSE I WAS AN ACTRESS ON A TV SHOW IN A STUDIO OWNED BY RUPERT MURDOCH. IF I HAD TO DIE I WANTED IT TO BE WHILE I WAS LIVING AS A BRAVE AMERICAN CITIZEN.

ROWEN WILLIAMS, THE FORMER ARCHIBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, WROTE THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ ABOUT 9-11, ‘WRITING IN THE DUST’. IN IT, HE TALKS OF HOW HE ONCE ANSWERED AN INTERVIEWER IN SWEDISH BECAUSE HE WANTED TO SHOW OFF THAT HE COULD SPEAK THE GUY’S LANGUAGE. THE INTERVIEW PROCEEDED IN SWEDISH UNTIL ROWEN REALIZED HE COULD NOT POSSIBLY SAY EVERYTHING HE MEANT UNLESS THEY SWITCHED TO ENGLISH. HE BEGGED OFF, AND THEY CHANGED. HE SAYS THAT THE VIOLENT ‘MESSAGE’ OF 9-11 WAS ANSWERED WITH VIOLENCE,  BUT THAT WE HAVE TO STOP DOING THAT. BECAUSE ONCE YOU ANSWER IN VIOLENCE YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION THAT WAY – AND EITHER END UP BEGGING IT TO STOP, OR PROCEEDING TO THE VIOLENT END WITHOUT EVER GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS – AND THAT’S SUICIDE.

Rev. James Lawson

I BEGAN STUDYING NONVIOLENCE IN SATURDAY CLASSES WITH REV. JAMES LAWSON. MARTIN LUTHER KING CALLED HIM “THE TEACHER” BECAUSE LAWSON HAD LEARNED ABOUT NONVIOLENCE IN INDIA,  WHERE HE WAS A METHODIST MISSIONARY STUDENT WHILE GANDHI WAS ACTIVE. DR. KING CALLED REV. LAWSON TO TEACH THE STUDENTS OF FISK COLLEGE HOW TO DO NONVIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR THE FIRST SIT-INS, IN NASHVILLE. AT A 2003 ANTI-WAR MEETING IN L.A., DENNIS KUCINICH HEARD ME TALK ABOUT NONVIOLENCE AND ASKED ME TO ACCOMPANY HIM ON HIS PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CAMPAIGN. PEOPLE WOULD TELL ME DENNIS WAS A LOST CAUSE AND ASK WHEN WAS I GOING TO SWITCH TO HOWARD DEAN.  I SAID, “WHEN HOWARD STANDS NEXT TO DENNIS KUCINICH ONSTAGE AND SAYS ‘MY GOOD FRIEND DENNIS KUCINICH.’ ”

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AT THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, THE FOUNDER OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, TIM CARPENTER, GOT IT DONE.

I HADN’T EVEN MET TIM UNTIL THAT DAY THOUGH WE BOTH WORKED FOR KUCINCH. TIM ASKED ME  TO BE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF THE NEW ORGANIZATION HE WAS STARTING WITH CONVENTION DELEGATES OF KUCINCH, DEAN, EDWARDS, SHARPTON, MOSELY-BRAUN AND EVEN SOME KERRY PEOPLE. I THINK HE ASKED ME BECAUSE I WAS AN ACTRESS WITH A NATIONAL PROFILE,  AND HE WAS GONNA BE ASKING FOR MONEY AND FIGURED HE NEEDED SOMEONE PEOPLE COULD GO TO IF THEY DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY WE WERE SPENDING IT. OUR MISSION WAS TO TAKE THE PEACE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT DEEP INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

Tim Carpenter

TIM TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT ORGANIZING; THE INSIDE/OUTSIDE STRATEGY. TAKE IT TO THE STREETS,  GET IN THE SUITES. LEARN HOW TO BEHAVE BOTH PLACES.

Dianne Feinstein’s District Office

 HERE WE ARE DEMONSTRATING OUTSIDE SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN’S DISTRICT OFFICE BECAUSE SHE REFUSED TO CONDEMN CIA TORTURE. THE SECURITY GUARDS SAID THE PRIVATE BUILDING WAS OFF LIMITS AND THEY’D ARREST US. WE SAID OUR SENATOR’S OFFICE IS A PUBLIC SPACE. EVENTUALLY AN AIDE CAME DOWN AND TOLERATED US; FEINSTEIN’S OFFICE WAS NOTORIOUSLY INACCESSIBLE AND UNRESPONSIVE. BUT BEFORE SHE RETIRED, DIANNE FEINSTEIN WAS A LOUD VOICE AGAINST TORTURE. SHE’D RE-EXAMINED HER BELIEFS – AND CHANGED HER MIND.

