Posted by: minnow | November 18, 2017

Good-bye, Al

The recent accusations against Al Franken are disheartening.  He was supposed to be one of the good guys. His apology suggests, if one chooses to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he might still be. And yet…holding men accountable for their behavior, making no excuses, and demanding the integrity bar remain high–especially for the men with whom I generally agree politically–is the only way I know to prove how seriously we as a society should take the issue of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.

I do not want Roy Moore elected to the US Congress, so I must hold Franken accountable.  I wanted 45 to face charges and not be elected president for a host of reasons but in part because of his immoral behavior and highly offensive language, so I must hold Franken accountable. I did not initially support Hillary as a candidate in part because I did not want her husband, who deserved to be impeached, anywhere near the White House, again.  I thought it was right that Hart and Edwards had to drop out of their presidential runs because of sex scandals. Weiner deserved a 21 month sentence for sexting a minor. Weinstein, Louis C. K., Halperin, Spacey, and others in the entertainment industry who have harassed, raped, and behaved inappropriately deserve to be out and never welcomed back. But Franken…

I spent the first couple days after the story came out hoping it wasn’t true. I latched on to the false story that the photographer said the photo was staged. It wasn’t no matter how much I wanted it to be. Franken was one of the good guys, progressive, an advocate for women…Until,…He wasn’t.

Before Franken got caught, he’d cleaned up his act, or at least appearances would have us believe he’d cleaned up his act.  But then he got caught, hit by a 10 year old photograph and the statement from the woman he harmed. Getting “caught” rather than coming forward on his own taints his advocacy and weakens his apology.

In the last few days I’ve done a lot of thinking. I remembered countless hours debating with my politically liberal friends, those who insisted we give Bill Clinton a pass on the Monica Lewinski, Jennifer Flowers,mumble…garble…Juanita Broaddrick allegations, because of all the “good” he did for women. I thought about my own experience with sexism and how it changed the trajectory of my life. I imagined the world I want my children to grow up in–my three sons and two daughters. And, I came to a conclusion: When a person’s private behavior is unacceptable–that person’s public behavior can never be good enough to earn a pass; it is a cover story, a facade, a fraud. So, yes, Al Franken must be held accountable. He ought to suffer the consequences of his past, and prior to getting caught, unrepentant behavior.

Some people are bound to yell “Unfair!” We’ve already started to hear the “what about the Republicans” crowd.  At this point, such clamoring doesn’t hold water. Sexist behavior is sexist behavior. Harassment is harassment. Intimidation, assault, and rape are crimes. The sexual objectification of people, but especially of women, is deeply entrenched in our political and social systems. Rooting it out will not be easy nor enjoyable. Still. we must. beginning. right. now. to root. it. out.

Senator Franken, you might have been on the progressive side of every issue I care about. That no longer matters. We can throw shade at a sexist culture that condones and even celebrates raunchy humor. But, if we’re going to come out of this in a better place those days are over. We can blame the fact that we live in a society that has set the behavior bar far too low for far too long, a society that has allowed men to grow up thinking they are entitled to whatever they want and whatever they can take. As true as that indictment might be–it is NOT an excuse. We must do the difficult and painful work to change. We must. Not tomorrow. Not next time. Not as soon as the other side starts to clean up their mess. Now. Here. In our own backyard. It’s time to clean out the stink.

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Posted by: minnow | November 6, 2017

Every. Single. Time.

Another mass shooting. 58 dead, over 500 injured, and thousands more traumatized. Oh, I’m sorry. That was last month. Yesterday, Sunday November 5, 2017, a mere 26 were killed when another white male opened fire in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX. But don’t worry, the President blamed mental illness though he recently made it easier for the mentally ill to acquire guns, the NRA want to put a gun in everyone’s hands so we’ll be ready next time, and GOP has offered their thoughts and prayers and we all know how great a comfort that is.

