Saturday, June 5, 2021

Thoughts and ponderings on antisemitism in the Democratic party

Long, rambly post ahead.

I no longer call myself a progressive. 

25 years ago, I was a centrist, moderate Democrat. My ideology and position on policy haven't changed in all that time, but I went from being centrist to being liberal to being a radical left-wing Democrat. Thanks Reagan, for starting this slide toward Republican radicalism that labels moderates as radical ideologues. Irony, anyone?

Republicans have a single ideology - white supremacy and money above all else. And while some Republicans don't think that's what they stand for, they support all of the policies and rhetoric that enables this ideology. 

Democrats have a larger tent. A tent that allows for differing opinions. It's why the Democratic vote is easily split, but why Republicans so easily rally around their candidates. 

While I share so many of the views of the progressive movement, I now think of myself as a liberal Democrat once more, not a progressive.

Why? As a general rule, there is no room in the progressive wing of the party for Jews. Don't @ me with Bernie Sanders.

Jews in general, having been oppressed for thousands of years, naturally support other oppressed peoples. With so many Black people being slaughtered by police and other white supremacists, we march, we donate, we vocally support. I have been part of several marches locally supporting our Black community. I carry signs. I speak out at city council meetings. I share information. And I listen to the Black voices around me. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.

When post-911 backlash and trump's Muslim ban happened, Jews marched, we donated, we supported. I was at LAX the day the ban was announced, marching, carrying my #NeverAgain sign and supporting the Muslim community locally and globally. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.

When kids were being put in cages at the border, Jews were out in front saying that this was the actual time to use the concentration camp analogy, using our voices and our personal experiences to speak out. I spoke at my local city council meeting. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying. 

When Asian-Americans and Asians worldwide became targets of hate (again) and were blamed for the COVID-19 virus, Jews stood up yet again and joined the voices crying for a stop to the hate. We marched, we donated, we supported. Am I perfect? No. But I'm trying.

There has been a rise in global antisemitism yet again. Antisemitism never goes away, but there are times in history when it becomes truly overwhelming. 

Egyptians enslaving Jews.

The Spanish Inquisition.

The Pogroms. 

The Holocaust. 

And any time Palestinians are the unintended victims of Israeli retaliation for self preservation from a terrorist organization such as Hamas. Palestinians live where Hamas operates. 

And like Republicans, they have a unified story and are vocal with it. 

I'm not saying that Palestinian people don't have the right to self-determination. They do. And I'm not saying that the government of Israel hasn't made missteps at the hands of a trump-like nationalist in Netanyahu. It has.

But my point today is independent of Israeli policy. Antisemitism existed for thousands of years before there was a country called Israel. 

My point today is that whenever Jews ask for support and help locally & globally, we are rebuffed. This article from Kveller summed my feelings up perfectly. 

I live in a red city in blue California. Democrats have made a lot of headway in changing that landscape thanks to the activism of young and old alike. Young adults are part of a growing demographic who have discovered their political voices and power. This is a wonderful thing and gives me hope for the future. Howsomever...

I'm going to speak in a lot of generalities moving forward. 

These same young voices are part of the growing progressive movement in the Democratic party - one which doesn't ask, but demands. While they are a wonderful, loud voice in support of BIPOC, they also are generally unwilling to compromise or to hear and listen to others, while at the same time demanding others listen and hear their voices.

Where this becomes problematic is when the unyielding and uncompromising position becomes a purity test for perfection in ideology. 

Generally, Democrats all agree on the destination. Free POS health care, paid for by tax revenue. Equal voting rights for all. Acknowledgment of the systemic racism in the US and the need to teach it and to use legislation to right it. Preservation of bodily autonomy and a woman's right to have an abortion. Free contraception. The rich and corporations paying their fair share of taxes. Accountability for insurrectionists. Equal protection and equal rights under the law for all.

The destination is not the problem. It's the journey toward the destination where we sometimes differ or disagree. The young progressive movement is generally unwilling to entertain the possibility of other journeys toward the same destination other than their own.  It's part of a growing movement on both sides of the political aisle towards the "my way or the highway" attitude. It deems unacceptable anything that improves conditions but may not be perfect, even if it is better than what we had before. Anything less than their position, their journey to the destination, is unacceptable. 

Life is, unfortunately, not Bewitched. You can't wrinkle your nose and immediately arrive at your destination. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could? But sadly, there is a journey to the destination. And while generally Republicans want to go in reverse until they reach a different destination altogether, Democrats generally agree upon the destination. Some, like Joe Manchin believe that we can only reach that destination if Republicans are in the car with us. But most Democrats are willing to make stops along the way for improvements and tune-ups. The young progressive movement is only about Bewitched destinations.

Why do I bring this up? Well, there has become a purity and perfection litmus test for young progressives as they realize the power of their voices. And if you don't agree 100% on the both the destination AND the journey, you are rebuffed, ridiculed, and called racist, DINO, or out of touch. Even if you aren't perfect, but are trying.

I'm in my mid-50s. I'm aware that I'm not what's generally considered young. I believe in the power of the journey as well as the destination. Do I think I need a Republican copilot? Hell no. But as a member of the Democratic party, do I believe my voice should be heard? Yep, I sure do.

Antisemitism is growing and no more so than in the young progressive movement in the Democratic party. It has much to do with the Palestinian plight. If you don't denounce Israel as an entity entirely, then you aren't to be considered or heard. Which, by the by is exactly what Hamas wants. Their charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews. They love the infighting about Israel. And the young progressive movement is lending credibility to them by agreeing in full with at least the first part of their charter, if not the latter.

So... back to my personal story. 

As I noted, I saw the article from Kveller, and it spoke to me. I went to my local democratic club - one which is officially chartered by the CDP and one in which I've been very active for the past several years. I asked for some allyship in the face of antisemitism. I was met with ridicule and harassment. How dare I ask for allyship when Israel is "genociding" the Palestinians and that must surely mean I agree with killing Palestinians. 

OK, well, first off, I asked as an American Jew who lives here in the US for my fellow democrats to speak out against antisemitism in general. As in, "Hey, antisemitism is bad and maybe don't do it." But unless I was willing to completely denounce Zionism as a whole and Israel specifically, that support is absent. In fact, the comments were full of hatred and vitriol.  And the leadership of the club did not step in.

The irony of how wrong it is to have the expectation that unless American Muslims specifically denounce terrorism many won't give their support to speaking out against Islamaphobia is beyond them. They are single minded and tunnel-visioned in their pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people. Black and white. No gray, no nuance. And no matter how much I have said that I differ from the Israeli government on many of their positions on the issue, no matter how much I have said that I support a 2 state solution, I refuse to call for the dissolution of Israel. I mean, come the fuck on.

This makes me unworthy of support against antisemitism in the view of the young progressives in the democratic party. That is not the Democratic party that I have known my entire life, but sadly it is where the progressive movement is leading the party.

I have devoted my entire adult life to promoting democracy and the Democratic party - from being a young college student and working for Mondale/Ferraro hoping to oust Reagan in my very first presidential election. I have given the last 5 years of my life to my local club and devoted countless hours to campaigning for democrats at the local, state and federal level. But when I asked for support from my fellow democrats, it was made very clear to me where I stand as a Jew and as a Democrat who asks for allyship. 

When I resigned from my local club over this, one person on the board noted that I seem very angry. Gee, ya think? I am angry. And hurt. And disappointed. 

But sadly, the one thing I am not, is surprised. Any Jew, especially one over 50 who is first generation post-WW2, is not surprised.

One of the things that is supposed to set the Democratic party apart is our large tent and willingness to support multiple points of view. I am done asking for support where there is clearly none to be had.

