Remembering A Musician Who Touched All of Our Lives

06/07/2017 04:52 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Today would have been the 59th birthday of Prince Rogers Nelson, known mostly to the world simply as “Prince.” He was an enigmatic figure to be sure, but a creative genius nonetheless. Not only did he sing countless mainstream hits such as “Purple Rain” and “Raspberry Beret,” he also played numerous instruments, and wrote most of his material.

Several years ago when he was on tour, I remember a friend of mine going to see him at the IZOD Center in New Jersey and remarking that it was one of the greatest live events he had ever seen. Prince had that effect on a lot of people, even dazzling the world one year with his talents during the Superbowl halftime show.

Funny enough, Prince was on my mind recently when I overheard a heated political argument between two strangers. I didn’t know these two people and had no idea how they knew each other, but the discussion was so intense that I had to walk away from the area for fear that violence was going to erupt. I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of the argument other than I heard the words “Donald Trump” and “Russia” at some point.

So why did this make me think of Prince? Because I remember a similar heated debate between two people I actually do know – two dear friends of mine – during the Clinton impeachment years ago. One of them was insistent that Clinton be removed from office while the other shouted that the whole thing was a right-wing conspiracy.

I remember things seeming like they might get out of control when the Prince song, “When Doves Cry” began playing on the radio and everybody just stopped to listen. Granted, it was only for a few minutes, but those few minutes of ceasefire were a mighty splendid thing. Some point later that day my friends went back to arguing, but those few minutes of Prince music really mellowed a situation that seemed like it was about to get very ugly.

And I guess that as part of why even though I was never as big of a Prince fan as some others, I always respected his talent, showmanship, and ability to connect with people. If you think about it, that’s the true beauty of music: if a song is good, it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be any race, gender, sexual orientation or religion and have at least a brief moment of common ground with somebody you might otherwise want to spend your day screaming at.

I thought about that today when it was pointed out to me that today would’ve been Prince’s 59th birthday. I thought about how much I wished more people would think about what they have in common rather than fighting over what divides them. And I thought about how much we could use Prince’s creative genius to help people mellow out – if only for a few minutes – and remember that just because you may disagree with somebody, doesn’t make him evil. Hell, he may even like the same Prince song as you!

Comedian Chris Rock joked this morning that schools should be closed for Prince’s birthday, and that may be a bit much. But as somebody who lived through the man’s prime and saw the power of his musical brilliance, I can say with absolutely certainly that the world misses him terribly.

Khan Should Reconsider His Campaign To Disinvite President Trump From State Visit

06/06/2017 04:49 pm ET | Updated 22 hours ago

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested that the U.K. should cancel President Trump’s scheduled state visit because of tweets the president sent out criticizing Khan’s response following the attack in London over the weekend. In the tweets, President Trump first said that Khan was wrong to tell people not to be alarmed and when Khan’s camp claimed the president was taking him out of context – Khan said he meant do not be alarmed by the extra police, not do not be alarmed by terrorism – the president labeled that a “pathetic excuse.”

For her part, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said President Trump was wrong to say what he said but that the state visit would go on as planned. Boris Johnson, a leading conservative voice in Britain and the previous mayor of London, defended Khan, saying the current mayor was correct to have said what he said about people not being alarmed by the extra police.

If I am being fair here, it seems as though the president did take Mayor Khan out of context. That said, instead of just ignoring the tweets or choosing to make a brief statement and then let it go, Khan has decided to make a very public show of the matter.

But this isn’t the first time. Khan has made a show of going after President Trump before, even calling him a “buffoon” and “ignorant.”

So while I understand that what happened to Khan’s city is awful and my heart goes out to him and all of his constituents – in addition to the victims – one wonders if Khan is really that upset by a man whose opinion he holds such low regard for – or if he is using the moment to gain support amongst the electorate of a city that doesn’t like the president very much.

It could even a combination of both.

The truth is, President Trump probably shouldn’t have come out so forcefully but Khan’s request is ridiculous. And quite frankly, if he really is a man who wants peace and is interested in building bridges not walls – as the cliché goes – he should welcome the president’s visit. In fact, he should invite him to sit down and try to hash this out.

The United States and England are each other’s closest allies, and both sides need to listen to each other and get on the same page. Prime Minister May understands this and is doing the right thing. President Trump may have metaphorically fired the first shot but Khan has let some hurtful words obscure what the real goal for everybody should be. He is being thin-skinned and petty, which is exactly what he is accusing the president of doing.

If Khan wants to be a hero to his base and prove some sort of political point, he should carry on doing what he’s doing. Refuse to talk to President Trump and keep pushing for him to be banned from state visits.

But if he is really the leader he claims to be; if he is really a uniter; if he is really somebody for whom the well-being of all id the main objective, he should reconsider his actions and attempt to hash out his differences with the president.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157.

In Attempting To Stop Terrorism, We Must Punish Those Funding It

06/05/2017 04:51 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The bombing in London over the weekend was just the latest in a long line of reprehensible acts by international terror groups like ISIS.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but these people need to be wiped off the face of the earth. And to be clear, I do not mean Muslims, or anything even remotely close to that. I’m talking strictly about terrorists who believe blowing up innocent people is a morally justified act.

I’ve never liked the phrase “war on terror” because it is too open ended and could mean literally anything. I also don’t want the United States unilaterally invading the sovereignty of countries to chase down these violent extremists.

But what I do want – and what we should all demand, quite frankly – is that the major heads of state finally do what should have been done years ago: put their heads together and agree for the sake of all humanity to align against these monsters.

The Saudis have suggested that all countries should be punished for sponsoring state terror. The Saudis should probably listen to their own advice, and stop doing that themselves, but I’ve come to the sad conclusion at this point that would be too much to hope for.

That said, it is a good idea to cut diplomatic ties with any country supporting terror activities. Qatar has supported numerous extremist groups in the Middle East such as Al Qaeda, Al Nursa, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Qatar government is a bad actor in the region and it may be time to consider moving the U.S.’s base out of that country, either abolishing it outright, or transferring it elsewhere in the Middle East.

Fighting these groups, while necessary, can sometimes feel like whack-a-mole, where each terrorist killed produces even more in his place. This is why while we continue to fight this battle against extremists, we must also deprive them of their main sources of funding that makes their activities possible. Cutting ties with those who fund our deadliest enemies is a must, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.