Predictably citizens are outraged, calling for immediate attention from Congress. Just as predictably, the NRA and frightened gun owners who can only act tough with a gun in their hands are shouting back, “This is not the time. Let the victims grieve. Don’t politicalize their loss.” EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. mass violence occurs in this country, angry citizens who are sick of a do-nothing response on the part of our government are shamed into silence! Personally, I’m done being shamed! I want these senseless killing stopped!

I know you’ve heard the statistics and seen the comparisons before. But, when every other developed country has fewer gun related deaths per capita and experiences less gun violence than the United States the comparisons bare repeating. After World War II when all non-defensive weapons were taken away from Japan, this once proud, strong, militarized nation turned its attention to other endeavors. Manufacturing companies that once produced weapons for war were converted and peacetime technology and innovations grew. Japan’s economy flourished and Japan became a world power. Among its biggest problems today are crippling debt and an aging population. Both of which are also issues the US faces. What Japan does not face is a citizenry intent on killing one another with guns. Despite being one of the most densely populated countries in the world in 2014 Japan had a total of 6 gun related deaths–SIX. The United States, on the other hand, had 33, 599.

Other developed nations have similar stats. In Australia there have been ZERO mass murders since a mandatory gun buyback and ban was enacted in 1996. And while it didn’t eliminate the whole problem it did reduce other gun related violence as well. Australia has seen a 74% decrease in gun related suicides. A similar ban in the UK brought that country’s gun related deaths to POINT 23 per 100,000. By comparison, the United States stands at 10 point 54. In other words, the United States gun homicide rate is 97% higher than Great Britain’s. Our neighbors to the north credit their low homicide rate of 5.1 per million, their near zero mass murder rate, and their low numbers of gun related accidence to a strict background check policy and their mandatory locked and unloaded gun storage laws. And in Germany, the homicide rate of 1.9 per million is even lower than Canada’s.

The Constitution is NOT stopping us from passing reasonable gun regulation. A Congress bought and paid for by gun lobbies is! The Second amendment does not say we cannot regulate the number and type of weapons available to the average citizen.  The Second Amendment does not say all citizens should be allowed to have weapons–including those with  documented mental illness and those with violent criminal pasts. The Second Amendment does not say we cannot have background checks, licensing, and mandatory training.

I am probably preaching to the choir since most Americans agree that stricter and more consistent gun laws are needed in this country. What we seem to not understand is that we do have power to do something since our Congress and President seem content with lip service. If YOUR current Representatives in Washington won’t stand up to the gun lobby, if they don’t back up their prayers with action, if they refuse to  propose and pass the reasonable kinds of gun regulations mentioned above– VOTE THE COWARDS OUT! Period. End of debate.

 

 

Posted by: minnow | October 26, 2017

#MeToo

Two words meant to create awareness about the systemic sexism in our country: sexual abuse, sexual harassment, gender inequality, and rape culture. My FB feed exploded with “Me, too.” memes, comments on memes, debates about the meme, and personal stories. Men, identifying with the abuse aspect shared their own stories, as did people from other groups.  Some were greeted with inclusion. Others were rebuffed, too often with angry words and accusations. A few people asked: “Why just women?” And, this is where I’d like to start.

The reason the original “Me too.” meme was not “all inclusive” (after all men have been raped too and women say they want equality–ARGH!) is because all women in the US are impacted by abuse and sexual assault. (In reality I should not limit this statement to the US, but I cannot personally speak to what women outside the US experience). Women are taught to be careful, to be modest, to not go places alone, because if we don’t follow these rules we might get hurt by men, and our actions can be (as in they are allowed to be) interpreted as “asking for it”. When we are hurt we must be willing to have our character questions, our clothing analyzed, and our blood alcohol factored in. Almost every woman I know has been subject to some degree of harassment (though generally not illegal) by male bosses, husbands, fathers, other male family members, male classmates, male teachers, male friends, and/or male strangers. Most have multiple stories they could tell. Far too many have experienced abuse, rape, and/or intimidation at the hands of men who were supposed to care about them. Sexual assault isn’t a one time experience for most women. And many of these experiences are shared by every other woman in their lives. The original meme was NOT trying to suggest rape and/or abuse only happens to women. Instead, it tried to focus our attention on a pervasive problem within our culture that needs to be seen and addressed. Similar to how the Black Lives Matter campaign is NOT saying other lives don’t matter, the “Me, too.” meme is not saying men haven’t suffered from sexual violence. The initial thread was intentionally narrow because sometimes it is important to focus on one aspect of one issue in order to actually change perceptions, heighten awareness, and ready the ground for change.

