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Mansplaining, explained

mansplaining

Another woman friend has un-friended a man on Facebook because he refused to stop accusing her of claiming all men are guilty of abusing women.

Now, my friend has been abused. She also has said a number of times that she knows not all men are abusive. But this guy keeps coming to her posts and repeating that she shouldn’t be such a man-hater because not all men are abusive.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Look, guys, we know how we feel and we don’t need you to tell us.

We also know what our own life experiences are and how they affect our views. Again, we don’t need you to tell us.

During my Facebook shitstorm the other day, one man kept telling me why he isn’t bothered by being called honey and that I should share his view until I finally blocked him.

Later, another male friend came on and said he really couldn’t understand why it bothered me so much. He has lived in Texas for a long time and it’s part of the culture there. When I said I want the respect of not having my experiences invalidated simply because his were different, he agreed.

That’s how simple it is.

Try this, guys: “Oh, I see our experiences are different. OK, then.”

Or this, if you want to continue the conversation: “Wow, we have really different experiences. Tell me more.”

Mansplaining is when you try to tell us why we should share your point of view, even when our own experiences leave us with the exact opposite view. It’s when you close your mind to our perspective while insisting we be open to yours.

What that does is tells us our experiences don’t matter to you. It tells us that you think we have to conform to your view because it somehow is superior to our own experience.

It tells us our opinions are not valid because they don’t align with yours and that we are the ones who have to rethink our world view so it matches yours.

It’s telling us you want to protect us from one thing or another when we have not asked for your protection and you have not asked us whether we need it.

Mansplaining is condescending and disrespectful,  and if you haven’t figured it out so far, let me tell you it’s deeply offensive.

We don’t need you to explain our lives to us, OK? If that bothers you, too bad.

If we point out to you that what you’re doing is mansplaining, it’s time for you to stop talking.

It was like talking to a wall.

 

me_n_pat.jpg

I had a choice this morning. I could stand with protesters outside the Governor’s Western Residence in Asheville or I could try to get into the open house to address him personally.

I decided to try and get to him.

We started driving to the residence, but when we turned up Town Mountain Road, we were told we’d never get in unless we went to First Baptist Church and waited for the shuttle.

We waited for almost an hour. The event was supposed to start at 9:30, but we didn’t get onto the shuttle until 10:20. When we got to the house, we were told we had 15 minutes, so I went outside, where the governor was standing beside the fire pit.

I approached.

“Hi, I’m Pat,” he said.

“I’m Leslie,” I said and lifted up the photo of my late son. “This is Mike, who died after being denied access to care.”

He noticed a microphone on my collar. Robin Carter had placed it there in case she was able to video the encounter. She wasn’t allowed.

“I’m not talking to anyone who’s miked,” he said.

“Well, perhaps you’ll listen,” I answered.

I told him about Mike and about how five to seven people are dying every day in this state because he and his colleagues in the General Assembly have refused to expand Medicaid.

He countered that he tried to talk to President Obama about adding a work requirement, and I told him 70 percent of people who would be eligible for Medicaid work already, and virtually all of the rest are unable to work. I told him how hard a worker my son was, and that he was never looking for a handout, just someone who would be willing to help him stay alive.

“People who need Medicaid aren’t lazy, and they’re not greedy,” I said.

I didn’t add that the people who block access to health care are the takers. I was trying to be calm and polite.

“Well, Medicaid was a mess before I took office,” he said.

Yes it was, because in 2010, the Republicans took over the General Assembly and slashed funding so badly that the Republican secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services resigned rather than preside over such carnage. Before 2010, North Carolina’s Medicaid program was a national model.

But I didn’t have time to tell him that because he had already interrupted me to say he’s expanding access to Medicaid for people with autism.

I told him my benchmark is whether it would have given my son access to care, and adding in a few hundred people wouldn’t have done that. I also told him I don’t think privatizing Medicaid will work any better than privatizing mental health care a decade ago did.

He was happy to talk about the implosion of the state’s mental health system because that was done before he took office. I could see his eyes light up.

“Yes! That system is a mess, and so is treatment for addiction,” he said. “We really need to do something about that.”

But since the majority of people who have addiction don’t respond to treatment the first time, what should we do?

