Tag Archives: Americans

Open Letter to the American voter on the Eve of the Election

menow

Dear Fellow Americans,

Although many reading this may know where my vote is going, this letter is about something far more important than anyone’s personal choice for the next President of the United States.  On November 8, one of the cornerstones of American freedom and democracy takes center stage as the people go to the ballot boxes and choose their next Commander in Chief. There is no question that this day, a day that is always vital, is even more critical in 2016.  However, what possibly separates this election cycle from so many others is that as crucial as November 8th is, a very solid argument can be made that there is a day far more important, and that is the next day, November 9th.

Even many staunch supporters of Trump and Clinton feel that the country is in big trouble. Many feel that this election is an embarrassment.  The world has been watching and they love to say that we Americans have made fools of ourselves with our choices and our attacks on each other. Well I am here to say otherwise.  I am writing this letter to all Americans who genuinely want a better country. As critical as the choice is on November 8, and as uncertain as our future is, we as Americans have a choice that is even more critical than for who we cast our ballot.  That choice is whether or not we are prepared to work together as a nation in support of the next president.  That choice is to show the rest of the world who we really are, not who they like to believe us to be.

I know how the biggest critics feel about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  It’s been well-documented, highly publicized, and discussed ad-nauseum.  But on November 9th, assuming the election has a clear enough outcome to declare a winner, people all over the great United States have an opportunity to heal the nation.  To continue bashing the other side and sit back and type nasty comments online and come up with silly names about the candidate you didn’t want after the election, will just prove the naysayers right.  When the Supreme Leader of Iran uses this election to declare that America’s choices and behavior during this election proves Iran to be right, it is our responsibility to use November 9th to prove how wrong he actually is by showing how right the American system is.  Show the world that peaceful democracy and a free society creates dispute, but ends in peaceful coexistence.

I’m reminded of my father, may he rest in peace.  I won’t speak for my siblings, but in my case, when my father was vehemently opposed to one of my life choices he would push very hard to do things the way he felt I should do them.  Would he get mad at me if I wasn’t seeing it his way?  If the issue was important enough, most definitely. Would he make it very clear that he felt I was making a mistake? Unquestionably.  However, those times when I chose not to listen, once I made the choice, even if he was unhappy with my choice, he supported me in my decision.  Sometimes he was right, sometimes I was, but every time I came out loving him even more.  Why?  Because when it’s important enough to you and those you care about, you may show passion for your choice, but the true indication of love is to continue to show support whether or not someone listens to you or not and regardless of whether or not they share your passion.  I got that from my father.

On November 9th Americans have an opportunity to show their true love of country. Granted it will be easier for those on the side of the winner, but the opportunity exists nonetheless.  The winning side must be prepared to genuinely welcome the other in building and healing the country.  Although each side has different philosophies on how to move the country and the world forward, a totally one-sided agenda from the winning party’s candidate will alienate too many others who voted for the opposition, and nothing will be more important on November 9th than a country moving towards unity.

It is a common thing in life for people to blame their problems on others.  Humanity does that on an individual level and as a people.  The truth is that many problems can be resolved by doing what is right and working hard towards making things happen.  This election is no different.  As important as it is, upwards of at least 40% of the voting populous will not get the candidate they want. These people will be left with 2 choices. Continue to fight the opposition and set this country back decades with more infighting and obstruction, or join forces and find a middle ground most, if not all people can agree on.

There is a populous movement in this country.  This populism has taken form on both the conservative and liberal side of the aisle.  There are some fundamental disagreements on policies.  That being said the overall lesson to be learned by the populist movement is that the people are more involved than they have been in the past.  But involvement is not enough.  This involvement must coincide with responsibility, and that responsibility is towards the common good, something that can only be reached by working together and yes, supporting your next president regardless of who gets elected.

As easy and therapeutic as it will be to insult the President-elect if that person was not the one you voted for, like so many other things in life the right thing to do is not always the easy thing to do.  So it comes down to this.  I don’t care if you hate one candidate so much that the very though of them becoming the next president makes you sick to your stomach.  What I care about is the future of this country and the rest of the world, and regardless of who wins, for better or for worse we are far better off if we support our next president.  That is something I will do.  Not because I consider all options to be acceptable, but because the only way this works is if we get behind that president and grow together as a nation.  If we do not do that then all of this will have been for nothing.  To me that is far less acceptable than my candidate losing.

Fight for what you believe in.  Fight for what you feel is right.  But at the end of the day do what it right for your country, and that means supporting its leadership, even if it wasn’t the leadership you chose.  Tomorrow I will support my candidate. On Wednesday I will support the next President of the United States.

