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Speaking out is an American Freedom

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Where do we go from here

It was one o’clock this morning, 12:56 A.M. to be exact, when I heard that funny little sound that says, “you have a text message”. I had been up late in an effort to finish my next book and beat the imposed deadline.

I opened the text and saw it was from my grandson Sam. Sam is a sophomore at the University Santa Barbara California. The text said, “ Before you see the news tomorrow, I just want to tell you that I’m okay”.

When I put on the TV, every station was carrying the news that a deranged individual with a semi-automatic rifle drove down the main street of Isla Vista where Sam lives and randomly shot and killed seven including himself, while sending seven others with injuries to the hospital.

Naturally, our hearts go out to all the injured and also to the family of the 22 year old suspect who created this mayhem. The column I was about to write and I am writing today was to be about a tapestry of things that bother me and should bother every American

Among them is the dramatic change of our emphasis at colleges and university where it seems that at a lot of the great institutes of higher learning, victory in sports is more important than academic achievement. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many outstanding schools still turning out learned individuals.

However, where is the justice when a coach who may not even be required to nurture young minds, earns more than a professor who may be tutoring the next Einstein, Edison, or Zuckerberg. In fact, in many of the Universities, the coach is the highest paid faculty employee.

Years ago, Sir Anthony Newley gave us a wonderful Broadway Stage Play that later became a hit Movie Musical entitled, “Stop The World I Want To get Off”. In my eighties, I sometimes feel exactly like the title. But that’s not the answer! The answer is that like-minded people should band together and become a force to bring about change.

A force for such change has been the United Negro College Fund. Founded in 1972, they have supplied many bright students with an opportunity for an education. The fund has attracted many high profile donors.

President john F. Kennedy donated royalties from his Pulitzer Prize Winning Book “Profiles in Courage” and Walter Annenberg gave the fund its largest single donation… $50 million. It is note that both Caucasian men gave these donations without fanfare unlike the bigoted Donald Sterling who spent millions of media dollars praising his gift giving.

In 1980, the brilliant African-American Singer Lou Rawls started his UNCF “Evening of Stars” Concert and Telethon. Until his death in 2006, the Concert had raised over $200 million and was responsible for almost 75,000 scholarships. Lou and I first interfaced when we got him to sing the National Anthem before the 1977 Ali- Ernie Shavers Fight.

The slogan of the UNCF is, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”.

Think about that! If today a young man can dribble a ball better than others, or tackle harder and more frequently, he can get an athletic scholarship. Herein lies the rub; many take advantage of this opportunity and stay in school for only their freshman year before moving on in hopes of a Pro career.

In most instances, their “mind has been wasted”. The majority leaves school without the benefit of even a basic education teaching them how to cope with everyday life. Many might even succeed at their chosen sport, but when it’s over, they cannot even read, or write with no opportunity for gainful employment in civilian life.

To me, Freedom of Speech is one of the four great freedoms many of us who served in the military fought for. However, today many people are afraid to speak out for fear of being “Political Incorrect”.

This is wrong!

Unless we are preaching sedition, or treason, or harm to a person, or our country, we should be able to speak our mind. True freedom of speech cannot be hypocritical, or one-sided.

It should not allow muckrakers to have free reign before our TV cameras and at our microphones. While all the time they criticize some one who both honestly and rationally presents an opinion that a vocal minority finds offensive.

Such a victim is Mark Cuban, the effervescent and oft-fined owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He logically, in an interview with INC. magazine, pointed out there is no such thing as “Fair and Balanced” as one Network touts.

We are human beings and as such, no matter who we are, we have opinions. He pointed out in his interview what 95% of Americans feel, but do not express.

He stated that if he were on a darkened street in a known rough neighborhood and saw either a black man, or a white man dressed a certain way or loaded with tattoos, he would cross from one side of the street to the other, or back to avoid a confrontation.

Unfortunately, the semantics he used to describe one of the possible perpetrators was a wrong choice of words. For which he apologized!

Nevertheless, many of those who have been given access to TV’s Bully Pulpit screamed for his head. This is hypocritical and one-sided. But then again, that is part of today’s problem.

To conclude, I turn to the bible where it is written, “love thy neighbor”. Many times it is impossible to love our neighbor, but we must try.

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