Nice France 2016

I grew up learning that Negroes smell different. Men are good at math. Catholics want to take over the world which is why they have lots of babies. Germans are cold-blooded. Jews are good with money but they are cheapskates. Mexicans are lazy and slow.

The list went on. Queers are dangerous and sick. Women are bad drivers and can’t be given responsibility because they are too emotional. Doctors play golf and bankers are conservative. Japanese are smart. Politicians make money off of war.

These are not bad things, I learned. It is merely the truth, and it is always good to tell the truth.

Every group had a disparaging name, the Congregationalists and Lutherans, the Baptists, the Hari-Krishnas, the French, the Indians, and the Russians, even college graduates and poor people. Terms like “spic,” “egg-head,” and “kike” were said with a smile, because we should feel sorry for such people. Each name announced, “Don’t trust them” and “We are better than them.”

When I met people outside the descriptions — a woman who was a good driver, a boy who was better in Latin than math, a Mexican with a successful business — I realized there were exceptions to the rules I was taught.

Exceptions. I was female but I drove fast and well. Was I an exception? Did the description of the group limit the exceptions? If one generous Jew existed, if one woman was smart enough and unemotional enough to be President, if one politician believed in principles above personal gain, did the stereotype of the group silence that exceptional person? Could the stereotype control a group instead of describing it?

I grew up in America, the land of the free. As an American, I am a mutt. My blood is not pure, so it is easy for me to believe that diversity is good. Acceptance of diversity makes a person and a people stronger. The American dream infers that diverse people can live together peaceably. It is not only that we can, but we should diversify if we are to be resilient.

Diversity exists because we let people be who they are instead of forcing them to fit the specifications of the group. Diversity is the opposite of stereotyping. Diversity exists because of the exception, the exceptional, the individual. The individual can pull himself or herself up, or down, by his/her own bootstraps. The idea of the individual is my true American heritage.

An acquaintance told me today, “It was an Arab who killed those people last night on the Promenade,” as if that explained everything. I stared at him so he continued, “They hate us and they won’t stop until they kill us all. They hate Americans too.” This is the man who tells me, “All Americans are fat.” It is his nature to generalize.

Before I am an American, I am an individual. I am from the United States, and I am skinny. Not wealth or lack of it, not parentage or religion, not skin color, birth place, or gender predicts the life of an individual. The individual, not the group, is responsible for his/her choices. To think otherwise is to stereotype, the trap of false reasoning, the trap that kills individuality.

The man responsible for the attack in Nice had lived in France since his adolescence. His family came from Tunisia where the language is French. It has a population smaller than New York City and was French for 75 years. The killer was not religious or political, and was not part of radical Islam. He was in the middle of a messy divorce, which can drive anyone over the edge, especially in the face of happy people during a celebration. He is proof that killers come in many shapes and sizes.

Crazy people exist. Angry people exist, and terrorists exist. War exists. Political groups organize violent events, or take credit for them, or blame other groups for them. In 1986 Patrick Sherrill killed 14 of his co-workers at a post office in Oklahoma without being a fanatic of any sort. 700 years ago, the Catholics tried to purge the world of infidels, and not long ago at all, Hitler wanted to rid the world of Jews, homosexuals, cripples, and a list of other categories, to improve the world. Violence is not exclusive to one era or organization. There is no accurate stereotype for violence.

Stereotypes are easy. Arabs are bad. Arabs are not French. Arabs are Muslim. They are killers. They hate white people. They live off the social services of other countries. They are dirty, they lie, they dress funny just to provoke us, and they are dangerous. It’s us versus them.

I know people who say such things, but they are wrong. I know that every group has good and bad people in it because I believe in the individual instead of stereotypes. We all contribute to the culture of violence with our silence and our reactive fear, but that is not the same as launching a grenade into a crowd. That is the terrible choice of an individual.

As a child, I was taught certain things, but as an adult I get to choose what to believe. I hold onto the ideas of the individual and of diversity, because I have let go of the blindness born from stereotypes. I choose to associate with people who grieve over the 84 deaths in Nice on the night of the Bastille Day celebration, and then transform that grief into creative ideas to increase tolerance and peace instead of hatred and fear.

Lovely Hatred

I sat in Nice, France with an acquaintance yesterday who was visibly upset by the bombings in Brussels.  Of course.  This was natural.