But first get up tomorrow I will do what I hope all of you will do.  I will get out and vote.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Talking about Trump Won’t solve the Bigger Problem

donald-trump_3

I am not a Trump supporter.  I have never been a Trump supporter. That being said, this is the time for me to be honest, and in reading this I hope that you will be as well.

I have publicly stated, as recently as a few weeks ago, that although I don’t support Trump and won’t vote for him, worse things could happen.  Of course “The Donald” can say a lot in a few weeks, some of which might make one rethink that sentiment, but it doesn’t change one very important fact.  Many Americans, whether they’ve said it in public or not have at one time or another felt like they themselves would want the things Trump calls for.  People in America are already tired of the concern and fear caused by the actions and threats of Muslim terrorists.  I normally don’t put the word Muslim before the word terrorist, but we are being honest here, right?  I have said many times, that although I am well aware that most Muslims are not terrorists, we can’t deny the fact that most of the terrorists we fear today are Muslim.  So when Donald Trump says we need to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, most people may say that they are disgusted by his Xenophobia and that this shows how he is unfit to be the president, but deep down many of these same people have feelings not so different than what he is proposing.

I am not making a case for Donald Trump’s candidacy nor am I supporting his proposals.  What I am doing however is recognizing why he is getting so much attention and why he leads in the polls.  I can’t help but remember Jack Nicholson’s speech in a Few Good Men. The speech I am speaking of is of course the very same speech where he shouts at Tom Cruise these now famous words, “You can’t handle the truth!”. Earlier on in the speech he says words that are importantly poignant in today’s political climate.  In the movie, Nicholson’s character, Colonel Nathan R. Jessep says the following:

“And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.”

That my friends is why Trump is leading at the polls.  It may also be why  leading in the polls won’t translate into a victory at the polls later.  Only time will tell, but if my assessment is correct, the support for Trump, albeit significant, is more of a statement of protest than it is a vote of confidence.  There are many who support him outright and will vote for him, but it is my contention he is just that candidate who “while grotesque and incomprehensible to you” is saying those things you might be thinking “deep down in places you don’t talk  about at parties”.  Either that or the country is so fed up they will vote for a guy who says anything, as long as he talks tough when referencing our worst fears.

The important thing to learn from this is that many Americans are disillusioned, scared, and quite frankly distrustful of most politicians. That can, and often has been a formula in the past for a rise of extremism.  The support for Donald Trump is as much a statement of protest as anything else, a statement that if ignored could very well lead to his presidency.  The answer is to do a lot more than just talk about him, the answer is to provide an alternative.  The question then becomes, can either party’s candidates provide one.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Open Letter to John Kerry regarding the State Department Approach towards Israel

John_Kerry_second_Secretary_of_State_PortraitDear Secretary Kerry,

Although I am a Jew and a Zionist, as an American I am fully aware that when we vote for our leaders we are electing individuals whose job is to do what they perceive as best for the United States of America.  I am fully aware that despite the importance Israel has to me and millions of other Americans, your job is to do what you deem as strategically beneficial for America first.  I respect that, and to be frank as an American voter, even expect that.  With that in mind, despite my admitted personal bias, I still have serious issues with the actions of this administration and as I write this letter, primarily with the State Department.

I will begin to make my point by asking an important question.  What is the difference between negotiating with terrorists and legitimizing them?  I understand the Israeli/Palestinian issue is a complicated and troubling one.  I personally no longer hold a moderate view towards how it should be handled, but I know many of my fellow Jews and Americans who are more moderate and even optimistic that a two state solution is possible.  I know of many people who believe in what is best for Israel while opposing the building of settlements in the West Bank and questioning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies.   I tell you this to emphasize that despite the fact that I strongly disagree with these people, I know many of them love Israel as much as I do. The issue however is the importance of making a clear distinction not only between innocent Palestinian civilians and Palestinian terrorists but in properly addressing who is responsible for the problems they, the innocent people face.

I think it is fair to say that when Jen Psaki speaks in the name of the State Department, she is doing so with your approval and under your authority.  To be frank, if this is not the case that would represent an entire different set of problems.  But assuming she is indeed doing so, it seems more and more clear that there is an unfair balance as to the amount of criticism and expectation put on Israel by the Department of State.

I’ve heard the argument that Israel, as the democracy that it is needs to be held to a higher standard.  I also know that despite some of the problems currently between Israel and this administration there still exists a positive working relationship.  What I believe to be at issue here, and can not be justified by the rationale of diplomacy, is the fact that Israel gets pressured and criticized by the State Department in ways that imply it is fighting against an enemy of equal legitimacy.  If you wish to concern yourself with the well-being of the Palestinian people equally to that of the Israelis, I will quietly understand and accept that as a fair premise.  However in doing so, besides how morally incorrect it is,  you are defeating your own purpose if you manifest this into equal treatment of Israel’s government and Hamas.