HERE’S TIM, ME – AND MEDEA BENJAMIN AND CINDY SHEEHAN.  MEDEA WORKED FOR THE U.N. SHE HAD A CAREER IN THE SUITES. BUT SHE STARTED CODE PINK, ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE NONVIOLENT OUTSPOKEN GROUPS, BECAUSE HER CONSCIENCE IMPELLED HER TO GET LOUDER.SHE TOLD US “STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW.” CINDY SHEEHAN SAID SHE HADN’T WORRIED MUCH ABOUT BUSH’S ELECTION IN 2000. SHE’D THOUGHT “HOW BAD CAN IT BE?” AFTER 9-11, HER BELOVED SON, CASEY, ENLISTED AS A DEACON’S HELPER AND WAS TOLD HE’D NEVER BE UNDER FIRE. HE DIED IN A ROADSIDE BOMB, AND CINDY SAID SHE LEARNED HOW BAD IT CAN GET; WAR – THE WORST CAN HAPPEN. SHE BECAME AN ACTIVIST.

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WE HAD LOCAL PROTESTS NATIONWIDE TO PROTEST PROPOSED CUTS TO FOODSTAMPS BY JOHN BOEHNER’S DEFICIT-HAWK CONGRESS.  HEY- WHERE ARE THOSE GUYS NOW THAT TRUMP TAX CUTS ARE GONNA COST US A TRILLION AND THE FENCE IS A RIDICULOUS WASTE OF MONEY?

Don Siegelman

I FINALLY MET DON SIEGELMAN AT PDA’S “PROGRESSIVE CENTRAL” HELD IN DENVER DURING THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION THAT NOMINATED OBAMA IN 2008. I WAS HONORED TO BRING DON FACE TO FACE WITH REP. JOHN CONYERS. BUT EVEN  THE CHAIR OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COULDN’T CRACK THEF GOP DETERMINATION TO IMPRISONED DON WITH A WEB OF LIES. MEETING DON CONFIRMED EVERYTHING I’D READ ABOUT HIM; HE’S AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN.

Tim Carpenter

TIM PASSED IN 2014. AT HIS HOMETOWN MEMORIAL IN NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, HELD IN THE CHURCH WHERE JONATHAN EDWARDS PREACHED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE TO THE PURITANS, WE PRESENTED PDA’S 10,000 GATHERED SIGNATURES TO SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS ASKING HIM TO “RUN BERNIE RUN” –  AS A DEMOCRAT! WE’D BE WITH HIM ACROSS THE NATION.

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Tom Hayden and Tim Carpenter

TIM LOOKED TO TOM HAYDEN AS A MENTOR, AND TOM LOOKED TO TIM AS A YOUNG TURK. TOM PASSED LAST OCTOBER (2016). HIS WIFE, BARBARA WILLIAMS SAID HE WANTED TO STAY ALIVE TO SEE HOW THE ELECTION TURNED OUT. BUT A WEEK BEFORE, HE CALLED FATHER GREG BOYLE TO HIS BEDSIDE. THEY HAD WORKED TOGETHER ON GANG RECONCILIATION IN L.A. TOM TOLD GREG, “I’M READY TO GO NOW. I’M SO READY, I’VE EVEN FORGIVEN DONALD TRUMP.”  I’VE OFTEN WONDERED IF THE DYING GET PREVIEWS OF THINGS THEY’D OTHERWISE MISS.  NEITHER OF MY POLITICAL MENTORS LIVED TO SEE DONALD TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE.  SO SOMETIMES I FEEL I’M ON MY OWN.

Allison Janney, Mimi Kennedy & Anna Faris on CBS’ Mom

BUT I PLAY A MENTOR ON TV – THE OLD-TIME 12-STEPPER MARJORIE.

