While Americans sat down to traditional Thanksgiving dinners, with relatives they can't stand, to celebrate the arrival of our nation's first refugees who came here fleeing persecution; our president told our troops to shoot any refugee attempting to enter America via our southern border. A fine holiday welcome from the grandson of a Nazi!
I know a little bit about all this, first hand, because my mother arrived here as an illegal immigrant refugee during WWII, fleeing Nazi genocide in Europe. After her ship sailed passed the Statue of Liberty and docked at Ellis Island, she presented herself to Immigration as a refugee. She was allowed to stay, given the equivalent of a green card, and five cents to pay for the ferry ride across New York Harbor, past the Statue of Liberty, to begin her new life in America. That nickel was the only welfare she ever got during her sixty years of life here in freedom. For our family's first Thanksgiving in America in the late 1940s, we went to Grandma's house where she cooked a Canadian Snow Goose. We didn't know much about the holiday back then, but the goose was delicious. I also remember learning about another American holiday tradition as a toddler in the late 1940s when I attempted to enjoy Halloween by standing in some goofy little costume on upper Broadway in NYC and squeaking "Trick or Treat" without having a clue what I was saying. Growing up in a refugee community, I didn't speak English yet, even though I was born here. It was a long time ago. Since then, I've learned to love our Thanksgiving more than anything, particularly as the son of refugees and as a veteran. The whole Thanksgiving story is likely a myth made up to teach children about American Values; but the meaning of it has guided my life along with my illegal immigrant mother having taught me that "there is nothing more precious than American Freedom."
Over the same Thanksgiving weekend, this year, a few thousand desperate starving Central American refugees rushed the border and tried to climb over the barrier. Tear gas was fired at them from the American side, and in the chaos some poor woman fell and was impaled in a bloody mess on the barbed wire to the horror of her little children who were with her. Is this is what makes America great, Herr president?
Something smells fishy to me about that border rush. I suspect some Spanish speaking right wing Yankee agent provocateur told them that there was a sit-down turkey dinner waiting for them on the other side; just so that Democratic leaders could be falsely blamed for the whole thing, which they were. Ridiculous? I've seen the same dirty tricks by Republicans for decades! Back in 1972 during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, there was a riot supposedly carried out by raggedly dressed left wing Hippies rampaging down Collins Avenue smashing cars and store windows. The thing was that they were all wearing wing tip shoes and had white wall haircuts, because they were all paid employees of a right wing private security company. It was so very obviously fake! I saw the whole thing with my own eyes. (Yeah, I was there as a genuine left wing peaceful demonstrator).
Instead of ruining Thanksgiving for thousands of American troops sent to the border for a vile political stunt, the millions that cost could have been spent setting up a safe tent city for the refugees and giving them a proper sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, without stealing their children or bashing them in their faces with rifle butts. Who the hell are we anyway? Are we some brutal third world sand-banana republic run by a crazed greedy dictator? Sadly, at the moment, you'd think so.
And now we have the First Family's f.....g red Christmas trees lining the sacred halls of the White House; paid for by your tax dollars. Or maybe they were a gift from Vladimir? Uggghh! Is that the tune of the International I hear wafting through the Red House? We already know the president is mean, nasty, destructive, likes Russian hookers peeing, etc. But those red trees are sick!
The fake president ended the month by flying off to an international meeting of world leaders in Argentina, where he made an idiotic show of canceling a meeting with Putin. But, you can be sure he managed to sneak up to Putin's hotel room in the middle of the night to get on his knees to kiss Putin's ass and feet. Enough! I'm sick of reciting the sins of the month.
A Gay Hero
Late November this year marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Harvey Milk in San Francisco. I was there; I knew him; I was a young veteran at the time beginning a new life in the gayest city on Earth. It makes me feel old realizing how long ago it was. But, what matters is that there are so many of us old gay farts still alive to remember. Thousands of people knew him; it wasn't unusual. You could stroll into his camera shop on Castro Street and be mesmerized by his charisma as he just stood there talking plain and simple down to earth about his plans to create a world where gay folks are free and equal. Harvey Milk, born in 1930, grew up in suburban Long Island, just east of New York City; he went to college, joined the Navy, and served as a Lieutenant during the Korean War. Yes, Milk was a veteran and proud of it. He was a Navy Master Diver and instructor and proudly wore his US Navy Master Diver's belt buckle till the day he died. After quietly working on Wall Street in New York City until he was 40, he became inspired by the clarion call of San Francisco where gay folks could live openly, and moved there as so many of us did. He then dared to do more and proudly became the City's first openly gay member of the Board of Supervisors. What a thrill it was to vote for him! Had he lived, he likely would have become a member of Congress, and fought for HIV/AIDS funding. Sadly, a nobody bigot murdered Mayor Moscone and Milk on a day remembered around the world by folks dreaming of freedom even now.
Back in the day, in San Francisco in the 1970s, the Gods of the Gay Revolution walked the Earth like ordinary mortals. You could drop into Milk's shop anytime or stand on the corner of Castro and 18th chatting with Leonard Matlovich for hours. Yes, Leonard Matlovich, another gay veteran and hero, just hanging out on Castro like ordinary people. On a summer Saturday afternoon, it was normal to see bearded gay men walking down the street holding hands, with crazed German tourists chasing after them snapping photos with an Instamatic to show the folks back home. One such day, a fellow walked casually down Castro in a full feathered headdress and a fringed leather outfit. The two German tourists with the camera nearly died of excitement; "an INDIAN, a Gay Indian!" He was just an ordinary Native American headed for a local meeting, of course. It was all he could do to keep from laughing his ass off at the German tourists gasping behind him.
A year after the assassination, the murderer was given a slap on the wrist sentence for killing two heroes. That evening someone got ahold of Milk's megaphone and the shout echoed through the Castro, "Out of the bars and into the streets!" Sixty thousand people gathered and began a peaceful candlelight march down Market Street headed to City Hall. I joined and soon found myself in the middle of what became known as the White Night Riot! When riot police arrived, all hell broke loose at what had been a peaceful protest. Police cars were set on fire, windows were smashed, and crazed police chased people running away and broke bones with their batons. I managed to escape to Market Street; streetcar service had been shut down, black helicopters were overhead, and busloads of riot police raced past me towards City Hall. I was in a war zone! I walked and walked and arrived home at Midnight. My lover was watching the riot live on TV, imagining me lying somewhere in a pool of blood. He burst into tears when I walked in safe. We held each other in bed watching the carnage on TV through the night. So long ago!
We must never forget our heroes; thank a gay veteran today.
-Denny Meyer, fmr USN, SFC USAR