That said, I personally believe every voice that draws attention to the damage done by sexual predators not only to their prey but to society as a whole are valuable. A man who is violated by another person experiences no less pain than a woman, simply because he is a man. He must still navigate a world that has profoundly changed, that has become less safe, less stable or predictable, and less understandable. Unwarranted feelings of guilt and shame do battle in his brain in the same ways they wage war in a woman’s. When men put words around their experiences of sexual assault and abuse we should listen and show compassion. Men who tell their stories do so in solidarity with women, not to dominate or overrun the conversation.

Another group I noticed posting “Me, too.” memes were members of the LGBTQ communities. People in these groups are at an extremely high risk of sexual assault and intimidation. While 18% of all college women have experienced an attempted or completed rape, the percentage increases to 21% for all college transgender, gender queer, or nonconforming students. If you are bad with percentages–that’s more than 1 in 5 TGQN people. We need to stop ignoring the flesh and blood behind these statistics.

Most of the men in my own life including my sons would fall into the “sexist by default” group. They are certainly not predatory. They would most likely come to someones aid if that person was being physically harmed. Yet, they would also stay uncomfortably silent if a buddy made a sexually explicit remark or told an off-color joke about a woman. A significant number of them have made derogatory comments about a woman’s appearance themselves but only a few noticed how often the media focused on Hillary Clinton’s hair or outfit rather than her policy. (Though to be fair in this past election, 45’s tie and hair got an an unusual amount of play for a man). I bring up this category because it our society it is almost impossible to be male and to not fall into it. Staying out of this category takes focused effort and a heightened self awareness. The men who have run with the #NOTME comments illustrate just how easy it is land in the #sexistbydefault group. Unfair? Let’s just say I have empathy for most of these guys. As a white woman I have spent far more time in the #racistbydefault group than I care to admit; just ask my nonwhite friends.

The thing is, Ladies, these are the guys we need to figure out how to educate. And, most of them are reachable. The few who fought hard against applying the label to themselves and who minimized the experience of sexism by women don’t actually fall into the “default” category. They are sexist period and should be ignored. They have chosen not to listen. Hopefully, for the women in their lives, the ugliest elements of sexism will never come crashing down on them. As for the rest–start with the men in your circle. Give them a gentle rebuke, point out what you see in the media, show your vulnerability by sharing how you feel when…  Specifically directed anger encourages understanding; a spray of vitriol does not, so be specific. We must also remember to thank and cheer on the men who get it right. Their truly “getting it” increases our numbers and helps pave the way for change. Bottom line: we want change; we want a world in which sexist behavior and attitudes are unacceptable and those who engage in them will be called out!

 

Posted by: minnow | October 24, 2017

Another Open Door

My news feed is all a buzz with the news. Jeff Flake, the junior Senator from Arizona, just made some anti-45 comments in his “retirement announcement” on the Senate floor.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

BUT, before we get all excited that Republican, Jeff Flake, said something against the Republican President REMEMBER: Although he has been critical of 45 before, Flake supported every one of 45’s nominees. He has voted with 45 89.9% of the time. He voted to repeal the ACA every single time it came up for a vote. He voted against relief for Puerto Rico. He voted against keeping the Senate cloture requirements for Supreme Court nominees at 60. He supported the repeal of the FCC rule barring internet providers from sharing the date about customer activities. And, he voted to repeal the rule requiring energy companies to reduce emissions. He is about as conservative as they come. He just doesn’t think he can win when 45 is speaking out against him, and he doesn’t want his legacy damaged.