WHEN I GOT THIS ROLE, I’D ONLY EVER BEEN TO ONE 12 STEP MEETING TO SUPPORT A FRIEND AT AL-ANON. BUT IF I’D PLAYED A COP, I’D HAVE STUDIED COPS.  TO PLAY MAJORIE I HAD TO GO TO A MEETING AND LEARN ABOUT THIS STUFF. AND WOW, CAN YOU APPLY IT TO ACTIVISM! ONE DAY AT A TIME.  STAY IN TOUCH WITH A HIGHER POWER TO KEEP FROM GOING NUTS, AND REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS YOU CAN’T CHANGE AND COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS YOU CAN – AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

AND HERE’S SOMETHING I THINK I CAN CHANGE. BECAUSE IT’S CHANGED IN ME.   DATA,  AND SEVERAL THINGS I’VE READ – IN THE JESUIT MAGAZINE ‘AMERICA’, IN A RECENT OP ED IN THE L.A. TIMES – POINT TO THE FACT THAT SUBURBAN CATHOLIC WOMEN WHO OFTEN VOTE DEMOCRAT IN FACT VOTED FOR TRUMP BECAUSE OF THE SUPREME COURT AND RIGHT TO LIFE.  INDEED, WHEN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THIS, I OFTEN GET AN ADMISSION FROM MY LISTENERS THAT SOMEONE THEY KNOW ALSO ABANDONED THE DEMOCRATS THIS TIME BECAUSE HILLARY WAS JUST TOO IDENTIFIED WITH ABORTION IN THEIR MINDS. I’M NOT  SURPRISED TO HEAR THIS. BECAUSE I KNOW, FOR A LOT OF CATHOLICS, THE VOTING BOOTH ISN’T PRIVATE. THE CONFESSIONAL IS MORE PRIVATE. THERE, OR AT LEAST IN YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE, YOU HAVE TO CONFESS THAT YOU HAVE COLLUDED, EVEN JUST AS A VOTER, IN WHAT YOU THINK IS BABY-KILLING. YOU SAW THAT CATECHISM PICTURE. CATHOLIC VOTERS CAN END UP LIKE JOHN, BURDENED WITH MORE SINS THAN THEY CAN BEAR, AND THEY’LL NEVER BE FORGIVEN UNTIL THEY STOP VOTING THAT WAY. OR CANDIDATES STOP MAKING IT A LITMUS TEST.

SO I’M SPEAKING OUT, HOPING CATHOLIC WOMEN WILL HAVE THE CONSCIENCE TO CONSIDER ALL LIFE, NOT JUST THE REPRODUCTIVE LIVES OF SEXUALLY ACTIVE WOMEN. AND I’M HOPING CANDIDATES WILL STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS – BECAUSE FROZEN EMBRYOS ARE DISCARDED BY COMPANIES IN THE PROCESS OF HELPING INFERTILE WOMEN WHO WANT TO BECOME MOTHERS. THE FACT THAT THIS IS NOT EVEN DISCUSSED EXPOSES THE HYPOCRISY OF FORCED MATERNITY. “CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE MY FRIEND” -MITT ROMNEY. BUT SINCE THEY’RE NOT WOMEN, THE RIGHT WING, AND THE LAW IGNORE THOSE EMBRYOS. LET’S GET OFF THIS DIME. I DON’T WANT TO CRIMINALIZE PEOPLE TRYING TO HAVE CHILDREN ANY MORE THAN I WANT TO ENFORCE INVOLUNTARY MOTHERHOOD ON WOMEN WHO AREN’T EDUCATED ABOUT SEX, OR CAN’T GET BIRTH CONTROL; OR CAN’T PERFECTLY SCHEDULE THEIR SEXUAL LIVES, MARRIED OR SINGLE; OR SIMPLY SHOW BAD JUDGMENT – OR ARE RAPED.

I’VE READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SENATE SESSION THAT PASSED THE COMSTOCK LAW IN 1872 THAT BANNED CONTRACEPTION, ALONG WITH ABORTION AND LEGISLATORS DIDN’T KNOW THE DIFERENCE. NO-ONE WAS EVEN SURE OF FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE.  IN FACT, DOCTORS THOUGH THE ‘SAFE PERIOD’ FOR NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING – THE RYHTHM METHOD – WAS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CYCLE, BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT WOMEN WERE IN HEAT, LIKE ANIMALS, WHEN THERE WAS VISIBLE SIGN.

Anthony Comstock

THIS MAN, ANTHONY COMSTOCK, THE KARL ROVE OF HIS DAY, WAS 29 YEARS OLD WHEN HE CARRIED A SUITCASE TO WASHINGTON FULL OF MARRIAGE MANUALS AND ‘OBSCENE ARTICLES’ – SO CALLED.