Then she spoke, saying there was only one way to fix the problem.    I hoped this acquaintance was at least as imaginative in her solution as Cicciolina, the madame elected to the Italian Senate who offered to bed with Saddam Hussein in exchange for peace in the Middle East.

I was disappointed.  She flew into a self-righteous harangue saying all Muslims must be killed and all mosques must be destroyed, throughout the world, because the Koran was filled with violence and hate.  Only after the eradication would we be safe and at peace again.

This was a university professor speaking.  A person of intellect and learning.   She terrified me by her stupidity.  She had no inkling of her resemblance to those she  condemned.  She was so happy and proud of herself as she talked, full of the adrenalin-rush of hatred.

Me, I don’t know the solution to the problems we have today between people of the world.  But I know Muslims have just cause for fearing and hating westerners who hunt them and bomb them and denounce them, just as much as the reverse is true.  Both sides mirror each other, imagining that more violence and hatred will end the violence and hatred.  It’s an old loop of useless thinking.  But it feels so good.

I quietly told this acquaintance that I disagreed with her, and was silenced by another chapter of her venom, where she intimated that it would be better if I too were eliminated.

Strangely, I had essentially the same “conversation” with a different professor in New York after the 9/11 bombings.  His proposition to end terrorism was to “drop a nuke on the middle east and be rid of them all.”   Versions of his solution have not proven effective.

So many generations of human hatred and egotism, starting well before the Christian Crusades had its go at making the world right by using terror tactics.  My time on earth is finite.  How I wish human stupidity would come to an end also.

 

 

My Charlie

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CHARLIE HEBDO is not a symbol of the Free Press. The weekly journal IS the Free Press.

It is more and more difficult to know what to believe – Why does my city’s newspaper put Presidential news on page 5 and Senate news on the front page? Is Fox News presenting the news or its own biased perspectives? Does the AP Wire omit stories of interest to under-developed nations and to religious minorities?

Do we have Freedom of the Press in the USA, or is the “news” so filtered through press releases, press secretaries, editors, and those in charge, that we hear what “They” want us to hear, learning what “They” want us to believe is fact.

The news I get on French news stations, in French newspapers, and on French radio is dramatically different than what I read in the New York Times and AOL news. The news from these sources has different slants; but more, the information itself is different. Huge stories are ignored by the American Press, and vice-versa. Is it because power behind the media promotes its own agenda and fortune?

I believe in Free Speech and a Free Press, based on the theory that if I hear it all, I will be able to make up my own mind, that if people in general hear it all, they can make informed choices. Despite our cynicism about the intelligence level of the general population, these two freedoms help us to rule ourselves, rather than to be tyrannized.

Yes, in the USA and in European countries, there are parameters around Free Speech and the Free Press. Inciting a group to riot is illegal, verbally or in print. Certain communications are considered treasonous. Threats of murder are against the law. It is illegal to mis-quote someone, or to spread untrue things which ruin someone’s character. Pornography has its limits too.

But I can stand on my corner and preach, or I can denounce all religions. I can explain my feminist views on Facebook, and condemn anti-abortion politicians in my essays. My government assures me I do not have to be afraid of speaking my mind, out loud or in print. Sometimes this promise is not kept, but it is a promise nonetheless. If I don’t like what someone is saying or writing, I can ignore it, sometimes as simply as “unfriending” a relative on Facebook. I don’t like what some people believe and say, but in line with Voltaire, I defend their right to believe it and speak about it.

CHARLIE HEBDO is not a magazine I read. It’s an unimportant weekly rag, and I am not a big follower of political cartoons. I don’t like sarcastic humor based on anger, which is only a millimeter different from effective satire. But I give CHARLIE HEBDO my respect – the journal is egalitarian with those it eviscerates. No one, no religion, no political party or system is exempt from its attacks. The cartoons span international topics and satirize their targets with precision.

Of course, the targets do not like what CHARLIE HEBDO publishes.  Would the Pope like a drawing of himself with his knickers down at his ankles while a choir boy licks his penis? This is a blasphemous image. But the point is, Freedom of the Press protects the right of CHARLIE HEBDO to publish such a cartoon. If the Pope is angry about the drawing or the “insinuation” in it, he has choices – but the one choice he does not have is to silence the cartoonist, not in a society which promises Freedom of the Press. Most certainly, no one has the right to silence another by murder.