Prevention. That 14-year-old who had surgery probably doesn’t need opiates to deal with his pain, at least not for more than a few days, McCrory said. You give it to him for a month or more and you’ve created another addict.

Of course, this means we can’t have legalization of pot and the windfall of tax money that would come with it, but that’s an issue for another day.

My friends, Robin Carter and Matt Graunke wanted to talk about HB2, but we got the same answers he’s been giving to the media.

“I was on NPR,” he said, as though NPR only interviews reasonable people. He also said the law is about privacy, but when challenged about the privacy of a trans person who only wants to go into a stall and pee, that was different, of course.

He talked about wanting to protect women and both Robin and I said we had been assaulted or abused in places other than rest rooms by people our families knew and trusted, and that since we are adults now, we think women should have been consulted about whether we even think we need protection from trans people in bathrooms.

Frankly, I think we need protection from people like the governor and his friends in the General Assembly, because while they’re distracting us with talk about trans people in bathrooms, innocent people are dying — five to seven people every day, week in and week out, year after year.

When he said he felt sorry about how my son died, my question was whether he would be willing to say that to the 8,000 families of people who have died since he signed the law denying Medicaid expansion. Every one of those families is in just as much pain as mine.

But, hey, after many, many attempts to talk to him, after two arrests for “trespassing” on public property, after being locked out of the state house so he didn’t have to talk to me, I finally got some face time with him.

I only wish I had been able to make him see how his policies are killing innocent people.

At least he didn’t tell me he’s pro-life.

A primer on HB2 and why it’s not going away

Anti-HB2 signs left in the doorway of NC Senate leader Phil Berger

Anti-HB2 signs left in the doorway of NC Senate leader Phil Berger after a rally to oppose the law.

On March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly met in special session to pass House Bill 2, or what would become known as the transgender bathroom law.

The outrage was immediate, as it should have been. Transgender people are being forced to use the bathroom assigned to the gender that they no longer identify with.

If you think you don’t know anyone who is transgender, you probably just don’t know who was born with a penis and who was not. You’ve been peeing with them for a long time, I assure you.

The media went wild with news of the bathroom bill. Companies, sports events, entertainers and tourists pledged to boycott North Carolina, costing the state tens of millions of dollars. That fueled even more media attention about this awful bathroom bill.

Except it isn’t a bathroom bill any more than the motorcycle bill of three years ago was about motorcycles (in case you don’t recall, that “motorcycle safety” law is chock full of restrictions on women’s reproductive rights).

Sure, Article One is all about hating transgender people and denying them the right to use the appropriate bathroom, and that’s just wrong on every level.

But read on.

The law goes on to deny people in North Carolina the right to sue for discrimination in state courts. Instead, we’re supposed to go to federal court, which is much more expensive, likely much farther away and has only one-sixth the statute of limitations (six months versus three years). Most people can’t do that.

The law also takes away the power of local governments to set their own discrimination policies or minimum wage. This, of course, helps keep people in poverty so those in power can criticize them as lazy.

But the bathroom part of the law is what’s making headlines and it has fired up the ultra-conservative base.

And this is exactly what the thugs in power planned.

The furor over the clearly unconstitutional bathroom part of the law has drawn attention away from the rest of the law, which is just as egregious.

The US Justice Department has informed the state that this piece of the bill is a violation of US Civil Rights Law. The state can fight that, and if it does, here’s what “leaders” are hoping for:

With a Republican candidate the base isn’t willing to support, the NC GOP puts the bathroom piece of the law on the November ballot. This will bring out their base, who may or may not vote for president, but will vote down-ticket for Richard Burr, Gov. McCrory, Republican candidates for Congress and these very legislators who crafted HB2.

Like Amendment One, which enshrined hatred into the state Constitution, they know this piece of the law is unconstitutional and will be overturned.

But they have what they want: Republicans elected and the rest of the law intact.

Even if they don’t fight the Justice Department decision, the NC GOP has most of what it wants because law has a clause that states if part of it is overturned or repealed, the rest survives.

And there you have it. HB2 is a naked power grab, fueled by hate and written by thugs.

Meanwhile, suicide hotlines are reporting an increase in the number of calls from transgender people. People are being dragged out of bathrooms because they’re not masculine or feminine enough to satisfy some bigot. Men are going into the women’s bathrooms at Target to check on people and “protect” women.