I’m glad he’s retiring. We don’t need his kind of politics in Washington. I hope the Democrats get busy finding someone of sound mind and high integrity to replace him! Progressive voices must take advantage of every opportunity we can get to take back the Senate and the House!! Flake’s departure opens a door! Let’s make sure a Representative of the PEOPLE walks through it!

Posted by: minnow | October 1, 2017

Trying to Keep Up

Before I dig in let me offer a gentle reminder: Monitoring everything the current administration and the Republicans in Congress have thrown at us can be exhausting. So, the first rule of response must be: take care of yourself.  Don’t try to read every article or all the comments. Don’t stress over every “disaster”. Don’t try to follow every issue. Pick your top two topics of concern and focus most of your energy and time on those. Network with others who also care about what’s happening and want to keep informed. Stay in contact with two or three others you trust to have your back. Let them follow the issues you aren’t personally following as closely.  Then when a major action is underway you’ll know in time to offer important support  such as emails and phone calls. In order to stay in this fight for the long haul we need to effectively network and we need to take a break every now and then.

That said–this has been a busy week.  While many of us were defending #takeaknee protests or calling attention to the disaster in Puerto Rico and our President’s lame response, the GOP unveiled their tax cut plan. While they may label it a tax cut for the middle class, not surprisingly the super wealthy and large corporations actually benefit the most.

Short on details as to how these cuts will be paid for the stated focus is to eliminate loopholes and streamline the code. Even with that laudable goal, it is difficult to see how the middle class will benefit. The rate for the highest income bracket (individuals with taxable income over $400,000,000) decreases by 4.5% while the rate for the lowest income bracket (those with taxable income under $9,300) increases by 2%. Corporate tax rates decrease by 15% and the estate tax, which only effects those with assets over $5.49 million, will be eliminated. Their stated goal–to simplify the tax code–plays well to audiences but the devil is indeed in the details.  One deduction on the chopping block is the deduction for state and local taxes, which incidentally targets states currently run by democrats, like New York and California. Finally, even the GOP admits their plan is likely to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars over the next decade. Sadly, if they’re admitting that much it will probably be more.

Along with a simpler tax code backers of the GOP plan continue to proclaim trickle down economic theories as a reason to give the wealthy and corporations the biggest pieces of the tax cut pie.  But history has proven something must be blocking the flow–after all, we’re all still waiting for the Reagan tax cuts to trickle on down to the middle class. The truth is, prior to Reagan’s tax cuts the poorest workers generally saw the largest positive income growth while the most wealthy showed growth but at a modest rate. 30 years later, the poor actually experience negative growth while the very affluent have seen sharp increases, well beyond the modest growth they experienced in the 1980s.

When looking at how the economy works we must keep in mind this common sense fact–if you spread the buying power across more consumers more goods will be consumed.  Thus the economy will grow.  Even if the super rich each had seven mansions and five cars they still could not make up for the 100 million consumers who must tighten their belts every time the rich get another tax cut.

Please America–don’t get swallowed up by nicely worded sound bites!  The GOP tax plan is NOT FOCUSED ON HELPING THE MIDDLE CLASS. Republicans in Congress owe their donors.  They couldn’t get it done by shutting down the ACA so now they want to maintain favor but sticking it to the middle class via their tax plan. Demand the GOP show us the fine print before they implement their plan! Expect them to tell you how they plan to pay for their the cuts, the cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporate America. Hold them accountable for the deficit. Remind them they’ve already proposed increasing the military budget by $80 billion dollars.

