Monday, September 25, 2006

Troops on the Field

I'm not very good at waiting. I'll admit it… it's a great failing of mine. I read un-purchased magazines in supermarket check-out lines to stave off my impatience. I usually hang up when someone puts me on hold. My husband rates my behavior in airports as marginal at best. I don't like to wait for things to "unfold." I want to be in on the "unfolding" process myself… or at least continually informed. The world we live in now is not an easy place for impatient, resolution-minded people like me. In recent years, Life has slapped around that impatient spirit of mine...and left me aware of my limits. I realize I need to find peace at a slower pace of events... and accept my own powerlessness in many situations.
My youngest daughter was in Manhattan on Sept 11, 2001. She started a brand new job that day. My husband and I knew everything about that job... from 401k to health care benefits... but we didn't ask where the offices were. She said she'd call that morning with a new work phone number. I was sipping tea, making vacation plans with a friend, when I got a call-waiting "beep." "My God! They're attacking New York City!" ...another friend exclaimed! I hung up on both of them.
Her cell didn't answer, so. I checked the address online. The office was very near the Empire State building. There was talk on television of a third plane possibly headed to that landmark. And so the wait began for me, as for so many others on that day. Eventually, she called. ("Eventually" seems too easy a word for how it felt.) Our family was one of the fortunate ones. Relief overwhelmed me. But, a while later, reality set in. This was not "over," she would continue to live there. Through anthrax, and subway threats, and Homeland Security Baby would be there. While I sat, frustratingly far away, in a "Beaver-Cleaver-land" part of the country, of little interest to foe or friend. My husband and children would continue to fly frequently on international flights, my son and daughter-in-law living and working in the D.C. area. No one was going to quit, or move to come into my little cocoon of safety. I had no power to control them, to control world events, to keep them safe. Somehow I had to learn patience, find serenity, get a grip. Life gave my impatient spirit a near knock-out punch with that one. But there is always more to come.

Last year our family faced another formidable foe: my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I learned there were no "definite" courses of treatment…only educated best guesses. I wanted certainty. I wanted to "KNOW." "Not gonna happen," Life said, and shook me until I understood. I don't get to know. I get to wait. I get to learn faith and forbearance and an untapped resource called fortitude. I found in an old poem I loved… words that my mother, if living, might have said.
"What is this I hear of anger, discontent, and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you...
It takes life to love Life."
(Edgar Lee Masters, Lucinda Matlock.)
So I understand we need to have patience with this Duke Lacrosse case. We have to wait. "Yes I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned," said another favorite poet of mine, Edna St. Vincent Millay. That's right, Edna, I'm with you on this one, girl! I, too, am not resigned to passivity in this evil process.
I thought this week of the boys and their families waiting, again, for another hearing. I prayed they would have "The Peace That Passes All Understanding" to help them endure. They have been waiting since last March for justice, for fairness, for sanity to prevail in this matter. I want it for them NOW... I'm sure you do too. But another hearing has passed and the Evil Wizard is still weaving his Fantastic Lies. I thought of Reade's Mom, answering the phone, hearing those fateful words, "Mom, she picked me." For me, it called up "My God, they're attacking New York City," and "It's cancer." I'm sure each of you have had words in your lives, you can call up to feel that ice-cold dread... that moment of lead. Call it up now. That's the antidote to waiting. That's the impetus to the energy we need in this case right now.
"Hope begins in the dark, the slow hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait, and wait, and work, you don't give up," said Anne Lamott.
We will be patient, yes, but we will NOT give up. We must "work." There is SOMETHING very much in our power to achieve in this case: the defeat of Michael Nifong in the District Attorney's race. I am no political writer, but I will say this over and over till November. THIS is something we can make happen. Beth Brewer of RN-VC has the troops on the field. More voters signed Lewis Cheek's petition than voted for Nifong. This is one evil we can grab by the throat and throw into obscurity. It just takes each of us doing whatever we possibly can. Write, post, rabble-rouse... sign up new voters, drive to the polls. Put up a campaign sign, give what you can, All those of you who care, who are seething with outrage...PLEASE...get involved. Seldom in these frustrations in our lives, does life hand us a road map to satisfaction…to a possible resolution. This is one of those moments. I'm dreaming of a phone call for Nifong this November, the very one he most dreads… "Mike...YOU LOST." Are you dreaming of that too?
Let's make it happen. I can almost hear Nifong's phone ringing now.


Anonymous said...