HE LAID THEM OUT IN A ROOM GIVEN HIM IN THE CAPITOL BY LEGISLATORS WHO SUPPORTED HIS SPONSOR, THE YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION AND ITS RICH DONORS. THE VERY INTERESTED GENTLEMEN LEGISLATORS FLOCKED TO THE DISPLAY- ALL IN THE INTERESTS OF EDUCATION, OF COURSE. COMSTOCK’S DRAFT OF THE BILL LANDED ON THEIR DESKS IN THE LAST HOURS OF THE LAST DAY OF CONGRESS THAT YEAR. NO-ONE HAD READ IT ALL. A SENATOR ASKED THAT IT BE READ ALOUD SO THEY’D KNOW WHAT THEY WERE VOTING ON. ANOTHER SAID – I’VE READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SESSION – HE THOUGHT THEY SHOULD JUST VOTE, “BECAUSE THE DETAILS WERE SURE TO BE ‘TOO DISGUSTING.”  THEY JUST VOTED. THE BILL PASSED, WITH AN AMENDMENT SOMEONE SNUCK IN FORBIDDING EVEN DOCTORS TO DISCUSS OR SHOW ANY WAY TO AVOID PREGNANCY. UNTIL 1965, WOMEN AND COUPLES HAD NO CONTRACEPTION THAT COULD NOT MAKE THEM CRIMINALS – EXCEPT THE RHYTHM METHOD, ABOUT WHICH THERE WAS SUCH IGNORANCE THAT DOCTORS GAVE DIFFERENT ‘SAFE’ TIMES AND MOST THOUGHT, AS I SAID, THAT IT WAS SAFE EXACTLY AT THE TIME MOST WOMEN WERE LIKELY TO CONCEIVE.  MY OWN MOTHER EXPLAINED THE RHYTHM METHOD BACKWARDS TO ME ON THE EVE OF MY MARRIAGE. I LAUGHED AND SAID SHE WAS WRONG. SHE LOOKED HORRIFIED AND SAID NO, I’D GET PREGNANT IF I DID ANYTHING ELSE. I DROPPED THE ARGUMENT. I’D BEEN USING BIRTH CONTROL FOR YEARS BUT I’D NEVER TOLD HER THAT. THE SUPREME COURT FINALLY RETREATED IN 1965 AND SAID CONNECTICUT’S BAN OF CONTRACEPTIVES WAS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL INVASION OF MARITAL PRIVACY. SO COUPLES COULD USE WHAT THEY LIKED IN THEIR OWN HOMES WITHOUT FEAR OF ARREST. AND YET RIGHT-WING CONSERVATIVES HAVE TRIED, CONTINUALLY, TO BAN CONTRACEPTION ALONG WITH ABORTION IN FOREIGN AID AND DOMESTIC APPROPRIATION. THEY ARE DETERMINED TO DESTROY PLANNED PARENTHOOD, WHERE MOST YOUNG WOMEN GET BIRTH CONTROL IN ORDER TO AVOID EVER FACING THE NEED FOR AN ABORTION. WHEN I WAS FIRST OUT OF COLLEGE I WENT THERE.  I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO CHOOSE A DOCTOR. I DIDN’T HAVE MONEY TO SEE A SPECIALIST, WHICH A GYNOCOLOGIST WAS. PLANNED PARENTHOOD WAS IT: THE BULWARK AGAINST IGNORANCE AND ABORTION. BUT THE ABORTION WARS GO ON, AS THE NUN ON THAT CATHOLIC HOUR MADE CLEAR. AND IT’S BEHIND THE ATTACKS ON OBAMACARE AND POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED PROMISES TO REPEAL IT. IT’S WHAT PREVENTS MEDICARE FOR ALL, WHICH IS THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR MEDICAL COSTS, BECAUSE INCLUDING ALL AGES MEANS WOMEN DURING THEIR FERTILE YEARS, AND THAT PRESENTS TOO MANY PITFALLS FOR CONSCIENCES THAT IDOLIZE PURITY AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHER PEOPLE’S SUFFERING.