I am sure the response would be that the State Department has condemned Hamas on occasion and that should be enough, but it’s not enough if you don’t properly address the fact that it is indeed Hamas and those factions within the Palestinian community that discourage peace with Israel and encourage violence and terrorism from their able-bodied men that is mostly responsible for the problems the innocent Palestinians are facing.

One more important point I wish to make, going back to my original statement, is that this approach which not only legitimizes but emboldens terrorist organizations is an approach that has the potential to cause serious harm to the United States and its allies.  If nothing else motivates you to rethink your strategy, I certainly hope that this does.

It would be wonderful to receive a sincere thought out response to this letter, one which details how the current actions are beneficial to all legitimate parties, but to be quite frank I’m not expecting one.  Please however be aware that many people feel as I do and are disillusioned and losing faith in the current administration’s ability to handle the serious events taking place around the globe.  Seeing that there seems to be more of an emphasis on satisfying the concerns of outside parties than the concerns of the American people, the State Department may want to reconsider its approach.

Sincerely,

David Groen

 

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Terrifying Intentions

Nuclear_bombHopefully the title is enough to alert you to the content of this post, but if not consider this a warning.  This report is very disturbing.  A senior member of the Islamic State in Australia instructed another member of the terror group to snatch random people off the street and behead them on camera. The terror sweep Australian police conducted yesterday uncovered the plot and at least averted this specific act of barbarism planned for the cities of Sydney and Brisbane.

It stands to reason that the United States and Britain are in similar danger.  I think it is safe to assume they have numerous plots in place.  It goes without saying that we hope and pray that none are successful but only time will tell if we wind up that fortunate.  In the meantime we all need to be diligent wherever we may be, be it a train a busy street, or even a sporting event.  I do want to make one important point though.  The time for these “clean wars” is over.  Yes it is a tragedy when innocent civilians die, but when evil takes up camp in a civilian population center we need to learn the lesson of the allies and Dresden and if appropriate even the lesson of Harry Truman and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I don’t propose we wait for thousands of Americans, Brits or Australians to get killed.  I don’t believe we need to spend the years to come in fear for our lives. It is my belief that if any significant act of terror takes places we bomb them like the allies bombed the Nazis in Dresden, Germany in February of 1945, killing an estimated 25,000 Germans.  If that doesn’t work we do what the United States did to Japan dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing as many as 160,000 people.  Devastation.  Tragedy. But the war ended and not only were the allies able to rebuild their lives, the Germans and Japanese were as well.

Some might say it is easy to sit in front of a computer and push the idea of killing tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people, but I believe it may wind up saving millions of lives.  No more “targeted strikes” and careful attacks.  If they truly do take the war to us, we need to decimate them.  If we don’t do it now we’ll need to do it later and a lot more people will die as a result.  Or even worse, they’ll wind up decimating us.

Believe it or not I don’t believe in war, however, I believe you do what you need to do to survive.  If we are to survive we need to pummel this enemy into submission before they are too strong to destroy.

 

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My 92 Year Old Mother Weighs in on the NFL and off the field Violence

momdayEarlier today I had a conversation with my mother regarding the violent behavior of football players in the National Football League.  It is important that I clearly indicate that the football players I am referring to play in the NFL because my mother, Sipora Groen, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland, takes umbrage in the fact that we call the sport football.  I’ve heard her say countless times, ” That’s not football. They call it that but it’s not football.”  For my mother, what Americans call soccer is the REAL football.  It’s no secret how she feels about American football either.  She hates it.  And for her, the recent rash of violence from its players is vindication for her opinion.

The point she wants to make, and specifically asked me to relate to my readers, is that the nature of the sport creates an inevitability of this behavior.  She believes that a sport with constant violent hits, and men jumping on top of each other to keep the other men down, sometimes in large piles, creates such a pent-up aggression that these men are left with a need to relieve this aggression in some manner or another.  She is appalled by the domestic violence as any other normal person would be, but she also feels that the sport is not a normal sport and that as it exists in its current form will ultimately lead to more violence off the field.

She went on to say that she even believes that boxing is better because it only involves two people and the actions of these 2 people in the ring are carefully monitored.  She dismissed out of hand my notion that football is carefully monitored as well because in football men just haphazardly pile on top of each other.  She  is very clear about her opinion.  Unless the actual sport of football changes, more players will be involved in off the field violence.  She feels so strongly about this that it is her opinion that Ray Rice would not have hit his fiance, now his wife, in the elevator if it were not for his involvement in football.  I disagreed with this, but she insisted she was right, and at 92 and sharp as a tack, she very well could be.