It's understandable why a subsection of Jews are Republicans. Republicans vocally support Israel. And no, the irony that the Republican support of Israel is based in antisemitism and Christian white supremacy is not lost on me. The Christian supremacists in the Republican party want to preserve Israel so that they can visit when it's time for the Rapture. The white supremacists in the party view Israel much like they do Republican Jesus. White Ashkenazi Jews were among the first to emigrate (escape) to Israel. Prime ministers - the voice of Israel globally - are historically white Ashkenazi men (with apologies to Golda Meir). Republicans see themselves in Israeli leadership. They don't see all of the brown people - both Jewish and non-Jewish - in the Knesset or in the general population. The white surpremacist faction of the Republican party (ok, the Republican party) lives to lift up white men.

So this liberal Democrat says goodbye to the progressive label. I wish the progressive movement well. I wish them luck. Their voice is an important one in the Democratic party. But with the pervasive intolerance for anything other than purity and perfection, they will certainly need it.

Side note: I pray that the coalition in Israel holds and ousts Netanyahu. 

Am Yisrael Chai

Antisemitism, racism, and taught police violence

A high school newspaper broke this story. I hadn't heard about this when it came out in December. 

In Kentucky, Student Journalists Uncover Nazi Imagery In Police Training 

The KY State Police use a training that contains several Hitler quotes promoting violence. Several thoughts on this. 

1. This training and mindset is exactly the reason that the movement to defund the police and rebuild our departments from scratch exists. 

KY is literally training its entire State Police to be "bad apples".

2. The fact that the KSP stood by the presentation completely is exactly the reason that the movement to defund the police and rebuild our departments from scratch exists. 

KY is literally training its entire State Police to be "bad apples".

3. They estimate there are at least 120 troopers (likely many more - they haven't gotten confirmation yet) on the job who were trained with these materials through 2013. How many years will it take until they are all off the job? Decades. 

And how many will have been mentors to younger officers coming up? And how long will those troopers be on the job?  

How many will leave the KSP and move on to other departments around the country? 

4. The fact that this was taken to "professional" media and they weren't interested in doing a story is exactly the reason that the movement to defund the police and rebuild our departments from scratch exists. 

KY is literally training its entire State Police to be "bad apples".

5. It took a high school newspaper to stop all of this. Kudos to these kids and to their advisor. But that just speaks to the acceptance of all of this.

6. The KY Dept of Criminal Justice Training teaches that Jews are responsible for "American opioid crisis, that Las Vegas casinos are “run by Jewish gangsters” and that in Hollywood, Jewish people “are endlessly glorified among other mind-control agendas working hand-in-hand with the U.S. government.” 

Yet none of this has made national news anywhere that I've seen. 

You all wonder why Jews live "on the coasts". You like to use that against us. Call us elitist. And so many other disgusting pejoratives. If you are a Jew living in the South I truly admire you. I know some southern cities have fairly large Jewish populations. 

But this. 

This Kentucky fried antisemitism is why I choose to live on the coast. 

Why, as I plan for my retirement, I would rather pay more taxes, pay more for housing, pay more for goods & services than move somewhere that has a lower cost of living. 

And yes. I acknowledge the privilege of being able to say and do that. But I already live in a city filled with inherently ignorant and blatantly antisemitic people. Where I've been told "we don't get too many of 'your kind' here". Where I've been called a kike in the Target parking lot.  I'm not interested in finding a new place to start that all over. 

This story on the KSP training is the story the media should be covering when they clutch their pearls over the phrase "defund the police". This is the story to cover when we about violence in PDs all over the country. When we talk about the inherent and taught racism, misogyny,  antisemitism, and violence in LE training.

The data are there. The illustrative examples are there. Can we please stop clutching our pearls over "defund the police" and start acknowledging and fixing the damn problems in policing? 

There are so many out there who have done a far better job than I ever could, so I don't need to discuss actual tactics. I don't claim to be an expert. 

But the experts are out there. Center their solutions. 

Stop pretending there are a few bad apples. Start quoting the entire phrase:  A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.

We don't have a few bad apples. We are the ones planting the whole damn bad orchard.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hey, you. Yes, you. I see you. And I do not forgive you.

Today I once again find myself the day after the election needing to express my anger. Next time, I will recognize those who fight daily for justice. Those who put in the work. Walk the walk. But for today, I need to vent. Because this shouldn't have been close. This should have been a complete repudiation not just of trump and his misplaced values, but of his biggest enablers in the downfall of our democracy. McConnell, Graham, and so many others.

Although it looks like Biden will be our next president - thank god - I will not forgive and certainly will not forget the people in my sphere - especially family and (former) friends - that gladly voted to keep this terrible regression, division, lawlessness, hate, selfishness, and fear in our world. That not just voted in favor of it, but celebrated it. I see you, and my opinion of you has been changed forever.

To say I'm disappointed in you is a massive understatement. Your inability to see beyond yourself and support the same good fortune that you have received for others is reprehensible. You should feel ashamed every time you walk into your church and pat yourself on the back as you preen about your pious, hypocritical Christianity. Every time you revel in your privilege while you blindly and purposefully denigrate those who do not share in it. Every time you recoil in fake horror at the mention of the Holocaust. Because I see you. I know what you would have done as my family was dragged to the death camps and gassed. I know what you would have done as Emmitt Till was dragged to a tree and hanged. You would have checked your bank account, given a happy and relieved little smile, and done absolutely nothing.

I'm not ashamed to pray that you get your comeuppance. I am not as big a person as I'd like to be, or at least as some people may think I should be. I am a Jewish woman. I know how to carry a grudge. And believe me, I will carry this one for a very, very long time.

Four years ago, you voted in the hopes that he would dismantle our democracy in the name of white supremacy. This year, you voted with the knowledge that he did, and with the obvious hope that he would finish the job.

I hope that your pretend belief in a vengeful god will bite you in the ass. That all the times you thought to violate or refuse to acknowledge the humanity of your fellow people will result in your journey to the hell you believe in. That choosing not to feed the hungry, heal the sick, free the captives, love the stranger leaves you alone and bitter. Yes, I am that vengeful and vindictive. Today.

I hope that you find yourself living with the fear of losing your rights. No, not letting others have the same rights, but actually losing yours. I hope you know what it is to not have autonomy over decisions about your own body. To fear every encounter with law enforcement. To be told that people of your entire faith should be put down like dogs. To know that there are others who fight every day for your voice and your vote to be suppressed. Yes, I am that petty. Today.

For while I am vengeful, vindictive, and petty today, you sadly live a life that glorifies pettiness, vindictiveness, and vengeance every day.

And yes, I am indeed talking about those of you who out and proud fly the flag of hate above the flag of country on your cars and your homes. But more specifically, I am talking about the insidious quiet ones who preach love in their church and practice hate out of it. Those who pretend conciliation but get in the privacy of the voting booth and do just the opposite.

Because that shows me that you know that what you are doing is wrong. And that is why I will never forgive you.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

George Floyd and the white policing of protest

Like the rest of decent humanity, I was once again shamed, horrified, and offended by the murder of yet another Black man at the hands of white police. A police officer who literally kneeled on an already handcuffed and compliant George Floyd's neck while he cried that he couldn't breathe. He kneeled there with his hands casually in his pocket for NINE minutes. The last 3 of which were silent because George Floyd was already dead. Three other officers stood by and either did nothing, or actively held a protesting crowd back from the scene.

