How To Make a Bomb-er

Until the Trump administration listens to the facts that most of the terrorist actions in America are perpetrated by Americans, the likelihood of such “radicalized” persons doing the bidding of ISIS or other terrorist groups from within our borders will likely, sadly, tragically, continue.

These terrorist acts, from bombings to mass shootings and knife attacks, originate within the minds persons who share some common experiences. I am suggesting here that our homegrown seeds for radicalizing persons are planted in the policies, practices and prejudices sown across our nation.

Simple web searches can reveal formulas for making bombs, or so I have been told. What I have found, however, is, what I call a “formula” sure to create the bombers.

So how do you get an American resident or citizen, born here or naturalized, to turn on their fellow Americans with such horrific displays of hatred. And, no, its not, as George W. Bush once explained, “It’s because they hate our freedom.” It is because the “land of the free” betrayed them on so many levels.

This is not a blog excusing terrorists or their acts within and outside our borders. This is simply a review of common elements that make up a “formula” for hate and therefore re-active acts of vengeance. That is how I see it. The motivation for committing these homegrown acts of terrorism is, at least to a significant extent, based on revenge, as one would strike out at a bully who has taunted this person for a long time, with no stopping in sight. Finally, it just happens! BOOM! The bullied kid or adult just snaps. Just can’t take it anymore. Just ignites all the pent up fury!

As I see it, here are some of the ingredients that make up the formula for creating terrorists within our borders. Yes, one might say, these acts of terror are like “time bombs” – violent explosions of the mind and emotions, set to go off at no particular time, but the fuse is lit over time, mixed with the ingredients that, when shaken enough, will go off.

So, here are the steps, the ingredients, which have the potential to set off an internal chain reaction that may well, with just enough external influencers, such as propaganda by terrorist groups, start the ticking countdown to action.

I write this formula now and I ask your help. If you see these steps being taken. If you hear or observe how these ingredients are causing harm to your neighbor or fellow American, please intervene. Be the antidote. Interrupt the making of a bomb-er.

The recipe for creating internal terrorist include these ingredients…

  1.  The value of the person is discounted as having no real purpose or place or contribution to make in “our society.”
  2. The person becomes isolated from society, either by being ostracized or by self-isolation, withdrawing from voices saying, “You don’t belong here. Go back to from where you came.”
  3. The person is removed from opportunities for personal growth or fulfilling their version of the “American Dream” a.k.a. achievement or reaching their goals. This is caused by refusing the person access to educational and training services, denial of advancement in a business or career, due to prejudice based on race, religion, etc. Incarceration, and the entire “prison industrial complex” is one of the key contributor to both isolation and denial to avenues for making his or her way in this country.
  4. The person is forced, through media stories, to hear how he or she is not only without value or deserving a place in America, but, is literally feared and assumed to be a rapist, criminal, terrorist or one with ties to radical groups, who has no respect for the so-called “American way of life.”
  5. The person is powerless as a victim of out-right, right-in-the-open, hate crimes from desecration of houses of worship to even being denied the permit to build a place for cultural and spiritual gathering.
  6. The person’s family, though possessing valid visas, is not permitted into the USA to strengthen bonds, receive medical attention, or find refuge and asylum.
  7.  The person then despairs over some or all of these contributing ingredients and seeks shelter in the teaching and persuasions of other voices who accept, understand and offer “another way” to have purpose, meaning and…not to forget…a way of getting back at those who rejected all he or she is as a human being in a land where “all are created equal.” The hypocrisy of this “false truth” is then finally answered with a different, explosive, “truth.”

Please join me in recognizing when and where and among whom these seven ingredients for creating a most volatile chain reaction may well occur.  Stop the hate speech, the jokes, the racist and ethic loose talk, the taunting, the placards, the shouting, the spitting, the abusive language and actions when you see them.

Yes, “free speech” is a valued right in America. But certain speech will come at a price and, God forbid, that price is not meted on the taunters in ways they, and we all, never imagined.

Please read this blog not as an excuse for terrorism, nor a warning that such acts may continue to occur, but as a call to returning our land to one of acceptance and opportunity in community.