You wanted change?! DEMAND IT! And if your representatives in Congress don’t listen to you–VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

 

Posted by: minnow | September 24, 2017

Race and White Privilege

White America, it’s time we take a knee. Today, since it’s Sunday, we might want to make it two. We need to repent. For far too long we have tolerated racist behavior in the US. For far too long we have benefited from the color of our skin and ignored what happens to People of Color. And, for far too long, if we have noticed, we have remained silent. It is time we opened our eyes. It is time we understand our culpability. If Collin Kaepernick’s protest has shown us anything it has revealed the ugly truth that for Black America no type of protest is acceptable to White America.
If they riot we shift the conversation to their criminal behavior.  If they march and shout we accuse them of being unwilling to engage in rational conversation. And if they take a silent knee, we call them unpatriotic, or as the President recently demonstrated, worse. What we have failed to do is address the real problems–the reason for the violence, the hostility, or the frustration.
Let’s look at some statistics. According to data collected by The Guardian black men between the ages of 15 and 34 are nine times more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic. Even though White people make up more than 60 percent of the population they account for less than 49 percent of those killed by police. Blacks, however, make up only 13 percent of the population yet  over 21 percent of those killed by law enforcement. In the year since Collin Kaepernick first took a knee, 233 of the 963 people kill by law enforcement were Black, another 113 were other People of Color. That translates to 38.8 percent of the people killed by police officers being People of Color. Additionally, while only 18% of youth under the age of 18 are Black, 32 % of juvenile arrests are Black children.
Now before you start assuming these stats are because Blacks commit more crime take a look at some other statistics. Blacks are twice as likely to be arrested for drug crimes as Whites even though Whites use and sell drugs at a comparable or higher rate. Police are three times as likely to search the car of a Black person than a White person and Blacks are more likely to be pulled over even though they are not as likely to receive a citation–meaning they were stopped without cause. Additionally, they more often face jail sentences and less frequently get off with community service, a fine, or time served even though they spend more time in jail awaiting trial.
As heartbreaking as these statistics are, we are not simply facing a criminal justice problem. People of Color suffer a disproportionate rate of other injustices as well. 42 percent of Black children 38 percent of Latino children, and 31 percent of Native American children are educated in high poverty schools. Compare that to the 6 percent of white children in high poverty schools. Among students who drop out of school, 47 percent of Blacks face unemployment compared to 26 percent of Whites. The unemployment rate for Blacks with a 4 year degree is 8% while the rate for Whites with similar degrees is almost half that. Finally, America’s homeless population is over 40 percent Black despite being only 11 percent of the general population. Hispanics are 13 percent of the homeless although they are only 9 percent of the population and Native Americans constitute 4 percent of the homeless population while making up just 1 percent of the general population.
Sadly, I am no longer shocked by the vulgar commentary from our 45th president.  I am also not surprised by the behavior of the party who currently controls Congress.  But, despite these very disappointing truths, I am hopeful for my nation. My hope rests in the voices of a new generation of social justice activists, politicians like Joe Kennedy Jr. who as a white man reminded us after the tragedy in Charlottesville that, “We draw strength, not from those who chose silence, but from those who choose to refuse to be silenced.”  And who, just a couple weeks later, when the President slammed the door on DACA, reminded the Speaker and his colleagues in Congress that they have the power to intervene when injustice threatens. Speaking on the House floor Kennedy admonished, “We all suffer when this country breaks its promises, but for our children that cost compounds. They pay the interest on our inaction and our inadequacy. They pick up the piece of the precious things that we broke, the sacred resources we took for granted, and the battles that we were too afraid to fight.”
We cannot afford to be afraid of the battle which looms on the horizon because if we are, if we continue to turn our heads, to look the other way, and to ignore our responsibility then fear and anger and hate will wreck havoc on this nation. The issues that impact race relations in America may be complex but the conflicts which have manifest will never be resolved unless our part in creating them, as white people of privilege, is confronted. Personally, I much prefer the peaceful protest of a bended knee than the ugly confrontation of rioting and war.
Posted by: minnow | September 23, 2017

