By Walter Davis
January 31, 2017 (Canyon Lake, CA) -- I walked down the pier towards the mighty warship. She was moored at the same pier that once held the mighty Japanese battleship Yamato. My gait was slightly unsteady as I had left my family crying quietly in the parking lot.
I was again headed for a combat deployment in The Middle East.
As a Navy Chief, I was attempting to maintain my composure in front of my sailors. We were leaving for battle just days before Thanksgiving.
With a nudge, the mighty ship slipped away from the pier and into the ink black waters of Tokyo Wan. Soon, the dark water gave way to deep blue as we began our transit of the South China Sea.
It did not take much time for us to have a loss. A helicopter went down taking five of my shipmates with it. They were also neighbors in our military housing area in Yokohama. My kids played with theirs. Their daddies would not be coming home.
We destroyed a pirate encampment near the Strait of Malacca to disrupt a system of human trafficking then stopped near Bangkok where we lost two more sailors due to drug overdoses.
At high speed we transited the Indian Ocean and arrived in the North Arabian Sea just before Christmas.
It was the midst of the Iran-Iraq War and both sides had demonstrated hostile actions against us. We had destroyed oil platforms and other structures from a great distance away. Now, we could see the result of our attacks close up as the smoldering ruins littered the seascape.
A plane arrived with Christmas gifts and mail from our families. We must have giggled like school boys as we opened our boxes. I got a cake and began to share it with my crew members.
Then, a RADAR operator reported to me that a military formation was intercepting us at high speed. We quickly developed a targeting solution and the six ships were destroyed in less than 18 minutes. We did not even go to battle stations so the rest of the crew had no idea that we had just been engaged by enemy vessels.
I was relieved to eat Christmas dinner.
The Christmas music made my eyes water as I thought of my kids and the stress of constant combat hurt me. My hands shook as I took my food on a metal tray, I was still shaken by how close we had come to being destroyed.
After getting my turkey and fixings, I was headed to the dining area when a security alert was called. All of us had to lie down on the floor, on top of our trays in our cranberry sauce, gravy and turkey. There was no time to place the trays down neatly and lay down neatly. Marine security officers would brutally beat anyone who moved or refused to hit the deck immediately during a security alert.
As I dumped my food in the trash and headed for the shower following the drill, I took comfort in the fact that we were still alive.
It is funny how sad things can happen around Christmas time. 14 December 2016, my oldest nephew died. I could not stand to hear Christmas music. I felt very sad and hurt over the death of this young man. His kids were very young as was he, at 48. I was invited to a Christmas party by East County Magazine; instead, I opted to take my chiropractor friend up on his offer for a free chiropractic visit. I just do not think I could have maintained my composure during the party festivities while thinking of my nephew.
My happiness and relief were short lived as an elderly man struck my SUV as I approached the freeway on the way to my appointment. The damage was minor to my car, heavier on his. As we exchanged information, a car load of young people passed and a young man with a red beard yelled “Nigger” at me as he passed.
Within ten minutes another car passed with another young white male, shouting “Nigger” from a window as he passed. I began to think: when was the last time I was called a nigger. Have you ever had a conversation with a person of color about this? I have had several talks since this came to mind. I had not been called nigger since a trip to Las Vegas in 2004 when a cowboy in black coat in a casino yelled nigger at me and a group of children in a lobby. It WAS kind of surprising to me that it had been so long since I had been called the N-word.
So, I have had to reset my N-word clock. I have been called this again, by an elderly woman during an online conversation.
I have talked to others on this topic. A young black woman told me that a Mexican child had use the N-word on her in a store, in front of his mother.
Indeed, racism is an equal opportunity issue. A new openness seems to the norm now in terms of people feeling empowered to hurl racial slurs.
The current divisive atmosphere in this country seems to have made it permissible to issue vituperative words and looks. I get many hateful glances from buzzed cut men and others on a regular basis in public. Some just ostracize me and do not speak as they pass my home every day walking their dogs.
