Weekly Letter to the President
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ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
September 14, 2018
Mr. President: Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 but still huge in
moisture content will continue to pour rain on Georgia and the Carolinas over the
weekend. At the same time, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Pacific will be ravaging the
Philippines, Hong Kong and China. It is larger and much more powerful, a category 5,
and the Philippines, which lacks the infrastructure and resources of the others, is
expected to suffer the worst.
Meanwhile another typhoon of sorts is hitting the U.S. Powerful men topple as
women shame them through the #MeToo movement. The latest is Leslie Moonves
the head of CBS one of the major U.S. TV networks. Apparently, Mr. Moonves had
the habit of forcing himself, his attentions and his anatomy on vulnerable young
females working for him.
This particular typhoon has now enveloped Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the new
Supreme Court nominee who would have shifted the court decisively to the right. A
letter has appeared and forwarded to the FBI for further investigation. It recalls a
high school incident over which the other party wishes to remain anonymous. Is this
the beginning of the end for Mr. Kavanaugh? One never knows. Justice Thomas
survived some very troubling appalling allegations by Anita Hill. She has been
chosen now to lead the recently formed Hollywood Commission on Harassment.
Ants in the pants or in this case the cassock are in the news once again. In Germany,
some 1670 Catholic priests committed some form of sex abuse on 3677 minors
between 1940 and 2014; so finds a study commissioned by the church. One in six
cases involved rape. The authors noted the figures and the extent of the abuse may
be higher as some records had been "destroyed or manipulated". The work was
extensive enough that three German universities participated in the study, which
examined 38,000 documents obtained from 27 German dioceses.
The state of Kerala, home to one of the largest Christian populations in India, has
seen protests by nuns and their supporters over the rape of a nun by a bishop. The
nun lodged a formal complaint with the police on June 27 claiming abuse by Bishop
Franco Mullackal over two years. So far no action by the police, who pushed from
both sides probably wish the whole issue would disappear. As she made the
complaint after the bishop went to the police claiming she and five other nuns were
harassing and blackmailing him, some politicians have questioned her account.
Yet former nuns have previously raised the question of a climate of sexual abuse in
the Kerala Catholic Church. Babies born from such liaisons are often murdered says
former Sister Mary who now runs an orphanage. She saved one such child from the
mother, a nun, who was trying to kill the newborn by drowning it in a toilet tank. "That
boy is a student who lives the life of an orphan," she adds. She thinks priests should
be allowed to marry. Then there is another former nun, Sister Jesme, who wrote
openly about sexual abuse in her book, "Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun" after
she left her Catholic order. She has severed all ties.
Add the abuse of boys by a charismatic priest in Chile, and we have news stories
covering four continents just this week alone. That the Catholic church needs an
overhaul, at least in this respect, must be clear to the pope and his advisers. Of
course medical science now allows chemical castration, a reversible process. And
then there is marriage as the good sister suggests.
The sexual exploitation of the weak and vulnerable by the powerful transgresses
religious and secular boundaries. Not for nothing is 'the director's couch' a
metaphor. The fault in the end lies with society, and a pervasive 'wink and nod'
corporate culture that often still prevails.