The worst part is that a majority of people who voted for this law are running unopposed for their seats this fall.

In other words, we’re likely to see a return of the thugs to power because no one wanted to get involved and run against them. We have the government we deserve.

 

Rick Bryson will represent we the people

Rick Bryson, candidate for Congress in North Carolina District 11.

Rick Bryson, candidate for Congress in North Carolina District 11.

This really is a first for me, announcing in public my support for a Congressional candidate.

I spent 30 years as a newspaper reporter, then six years running a nonprofit, so it was inappropriate for me to support candidates officially and openly.

But this year, I’m speaking up. We can’t allow the reign of the right-wing to continue, and Mark Meadows is about as far to the right as a person can get. Our option in 2014 was another candidate who stands far to the right on issues such as women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and true religious freedom (he is blatantly anti-Muslim).

This time, we have a chance to vote for someone who truly has decent human values. He believes, as I do, that anyone who works a 40-hour week should be able to pay their bills without government help. That means we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. If we do that, we won’t need to pay for food stamps or rent subsidies for people who work full-time.

Bryson believes that access to quality health care should be a basic human right and that we can’t allow the Affordable Care Act to be diminished; instead we need to add to its protections by making access to care universal. He points out that the pharmaceutical industry has four lobbyists for each member of Congress. I don’t imagine the health insurance industry is far behind.

Bryson wants to see more support for public education, not less. He wants an intelligent electorate with decent critical-thinking skills. That’s not what Mark Meadows wants; he has supported privatizing education.

We have become very adept at blaming the victim in this country by labeling people who need help as “takers,” but these people are left behind by bad public policy, and the corporate shills who sit in Congress now are only too happy to take more away from working people and give it to the super-wealthy by privatizing public programs like Social Security and Medicaid.

The people here in Western North Carolina have suffered the loss of thousands of good manufacturing jobs, many of them with union protections, which have been replaced with low-wage jobs. The state has been able to force workers into these jobs by cutting unemployment compensation to the bone and shortening its duration.

Rick Bryson proposes a project similar to the Research Triangle, but sprinkling it across Western North Carolina. He calls the plan Generation NOW. It would bring higher wage telecommunications, clean energy, bio-medicine, agribusiness, computer modeling, recreation, design, and other similar jobs to the region.

Anyone who knows me knows my most passionate issue is health care, but we can’t fix health care and nothing else.

I find Rick Bryson’s stands on all the issues to be reasonable and kind. He is intelligent and articulate, and he loves these mountain communities because he has deep, deep roots here. His family has been here for generations (Bryson City is named for them).

I can’t think of anyone who would represent the people of District 11 better than he will.

The best way any of us can help is to turn out on June 7 (early voting starts May 26) and vote in the primary. We can do this if we work together, and if we don’t, we stand to lose a lot more than an election in November.

 

A little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, please

Here we are, about to go into Sen. Thom Tillis's office for some disrespect and verbal abuse.

Here we are, about to go into Sen. Thom Tillis’s office for some disrespect and verbal abuse.

I went to Washington, DC, for the final day of Democracy Awakening with the NC NAACP, and it was a glorious, frustrating, infuriating and affirming day.

The bus arrived in time for the rally at Columbus Circle, which was followed by a march to the U.S. Capitol, where about 300 or so people were arrested for standing on the steps of OUR building. While that was going on, the rest of the crowd of more than 1,000 people was pushed back 500 or so feet by the Capitol Police. It make the crowd look smaller when it was filmed by the few media outlets that were there to cover it.

I brought along a documentary film-maker, a 28-year-old student at UNC Asheville named Robin, who hasn’t done a lot of activism. She’ll do more if she continues to hang out with me.

After the rally, most of our group went to the Russell Senate Office Building, hoping to get some time with one or both of our senators, while Robin and I stayed to get some shots of Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, and Rev. Dr. Cornell Brooks, the national NAACP president, as they gave statements after being released from custody.

The purpose of all this is to try and get Big Money out of politics. Once we do that, we can begin to fix the mess the uber-wealthy have created for the rest of us.

When Robin and I finally made it to the Senate Cafeteria, we were just in time to join the group for an appointment at Sen. Thom Tillis’s office.