The Unlikely Student





, and, I would suggest, these very preventable experiences  are we will continue to see such acts concerning the radicalization of persons who do terrorist acts from within the USA, all the refugee bans, even if they were upheld by the courts won’t prevent more violence.





All Bottled Up: Michigan,Water and What Now?

I ride around with the official slogan “Pure Michigan” on my license plate. Michigan used to be called “Water Wonderland” among other long retired marketing hooks.

As a peninsular state we should know a thing or two water, but managing this most precious of all natural resources,  seems to be more than our state officials can handle.

Within the last two weeks, a set of water stories swirl in and out of news cycles almost too ironic to address in one broadcast.

First, we hear Flint’s mayor again is forced to plead with the governor’s office to  not shut off the free supply of bottled water to her city’s residents until at least a June water test can be taken to verify that contamination levels are low enough to declare it “safe” to drink…again.

State officials want to end the bottled water program and are slowly discouraging use by limiting official pick-up points across the city.

Based on earlier tests, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has declared the city water supply safe, when using a faucet-type filter.

The mayor, however, is not convinced, nor are Flint’s residents, who have no trust in the DEQ nor Gov. Rick Snyder, due to their earlier disregard for public safety when lead contamination was first reported in the drinking water.

Now, the story shifts to the western part of the state, namely, the Muskegon Water Shed which is home to wildlife, wetlands and also a vast amount of clean (can we say, pure) Michigan water.

Well, the Nestle company sure thinks so. In fact they have been pumping Michigan pure from the water shed for years, for the cost of the permits, then bottling and selling it back to you and I at huge profits.

The waters get a bit muddied at this point in the story.

Nestle is now petitioning the state for permission to double its water extraction quantities, and, being confident of approval, the company has construction underway to manage the increase in volume.

Yes, the irony between Flint’s cries for water and Nestle’s hope to steal more pure Michigan is not lost on the governor’s office, launching what must be a huge news filtering process, except for the persistence of the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club and other conservation groups, calling for a longer review process and more public hearings with Nestle and state officials.

There’s the irony, and, as I see it, the solution.

I propose that Michigan’s people demand that Nestle supply all the FREE bottled water Flint needs for as long as it takes to get excellent water test results.

In exchange, Nestle is allowed to keep extracting our water but only at current limits, with no permission to expand extractions – ever. In other words, Nestle becomes Flint’s water boy or leaves the state and our pure, Michigan water alone.

If the governor doesn’t have the courage to approach Nestle with this or a similar – time you pay up – solution, he cannot look Flint’s residents in the face and say he cares.


Water is Michigan’s best resource. We as a state are also responsible to be stewards of this treasure, which will become all the more precious as climate change continues to drain water supplies across the nation. We shall be held accountable.

Drinking a glass of pure Michigan,

The Unlikely Student


A Teachable Moment for DeVos

At my children’s school here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, (hometown of Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos) the nation-wide “Day Without Immigrants” chalked up a barely 50% attendance rate, as immigrant families chose to keep their children home.

Other schools in the district with large immigrant enrollments forced the district to declare a “non-academic” day, lacking the required 75% overall attendance daily report. This may require an extra day added to the school calendar, if, more “snow days” come our way before Spring.

What this act of solidarity should teach us and our new “Head Administrator”, Mrs. DeVos, is that immigrant families depend on public schools, and school districts depend on the immigrant population to keep neighborhood schools viable, and open, for everyone.

So, this begs many questions, among them, “What impact with Trump’s new immigration policies, which are really repatriation orders, on public education as we know it?”

Another question for DeVos is, “Considering the role public schools play providing English as Second Language (ESL) services, adult education and non-traditional student high school completion courses, how will the diversion of public school funds to a voucher program, impact the ability of the district to continue to conduct these much needed resources for immigrant students and their parents?”

In addition, public schools are often the only support system for families with children who have special needs, be they immigrant children or not. How will DeVos square these high-cost, per-child services with what many school officials see as being in danger of severe cut-backs or elimination under a voucher system?

One champion of these and other questions for DeVos is the president of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen García.

Nearly three weeks ago, she received a voice mail from Sec. DeVos, suggesting they meet.

Before agreeing to the meeting, Garcia asked that DeVos come with some answers to direct questions posed by Garcia, in the wake of the Senate confirmation hearing, during which DeVos gave vague or non-answers.