Once my mother was done giving her opinion I promised I’d write this, but also told her I had to go.  I wanted to watch the football game.

 

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9/11 Chronicles-Volume 1

911

As we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I will be posting some of what I wrote on the days following September 11, 2001. The following I wrote within days of the attacks and was the first piece I wrote in reaction to what took place.

Living in NY on 9/11/01

On Tuesday morning Sept.11, 2001, we witnessed an event that will change the world forever. This act committed by the forces of evil against the civilized world is one that changes the shape of our future. As a resident of New York, I have seen a city traumatized, saddened, and angered. We were all abruptly forced to change the way we look at everything that we do and to alter our perspective on a daily basis. The average New Yorker will take serious umbrage to anyone touching something that belongs to them, especially when it belongs to them collectively.
At around 10AM on Tuesday morning I found myself around the corner from the original symbol of New York City, the Empire State Building. I am not ashamed to say that I was afraid to be there, yet like so many others there, felt a comfort in being with my fellow New Yorkers. After managing to get one call out, a call that created a chain to let my family know that I was OK, I started to walk uptown and to the East, and like many of the people who live in Queens, I walked over the 59th Street Bridge. When I looked to my right, where I used to see the symbol of the New York skyline, now all I saw was a trail of black smoke. I got home safely after a day of much walking and fear yet never lost sight of the fact that I was one of the lucky ones.
As someone who considers himself to be a New Yorker I have been deeply moved and grateful for the attitude and support of our fellow Americans. Today when I bought my first American flag, I did it for 2 reasons. Out of a tremendous pride for living in the greatest city in the world, and out of a gratitude and pride for living in the greatest country in the world. This week while we are all Americans, to us in New York it felt like the entire country was a country of New Yorkers.
The war that was declared on us a few days ago was an act of evil against our basic good. But true good will always conquer evil, and the victims of the attack on Tuesday will not die for nothing if the proper actions are taken to make this the beginning of a series of events that will insure the safety and freedom for us and our future generations.

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The Bright side of Ferguson

628x471I have shied away from addressing the situation in Ferguson, Missouri partially out of lack of information and partially out of focus on what it is I’ve been attempting to accomplish with my articles.  It was not till I felt a connection with what is happening there to the bigger global picture that I felt compelled to write about it.

Let me start by saying that the death of a young man of 18 at the hands of police officers is always a tragedy.  Whether you make the argument that he was an unarmed teenager shot merely because he was black and on the streets or whether you make the argument he was involved in illegal activities and put himself into that situation, his death is a tragedy.  However, despite the tragedy, the behavior of both parties since the events took place ironically magnify the morality that still exists in the United States in comparison to the global atrocities we need to fight.

The harshest reactions to this post will come from two opposing sides of the spectrum.  Since I anticipate that, I will address them both in this piece.  One side will say that this is another example of the injustice a young black man consistently has to face.  They will say that there are too many out there, be it the average citizen or the law enforcement official that see a young black man and suspect him to be a criminal merely because he is black.  The other side will say that the behavior of young black men has created this environment and that if the crime level in that demographic was not so high that people would not react that way.

Everyone who knows me well knows that my opinions are never determined by the color of one’s skin.  They also know that I am a supporter of the police. That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that there are both people of color and police officers that commit crimes.  I say this because other than saying that Michael Brown should not have been killed, I am not using this platform to analyze the more detailed rights and wrongs of what took place here.  The point to this piece is to bring attention to the relative greatness of our society.

This is where the critics on both sides are shaking their hands and wagging their fingers at me.  “Tell that to Michael Brown’s mother”, one might say.  “Try being a cop and never knowing if someone is going to pull out a gun and shoot you”, another might say.  I’m not saying either is wrong nor am I ignoring the problems that do exist in this country, what I am doing is making a larger point.  Other than the looters and rioters on one side and the racists on the other, this case has magnified the way Americans deal with issues.  They scream and shout and protest, go on TV, look to their political leaders, have investigations and most of all, pursue justice.  They don’t always enact justice,  but the pursuit is allowed, not stifled for the most part, and not met with government sanctioned resistance. Yes there are still glaring flaws, and yes both young black men and police officers still have to endure unfair behaviors, but when push comes to shove we still see a society where people are relatively free to express their grievances, and that all that most decent people want is justice.

It’s far from perfect, but it still needs to be recognized and appreciated.  Even by those getting the worst of it.  Because in so many other places it would be, and is a lot worse.

 

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