At the Crossroads of Good and Evil – by Howie Comen


We are at a crossroads of Good and Evil in civilization. Standing with Faust. Robert Johnson, and  Joe Hardy. Do we continue to sell our souls to the devil or do we defeat him?

We are in the middle of a war against evil. Some of this evil is external and in the media hourly. However much  is internal, homegrown, Godless feelings that I’m better than you based on my race, creed, national origin, faith, or which side of the tracks I live on. We have been In an era when God is put on the back burner and selfishness, and a me first attitude dominates humanity for 400 year.  If you don’t look like me, go to my place of worship, or weren’t born here, you are inferior to me. We are one nation under God run by white guys. 

The problem is we really are not one nation under God. We are five nations under God. The Red Nation (they were here first) the Black nation ( they suffered the same fate as your and my ancestors in Egypt), The Brown Nation, or someone told me the Khaki Nation( Hispanics), the Yellow Nation, ( brought here to build the railroads) and the White Nation (we are a little people, a silly people, greedy, barbarous and cruel). 

In the 1948 South Pacific musical, Rogers and Hammerstein wrote  the song “You’ve gotta be taught”. It exemplified this country’s attitude toward non-white America that continues today in my opinion. Sung by the character Lieutenant Cable, the song infamous for the line preceded the song, “Racism isn’t born in you. You have to be taught.” 

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

Andrea Most, “‘You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught’: The Politics of Race in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific”, Theatre Journal 52, no. 3 (October 2000), noted that, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” was subject to widespread criticism, judged by some to be too controversial or downright inappropriate for the musical stage.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein risked the entire South Pacific venture in light of legislative challenges to its decency or supposed Communist agenda. While the show was on a tour of the US Southeast, lawmakers in Georgia maintained it had “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow”. One legislator said that the song justified interracial marriage and was un-Amrican. The composers defended their work and James Michener, whose stories were the basis for South Pacific recalled how they replied that this number was why they wanted to do this play. It was going to remain in the production  even if it meant its failure.

crossroadsWhile the song was omitted from the original Broadway show, since the film version, the song was restored in the revivals on stage. There were struggles and there have been token changes to America, but until we realize all mankind swims in one fishbowl we will continue to defeat each other. The American Diversity Report New Beginnings and the Councils Against Hate offer a path away from evil.

Howard Gerald Comen
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2 thoughts on “At the Crossroads of Good and Evil – by Howie Comen”

  1. Howie ,
    You are truly a champion for human rights and continue to be on the front-line for justice. Making a commitment to speak out against all of the evil “isms” of our society has always been your agenda for humanity. I appreciate your leadership and tenacity for making a difference in this country and working with you has been a joy. Dr. Helen Frazier

  2. I concur with every word so eloquently written in this report Detective Comen. You could not have said it any clearer! We have much work to do to right too many wrongs for so long a period of time. May we continue to have the courage to make those essential changes for the good of one and all. Amen.

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