As of this blog’s writing, DeVos has not responded to the request.

Here is an open letter written by Garcia to DeVos while waiting for her reply. Note the specific numbered questions below.


Dear Secretary DeVos:

I am writing in response to your voice mail. I’m an elementary teacher from Utah. I’ve taught in middle-class suburbs. I’ve taught homeless children and hard-to-place foster kids in a residential home. I know how important it is for my students to have education leaders who understand their lives and the support they need. As president of the 3-million-member National Education Association, I look for partners to stand with us as we protect the rights of all our students.

We will continue to fight for students, educators, and public schools. We will make sure the voices of educators are heard and that policymakers understand that investing in public schools is an investment in the next generation of teachers, scientists, welders, and even politicians.

It’s important for educators, parents, and communities to know where you stand on some of the most critical work of the federal Department of Education. We must ask you to give us the substantive answers that we did not hear you give to the senators at your hearing on issues critical to our students:

  1. Do you agree that all schools receiving public dollars must be held to the sameaccountability and transparency standards?
    2. Will you agree not to privatize funding for Special Education of Title I?
    3. Will you stand with educators and protect our most vulnerable students from discrimination, including LGBT students, immigrant students, students of color, girls and English language learners?
    4. Will you focus, as educators are focused, on the civil rights of all children, regardless of their ZIP code, by challenging the inequities so many face in equal access to programs, services and support?

For us, there is a wrong answer to these questions. Privatizing and profiting from public education has not moved us toward equity, equal access, non-discrimination, and opportunity for all students. Educators will never waver in our determination to create a system that works for ALL children. Educators, students, and parents deserve to know that the U.S. Secretary of Education will do the same.

We look forward to your response.

Lily Eskelsen García
1989 Utah Teacher of the Year
President, National Education Association

So, Secretary DeVos, not only is the NEA interested in your answers, but all of us parents of immigrant children, special needs students, and all who are public school supporters, await your honest, open and direct response.

This IS a timed test! Not a pop quiz!

The Unlikely Student





Insolent immigrant Trump

I don’t know what young Donald was taught in his exclusive private school, but, if respect was in the curriculum, he failed that class with a flying…”F.”

Certainly, we had hoped he might become more mindful of what comes out of his mouth once he became “president of all the people.” But, to paraphrase Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope,” what we are left with so far in the Trump regime is the “audacity of arrogance.”

This is no more clearly illustrated than in the manner in which Trump has consistently offended Native Americans from ignoring treaty rights and sacred land issues to outright mockery in so many words.

On this matter, I bow to give this blog over to the words of Dene National Chief, Bill Erasmus,  by posting here an open letter sent out by the Dene National Office on Monday, February 13.

Note: if you cannot read this letter on your computer, please contact me at and I will send you the transcript in another form.

For now, I leave you, reader, with his words …


Dr.Seuss Meets Donald Trump

How to help your child make sense of it all?…Have no fear! Horton is here!

When our kids watch the marches, the protests at airports, the unrelenting, ever growing, global outcry over Trump’s edicts,  do we know how they are taking all this in, and if so, what it means?

After an evening’s digest of watching massive crowds protesting Trump’s immigration and refugee “executive orders” it was time to put the kids to bed, which is never without a bedtime story. This night our 5-year-old’s request was, “Dad, read Horton Hears A Who!”

Half asleep myself, I opened the bright orange Dr. Seuss book with that unforgettable Horton the elephant on the cover and I began…Perhaps you know the story.

Upon discovering a whole Who village on a clover’s head, Horton bravely protects them from Who deniers, evil birds of prey, and monkeys who beat and caged him, but all the while he holds the delicate clover and the Whos’ lives wrapped by his faithful trunk.

Then, these words clicked…sure as a Dr. Seuss rhyme.

“But he (Horton) managed to call/To the (Who) Mayor: Don’t give up! I believe in you all!/ A person’s a person, no matter how small! And you very small persons will not have to die/If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”
After all attempts to yell, scream, bang pots and more, still the Who people were not heard. Still they were in danger of extinction by the hard-hearted jungle creatures who harassed Horton.

But, then, the mayor finds one small Who boy who had not joined the ruckus.