Now, Tillis doesn’t care for us Moral Monday folks. He literally ran away from us a number of times when he was Speaker of the House in North Carolina. As a Senator, he has refused delivery of petitions from us, having a staffer tell us to mail it in.

I don’t think he expected the NC NAACP delegation to join the Democracy Uprising people, although I can’t believe how he couldn’t figure out we would hook up.

But, there we were, about 25 of us, ushered into a conference room where we met with a low-level staffer.

She proceeded to roll her eyes a lot and ask insulting questions. One example was when she asked where we get the money for public campaign financing. Vicki Ryder, a Raging Granny, member of the NC NAACP and fellow Moral Monday activist, suggested we could shut down the building of outdated and unnecessary fighter jets or shut down a few of the 1,000-plus bases we have around the world, and this staffer looked incredulous as she said, “Defense? You’re talking about eliminating the defense budget?”

Of course she knew no one was talking about eliminating the Department of Defense or disbanding the military. She just didn’t know she was talking to people who are well informed and not easily intimidated.

She didn’t look at people who spoke to her and her facial expression was one of utter contempt for all of us. She rolled her eyes at everything we had to say.

When we started to talk about giving the president’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing, she said something about “let the people choose.” Four of us at once said, “The people have chosen.”

I mentioned that Tillis had said right after Antonin Scalia died that blocking a hearing would be obstructionist, and she denied he ever said it.

But of course, we do have recording devices in this day and age, and we all know he said it and then backed down, probably under pressure from party leaders.

Several people said they remembered him saying it and she said, “no he didn’t,” as though repeating her lie would somehow make us back down. It reminded me of the Monty Python skit in which people could pay John Cleese to argue with them. It was that ridiculous.

“Yes he did.”

“No he didn’t.”

“I could look it up. He said it.”

“No he didn’t.”

(But, in fact, you can hear him say just that on the Tom Cralle Show at http://soundcloud.com/tylercralle. Scroll down to the first Thom Tillis interview and listen. I didn’t link to it here here because it comes up as a huge photo of Cralle, but type or copy and paste it into your browser, and there you have it. )

I came thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to saying, “You’re a fucking liar and you know it.”

Rather than show as much disrespect to her as she was showing to us, I clenched my jaw, picked up my camera bag and said politely, “Excuse me, I have to leave now.”

I walked out of the room to find more Moral Monday friends from the NC Council of Churches in the waiting room and in the hallway. A few seconds later, Robin emerged from the meeting. We warned them to take several dep, cleansing breaths before going in because they were going to need it.

“I wasn’t as nice as you were,” Robin said to me. “I’m so mad I’m shaking. How can people be so disrespectful. She was utterly contemptuous.”

What made the experience even more surreal for her was the dead possum on the wall that she kept hitting with her head. I really wish I had gotten a picture of that before I was told to put down my camera.

Naturally, we weren’t allowed to record any of this because, as Tillis already knows, recordings can come back and bite you in the ass.

Richard Burr’s people were no more in agreement with us than Tillis’s automaton, but they were polite and respectful. The staffer who met with us took notes, handed out his card and said, “This isn’t my area of expertise, but I will pass on what you have to say here and you can e-mail or call me with any more questions.”

I left that office knowing I disagree with the senator, but a bit less angry and frustrated than I had been with Tillis.

I left Washington once again fired up to register people to vote, to fight voter suppression, to fight Big Money and to work for a more just society.

As we say in the Moral Monday Movement:

Forward together! Not one step back!

Too little, too late, Governor

Gov. Pat MccCrory waves at the camera after giving my friend, Jamie Sohn, a plate of cookies. I love the look on Jamie's face.

Gov. Pat MccCrory waves at the camera after giving my friend, Jamie Sohn, a plate of cookies. I love the look on Jamie’s face.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has issued a couple of executive orders this week that I’m sure he thinks will win him back some support.

Unfortunately, it’s far too little and way, way too late.

On Monday, he announced a limited “expansion” of Medicaid services, which would add people with autism, plus increase funding for substance abuse treatment.

He proposed increasing access to Naloxone, which reverses opioid and heroin overdoses, saying he wants to save lives.