“I am Charlie” means I believe in Free Speech and the Free Press even when I do not like what is said or is printed. It means you cannot kill me, you cannot kill my open mind, my fierce pride in my freedoms. The slogan means the spirit of freedom is immediately passed onto to others when a few die, and you cannot kill us all. But CHARLIE HEBDO does not “mean” anything. CHARLIE HEBDO is.  It does not need to be an important or sophisticated journal to be protected.  It exists, and therefore it illustrates our fundamental rights on its pages and by its presence. And ironically, CHARLIE HEBDO’s survival has been ensured by the horrific attack on it.

Share Pink with your Friends

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Detective Frank “Pink” Bettman is at it again in COWTOWN CORPSE, the follow-up to COWTOWN CRIME.  

Pink’s tempted by beautiful bodies from city hall to dance halls, but in the end he keeps his eyes on the trail of five Texas killers.

Here’s are two easy links to all of my books, including COWTOWN CORPSE.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/m-d-poole?store=allproducts&keyword=m.d.+poole

http://www.amazon.com/author/m.d.poole

      Aussi disponible en France en anglais à Amazon.fr:

      https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00E0NW66E

 

Share the Crime with your Facebook Friends

 Cowtown Crime cover

In COWTOWN CRIME, Detective Frank “Pink” Bettman, Head of Major Crimes, comes face to face with six corpses, some bloody, some decayed, all of ‘em needing Pink to figure out who-dun-it.  With his police pals and a Texas twang, he cracks the mysteries in COWTOWN CRIME.

Here’s are two easy links to all of my books, including COWTOWN CRIME.

http://www.amazon.com/author/m.d.poole

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/m-d-poole?store=allproducts&keyword=m.d.+poole

      Aussi disponible en France en anglais à Amazon.fr:

      https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00E0NW66E

 

 

THE LONG WAY HOME

Long Way Home coverTHE LONG WAY HOME is book-club women’s fiction about the first paternity suit filed in frontier Texas.  A father ends up in court, with a judgment as independent as the Wild West, affecting 4 generations of the Ware family.

If you haven’t read my work yet, all seven books are avaiable through Nook with Barnes & Noble, as well as on Amazon.  Curl up indoors on a cool evening, and start with THE LONG WAY HOME.

Here’s a sample from  THE LONG WAY HOME:

            D’Ross took a deep breath like he was going to jump feet first into a pond of cold water.  Then he said, “That’s when I took her on my horse and we… “   The heavy boy fluttered his meaty hand in the air.  “You know… we…”  There was the flutter again.  “Back in the woods.”

            Turkey listened to the gasps go through the room.  “Are you telling me, that Verna Ware, the very first time she ever met you, spent intimate time with you?  Is that what you are unable to say, when you do this?”  The lawyer fluttered his own hand in the air, a touch a drama he liked.

            D’Ross answered, “Yep.”  He was enjoying being the center of all the hub-bub and whispers.  “And Abe too.”

            Turkey spun around with his mouth open to look at the pretty young lady standing between her father and her brother at the back of the courtroom, and he asked, “Did you say Abe Finney also had relations with Verna Ware?  That same day?”

            Not a person in the jury was breathing, waiting for the paunchy young man to answer.  D’Ross started to smile and flutter his hand, thinking that would make everyone laugh again.   And then his body jerked right.  A loud crack sounded, filling the air with a roar and smoke, and D’Ross fell out of the witness chair.  The sound repeated, just as loud, louder, and everyone was jumping up or flattening out on the floor.


 

Find THE LONG WAY HOME on Amazon at this site:

http://www.amazon.com/MD-Poole/e/B004X9J438

Or at Barnes & Noble for NOOK here:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-long-way-home-md-poole/1116793647?ean=2940148520924

 

Please Share ! 100 and 5.3 Pounds

 100 and 5.3 Pounds.

My contemporary women’s fiction novel — I love it !

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What happens when a Hollywood astrologer and an over-weight civil servant discover their daughter is pregnant?  It depends on the last will and testament of a famed New York painter.

In 100 and 3.5 Pounds, a family moves farther apart geographically while getting closer emotionally.  4 generations battle it out, calling 911, sharing a poodle, flying cross-country, and telling the hard truth, while they turn a bachelorette party into a baby shower, and assisted living becomes assisted suicide.

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/m.d.poole

and

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/m-d-Poole?store=book&keyword=m.d.+Poole