“This,” cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!/ The time for all Whos who have blood that is red/To come to the aid of their country!” he said./ We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!/So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

The young Who’s “Yopp” was the decisive voice!

“That one small, extra Yopp put it over!/ Finally, at last! From that speck on that clover/Their voices were heard!..”

The Whos were saved. The menacing kangaroo, threatening their demise, finally listened and…once he heard, once he acknowledged the Whos’ existence, he had a change of heart.

“From now on, you know what I’m planning to do?/From now on, I’m going to protect them with you!/…From sun in the summer. From rain when it’s fall-ish, I’m going to protect them. No matter how small-ish!”

Someone send “Horton Hears A Who!” to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C. Address it to “Donald Trump and Staff” and inscribe it with these words, “For every bedtime until you hear us, Mr. President.”

And, perhaps, this Horton story just might help you explain to your children or grandchildren just how important their voices are, no matter how small. Perhaps this book may help them better grasp why YOU are out there, in the marches, organizing local resistance groups, getting up, getting out, and NOT giving up!

Good reading and sleep well! I have a feeling you’re going to need your rest.

The Unlikely Student





We The Planet!

Don’t put those walking shoes away, friends of Mother Earth!

The flurry of Trump’s pro-fossil fuel, pipeline construction edicts and his well-known denial of the truth of climate change has sparked a fire under environmentalists from Sierra Club  chapters to the calling for a new march on Washington, this time by an organization called, “The People’s Climate Movement.”

The People’s Climate Movement plans to march on Washington, and across the country. They have a date set: April 29. In addition, they are proposing 100 days of action and resistance until the march in April.

The People’s Climate Movement came to be in 2014, after a group of activists and individuals from all walks of life organized a march in New York City, on the eve of the UN Climate Summit, where the Paris Climate Agreement was being orchestrated.

As an organization, the People’s Climate Movement insists on building a new economy, with the support of public leaders, that will avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis while promoting jobs and social justice.  (italics excerpt from a January  27, 2017 Global Citizen post by writer Gabriella  Canal).

Speaking of dates to remember,  it is imperative for each of us who resist Trump’s way of doing the country’s business, to know of any local and state elections between now and the mid-term elections.

In preparation for that all-important election, our congressional women and men must know that if they do not hear us now, they will hear us marching to the voting booth.We must go to the politician’s soft spot “re-election” and vote the “Trump-sters” out of office.

We have to be encouraged and emboldened by the fantastic grassroots organizing abilities of our country’s women in that incredible show of solidarity around a host of causes. We have to be heartened by the worldwide marches. We all are coming to see the global glue that bonds all these causes together because they are all of one spirit…the human spirit to endure, to express, to champion, to say…I AM HERE because WE ARE HERE TOGETHER!

We are the planet! We are of the very minerals, water and soil that is our physical selves. We are birthed out of the womb of Mother Earth, breathed into life by the Creator, and are sharing the same air, water, soil and spirit.

Mother Earth is now calling out to us…her children…to save her as she chokes on the fumes of fossil fuel emissions and is sickened by the polluted waters.  She is being raped by the de-foresters. She calls out to deafened ears of climate change deniers.

Do you hear that call, that cry, that “whole creation has been groaning,”as the Bible puts?

In this clear and present danger of the so-called, post-fact world, we must become the facts, in voice, in marching, in song, in writing, in every way possible to make sure the facts cannot be twisted by fools.

Shutting down EPA and other scientific websites or putting gag orders on government staffers, does not make the climate change facts go away.  These Trumped-up actions have only rallied the resistance movements!

Dare I give an analogy of this earth crisis to the holocaust? I do only to point out that one can deny climate change as one can deny the holocaust. But deny as they will, it does not erase the facts and evidence that they both exist.

What will it take to awaken our polluting-promoting politicians and our POTUS to the realities of climate change?

Will it be the day the ever-rising sea level waters are lapping at Trump’s Florida estate’s door?  On that day, Mother Earth will call out, “Can you hear me now?”

The most harmful pollution we now face is the pollution of the mind, poisoning those who refuse to accept the truth, and pollute it with false “alternative facts” broadcast by fake news sources.

In the spirit of, and in solidarity with, all those global citizens who are even now becoming climate refugees, let us stand and walk and shout and sing and never stop until the “America first-ers” shall be last.