Five years ago the public high school my daughters were to attend adopted a new course curriculum that was “international.” This curriculum was promoted by a small group of parents who were very chummy with an elected school board member. It was done quietly with little or no public discourse and announced via a letter home at the beginning of summer vacation.
Adopting this curriculum meant that all AP classes had to be eliminated, disrupting the courses planned for all current students. When another mom and I started doing a little research on the “international” curriculum we were shocked at the inherent weaknesses in the program. Within 48 hours we were in the principal’s office with a summary of our research. He patted us on the head and said we didn’t understand. He specifically told me that I might be afraid of “foreign” companies. We met with the elected school board member who signed off on the new curriculum. When we asked if the representatives from the organization that sold the curriculum provided any statistics about how the students performed on standardized tests such as college entrance exams he responded, “He had some numbers.” This from a PhD in physics. As it turned out, the “international” organization does not release outcome statistics on its curriculum. We are unsure if they even have any.
We started a grass-roots campaign to eliminate the “international” curriculum. We held meetings and invited everyone interested. The opposing parents also held meetings. When we asked where they were so we could attend, we were told they were secret meetings. They didn’t want to “get into a discussion” with us.
To make a long story longer, we fought for months and eventually convinced the parents (save a few), the principal, and the school board that the “international” curriculum was basically hogwash. It was removed. In an election that occurred during the ordeal, the school board member who approved the new curriculum was not re-elected.
I learned two things:
1. Whenever a proponent of some position will not engage in a debate on the merits of the issues, they do not have a good argument.
2. People can change the system.
When Nifong was able to espouse evidence that didn’t exist, he couldn’t shut up. When people started challenging him, he suddenly decided he was no longer going to comment. When defense attorneys tried to present exculpatory evidence, Nifong didn’t want to discuss it. When the defense started demanding the discovery they are legally due, Nifong started snickering, sighing with the boredom of it all, and rolling his eyes. When citizens and journalists (at least some of them) started asking substantive questions, Nifong became upset and angry. When some of his fellow Animal Control Board members signed the Cheek petition, Nifong threatened to quit. (I still don’t believe the underlying immaturity of that one.)
I only hope that the citizens of Durham will know that they can change justice as it is dealt in Durham. They can vote to Recall Nifong – Vote Cheek.

Anonymous said...

"rabble-rouse" is an excellent idea!

We need to make sure our local media,
talk show hosts, opinion columnists,
and political leaders are made aware
of the outrageous conduct of Nifong
in this case--and his destruction of evidence, refusal to meet discovery,
his changing stories, etc. BECAUSE

Anonymous said...

It's alright to watch a horror film as long as you know in the last reel everyone comes out all right...

joan foster said...

Thanks to the first poster for sharing that wonderful example of what we can achieve with determination and tenacity. Your words were inspiring....just what we all need to read ...and what I especially needed to read this morning. Thanks to all of you for commenting.

Anonymous said...

This fight doesn't end with the recall of Nifong! We must press on to defeat Judges Stephens and Titus ('07/'08?)

Anonymous said...

Another great article. As a Duke parent, I want you to know how much your work is appreciated. My husband and I sent our contribution today to help recall Nifong. I only wished I lived in Durham right now, so I could vote, but my daughter will be doing her part.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is the brazen attitude of Nifong. I honestly believe that 99% of DAs would have long since dumped this case.

What does Nifong have on the Judges of Durham? Judge Stephens & Judge Titus just let him run over Justice.

I do trust Osborn, Smith, and Cheshire but their job is not to remove Nifong but to obtain a dismissal of charges. I pray that will happen.

However what is going to happen to Durham if Nifong stays as DA? That is why we must Recall Nifong & Vote for Cheek!

Anonymous said...

This is the email I sent to Ben Niolet, Melanie Sill and Joe Neff of the NandO this past saturday.

"Liestoppers Blogspot is reporting this morning (9/23) that at yesterdays hearing, it was revealed that the Durham Police Department destroyed evidence. Tapes of radio transmissions on the night of the alleged crime have been erased, according to Liestopper's reporter who was at the hearing.

What do you all know about this? How could it happen?"

Walter Abbott
Ruston, LA

As of noon central time today, Monday, 9/25, I had recieved no response to the inquiry. So I phoned Ben Niolet (his number is at the end of his alleged news stories) and asked about DPD's destruction of evidence (audio tapes of police radio transmissions pertinent to the alleged crime) brought to light in Friday's hearing.

His response was, "I wouldn't phrase it that way." I made sure he understood that there was a motion outstanding to preserve that evidence, and that the DPD erased said tapes and while that motion was still outstanding. Niolet acknowledged he knew those facts.

I told him a lot of people who followed the case closely indeed DID consider it evidence destruction and that Liestoppers had a correspondent at the hearing. To which he opined that hearing are public and anyone can go and that news judgements are always made as to what is newsworthy.

Once again we find that we CANNOT depend upon the DriveBy Media to report what is happening in Durham. We must do it ourselves...

Anonymous said...

It is unbelievable that they would destroy the tapes or even tape over them. But nothing should suprise us in the case. The transcript is available on the internet and the tapes were on the internet. Can they be used.?

Anonymous said...

More of the real people of Durham signed petitions for Cheek than voted for Nifong.