We Knew It All Along

Many of us are old enough to remember Public Enemy’s hit single, “Don’t Believe the Hype.”  That was 1988, when rap music was still considered a “black thing,” and Public Enemy’s unapologetic hardcore nationalism scared off a lot of white and black people.  But the essential truth behind the message was undeniable and the group went on to chalk up big crossover hits with other message songs, namely the self-explanatory “Fight the Power” and “911 is a Joke,” which hilariously yet ruthlessly mocked the standard wisdom of the day.

The messages at this blog site are all about fighting the power and exploding the hype of the power structure, locally and beyond. One of the so-called mainstream’s standard and reliable tropes is to report something that either happened a long time ago, or has been happening for a very long time, as an expose: “And now a breaking story – dog bites man.”

I still believe that most people really are too smart to not believe the things that we’re not supposed to believe until it’s picked up by the mainstream media in all its forms.  I mean, come on: we really didn’t know to be careful around strange dogs until we saw that sensational  pop-up headline on the Internet or the reporter on TV deadpan the “breaking” story?

Here are a few “revelations” that may insult your intelligence.

“Joe Pa” knew – for a long time

So, the sainted football coach (and apparently the only reason for Penn State to exist), Joe Paterno, knew that his brilliant defensive assistant Jerry Sandusky was sexually assaulting kids as far back as 1976. And so did a lot of other people.

From the locker-room point of view, this is a no-brainer. Anyone who has played any school-based team sport on any level, from junior high or middle school on up, knows that those kinds of things could not have been happening without the head coach’s knowledge.  And, of course, numerous assistant coaches over the years would have been aware, as well.  Most of their identities are being protected, just as the Paterno family and Penn State boosters struggle to maintain Joe Paterno’s image.

More troubling than the university and athletic department’s covering up, however, is that law enforcement also did nothing initially when people came to them. Hey, what’s more important: having a nationally ranked football program or the basic human rights of dozens (scores? more?) of young people?  The answer given by the establishment was clear in this case.  Law enforcement – or lack thereof – will figure prominently in the next outrage.

Priests molest children

I don’t know how anyone of reasonable intelligence can be “shocked,” “surprised,” or anything like that at the next revelation of a bunch of child-molesting Catholic priests being protected by their diocese. The most recent example in our area is the sickening revelation that from the 1950s through the 1990s, more than 50 priests in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese molested “hundreds” of children with impunity.

I grew up in Johnstown where there were few African-American Catholics, and my family was thankfully not among them.  My grandmother took jobs as a part-time, live-in maid for various area families.  I remember she once had a job working for a monsignor in Altoona and I would often accompany my parents when they drove up there on weekends to pick her up.  This was in the late 1960s.  I never knew the name of this monsignor and my grandmother and parents are all deceased, so I have no idea if he is one those named in the state grand jury’s report.

One time, I went up to Altoona to spend a week with my grandmother in the summer when she worked for this guy.  Now although she was not a Catholic, Grandma was a staunch Christian (so much so, that she nearly physically attacked me later when, as an adolescent, I began to question the existence of God).  Grandma was a small woman, but feisty and combative.  I believe – I know – that if the old boy had tried to touch me and I told her, she would have kicked his ass and/or laid him down.  Believe it!  In the unlikely event that she failed, my father would surely have shot him – if my mother didn’t beat him to it.  That’s what I call fighting the power!

Now, as with the Sandusky case, there is plenty of evidence in the grand jury report to implicate law enforcement officials – some of whom are now sitting judges – in the non-prosecution of these horrors. These people are just as guilty as the priests and church hierarchy, and deserve the prison cells built for others.

But most of these victims had families, just like I had my mine, and many of them told their families, only to not be believed or supported – and some parents actually punished their children for “lying” on the innocent, godly priests.

People, don’t believe the hype! Don’t send your kids to Catholic institutions. If you feel you really must expose them to the local parish, don’t leave them alone with priests. All of these scandals that we know about – and we now know about a lot – are merely the tip of the iceberg.  For Jah’s sake (my god), protect your children from these proven serial predators.

Our Government spies on us

Let’s never forget the debt of gratitude that we owe to Edward Snowden, who sacrificed his career and proved beyond a doubt, at great risk to his physical freedom, that which we already knew.

Back in the 1990s I subscribed to a wonderful journal called CovertAction Information Bulletin, and then CovertAction Quarterly, published by disaffected CIA officer Philip Agee.  I remember reading about the NSA’s electronic data collection program in 2000 or 2001.  Of course, that magazine no longer exists and I’ve misplaced all of those old issues I had stashed in a box somewhere.

Nowadays, the NSA doesn’t bother denying that it spies on Americans; they just say they’re not sure how many of us they spy on, reports Harper’s Weekly Review, on May 3rd.  I guess that’s progress.

Doctors say single-payer health care is best

A group of “prominent” and “respected” physicians and medical school profs have come out for single-payer health care. So doctors actually know and understand (in spite of the American Medical Association’s continued opposition) that a system of universal, single-payer coverage is best for the country. Who knew?  Oh yeah, the Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), those doctors and medical students who have been on the case for almost 30 years now.  But I guess they aren’t prominent or “respected” enough.

Yes, friends, the people who man the machine and administer the system often know a thing or two. That was the idea behind the outdated notion of shop-floor power.  Doctors and nurses know the best way to run a hospital, if your main concern is patient care and not soaking consumers; teachers and educators know the best way to teach and run schools (I’ve heard that incessant standardized testing is not the best instrument in the pedagogical tool box).

Here are a few other things you probably know that our political representatives, “thought leaders” and opinion-shapers don’t want you to know: a corporation is not a person; money buys elections; money buys political influence; “clean coal” is an oxymoron; most Republican Party leaders are just plain morons.

What, dear readers, have I missed?

— James Collins