NEAL GORSUCH IS IN. CAN WE STOP THIS NOW? AND HOPE HIS LEGAL MIND RECOGNIZES THE COMPASSIONATE WISDOM OF ROE V. WADE, A DECISION WHOSE AUTHORS DIDN’T FIND THE DETAILS TOO DISGUSTING, BUT PARSED THEM TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE STATE HAS SOME INTEREST IN PROTECTING A VIABLE FETUS. BUT BEFORE THAT IT IS THE WOMAN’S DECISION WHETHER OR NOT TO BECOME A PARENT. IT’S A MATTER OF POLITICAL EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW. MEN ARE NOT FORCED INTO FATHERHOOD SO WOMEN CANNOT BE FORCED INTO MOTHERHOOD JUST BECAUSE ADHERENTS OF A PARTICULAR RELIGION BELIEVE THEY SHOULD. MY FATHER ONCE TOLD ME, “WE HAVE A LITTLE THING IN THIS COUNTRY, CALLED SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.” IT WAS BACK DURING THAT NIXON-KENNEDY CAMPAIGN, WHEN I WAS IN 7TH GRADE AND FELT OUR LOYALTIES TORN BETWEEN THE FIRST CATHOLIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE – NAMED KENNEDY! – AND THE GOP. SO WHEN A FLYER CAME IN FOR THE THEOCRATIC PARTY, I THOUGHT I’D FOUND THE ANSWER.

“LOOK, DADDY – YOU CAN VOTE FOR THESE GUYS, THE THEOCRATIC PARTY. ‘ A BIBLE IN EVERY HOME!’ DOESN’T THAT SOUND GOOD?” THAT’S WHEN HE TOLD ME ABOUT CHURCH AND STATE. “YOU CAN’T LEGISLATE A BIBLE IN EVERY HOME EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO. THE GUY’S A CRACKPOT. THERE ARE ALWAYS GUYS WHO RUN WHO DON’T STAND A CHANCE. A GUY NAMED HAROLD STASSEN IS ALWAYS ON THE BALLOT TOO BUT NOBODY EVER VOTES FOR HIM.”

I ASKED WHO HE WAS GOING TO VOTE FOR AND HE TOLD ME THE BALLOT WAS PRIVATE AND HE AND MY MOTHER DIDN’T EVEN TELL EACH OTHER HOW THEY VOTED. THEN HE ADMITTED NIXON “WASN’T MY CANDIDATE” IN THE PRIMARY, AND THAT NIXON HAD A NICKNAME, TRICKY DICK, THAT DADDY THOUGHT HE DESERVED. BECAUSE IN WASHINGTON IN 1952 , THE YEAR HE’D MET JFK – DADDY HAD GOT A CALL FROM NIXON. WHILE DADDY WAS WORKING ON A JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MATTER FOR HIS MENTOR, KEN KEATING. HE ASSURED ME LATER HE’D HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HOUSE UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE, WHEN I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO ASK. NIXON HAD GIVEN HIM A NAME FOR AN INVESTIGATION LIST AND DADDY ASKED WHAT THEY PERSON HAD DONE TO REQUIRE INVESTIGATION. AND NIXON REPLIED, ‘YOU KNOW THE DRILL, GERRY. THEY DON’T NEED TO HAVE DONE ANYTHING, I JUST WANT THEIR NAME IN THE PAPER AS BEING INVESTIGATED.” “WE DON’T DO THAT,” MY FATHER SAID, AND HUNG UP.

LATER THAT YEAR HE MET NIXON FACE TO FACE IN A RAILROAD CAMPAIGN CAR WITH IKE AND KEN KEATING AND SOME OTHERS. NIXON WAS INTRODUCED ALL AROUND AND DADDY SAID HIS WAS THE ONLY HAND IN THE ROOM THAT NIXON DIDN’T SHAKE. “WHEN HE GOT TO ME,” DADDY SAID, “HE LOOKED ME IN THE EYE, NODDED, AND SAID, ‘YES. I KNOW GERRY.’ ”

WELL, A CRACKPOT GOT ELECTED THAT EVERYBODY SAID DIDN’T STAND A CHANCE. I’M GLAD MY FATHER DIDN’T LIVE TO SEE IT. BACK IN 1960, I THINK HE AND MOTHER BOTH VOTED FOR KENNEDY. BUT I AGAIN I CAN’T SAY IT’S TRUE FOR SURE; IT’S JUST MY HOPE. I’LL NEVER KNOW.

WHAT THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE FOR — AND IT ANGERS ME AND MAKES ME SAD – IS THAT PEOPLE LIKE MY CLASSMATES IN THIS PICTURE MIGHT HAVE PUT TRUMP OVER THE TOP.