Cooped up, at high-risk for coronavirus, I feel helpless. I can't attend any protests, although I admire and pray for those who are. They not only risk their lives in confronting police brutality, but also in potentially contracting coronavirus. In my desire to participate, I've found myself amplifying Black voices on twitter and fending off all the Karens fretting about the lack of civility in protesting on Facebook. And that is what I want to talk about today. Protests.

Here is the scene at the Michigan state house 2 weeks ago. Armed white men stormed the capitol and were met by police in facemasks. No riot gear. No arrests. No shooting rubber bullets or pepper bullets or REAL bullets at the protesters. Because we completely allow and love white protest. Even when it's just about wanting to eat at the local Cracker Barrel and get your beehive hairstyle redone.

But we just don't allow Black or economically disadvantaged or anyone who is not white to protest. No form of Black protest is acceptable to white America. Colin Kaepernick silently took a knee. Unacceptable. Tommie Smith and John Carlos silently raised their fists. Unacceptable. John Lewis and MLK marched peacefully across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Unacceptable.

We tell Black people they should peacefully protest, but when they do, we tell them that's not an appropriate way to protest. We tell them kneeling isn't an appropriate way to protest. We tell them raising their fists in solidarity isn't an appropriate way to protest. We tell them marching isn't an appropriate way to protest. We tell them silence isn't an appropriate way to protest. We tell them shouting isn't an appropriate way to protest. We tell them violence isn't an appropriate way to protest.

There is literally no way for Black and other POC to protest that white people and society deem acceptable.

That the riots in most cities were started by white people - in many cases, suspected white nationalists aimed at provoking police into killing Black protesters - has not escaped my notice. Though it seems to have conveniently escaped Bill Barr's.

No meaningful and lasting social change in the history of humanity has ever come from peaceful protest. Name one. I'll wait.

*taps toe*

How do you think our country was founded? The destruction of saleable goods was at the heart of the tea party protest. The goddamn Revolutionary War was a violent protest that was met with violence from the establishment.

You're either dumb or dishonest if you don't think we like violent protest here in America. What we don't like is violent protest by people of color.

We need to SIT DOWN and LISTEN when Black and other POC tell us their experiences. And we need to believe them. Because not believing them means we just don't care about their experiences. And not caring about their experiences means we do nothing to change those experiences. And that is what causes them to protest.

And can we white people make a pact? We don't get to pull MLK out of our asses every time we either want Black people to do as we say (stop violently protesting!) or when we want to appear to be an ally (MLK day). Also, we don't get to whitesplain to MLK's children what their father stood for. That is all.

It is incumbent on white people to fix this racist system we created. Blacks and other POC did not create the system. It is not up to them to fix it.

Black people are telling us our institutionally racist system is killing them and we don't listen and we don't care. They've been asking nicely for 500 years for us to stop killing them. I'm not Black, but I have empathy and a conscience. And I will not sit idly by if I have the chance to speak out.

Sitting idly by is tacit approval and participation. Silence is complicity.

History will document this, just as it did the civil rights movement. Just as it did the Holocaust. I don't want history to show I did nothing. So I fully support the protesters in their cause and in their right to protest in whatever way will make them heard.

A reminder:

Suspected forgery is not punishable by death.
Sleeping in your own bed is not punishable by death
Jogging is not punishable by death.
Wearing a hoodie is not punishable by death
Playing loud music in your car is not punishable by death.
Rolling through a stop sign is not punishable by death.
Selling cigarettes (legal or otherwise) is not punishable by death.
Walking on the street in your (or any) neighborhood is not punishable by death.
Asking for someone to leash their dog is not punishable by death (although Central Park Karen sure thought it should be and did her damn best)

George Floyd was silently and brutally murdered. His life matters. Black lives matter.

George Floyd. Photo via Offices of Ben Crump Law
Photo via Offices of Ben Crump Law
by way of NYT

image: @GracieLeeArt

Being Black is not punishable by death.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Impeachment and the hypocrisy of the Christian far-right

Christianity Today printed an op-ed calling for President Trump's removal from office following the impeachment hearings and subsequent Impeachment in the House of Representatives. Trump then called CT a far-left publication (LOLforever) and then Franklin Graham came out in support of Trump and denounced the op-ed. As such, whenever publications talk about Franklin Graham, they seem to always mention Samaritan's Purse - the organization that provides help to people in 3rd world countries as long as they are willing to listen to them proselytize.

Given that, and the direction that our country is heading - legislating Christianity into the public sphere - I though it relevant to repost this rant from 2006 from my personal blog.

Reposted from November 8, 2006 from my personal blog (deliberately unlinked)

Separation of Church and State?... or 4th grade indoctrination?

I'm feeling a need to rant. I’m hoping that I don’t offend anyone here, but my goodness. My 4th grader came home from school with a letter from his teacher (whom we adore, btw). Here’s the first paragraph of the letter, verbatim:

Dear Parents,
We need your help and support. As we enter this season of giving, our class has overwhelmingly voted to get involved and support a very worthwhile and special cause to help children. The program is called Operation Christmas Child, and is a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Mrs. XXXX, one of our kindergarten teachers visited our class upon my invitation and explained the program to the children. This project reinforces our class motto, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, and the class theme, “I Believe, I Can Achieve, and I Will Succeed.” The children decided to help other children succeed who have very little. For more information please see the attached brochure.

The brochure is for Operation Christmas Child, and features an obviously Muslim little girl on the front clutching a gaily wrapped Christmas present. Inside, is a letter from the organization's president, Billy Graham’s son, explaining how all the needy children who receive Christmas presents from this organization will be taught "about God’s greatest gift, His son Jesus Christ. "

I went to their website, and a portion of the mission statement of this organization reads:
“Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Pardon me, but isn’t that altruistic? Let’s help them so we can promote Jesus. How about helping them because they need help? Oops, wrong rant. This is a public school/religion rant.

And I should mention that I really don't have a problem with the organization per se, because it appears that they are out there helping the needy. My issue is with the promotion of the organization at my son's public school.

Is it me, or am I wrong in having a problem with the public schools asking my Jewish son to participate in Billy Graham’s organization? People file law suits over stuff like this. Don’t get me wrong, we have absolutely no intention of filing a law suit. We did however, write a very restrained letter explaining why our son would not be participating in an Evangelical charity and expressing our disappointment that the school would sanction such a classroom activity. We also explained that we involve our children in giving to those less fortunate than ourselves every year at the holidays and, actually all year round, and that we have explained to our son why he wouldn't be participating.

We also suggested some better choices for next time, such as collecting and wrapping presents for children at our local battered women’s shelter or for the unplaced children in the local foster care system. It was quite professional and restrained, if I do say so myself, when I really wanted to kick and scream about how fricking inappropriate it was.

I’ve often mentioned how I live in the bible belt of my county, but this is taking it a bit too far. The letter from the teacher was cc’d to the principal, and I’m shocked that she didn’t put the kibosh on the project. But I'm often shocked at her behavior. I’m also amazed that I’m the only parent that has a problem with it. But then again, the only other Jewish boy in Youngest's grade is in another class this year.

Am I wrong?

F/U: we let him participate in wrapping the gifts because he wanted to participate, but we still weren't happy about it.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Yes. I DO take joy in this impeachment. Here’s why.

All over the internet there’s discussion of whether we should take joy in the impeachment of Donald Trump. I see some friends whooping it up. I see others that say they take no joy. Well, I do take joy, and I think it’s important to talk about why.

It’s not because I don’t like him – I don’t. It’s not because I think he’s a terrible human being – I do. It’s not because his political ideology doesn’t jive with mine – it doesn’t. It’s not because he’s a narcissist – he is. It’s not because he’s a nepotist – he is. It’s not because he lets people buy their way into positions of power – he does. It’s not because he has no heart – he does (it’s just filled with hate).  It's not because he's a liar who can't tell the truth if his life depended on it – he is. It’s not because I want to reverse the outcome of the election – I do.