Big deal, Governor. There’s still the prickly issue of that half million people with no access to health care, and up to 2,800 of them are estimated to die every year, or up to seven people every single day. Can you tell us why you don’t care about saving those lives?

The governor also said he has met with President Obama about a Medicaid waiver, which would let the state expand Medicaid with its own rules. Those rules would require Medicaid recipients to work to get coverage, and the president rejected that.

Now, the president doesn’t have the power to reject the provision on his own, but he certainly knows what would pass muster with the Center for Medicaid Services, and a work requirement won’t fly.

Thing is, most poor people do work. Many have more than one low-wage job and still live below the poverty level. Many can’t find full-time work because so many companies have stopped hiring full-time employees so they don’t have to offer health benefits. That’s why Medicaid expansion is so important.

The people who are dying are hard working. They’re not lazy, they’re not morally inferior, they’re just poor, and a big part of that is because the GOP has refused to increase the minimum wage to a living wage, which it was meant to be when it was enacted under Franklin Roosevelt.

That brings us to Hate Bill 2.

On Tuesday, the governor issued a video statement announcing he would seek to repeal a portion of the law, which was passed in a single day in a special session, and signed by him as soon as he could get it to his desk.

“I will immediately seek legislation in the upcoming short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts,” he said.

But that doesn’t fix the power grab that denies towns and counties the ability to set their own minimum wage, among other things, and it leaves transgender people with no safe place to pee, and still doesn’t protect LGBT people or veterans.

They passed this abomination knowing there would be backlash, and I’m willing to bet they decided before it ever passed which parts of it they would be willing to sacrifice if things got too heated.

Sorry, Governor, but you won’t win back a whole lot of support with these feeble moves, and the lost business and the lost respect won’t be won back, either. You have made this once proud state a laughingstock, and you’re going home in November.

#OneTermPat.

 

NC’s Hate Bill 2 is worse that you thought

Rabbi Wolff Alterman at a demonstration in Asheville just after Hate Bill 2 was passed.

My friend Wolff Alterman at a demonstration in Asheville just after Hate Bill 2 was passed. The sign was approved by his 15-year-old daughter.

Thousands of North Carolinians have been out protesting the state’s new law, HB2, which codifies discrimination against transgender people by forcing them to use the public restroom of the gender into which they were born, not the gender they have become.

While that provision is backward, mean-spirited and ignorant, it is not the end of the abominable provisions in the law.

If you read Section 2, you’ll find the real reason the law was passed: a trip back in time to when discrimination was legal, whether it was based on gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

The law forbids local municipalities from setting their own minimum wage and discrimination policies. It also forbids discrimination lawsuits at the state level, meaning that people who have been discriminated against have to file in federal court — a very lengthy and expensive process that most people just can’t go through.

So, while we demonstrate against the narrow-minded, unscientific, backward bathroom provisions; while we endure the fact that we are the laughingstock of the nation and the world, while we watch the state lose billions of dollars in business and in all probability, billions more in federal funding, most people have failed to notice that the second part of this law is even more damaging than the first.

This bunch of backward, dimwitted, ignorant clods has reinstated Jim Crow in North Carolina.

And what’s worse is that when the bathroom provision is overturned, as is inevitable because it us unconstitutional and unenforceable, the rest of the law stands, thanks to this provision:

PART IV. SEVERABILITY

31 SECTION 4. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, the

32 invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this act that can be given effect

33 without the invalid provisions or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are

34 severable. If any provision of this act is temporarily or permanently restrained or enjoined by

35 judicial order, this act shall be enforced as though such restrained or enjoined provisions had not

36 been adopted, provided that whenever such temporary or permanent restraining order or injunction

37 is stayed, dissolved, or otherwise ceases to have effect, such provisions shall have full force and

38 effect.

In other words, the real meat of the bill is the reinstatement of Jim Crow, and if we throw out the bathroom rules, we still have to sue to get rid of the rest if the law.

Stealing airports, water and other assets from local municipalities was only the beginning; we stand to lose the ability to make our own towns and cities better places to work and live.

Businesses with a conscience will flee the state like rats off a sinking ship, but abusive companies — those who want to be able to control their employees through fear and intimidation — will rush to set up shop. Workers’ rights have been set back 100 years, just what the Koch Brothers, Art Pope and ALEC wanted all along.