The only “traitors” here are those who are betraying the people’s trust as they, through greed and executive “orders,” accelerate the disasters of climate change.

They are the traitors of the planet’s truth!

The Unlikely Student








Complacency = Complicity

 “I don’t think we can rely on governments, regardless of who is in power, to do the work that only mass movements can do. I think what is most important about the sustained demonstrations that are now happening is that they are having the effect of refusing to allow these issues to die.”  

Quote by Angela Davis, from, “We Have To Talk about Systemic Change”, ”  an interview published in her 2016 book,  “Freedom is a Constant Struggle.”

The context of this quote is the public demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by police.

This quote, however, is especially relevant today as our complicit officials and masses  crown Donald Trump our 45th President of the United States of America.

Yes,  I said it.”Complicit,” using the dictionary definition, “involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or crime.”  This is a proper descriptor for those who directly or indirectly, willingly or unknowingly, through complacency,  had hand in promoting, practicing or passively allowing the Trump machine a place of such power knowing full-well his promise to demolish or gut strides made on behalf of equality and the environment.

Slate Magazine’s , wrote on January 16, this suggestion. “There is everywhere a new enthusiasm for grassroots political, labor, and community organizing. All of this is good. None of it is enough.” What is more effective, says Osita, is deciding to run for office, local, state or national.

Comparing this to Angela Davis’ quote that we cannot count on governments, but need to emphasize grassroots movements, is to me not contradictory to Nwanevu’s point for getting into politics.

What is needed is solidarity...knowing who will champion the causes of the oppressed and most vulnerable.

We need people inside and outside the so-called “beltway” and in the highways and byways and alleyways of our country, making themselves not only heard but a united force, which can strike at the heart of what all politicians fear most…recall…or being unseated in the next election cycle.

This is why I joined the local chapter of Equity PAC, whose purpose it is to support equity-minded candidates to run for office on any governmental level they can manage.

For those of us who do not, or cannot, heed the call to public service,  we must build on the courage and the examples of the Women’s March on Washington, going on as this is written, or the Occupy and Dakota pipeline  resistance  groups.

What we cannot do, not now or ever, is shrink into complacency, now that Trump has been “sworn in” as president of a divided country.

Let’s go back to the election and remember what put him in the While House.

What I contend is that, as usual in this country, people voted based on what they thought is “good” for themselves. We are an incredibly selfish people.

Think about it! Did we for one minute think, “I are not voting for myself or for my children. I am voting for the oppressed and those who will be hurt most by this or that candidate’s policies.”

All the candidates, throughout the entire pre-election circus, said they were champions for “the middle class.”

Will we ever, ever hear a candidate say, “I am running on behalf of those in poverty. I want to make life better for those who have been disenfranchised in this country. Those who are not, on an economic scale, even considered close to being “middle class.”

Until and unless a candidate is honestly willing to put their reputation on the line for those in poverty, we will never have a president for “all the people.”


Dr. Martin Luther King is often quoted as saying, “Sunday morning at 11 AM is the most segregated hour in America,” referring to the ethnocentric houses of worship we have here.

To me, the time in the voting booth is the “most selfish moment” in America. We only vote in candidates who we think will better our personal lives, and if our poorer neighbors get a lift, OK too.

Given this self-centered worldview, we must acknowledge we are blind to the true needs of “others” in our society, and, upon whose backs most of the real work is done here in America for the least wages and most exploitation.

Yes, we need to encourage people of good faith and intentions to get into public life. But we must then hold those we trusted with our votes to be accountable not to re-election, and not even those who put them into office. We need elected persons, and those appointed to non-elected offices, to put the poorest among us FIRST!

When we see that, we can see our way to an American that can be … better.

The struggle continues. Spurred on with new vigor because Trump is in the whitest of White Houses, and because we care for a nation of people he cannot see from his tower of power.

Centrists are calling for dialog, being willing to compromise, to “work across the aisle.”

What we need first,  before we “dialog” is to know where we stand. What we will never give away. What we are morally and ethically bound to uphold.

We need to own the struggle. It has many names. Many voices. Many faces. We must remember we ARE the struggle if we are anything, or anyone, at all.

The Unlikely Student