It’s one simple reason:
Our Constitution still works.

Our Constitution still works, and that gives me a small sliver of hope that our democratic republic is not completely dead. The House of Representatives has done its job. Impeachment is written into the Constitution for a reason. Not to get rid of presidents we don’t like. Not to reverse an election (though how I wish we could!). If Trump is removed from office, the election isn’t reversed. He was still president. If Trump is removed from office, Hillary Clinton doesn’t get to be president (dammit!). But it does mean that we still agree that a US President is not above the law. A US President is not a monarch, immune to the laws of the country over which they rule. A US President is not a dictator, alone getting to decide what happens, who lives or dies.

Impeachment is written into the Constitution because our founders believed in the separation of powers, that no one branch of government should have complete control. That nobody, including a US President, is above the law.

Donald Trump has used the presidency to consolidate money and power. All presidents do that in some way. But he has done it in a way that consistently violates the rule of law. He “urges” foreign leaders to stay in his hotels, from which he never divested his interest, even though he said he would. When the leader off the free world says you should stay in his hotel, and you rely on that leader's country for financial, social, and military support, you do it.

Donald Trump is committing crimes against humanity. He is forcing families apart, making them live in cages, separating babies from their families, refusing to let them be vaccinated, refusing medical care and basic human needs, adopting their children out to US families without consent, depriving them of dignity and human decency. Do I hope he’s held to account in a court of law for all of this? You bet your ass I do.

Donald Trump has repudiated everything our country has stood for over the last 230+ years. We are no longer a beacon of hope for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. He gleefully sends asylum seekers back to be killed in the countries they flee. He cares nothing for people who do not look like him or live in his social sphere, refusing to accept refugees because they “don’t contribute”, which is bullshit but again, I digress. He has absolutely no humanity.

Donald Trump has hurt our standing in the world. Oh sure. You can choose to believe him when he says, “They were laughing at us before. They aren’t laughing now.” Except they are. We no longer are a moral leader. Our guidance is no longer needed – there are others to step into that role. We are no longer respected, we are only coddled because of the money we bring to the table. That is the only world that Donald Trump understands. And that is sad. Except it’s not sad, it's enraging. Because it is ruining our democracy.

Some people can’t believe that after all the emoluments clause violations; after all of the Trump foundation violations; after all the national security violations; after all the subversion of the free press; after pushing to make the US a theocracy; after all of the taxpayer paid vacations… hey, we HATED it when the black guy picked up a golf club, remember? Oh right. Golf and the country club are for rich white dudes, my bad. I digress. After all of the crimes against humanity; what caused us to impeach was a shakedown of the Ukranian president.

Frankly, I don’t care what takes him down. Al Capone was taken down by tax violations (something I’m sure would also take down trump if his henchman judges would ever make him release his taxes). I only care that he goes.

One man could have stopped all of this, but has chosen not to. Mitch McConnell, longing for the olden days of yore and slavery and Reagan, refuses to hold this president to account. He’s chosen to ignore close to 400 bills on his desk from the House of Representatives – some of which would hold this president to account by clarifying the limitations of his power. McConnell has chosen instead, to abdicate his responsibility as the Senate Majority Leader in order to use his role instead to preserve an antiquated view of society – lining the courts with lifetime appointments of judges that the American Bar Association deems unsuitable. With judges that will take any social progress of the last 60 years and throw it in the trash. Judges that refuse to say that Brown was decided correctly. That refuse to adhere to settled law that a woman is an autonomous being in her own right with 14th amendment rights. It will take us many decades to undo the damage caused in just 3 short years.

I’m pretty sure this was their agreement. I’ll let you get away with all your illegal crap if you let me choose all the judges I want to preserve our old rich white man land owner “democracy”.

Mitch McConnell deserves to rot in a prison cell at best. At the very least, he deserves to be removed from his position as Majority Leader. Somewhere in the middle lies an election, where the people of Kentucky can fix the country. (Donate to Amy McGrath here)

So do I take joy in Donald Trump's impeachment? You bet your ass I do. No, I don't like him. Yes, I wish he'd never been elected. I hate what it says about our country that he was elected in the first place. I hate what it says about my friends and family who did, and still do, support him and all his ideology. But that's not why I take joy.  It's because it still works.

Our Constitution still works.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Once more for the people in the back...

And so, my friends, we are once again back here to talk about how terrible the GOP is. And how willfully ignorant they are. And how subservient to Trump they are. And because I'm all riled up, I didn't even go looking for pictures to break this up or to use as comic relief. And I didn't bother with links, because if you follow the threads below, they're all there. Because it's depressing to go googling for this shit day after day. So I've got nothing pithy and clever. Because you are in for a serious lesson right now.

You see, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out how America is running concentration camps at the southern border. And then Liz Cheney tried to school AOC on concentration camps, but clearly she needs to go back to school herself.

Well, Congresswoman Liz Cheney couldn't let that stand. Because if ANYONE knows about torture and how to be shitty to their fellow human beings it's a Cheney.

Almost all of twitter clapped back, including myself. As you know, I absolutely hate it when people compare things that are not the Holocaust to the Holocaust. And when people equate others with whom they simply don't agree with Hitler. Case in point... However, that shouldn't prevent us from recognizing the repetition of the pattern of the *actual* Hitler Nazis and trying to stop it.

Howsomever, in this case, AOC is absolutely right. What the US is doing meets the definition of concentration camps, provided below by some little known place called... *checks notes*... The Auschwitz Museum. You see, everyone equates the Holocaust only with death camps. But we know, because we STUDIED HISTORY, that this isn't the case.

So, once more for the people in the back.

The Holocaust didn't start with death camps and gas chambers and ovens and firing squads. It began with a concentrated campaign to identify Jews as "others", as animals, as not human. (I seem to recall a certain president using these terms for brown people.)

Then, Hitler tried to make life so unpleasant through laws and regulations that Jews would emigrate out of Germany voluntarily. When that didn't work, he rounded us up and put us in camps, where living conditions were terrible. Hmmm... that kind of sounds like "self-deportation, doesn't it?

Too many people were crammed into living space that was unsanitary, medical treatment was denied, education was denied, food was insufficient and contaminated. Sound familiar?

Then, when we pesky Jews were concentrated in large groups, separated from humanity, scratching and scraping for our existence, then and only then did he move past concentration camps into the extermination phase - the "final solution".

THIS is what we are trying to avoid here and now. This is what we mean when we say Never Forget and Never Again. Yes, in general it's in the context of not letting this happen to us Jews ever again. But in the larger context, it's meant that we can never allow this to happen to another group of people ever again.

Also, Liz Cheney forced me to type out the words "final solution" twice, and for that I will never forgive her. It physically hurt me to type those words. I have a visceral reaction to them. Even at work, when we talk about the thing that will fix something forever, I can't bring myself to use those words, even though they are likely the most germaine.

People like Liz Cheney do us no favors by their blind allegiance to their party (which coincidentally was also a Nazi trait) and their unwillingness to acknowledge American inhumanity. History will not look kindly upon those who did nothing, especially those that aided and abetted.

Although Jews were by far the most affected and murdered group, the Nazi campaign also affected Blacks, LGBT, Roma, and other populations not deemed to be the "master race". I've been hearing a lot of talk of "othering" and talk that sounds an awful lot like "master race" talk. And Nazi concentration camps look an awful lot like the camps that we are setting up in border towns. Additionally, now that we've transferred control of these camps over to DoD, they aren't necessarily open to observation. Which also sounds an awful lot like Nazi concentration camps. And is likely a complete violation of the Geneva convention.