To the voters who stayed home in 2010 and allowed the Tea Party to take over our legislature: we’re now enduring life with the government you deserve. Taking it back will be difficult because 2010 was a census year and the new majority gerrymandered voting districts to such an advantage that it will be almost impossible to dislodge this crew of fools.

It will take at least a generation to fix what’s been broken in the last six years here. We can start by working for the opponents of these Tea Party darlings and then voting in November. If you don’t do that, you’re as guilty as those whose names are on this law.

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing on Scalia’s grave

He was arrogant and cruel. There was nothing nice to say about him in life; I will not feel guilty about criticizing him now.

He was arrogant and cruel. There was nothing nice to say about him in life; I will not feel guilty about criticizing him now.

I have been told that to express glee, or even relief, at the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is improper, disrespectful, immature and wrong.

I beg to differ.

Yes, he had family who loved him, but so did the people whose lives he had a part in ending. So do the people whose lives he held in utter disregard, and for whom he created misery. To say anything nice about him now would make me a hypocrite.

Forget about overturning an execution because new evidence shows the person might have been innocent:

“This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,” Scalia wrote in a 2009 dissent of the Court’s order for a federal trial court in Georgia to consider the case of death row inmate Troy Davis. “Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.”

Then there’s this:

“The fact that juries continue to sentence mentally retarded offenders to death for extreme crimes shows that society’s moral outrage sometimes demands execution of retarded offenders.”

He was a cruel and arrogant creature. That’s the truth. Those who criticized him in life but now are tripping over themselves to honor him are being hypocritical at best.

How about his disrespect for women? When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor refused to join his attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, he said her opinion was “irrational,” and not to “be taken seriously.”

And his contention that the Constitution was never meant to protect the rights of women:

“Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.”

Then there was his blatant racism:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

His bias against LGBTQ people, such as the time he compared being gay to being a murderer:

“The Court’s opinion contains… hints that Coloradans have been guilty of ‘animus’ or ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality, as though that has been established as Unamerican. . . . I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible–murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals–and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.”

His twisted logic and lack of respect for people’s ability to access health care in reference to the Affordable Care Act:

“Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”

Justice Scalia had no respect for any opinion — or any life — other than his own.

So, get over yourself if I laugh at this:

“Antonin Scalia requested cremation in his will, but millions of women will meet tomorrow to discuss if that’s really best for his body.”

 

I stand with Muslims

From Huffington Post

From Huffington Post

A friend suggested today that some of us who are against all the fascist, anti-Muslim rhetoric being spewed by Donald Trump and his supporters offer to stand vigil outside the Islamic Center during prayers.

I would jump at the chance, so I messaged the center to see if they would appreciate our help.

There will be no guns, just us standing in solidarity with people who only seek to practice the freedom of worship that this country supposedly offers.

We are not needed yet, a representative of the center told me, but our outreach and our words of peace are appreciated.

To some, that Constitutional right to freedom of religion seems only to be a freedom for Christians to worship. To me, though, that freedom extends to all religions.

Islam is not a religion of war any more than Christianity is. However, like some Christians, a minority of Muslims have perverted their religion to a violent, misogynistic purpose.

I grew up in a church that taught everything is OK if it’s done for Jesus — even murder. I rejected that as a teenager and I reject it today. Hatred is never OK.

Republican presidential candidate Trump has spewed increasingly dangerous rhetoric in the last few weeks, and it’s that kind of hatred that incites violence against innocent people.

Even former vice president Dick Cheney has condemned Trump, but the candidate keeps spewing his hatred, and he’s being rewarded with big leads in the polls. People who don’t know anything about Islam are leaping at the chance to condemn an entire faith for the violence of a few.

Yes, the two people who shot 30-plus people in San Bernadino were radicalized Muslims. But the man who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs the previous week was a radicalized Christian and no one talked about trying to stop all Evangelical Christians from worshiping or voting.

The Oklahoma City bomber killed more than 160 people and there was no reaction from the right to his terrorism.