And in Healthcare News…

Doesn’t it make sense, as in common sense, you know the kind we all hope the people in Washington have, that if the GOP actually thought their bill was an improvement over the ACA they would want the whole country to see it. One would expect them to brag about all it will accomplish. One might even think they would want to carefully walk it through the process of public scrutiny–a thorough review by the Finance Committee, a vigorous debate on the Senate floor, and multiple endorsements from various health organizations. One might hope…

Sadly the current proposal–the Graham-Cassidy Bill–is the polar opposite. The Senate Finance Committee doesn’t have time for a thorough review.  Republicans plan to limit the floor debate to a few minutes. And multiple groups have come out against the proposal, including: the American Medical Association, AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Cancer Society, a group of bi-partisan governors (including the governors of Alaska and Montana despite the fact both would be exempt from the Medicaid caps), the March of Dimes, and the National Association of Medical Directors (a group that represents all 50 states).

The GOP wants a win.  One of my own state senators sent a form letter reply to my plea that he vote against this proposal. His letter repeated the Republican mantra that under the ACA premiums have gone up and the Republican party wants to fulfill their promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare.  What my senator neglected to acknowledge, and what he would prefer none of us understood, is that the GOP refused to allow premium caps on the ACA and it is the insurance industry–A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR PROFIT ORGANIZATION–which is responsible for increased premiums NOT, I repeat–NOT, the Affordable Care Act.

Individuals in the Republican party are desperate to please their donors. At least part of the thinking of the GOP goes like this–we need to fulfill our promise to our big money donors to provide a tax cut.  We have to find money in the budget to do it.  We just approved a $80 billion dollar increase for the military. We can’t look like we don’t care about the deficit. Oh yeah–Obamacare–we hate that anyway. Here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll pretend we want to give control to the States, throw a chunk of money in a pool, set a date after the 2020 elections for that money to dry up and miracle of miracles our donors have a tax cut and we’ve shoved the problem of healthcare onto the states.

Money buys influence. It’s a sad fact of human nature.  But it shouldn’t have unlimited power within a free society’s political system.  If we don’t want to have to keep fighting the same fight with healthcare over and over again we need to work to change the system.  YES, today you must call your senators, urge them to defeat the Graham-Cassidy Bill and remind them we are watching.  Yes, this is an urgent issue that needs your immediate attention.  Follow this link to find out how to contact your senator or Google his or her name, go to contacts on his or her political website, and get the needed info there. Be brief. Be polite. BUT BE FORCEFUL! If we are going to win the battle for our nation’s soul we must put in the time consuming work. We must be diligent!

So, the above is the solution for the short term.  For the long term–WE MUST HAVE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM! We must organize at the grassroots level and elect people of integrity, people who can’t be bought, people who will work for us and not for corporations. We must become savvy with social media–figure out how to wage the soundbite war.  And we must focus on giving the people a voice. It may take a village to raise a child but it will take the citizenry of every state to reframe the American dream to include ALL AMERICANS.

Posted by: minnow | September 12, 2017

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

As the most qualified person to have ever run for the presidency Hillary Rodham Clinton should have been the unanimous pick. We could have had a smart, capable, compassionate president.  Clinton would have kept favor with our allies and caused concern among our opponents. The EPA would still be protecting the environment. The Department of Education would still be focused on a quality public education. DACA children and Muslim immigrants would still be welcome in our nation. More than 60% of the appointments that should have been made by this point in her presidency would have been made, including the appointments of several key Ambassadors–South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Geneva, Turkey, and more.

As a feminist, I was more than disappointed by the results of the 2016 election; I was depressed. For months I was depressed. How did we not only NOT elect the most qualified person on the planet but also end up with HIM? Wake me up from this nightmare. Someone, please, explain this to me! …I get it.