Photo3

OR MADE THE TRUMP WIN CREDIBLE ENOUGH TO STICK, HOWEVER IT HAPPENED. BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS MORE PLEASING TO GOD TO VOTE FOR TRUMP THAN HILLARY. BECAUSE TRUMP WOULD PUT IN A PRO-LIFE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE DOING THE RIGHT THING. LIKE YOUR OWN ALBAMA JUDGE, ROY MOORE, WHO INSISTED  THE TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT STAY ON PUBLIC PROPERTY BECAUSE, HE SAID, IF GOVERNMENT DOESN’T PUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, GOD’S LAW, ABOVE ITS OWN, WE’LL BE LOST. EXPERIENCE MIGHT INFORM HIS CONSCIENCE THAT JOSEPH KONY RECRUITED A CHILD ARMY, MAKING THEM KILL AND MAIM THEIR FAMILIES, ALL IN THE NAME OF ESTABLISHING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AS GOD’S LAW FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF  UGANDA. YOU CAN GET VERY, VERY LOST IN DEFENDING GOD’S LAW, IF YOU REFUSE TO LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE AND DENY THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS.

WE BIBLE-MINDED PEOPLE CAN TAKE GUIDANCE FROM THE GOOD SAMARITAN. WHO PAID FOR THE WOUNDED GUY’S HEALTH CARE. HE WAS AN UNPOPULAR RELIGIOUS MINORITY, BUT HE STOPPED TO HELP AND PAY FOR ANOTHER’S HEALTH CARE  WITHOUT COMPLAINT. IT WASN’T THE RELIGIOUS MAN, OR THE BUSINESSMAN- IT WAS  THE SAMARITAN WHO WAS JESUS’ HERO. WHY NOT FOLLOW THAT EXAMPLE, AND GET OFF THE ABORTION WARS AS A POLITICAL MATTER, LETTING WOMEN HAVE EQUALITY IN TREATING THEIR BODIES AS MEN DO – AS THEIR OWN TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT – SO WE CAN BEGIN A PROGRESSIVE CENTURY AS AN AMERICA WHERE PEOPLE CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. NOT IN SOME IDEOLOGICAL MENTAL REALM WHERE WE IMPOSE PURITY ON OTHERS TO GUARD OUR OWN. BUT REALLY HANDS-ON CARE.

TWO MORE PICTURES:

THE ABOVE WAS TAKEN IN 1981 WHEN I WAS INTERVIEWED BY ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER JERRY BUCK FOR BEING IN ‘THE TWO OF US’ – THE SHOW THAT WAS ON THE COVER OF TV GUIDE.  WE TALKED IN A RESTAURANT AND WALKED OUT ONTO VENTURA BLVD. WHERE I HAD MY PICTURE TAKEN BY AN AP PHOTOGRAPHER. HE MADE ME FEEL PRETTY, WHICH GOOD PHOTOGRAPHERS DO, AND WALKED AWAY AFTER SNAPPING A FEW POSES.

JERRY BUCK SAID, “YOU SHOULD FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF, YOU’VE JUST HAD YOUR PICTURE TAKEN BY A PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER.”  

“OH?” I SAID. “WHO’S HE DONE?” THINKING… ELIZABETH TAYLOR? I HAD REALLY HIT THE HEIGHTS NOW!

HE SAID “REMEMBER THAT PICTURE OF THE LITTLE GIRL RUNNING AWAY FROM HER NAPALMED VILLAGE IN THE VIETNAM WAR?”

 I STILL CAN’T TELL THAT STORY WITHOUT LOSING MY BREATH. THE REAL WORLD COLLIDED WITH MY CELEBRITY PUFF DREAM AND THE REVERBERATION WILL NEVER END.

I GOT IN TOUCH WITH NICK UT IN THE 90S, WHEN I WROTE THAT STORY DOWN IN MY MID-LIFE MEMOIR, “TAKEN TO THE STAGE”. HE TOLD ME MORE. HE’D HELPED THE GIRL AFTER TAKING HER PICTURE AND THEY’D STAYED IN TOUCH.  HER NAME WAS KIM PHUC.  SHE’D RECENTLY CALLED HIM FROM CANADA, WHERE SHE NOW LIVED AND WAS MARRIED AND HAD JUST BECOME A MOTHER. SHE INVITED HIM UP THERE TO TAKE HER PICTURE AGAIN.

HERE IT IS.

image 23

I DON’T HAVE A BETTER ENDING THAN THAT. THANK YOU.

About the Author
Public Relations - Cayuga PR - cathy@cayugapr.com

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