They do not see a combat veteran, tax paying citizen or even a human being when looking at me. They see a worthless chimp that should leave their country if he does not like their way. So, just when I start to feel good, I am reminded that I am a member of an oppressed people in the land of the free, home of the brave. So many do not recognize the oppression. So many good people are simply ignorant of the situation.
This is a violent, ignorant and racist country. The national anthem is replete with violence and the original poem that serves as its source was written by an avid racist, Francis Scott Key.
So, the ignorant criticize Colin Kaepernick for not standing during the anthem. Francis Scott Key’s family made a fortune selling slaves. Mr. Key was district attorney in Washington D.C. in the early 1800’s and he frequently targeted black people in unjust legal actions. The part of his poem, with “Home of the BRAVE” actually rhymed with a celebration of the killing of SLAVES.
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
Francis Scott Key
See article here:
Asking a black person to stand for the national anthem is akin to asking a Jewish person to sing a song penned by Adolph Hitler.
Young black girls who are cheerleaders at Robert E. Lee High (we still name schools in this country after racist traitors) have to have THE REBELS adorned across they breasts as they led cheers. We have people marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge (Edmund Pettus was a confederate general). Imagine if they had highways in Germany named after Adolph Hitler. They do not, as their population is educated and will not permit the glorifying of racist traitors.
Americans are taught what to think, not how to think.
Before our last presidential election, many argued with me, that, racism was behind us. Many have opened their eyes but still many have not and continue to ignore the miasma that people of color exist in as citizens of the United States. They reflect fealty to the fallacy that it is now 2017 and racism is behind us.
Tim Wise captures this situation clearly in his documentary “White Like Me” http://www.theprogressivethinkers.org/2016/11/tim-wise-white-like-me-trailer.html#.WIr3QdUrKM8
Matthew Cooke does a great job highlighting the caste system within the United States in his movie “Race Baiting 101” http://www.theprogressivethinkers.org/2016/12/matthew-cooke-race-baiting-101.html#.WIr3ztUrKM8
During my combat tours, I did not fight for black people alone or any group exclusively. I fought for the whole country.
I do not believe in religion, yet, I defended the right of people to be Christian, or Muslim or Atheist or Humanist….and I put my life on the line for them.
I am not gay, yet I defended the right for men and women to pursue their sexual preference.
I am a not a woman, yet I stand up for women’s rights.
I fought to save the lives of white men when they came to me for treatment even though they made it clear that they hated niggers.
People of all races and religions frequently stay at my home.
That is my America. It is not the only one. To some, we need to separate and to segregate. I simply do not have the need to make others do and believe as I do.
To others, they do want everyone to think as they do.
That is what makes up America; people of different views and opinions.
I realized that I have to practice what I preach as I left the accident scene. My grandkids ask me “Why do people hate?” I tell them that some people are just so evil that they just want to see the world burn. It is beyond our understanding. I try to advise them in a way in which they can manage the hate that they are sure to face without hate consuming them. I tell them that their task is to keep love in their hearts even in the face of hate.
As my elderly white grandmother recovered after Birmingham Police beat her for being with blacks, she told me, “Don’t your ever hate”. I am so happy she planted that seed in me. As I got older, it made sense. Now, I plant seeds into my grandkids. I tell them “Those who hate us, never win, until we hate them, that is when we destroy ourselves.”
As people of color, we are tasked with pursuing happiness one moment and having to defend ourselves in life and death conflicts at the drop of a hat.
Some of us know that being an American means defending the rights of others to be happy even when their opinions and outlooks differ from theirs. We must protect each other from the fascists that would have us all think the same in a system of inverted totalitarianism. We must be weary of manufactured reality and consent.
I stand with the Muslim, gay, elderly, young, poor, previously incarcerated, colored, ….liberals….intellectuals…and members of all marginalized and weak groups…in the pursuit of justice, love and happiness. We must realize that justice is love, demonstrated in public.
I am a disabled American fighting man. I am a grandfather. I am a producer. I am a businessman. I am many things. I am an oppressed human being living in flawed country, that I love.
“Justice delayed too long is justice denied.”
Dr. Martin Luther King
The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact email@example.com.