But in all honesty Hillary, you and the DNC should have known better.  We all should have known better. You and the DNC were sadly, tragically disconnected from the hearts and minds of the American people. You, and the intellectual, reasonable, comfortable folks on the Left. You–WE–failed to see the anger, not on the part of feminists like yourself and like me who felt it was a woman’s turn, but the anger on the part of the working class Americans who needed someone to understand what was happening to them. For your part, you played by the rules after a life time of having the rules shoved in your face. You met every criteria and then some. But, the game changed without most on the Left realizing it. Waiting your turn was no longer enough. Playing nice was no longer an option. Being more qualified than every single man in the room no longer mattered.

I admit, I haven’t read your book.  I would probably agree with most of it. But, if you blame Bernie Sanders for your loss, you only prove how disconnected from the heart and soul of the American people you still are. Bashing the man who tried to hand you the play book for the new game you found yourself in, is simply sour grapes. I’m sorry being the best wasn’t enough. I can’t begin to understand your disappointment and frustration after years of taking the hits for other people. The whole situation is unfair. It stinks.  But it’s over. The election is over. And we MUST move on. Let history sort out the mess. I can almost guarantee, you will be vindicated.

TODAY–Democrats need to stop looking backwards in order to blame someone for Clinton’s loss. The DNC screwed the Democrats by playing old school politics. Clinton was never going to win just by playing by the rules. That she was the most qualified candidate both when she ran against Obama and when she ran against 45 didn’t matter. Hillary Rodham Clinton had too much baggage, not because she deserved the baggage–SHE DIDN’T–but because the “Good ol’ Boys Club” doesn’t work for women and the GOP and the religious right would rather lock arms with a Nazi sympathizer than let THAT WOMAN win. She was smart.  She was savvy. She adjusted her image like a chameleon. She stood by her man. Nothing that would actually matter received our attention. The Right sold their collective soul and the Left was a deer in the head lights, unable or unwilling to see how the game had changed.

If 2018 or 2020 is going to be any different, Democrats need a makeover! But, it must be more than cosmetic. Sanders, Warren, Booker, Kennedy, and Harris are currently the Democrats strongest voices in Washington. If the Dems want to take back the House and make a run on the Senate in 2018 and 2020 they must listen to these voices. Democrats must get the pulse of the people. And who better to help them with that than Bernie Sanders. They must fight to get big money out of politics. And who better to help them with that than Elizabeth Warren. They must championing younger politicians–men and women, but especially people of color. And who better to help them with that than Cory Booker, Joe Kennedy, and Kamela Harris.

We live in a world of soundbites and memes. Twitter puts the topic on the agenda and Facebook gets the ball rolling. 1000 word blogs and multiple page policy papers might be able to flesh out some details but the fact remains: we now live our lives with 140 characters. The intellectual snobs on the Left must rise to the occasion or plan on writing their shoulda, coulda, woulda swan songs into the apocalypse.  It’s not going to be easy; but it really is that simple.

Posted by: minnow | August 20, 2017

Are You White?

Read this. Read about “Hate that Doesn’t Hide” by Roxanne Gay. It appeared in The New York Times the week after a Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA. Or read this one by Aliyah Frumin and Amanda Sakuma about being a Muslim-American in the aftermath of 9-11. Or this personal narrative from Nick Valencia, a third generation Mexican-American who was told to “go home” by a white woman because he dared to speak Spanish. Read “Native Americans: We’re not your mascot” by Simon Moya-Smith. Until you do, until you decide to educate yourself about the experience of racism in America, until you seek guidance and insight from those most closely impacted by a racist, white America, you have nothing germane to add to the conversation, nothing anyone else needs to hear.

Harsh, you say? Absolutely. It’s about time.

My goal here is not to shame you. Shame tries to hide in the corner. Shame immobilizes. My goal is to ring the alarm, TO WAKE YOU UP! Many of us watched the events in Charlottesville unfold and had the novel experience of being shocked. “That’s not America,” we told ourselves. But the painful reality is–THAT IS AMERICA, the very worst of America to be sure, but America none the less. And, until we are willing to look at that reflection square in the mirror, that truth about who we are, we. will never. change.