So, back to Liz Cheney. There is a difference between concentration camps and death camps. Please educate yourself and learn some actual history. Don't assume you know everything about my history. Per the Auschwitz Museum, the difference begins here (emphasis mine):

The main difference between concentration camps, where prisoners of various nationalities were incarcerated, and extermination centers (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Kulmhof, Majdanek), where nearly all the victims were Jewish, was in the first place the annihilation method, while the final goal – the physical elimination of the victims – remained the same (both Auschwitz and Majdanek were "atypical" extermination centers since they were organizationally and spatially combined with concentration camps under the same names). Concentration camps used as the main annihilation method hunger combined with physical exhaustion. The death of prisoners was also accelerated by other conditions of existence in the camps: the lack of proper clothes, rest and medical care, poor sanitary conditions, as well as insufficient living conditions. Unlike the victims of the extermination centers killed immediately upon their arrival in the gas chambers, the prisoners of concentration camps stayed there for shorter or longer periods (some of them managed to survive the war).

Concentration camps, being an alternative to mass executions, were a tool for the physical elimination and served at the same time the cause of disguising the crimes committed there. Since they formally, by name and organizational structure, referred to pre-war camps, where Hitler’s opponents were isolated, their denomination related, as it were, to a concept to some extent familiar to the public in Germany and other countries.
In fact, even the Auschwitz Museum had to pipe in, and they got some clapback as well because all of humanity is terrible. Because like I said, they are just some little known place in a far away country. They retweeted this from Jan 1:
This is what is happening right now in the USA. I'm a Jew. I don't demean my history or my family's history if I say that we have moved into the concentration camp phase of Trump's plan. And yes, like Hitler, I'm positive there's a plan. The time for benefit of the doubt has passed. Concentration camps evolve into death camps. Twitterererer @JRehling put together a handy-dandy timeline comparison just for Liz:

If you aren't sure how to *do* the twitter, here it is (click to embiggen):

The one thing left off of this image is a notation for 1933, right after Hitler became Chancellor. That is the year that Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opened. On the timeline, that equates to around the time we started incarcerating brown people and refugees in camps at the border. Hmmm...

So. Yes. Don't wildly equate people or situations you don't like as Hitler or Nazi. But do call a concentration camp a concentration camp. A concentration camp is not equivalent to the Holocaust. But if we don't allow ourselves to use the correct terminology, then how will we ever prevent another Holocaust? Because Mr Fine People on Both Sides is getting ready to become even more authoritarian (oh, hey! a majority of his "fans" want him to have more than 2 terms. Oh, ok then).

I fear every day for the lives of these poor people who came here seeking asylum and are now stuck in a concentration camp. I fear for those poor people who just came here wanting a better life for themselves and their children. In addition to the terrible conditions in these camps - the freezer, cramming folks into spaces meant for far fewer people, poor sanitation, lack of medical care, insufficient and contaminated food. In addition to that, we are separating 4 month old babies from their parents and keeping little tiny innocent children in cages like animals. WHO DOES THAT?

The outcry is that "we are better than this". America, I hate to tell you this, but clearly we are not better than this. We ARE this.

America, get your shit together. Vote him and his enablers out. History will not look kindly upon you for your silence. Silence = complicity.

And now, if you need a palate cleanser, may I direct you to this twitter account of a wonderful, funny, brave woman. It's filled with good doggos and wonderful stories of adventure in the wild tundra.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Georgia hates women (ok, Ohio does too)... who would have ever thought it?

Does Georgia hate us because Brian Kemp had to steal an election from a more qualified woman? "People are saying" that.

So anyway, this news out of Georgia is pretty terrifying. And if you have a wife, sister, mother, daughter, friend, or acquaintance who is a woman, you should be terrified for them too.

Brian Kemp, who stole the GA governorship in 2018, just signed Georgia HB481 into law. Here's what it does:

It declares full personhood and full legal recognition for embryos, including counting them in census, by stating that "modern medical science" proves this to be true.
Fetuses “shall be included in population based determinations” from now on, because they are legally humans, and residents of the state.
It outlaws abortion as soon as a heartbeat can be heard (typically around 6 weeks gestation).
It prohibits doctors from terminating any pregnancy after they can detect “embryonic or fetal cardiac activity”. I mean, I had so many times when my period was 2 or 3 weeks late for whatever reason. I had times when I just skipped a month altogether. Hell, I was trying to get pregnant and still didn't know I was pregnant until 10 weeks.
It allows a woman who aborts a pregnancy to be sued for the "full value of life of the child"
It's unclear who gets to decide this, but I'm sure it will be a man.
It dictates 1st degree murder charges, allowing life in prison or the death penalty for women who self-terminate, including with prescribed drugs.
From this Slate article: "But the most startling effect of HB 481 may be its criminalization of women who seek out unlawful abortions or terminate their own pregnancies. An earlier Georgia law imposing criminal penalties for illegal abortions does not apply to women who self-terminate; the new measure, by contrast, conspicuously lacks such a limitation. It can, and would, be used to prosecute women. Misoprostol, a drug that treats stomach ulcers but also induces abortions, is extremely easy to obtain on the internet, and American women routinely use it to self-terminate. It is highly effective in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anti-abortion advocates generally insist that they do not want to punish women who undergo abortions. But HB 481 does exactly that. Once it takes effect, a woman who self-terminates will have, as a matter of law, killed a human—thereby committing murder. The penalty for that crime in Georgia is life imprisonment or capital punishment."

It provides for 2nd degree murder charges, punishable by 10-30 years in prison for women who get an abortion from a physician or who miscarry due to their own conduct.
Such as... using drugs, or, you know, being in the 25% of women who miscarry, because being a woman is also, apparently, your own fault.
Also from the Slate article: "HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses."
It provides for conspiracy to commit murder for women who travel out of state to get an abortion. And if you're the driver, you also get charged.
Again, from Slate: "If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are “conspiring” to end of the life of a “person” with “full legal recognition” under Georgia law."
It repeals almost everything in the Women's Right to Know Act, which forced ultrasounds on women seeking abortions. Because abortion is illegal, so women don't need to know shit, apparently. It also repeals anything in conflict with the wording of this law.

It incorrectly states that at 20 weeks, fetuses "evade" pain.
Every single obstetric and gynecologic medical organization has declared this to be false.
This is not about just restricting access. If it was, then the argument the anti-choice movement has been making about "just go somewhere it's legal" would still apply. But this law charges women who go where it's legal with conspiracy to commit murder.

This is not about preserving life. Because they also make a woman carry an ectopic pregnancy. (Whoops! That's Ohio. They also just signed a new heartbeat law. You can understand how I got this all mixed up, so I'll just leave it in anyway.) This is about power and control over women, pure and simple.

This is not about religion. My religion pretty much states that embryos and fetuses are not people, and dictates an abortion if a woman is ill or in danger. So this law impinges on my 1st amendment right to exercise my religion freely.

This is not about anything except controlling women and putting them back in their place, subservient to men and making sammiches – and severely punishing them if they refuse to comply.

You'd better hope you never have a miscarriage in the state with one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the nation. Or travel elsewhere and have a miscarriage.

This is why goddamned elections matter, people. At the local, state and national level.

Because the goal of all of these laws, in addition to punishing women for daring to want any autonomy over their body and decisions, is to get a case up to the Supreme court.

It's why the GOP have been packing the courts all during the Trump presidency.

It's why the rat bastard Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland and then rushed through 2 right wing SCOTUS candidates who care nothing for the rule of law or for women.