Millions of Muslims around the world are condemning ISIS and other radical groups who commit violence in the name of Allah, but you won’t see that on Fox News. You won’t hear Trump or any of his minions praising these devout, peaceful people. You won’t even hear them admit that there are peaceful Muslims any more than leaders of ISIS praising peaceful Christians who wish to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Is this what we as a nation have come to? Are we headed down the same path as Nazi Germany in the 1930s? Substitute the word “Jews” for “Muslims” in your sentences and ask whether you sound like a Nazi. If you’re talking about denying every Muslim entry into the United States, shutting down Islamic Centers, denying anyone any of their Constitutional rights based on religious beliefs or ethnicity, you are wading in fascist waters.

So, here’s my pledge of support for my Muslim brothers and sisters: I stand with you against the violence and hatred. If you are forced to wear anything identifying you as Muslim, I will wear it too. If you are threatened, I will stand between you and those who hate you. I will defend you with my life. I am a person of faith who believes we all worship a God of Love and I promise to live out that faith.

 

 

We live in a war zone

By my friend and former colleague, cartoonist Matt Davies.

By my friend and former colleague, cartoonist Matt Davies.

Another 14 dead and 17 wounded, this time at a center for people with developmental disabilities.

No place is safe in America. No person is safe.

This isn’t true in other industrialized countries. That’s because they have laws restricting access to guns.

We don’t have that because we have the NRA, one of the most powerful lobbies anywhere, any time.

It doesn’t even matter when people with guns shoot innocent school children, we can’t pass any restrictions on people’s access to guns and ammo.

A few days ago, a pro-gun person suggested on Facebook that, according to Freud, I must be sexually repressed because I think we need common sense regulations on guns. I replied that Freud also said I was envious of his penis, which made Freud wrong on two counts.

I suppose that’s proof that some of us equate guns with penises, and penises are pretty important to some men’s view of themselves.

But that’s not what’s keeping us from sensible gun regulation. What’s keeping us from passing any laws at all is the money paid out by the NRA to legislators.

NRA Congress (www.nracongress.com) posted a list of members of Congress who have received money from the NRA, along with the amount each has received, and whether each of the members of Congress has identified himself or herself as “pro-life.”

Here’s what I came up with, based on that list:

  • The NRA has spent $3,781,769 on current members of Congress.
  • All but six states (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont) have some of these people in Congress now.
  • Of the 231 members of Congress receiving money from the NRA, all but five are Republicans.
  • Fifty-three Senators and 178 Representatives are on the list.
  • Of the 231, all but 10 define themselves as “pro-life.”
  • Texas, with 24 Congress people receiving a total of $144,538, is the state most beholden to the gun lobby.

And this is why we can’t get anything through Congress, even though some 90 percent of Americans want sensible gun laws. Nothing matters more to Congress than money, and the NRA has a lot of it to spread around.

So, people who shouldn’t have guns have little trouble getting them. And the rhetoric stirred up by the right has people angrier and angrier — at Planned Parenthood, at Muslims, at anyone other than the NRA.

When an angry American shoots up a place, he (and nearly all of them are men) is called mentally ill, and we all shake our heads and say what a shame it is that people with mental illnesses can’t get proper treatment.

The problem is that angry people can get guns and ammo. And they can commit acts of terror.

After yesterday’s shooting of more than 30 people in California, the FBI and the police kept repeating that they don’t know whether this was a terrorist act. Of course it was a terrorist act. It doesn’t matter whether the people involved were Muslim, Christian or atheist. What matters is that they took high-powered weapons and killed 14 people and injured 17 more. That in itself is a terrorist act.

As for mental illness, I have long been an advocate for adequate diagnosis and treatment. Yes, most of these shooters have a mental illness — no healthy person would take a gun and shoot strangers because he’s angry that they can get an abortion or for any other reason.

The problem is that these people can get guns. There are huge loopholes in the few regulations we do have, and we can’t get Congress to pass any more.

The Second Amendment has been twisted and perverted to fit the desires of gun manufacturers, and the rest of us have no protection from these organizations. We don’t need more “good guys with guns;” we need fewer bad guys with guns.

Perhaps we need to call the NRA and gun manufacturers out as the terrorist organizations they are. And yes, I do consider them terrorist organizations because they support domestic terrorism with their refusal to accept any regulations of the deadly weapons they make and promote.

It’s time to tell the truth: The Second Amendment was never intended to allow unfettered access to guns and ammo, and the NRA is a terrorist organization.

 

 

 

 

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