By Charlie Hodge
Occasionally as I move forward with my life I am overwhelmed with a feeling I am about to step back into the past. It is with that sense of déjà vu that I will soon fill out a renewal form for my passport.
Once I receive it I really have nowhere to go.
From a financial status I do not have the bucks needed for a long distance trip and from a health perspective a trip to some of the cheaper, impoverished countries is not wise. However, it is the political realm in which I see my largest barrier.
Sometime next year I hope to hop on a plane with Tez and visit Los Vegas. Not because I am a slot machine addict (which I am) but because I would like to see the Vegas Knights play an NHL game in their new rink as an expansion team. It’s simply something I would like to do.
My concern is the Trump factor.
Back in my earliest journalism years (I began writing for the Kelowna Capital News 41 years ago) I wrote a column called Overtime Oracle. It was supposed to be a sports column but I regularly snuck in stories about life, music, environment, social issues…and eventually the editor of the day (Pat Denton) let me start a second column – HodgePodge. Even with something as innocuous as sports I found a way to get in trouble or stir the pot on a regular basis not only to the chagrin of Denton and our lawyers but also, apparently, a few other big shots.
One of the sports/social issues I wrote about regularly back in the mid to late 1970’s was the disgusting racial related injustice dealt to the number one contender for the middleweight championship of the boxing world, Rubin Hurricane Carter. For a number of years I regularly wrote articles chastising the U.S. government and justice system for wrongly incarcerating Carter on trumped up murder chargers.
Carter and a friend John Artis were falsely accused of a 1966 triple murder in a bar in Patterson, New Jersey. Despite the fact that no weapon or any other key evidence was provided except the testimony of two witnesses who said they saw “two black men” commit the crime, Carter was sentenced to life with no parole.
For 18 years Carter lived in prison adamantly denying his part in the crime and insisting he was framed for speaking out on civil rights issues, which was clearly the case. It took 10 years of effort to finally get a re-trial that worked. By then Carter’s plight had drawn the attention of many supportive celebrities including Mohammed Ali and Bob Dylan. Carter’s autobiography The 16th Round was banned for years. Eventually the two ‘witnesses’ admitted they had lied in court about Carter’s role. Carter had numerous witnesses who had previously swore he had been with them and could not have committed the crime.
Finally after nearly 20 years the Hurricane was set free.
However the tentacles of his false imprisonment were huge and impacted many, including me.
In 1979 my first wife and I attempted a holiday to California. Unaware that some of the threats I had received about my columns on Carter were actually legitimate, Catherine and I merrily pulled up at the U.S. order crossing only to be denied access. It took half an hour of arguing before I finally learned we were being denied access because I had been labelled a ‘political agitator.’
Wow. I handled the decision with mixed feelings. Part of me was honoured that I had made such a stink as to be noticed. Catherine failed to see it that way.
Flash forward to today and the state of chaos south of the border and how backwards everything has slid since the moron with the bad hair-do took over at the White House. Considering his myopic and paranoid nature and his concern with “enemies of the U.S.” I have little reason to doubt that once again a list of trouble makers (real or perceived) is stacked on desks at border crossings.
Sadly it seems the spiral of insane actions, comments, and decisions by Trump and his cohorts continues to escalate. Not only does he continue to bully anyone who does not agree with him, he also continues to poke and prod sleeping tigers. Trump and the U.S. now have good reasons to be paranoid at their borders since they have angered China, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran and even the NFL.
These are indeed scary times and only going to get scarier.
So, if and when that passport arrives I will hold my breath and hope I manage to travel to Vegas for my dream trip. However, I will not buy my hockey game tickets until I actually get there.
Tez, on the other hand, has told me that she intends to continue on to Vegas with or without me.