It's why the GOP has sold its soul and is gleefully happy about it.

It's why they are willing to let the United States become a laughingstock across the globe.

It's why they are willing to give up any semblance of a decent reputation that they might have once had.

Because they all get to pack the courts for decades to come with far right wing crazy-ass shitheads who only care about anyone who is a rich white "Christian" man or a wealthy corporation.

You need to get your ass to the polls and vote. Vote in person, vote by mail, vote by fucking osmosis. Because next, they're coming for you. Whoever "you" are.

In a time when women are blamed for getting raped, and blamed for being poor mothers, and being blamed for working outside the home to support their children, and being blamed for the sun setting at night, we are once again going to blame them for something that naturally occurs in 25% of all pregnancies.

If only companies would get on board with moving out of Georgia, and not holding events there like they rightly did with the bathroom bill in NC.

But, you know. This is about women, so.

Blessed be the fruit, and all that jazz.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I have thoughts on all this “senseless” violence

In the past week, a man tried to go to a church in Kentucky where predominantly black worshipers gather to pray. He was thwarted and ended up in a Kroger parking lot, killing 2 black people – one right in front of his grandson, out for the day, enjoying their lives. He was witnessed telling another white person who stood by in shock not to worry – “whites don’t shoot whites”.

Bombs were mailed in multiple assassination attempts – on 2 former Presidents, a former VP, a former Sec of State, Senator, and First Lady, several sitting Senators, and a sitting Congresswoman, a Democratic party donor, a former CIA director, and to a prominent media outlet. The bombs all attempted to implicate another former Congresswoman. When caught, the perpetrator was a Trump supporter, his van covered in pro-Trump stickers and anti-Democrat stickers (including one of Hillary Clinton in the cross-hairs of a rifle). His social media was filled with hate and video of him at Trump rallies.

Then on Saturday morning, a gunman went to a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people and wounded several more, in another hate-filled crime against a minority group practicing their religion. We Jews are sadly used to being persecuted. But this was something more – the majority of those killed were elderly Jews – who had lived through the Holocaust – whether they lived in Europe or not, being alive during the 30s and 40s is indelibly carved into their psyche. They lived through that terrible time in human history, only to be slaughtered in their house off worship by a rabid anti-Semite who wrote on a far-right social media site – “HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people” and “Screw your optics. I’m going in”. And then proceeded to do just that.

And believe me, I’m trying to be objective because this week was terrible for everyone. Everyone except for the hate filled far right, led by our illustrious president, Donald Trump. The common thread through all of these heinous crimes? Hate.

And yet, all I heard all week was sorrow at the senseless violence.

Why do we call it senseless? It implies that we don’t know what caused these crimes or how to fix the problem.

We know what caused these crimes. Hate. Hate and the acceptance it has in the US and globally. Hate that is espoused by the president and vice president. By senators and congressmen. By everyone who suggests that we need to look at “both sides”, implying a false equivalence of criticism against an ever-increasingly authoritarian government vs support for killing, imprisoning, and physically assaulting one’s political adversaries and other marginalized groups.

That equivalence is just flat out bullshit. And I truly hope these people are still alive when their names are enshrined in the history books next to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Assad, Pinochet, Hussein, and so many others. I hope they have to explain themselves to their grandchildren and their great grandchildren how they villainized and mocked refugees, the underserved, the poor, the disabled, minorities, women, victims of sexual assault, those unfortunate enough not to be born into power.

Calling this violence and these deaths senseless implies we don’t understand that this hate-filled rhetoric and public policy is driving and actively encouraging divisiveness and violence. When a  candidate for president of the United States of America tells a crowd he’ll gladly pay their attorney fees if they get arrested for assaulting protesters. When the president actively tears at the fabric of our democracy, aided and abetted by a Congress so enthralled with power and an ideological agenda that they are willing to sacrifice our democracy to get it. When the president uses terminology that harkens back to the time of a German dictator – using the politics of fear to drive and stoke anger among his base at those who would fight for this democracy of ours.

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that a fascination with guns and a fear of change drive this hatred. A refusal to fund public education and to teach critical thinking coupled with a trend toward home and parochial schooling – teaching fear and blind obedience to the next generation so they have no foundation on which to challenge the status quo. An acceptance of guns as an anger management tool, and a fear of “big government” – but only when that government is promoting the general welfare of the nation – no need to fear when it supports their own agenda of suppressing free speech, bodily autonomy for women, free exercise of religion and of the people to criticize their government (oh, it’s fine to do that when Democrats are in power, but surely not when Republicans control it all!).

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that our country has a long history of violence against minorities – black, brown, and all colors under the sun with the exception of lily white. It means we don’t understand our history of stoking fear of immigrants and refugees, be they Chinese, Irish, Jewish, Mexican, Central American, Middle Eastern or any other nationality or religion other than white Christian Anglo-Europeans. It means we don’t acknowledge our own culpability in terrorism of Native Americans and Blacks.

Calling it senseless means we don’t understand that those in power are systematically dismantling our functional government. Putting into power at the helm of each agency those with the desire to demolish that with which they are entrusted. Allowing those who put greed before health and the environment and our ecosystems and our very existence. Who put greed and regressionism before progress and technology. Who put their own personal gain before the survival of our planet.

And yet we do understand all of that. And we understand how to fix it. We understand that in order form a more perfect union, there is no place in this country and this world for white supremacy. No place for Stand Your Ground. No place for defunding of public education. No place for rampant hatred fueled by fear. No place for curriculums that abandon critical thinking skills and expanded world views. No place for voter suppression. No place for troops at the border to drive away refugees. No place for willful and mean-spirited separation of families. No place for deportation of law-abiding citizens, veterans, and immigrants. No place for anti-Semitism. No place for institutionalized racism. No place for emboldened Nazis. No place for AR-15s and permitless and background-checkless gun ownership. No place for domestic violence. No place for misogyny. No place for dismantling our government. No place for the demolition of the social construct. No place for ideological court-packing. No place for Citizens United. No place for PACs. No place for outrageous amounts of money in politics. For buying politicians. For selling the American people in trade for money, power and greed.

No place for silence. Because silence = complicity.  And there is no place for complicity.

Acknowledging we can fix these things means that these deaths and this terrorism aren’t senseless. Completely unnecessary? Yes. Utterly horrific? Yes. Indescribably painful? Yes. But senseless? Oh no.

If you also want to fix this, you can participate in the solution. Vote. Vote these horrible people out of office. Don’t cry about senseless violence. Fix it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Statues and the deflection of racial and religious oppression and hatred

Somehow the conversation about Nazis has devolved into an argument about keeping Confederate statues so we don't forget the past. It's turned into a debate on the renunciation of those statues and their place in American history.

Literal Nazis were there in Charlottesville.
The KKK was there in Charlottesville.
Lots of, for lack of a better term I'll call, generic white supremacists, were there in Charlottesville. These are the folks spouting off the line that they were just there to protest the imminent removal of the homage to Robert E. Lee. A traitor to the United States of America.

For today's post, I'm going to step away from the issue of permitting Nazis to march in the streets giving the Hitler salute and carrying Nazi flags. On goddamned American soil.

I'm going to step away from the issue of permitting the KKK to carry torches and emboldening them enough to go unhooded.

I'm going to step away from those "generic white supremacists" who now claim their life is ruined because they just took part in a little itty bitty Nazi protest where someone was murdered and several more injured, and 2 police officers lost their lives.

I'm going to step away from our asshat of a president who defended these "very fine people".

Let's talk about the statue. The one of Robert E. Lee. And the thousands of statues just like it across America. In hundreds of cities, we have statues up commemorating and honoring the losing side of a treasonous war.

Kids grow up across America looking at these statues. The ones dedicated to and honoring men who fought a war because they wanted the right to own Black people. To whip them, to hang them, to humiliate them, to rape them, to deny them autonomy, to sit lazily back and count the money they made off the backs of these men and women and children. Men and women and children brought to our country against their will. Stolen from their homes in (predominantly) Africa.

Those same kids grow up and attend protests and yell at the descendants of these men and women and children who literally built this country's economy and who are systemically and institutionally pushed out of participating fully in it. They yell to go back where they came from as if their descendants voluntarily emigrated here. They yell derogatory terms like "nigger" and "Boy" in an attempt to dehumanize and emasculate them.

Side note. Yes. I wrote out the word nigger instead of using the politically correct "n****r". Because it's an ugly word. And when using it to show the ugliness of those who yell it at other human beings, it makes sense to not whitewash the term. To show its ugliness. End side note.

They yell at Jews to leave, to die. Invoking centuries-old stereotypes of Jews.

They yell at women to know their place, to go make a sandwich, to get back to birthing babies and ironing their shirts.

So they protest the removal of those statues. Which were not erected at the end of the war, but instead at a future time when it was once again, time to remind the black man of his place in society. To whip up hatred and anger in order to keep an entire race of human beings systematically oppressed. During the women's suffrage movement in the 1910s and 20s. During the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Whenever social progress was being made, it became time to add another statue to remind folks of their place in society and whip up sentiment against them.

Now imagine the alternate universe. What would these Nazis, these KKK, and these "generic" white supremacists be using as their sword to die on if instead of erecting statues to racist traitors to America, we erected statues of more worthy people.

Imagine if kids grew up visiting their local park and saw statues honoring Civil War era heroes like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and Robert Smalls and Sojourner Truth alongside Lincoln and Grant.

Imagine if kids grew up visiting statues of great feminist leaders like Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Bell Hooks, or Shirley Chisolm.

Imagine if kids grew up with statues honoring the great American soldiers who helped to liberate the death camps. Imagine if those statues depicted them opening the gates and showed the Jews and other oppressed people who were being held prisoners behind those gates.

Imagine if we had statues honoring Americans like Louis Brandeis, Elie Wiesel, Gertrude Elion and Jonas Salk, and yes, Emma Lazarus all across the country.

Imagine if we had statues in our streets honoring great Black Americans like Thurgood Marshall and Maya Angelou, Benjamin Davis Sr., Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, Katherine Johnson, and Ida B. Wells.

Imagine if our kids grew up going to museums and seeing photos and relics of the Civil War instead of large statues honoring them in the streets. These museums would educate the kids and their parents about the cause of the Civil War. Preservation of slavery. And that it was defeated. And rightly defeated.

Imagine what all that might achieve in combating racism, misogyny, antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

Imagine if that's what was standing in Charlottesville and that's what kids grew up visiting, instead of holdovers from a time when racial, religious, and gender oppression was the norm.

THAT's the America I want to live in.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

White Supremacy, Nazis, the KKK, and the President of the United States

Last night and today marked another terrorist attack in the United States. Once again, caused by those who most often commit terrorism in the US - a white Christian male. A white dude filled with rage that other people that don't look or believe like him might get a voice. Like Dylann Roof, this is a young man - just 20. It's beyond me that someone my youngest son's age could possibly be filled with so much hate for his fellow human beings. How does that happen? How?

Now, you know I hate Holocaust and Nazi comparisons. But my friends, we have literal Nazis marching in the streets. Proudly displaying their Nazi salutes.
via Twitter: Roger Warren ️‏@MissesThe90s. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly touting their admiration for Hitler.
via Twitter: Andy B Campbell ️‏@andybcampbell. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly carrying Nazi flags.

via Twitter: The Fighting Liberal‏ @texyellowdogdem. Unclear as to original source.

Proudly carrying their KKK flags.
via Twitter: The Fighting Liberal‏ @texyellowdogdem. Unclear as to original source.
Proudly carrying torches. This right here? That is the face of hate in America.
The face of hate. via Twitter. Original source unknown.
 If you click on the photo and enlarge it, you'll see all the smiles. These guys are loving this.
March of hate. via Twitter. Original source unknown.
These few kids below are heroes to me. I sound like an old biddy, but their parents should be proud. In case you can't see it, there is a small group of UVA students holding a sign saying "UVA students against white supremacy". They are literally surrounded by torch carrying, spittle-yelling, hate-mongering, intimidating white supremacists.
Rally around a few protesters. via Twitter. Original source unknown.

Do you know what sparked this protest? The imminent removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. These are the same folks who yell, "Get over it - he won!". Yet they don't see the irony in protesting the removal of a tribute to the losing side of the Civil War. To them I say, "The North won. Get over it!"

For all the people who claim it's about heritage, I call bullshit. It's about racism. Ok., maybe it's about the heritage of your racism.

In the midst of this Nazi/KKK rally today, a 20 year old man deliberately ran down a group of counter-protesters with his car, killing 32 year old woman amd injuring 19 others. He's been charged with 2nd degree murder. I take issue with that. This guy drove from Ohio to Virginia, and ran over people intentionally. That should be 1st degree plus all the other attempted murder charges. A police helicopter crashed, killing 2 officers.

Honestly, I'm rambling. Because I am still in shock that a Nazi rally was held at a US college campus in 2017. Alongside the KKK. Who don't feel obligated to wear hoods any longer. Let that sink in. They don't care about showing their faces any more. Because they feel supported. No consequences.

The Trump campaign and  administration has empowered and supported this resurgence of hate and violence in our country. He called for it at his campaign rallies. He called for it in his platform. He called for it when he surrounded himself with white nationalists n the White House. And he called for it again today when he refused to condemn this display of hate, racism, antisemitism and white nationalism.

He gave a short statement condemning violence on "many sides." Unless he meant the Nazis and the KKK, there aren't many sides. There is being on the right side of history and there is being on the wrong side of history. And history tells us that being a Nazi is not being on the right side of history. Being a Nazi sympathizer is not being on the right side of history.

Our president refused to denounce white supremacists. The fucking president of the United States refused to denounce white supremacists that are terrorizing this nation and killed 3 people.

And don't think that went unnoticed. This from David Duke:

He also tweeted this out in response to Trump's half-assed attempt at looking presidential.

I still see friends and friends of friends not condemning this. Just yesterday, my sister posted something about Jewish women running for office and how proud she was of that. She got this back, along with my comment. This was before the rally began. My last comment was from tonight.

People like this woman got Trump elected. They actively and enthusiastically voted for him and all he stands for. I cannot and will not sit silently. Silence = approval. There is no other interpretation now.
Even Republicans are upset at this one. Wow.

Rubio, Cruz, McConnell, Hatch, McCain, and many more are condemning white nationalism and calling for this to be investigated as terrorism. Good. They also say this has no place in America. To them I say: maybe you should stop confirming white nationalists and racists to cabinet positions, and supporting them in White House positions. Maybe then I'll believe you mean it. Honestly, I think you're just worried about you re-election (except for McCain).

The current lineup of Trump, Bannon, Miller, Sessions, Spencer, and Gorka (who just 2 days ago asked that we stop blaming white nationalists for violence) dispels any notion that this administration isn't firmly supportive of this.

POC, Jews, all minority religions, LGBTQA+ community, and anyone not a cis white Christian male have every reason to fear. Never tell me we don't.

I'm so angry that 70+ years after the defeat of Nazism we have made so little progress. I'm scared. Scared of the damage that this president and his cronies are doing to America in the name of white supremacy.

Friends, now is the time. Because they've come for everyone else already. There is no one left to speak for you. Except YOU. If you don't speak out loudly, you'll be condoning and tacitly endorsing this Nazi & KKK violence & rhetoric.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me
~Martin Niemöller

Get off your asses, people. Demand that your representatives in Congress do something about this. Demand that your state officials do something. Demand that your local officials do something.

Lives are literally at stake. And to the guy I mentioned here, I hope you get it now. Yes. It is the end of the world for some people. It certainly was for Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, and Heather Heyer. (z”l)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What I want to hear from Donald Trump

Given all the things that have happened in the past couple of weeks, I have some things on my mind. Mostly about Donald Trump’s silence on the hatred being spewed across this nation in his name.

Mr. Trump, here’s what I want to hear from you. Not in a written statement. Not through one of your surrogate proxies. Straight from your oddly-shaped mouth speaking to the American people. Speaking to ME.

I want to hear you personally denounce the neo-Nazism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and white nationalism that has spread so boldly across the nation since your campaign started, and that has grown more zealous since your election.

I want to hear you say that painting swastikas anywhere is wrong.
I want to hear you say that raising the Nazi salute and yelling Heil Trump is wrong.
I want to hear you say that questioning whether Jews are really people is wrong.
I want to hear you say that ripping the hijab off of women and yelling slurs and telling them to get out of America is wrong.
I want to hear you say that schoolchildren shouldn’t be subjected to hatred from their classmates telling them they will be deported, or be called nigger by their teacher.
I want to hear you say that you don't want the support of the KKK or Nazis or white supremacists.
I want to hear you say that threatening to rape women is wrong.
I want to hear you say that spewing hatred at your fellow Americans in the street is wrong.
I want to hear you say that torturing human beings is wrong.
I want to hear you say that fear through intimidation is wrong.
I want to hear you say that the media has a duty to report when hate crimes are committed.
I want to hear you say that yes, Obergfell is the law of the land, but Roe is as well.
I want to hear that you understand why so many Americans are fearful, terrified, anxious, scared for their very lives.

I want to hear you say that your cabinet will not reflect all of the above things that are happening in America. Like the racism & antisemitism from Steve Bannon. Like the racism and anti-immigration rhetoric from Jeff Sessions. Like the Islamophobia and hatred from Michael Flynn. And so many more.

I want to hear you say that you don’t approve of any of this being done in your name, or even at all.

You say that you want to be President for ALL Americans. So far, your actions don’t reflect this. I know it’s cliché and all, but actions speak louder than words.

I want you to act like an American President.

Hell, I just want you to act like an American.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Check your privilege at the door please

One of the themes that has started to emerge after Tuesday's horrible election is the idea of "It won't be so bad. The Pres doesn't have that much power. The world isn't going to end. Why are you all freaking out?"

These comments that I've seen are mostly being made by white men. I noted yesterday how difficult it was to explain to my husband about how I dread having a president who views me as "less than", and how difficult it is for white men to fully understand this concept, no matter how much they may sympathize.

And I'm well aware that there are so very many groups who have been far more marginalized than I, but that doesn't invalidate my own feelings. And while I will likely never fully feel the negativity that so many of these groups face on a daily basis, I can certainly understand it and call out behaviors that marginalize them even more - intentional or not.

It was in this spirit that I did something I rarely do. I engaged a friend on social media when he pulled the "It won't be so bad, the Pres doesn't have that much power, really" crap.

I won't quote his entire post, but it was quite lengthy and intellectually very accurate in listing all the reasons and things that generally hold a President in check. The post ended with this:

The bottom line: I am not happy with the result. But despite the focus on the election, the federal government is limited, the President can only do so much within that limited federal government, and Trump did not win the popular vote. There are all sorts of good reasons to think the real damage he could do is limited.

Caveat: I am not saying the result in this election is good (it is not) or that Trump cannot do harm (he can). I am simply saying that this is bad news, but the world is not coming to an end and there is plenty that we and others can do.

Again, factually accurate. Although the point about not winning the popular vote doesn't matter in the slightest. If you need a specific example, I present George W. Bush. Moving on.

No matter how accurate your assessment, it's very easy to look at this from the vantage point of a white man. Very few of the things that Trump advocated for during the election will affect a white middle class man. I countered with something along these lines.

From your position as a white man, your words are well said. The problem comes for the rest of America who don't have the same privilege. Because of a majority in the House & Senate, plus the WH, and likely the SCOTUS, so many of the freedoms we enjoy are threatened. It is hard for white men to fully grasp the concept of being viewed as "less than", and I'm not trying to be an asshole when I say that. But the fact is that aside from a few inconveniences, you may not be personally affected.

White men are rarely personally affected by Supreme Court cases that affect personal liberties and freedoms. This is not just about Trump, but everything that surrounds him, including Congress, his cabinet, & his future SCOTUS picks. We know at least 1 vacancy will be filled, and the potential for 1 or 2 more may arise. To so many marginalized people, that is terrifying, and very may well signal the end of life as they know it.
The response was again, very intellectual and ended with this:
I made a more general argument about the non-governmental aspects of our lives, federalism, the role of the President in domestic and foreign policy, internal checks on both his power and his stupidity, and the role of the American people in all this. .Agree, disagree, or ignore me. But it is not about white male privilege. I don't know why the argument has to be made subjective....

I admit I am selectively editing the response, because I want to highlight again that although his thoughts are intellectually correct and very spot on, they fail to take into account two major things.

First, yes it's true that there is not a lot, historically, that a limited federal government can do. However, our limited federal government over the last 8 years has held a rampantly bigoted, prejudice, classist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic set of red state governments in check. We're insulated to much of this in California. But so much of the country is already fighting these battles on a daily basis. And President Obama's federal government has held much of this in check through the Justice department. Trump has already threatened literally millions of Americans. A Trump Justice Department that sides with these red states will surely not hold them back from implementing so much of their agenda.

And secondly, on the subject of why the argument has to be made subjective:

It's subjective because human emotions aren't objective. They depend on the human experience.

And no offense, but a white man's human experience isn't the same as a child who has been told they have to leave their country or that their parents will be deported and they'll be parentless and too bad for you, or a child in school who is bullied by classmates that gleefully tell him he's going to be kicked out of the country, or a woman who has had her hijab pulled off and is spit upon and called a whore, or a black man who knows that the man who will be President embraced endorsements by the grand wizard of the KKK and by white supremacy groups, or millions of Muslims who fear for their lives and the outlaw of their religion, or a woman who now must understand that their president-elect believes men have the right to assault women whenever the mood strikes because he's rich and that if a woman doesn't like being sexually harassed she should just find another job, or an LGBTQ person who the VP and Congress have said should not have equal rights and will actively work to suppress and revoke those rights, or a journalist who has been threatened with jail because you publish something that the President doesn't like.

None of those things directly affect straight white men.

Yes, there are plenty of things that might or might not happen, and we'll have to wait and see. So much will depend upon the cases that come before a (likely, now) conservative leaning SCOTUS and how willing they are to balance law and ideology. Or how much of Trump's rhetoric he actually believes and how much was said to get elected. His choices for cabinet members suggest he truly believes his rhetoric.

But all of these issues beget emotions brought on by the human experience.

And the emotions brought on by human experience are valid.

And yes, they are subjective.

And the inability to acknowledge that is mired in the privilege of being a straight white man.

I'm not angry with white men, but I do wish they could see and acknowledge their privilege in not being personally individually affected by much of this, and understand why some people believe that yes, the world - their world - may indeed end.