Rose Sampley gets it.  Read her post. A young, white woman from the South, she knows removing from the town square a statues of a man who fought to preserve the “right” for one man to own another and who was willing to cede from the Union and declare war on his own country in order to maintain that right, is not the same as rewriting history. In fact, it is just the opposite. It’s correcting the revision of history these monuments have allowed.

For the past century, monuments and parks and schools and roadways carrying the names of Southern traitors and oppressors have served as an ugly reminder to people of color. “We are still here,” they threaten. “If we can’t own you physically, we will still own your mind and the minds of white people.” Until recently, these messages were only repeated in whispers. Saying anything close, at least in public, could be career ending, especially if you were a politician. Yet, even under the cover of politically correct language, the underlying culture of racism and bigotry was built. And it has been carefully–calculatedly–maintained.

By honoring traitors in the public square, by pretending they were brave soldiers defending their families and an idyllic way of life, without acknowledging the immoral brutality of slavery and the growing hatred of racism we camouflaged the truth. The idea we might today feel sympathy for a white nationalist who is fired because of the racist slurs he or she flings at another person, betrays just how deeply our white preferences are entrenched.  Neo-Nazis, the KKK, Vanguard America, and other white supremacist groups promote the removal of people of color (and Jews) from the United States. They claim the U. S. was and should again be a whites only nation. They encourage violence and spew hate. Just because they use their “right to free speech” they do NOT deserve our sympathy. Their words and actions deserve our outrage. Their fabricated myth of what America once was is a lie! And, spewing lies and hate, marching while waving torches, carrying weapons, and chanting Nazi slogans, and threatening others with physical violence should have consequences!

Are you white? Talk to people who aren’t. Ask them tell you their story of race in America. AND LISTEN. Don’t talk back. Hear and try to understand what they have to say. Don’t stop at one conversation. Don’t defend your ignorance of how others have been treated simply because the same words the same gestures have come from you, personally. Decide to be educated and start to observe how others black and brown and white are treated. Begin to wrestle with the fact that while all people may be born equal in America, all people are not treated equally in America.

Posted by: minnow | August 17, 2017

So You Object to the Rewriting of History

And, to the fabricating of truth.

Well, I’m right there with you.  So here are a few HISTORICAL FACTS for those who think the conflict in places like Charlottesville, Baltimore, Helena, and Gainesville is about history, statues, or equally valid points of view:

  • America has never been a pure white nation. Black slaves arrived on our shores in 1619. Spain (Hispanics) had control of what we now call Florida and New Mexico before Europeans landed in Jamestown and in 1691 today’s Texas was a separate Spanish providence. The first Asians landed on our shores around 1750.  And, Native Americans were here before any other people group. Period.
  • The South’s attempt to cede from the Union was an act of treason.
  • Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were not American heroes. They were not great American generals. They do not deserve to be immortalized or honored. They were traitors. Their side lost. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox effectively ended the Civil War. Every single southern state reaffirmed its allegiance to the U. S. Constitution before it was readmitted. The fact Lee was never imprisoned is due to his support of President Johnson’s plans for reconstruction, his vocal approval of the end of slavery, and his original opposition to succession.  Though his citizenship was eventually reinstated, he was never again allowed to vote and some of his property was permanently seized.
  • The descendants of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis have publicly stated  they wish to see the statues of their ancestors removed from the public square and transferred to historical museums where they will be seen in the proper context.
  • History belongs in museums and history books where it can be explained, understood, and a learning tool.
  • And finally, white privilege has less to do with how you treat others than with how you, as a white person, are treated.

If you are white and believe it is time our nation wrestles with the question of race in America you may need to understand your own privilege a bit more before calling yourself an ally. Undoubtedly you do not think you treat others as less than because of the color of their skin, but do you recognize the ways others treat you as more than because of the color of yours? Do you understand how people of color see you in your role as an ally? Did you even consider that question something you should ask yourself?  We must not over advocate on behalf of those society has marginalized. Instead, turn the microphones in our hands over to them. Whenever possible their voices, not ours, need to be heard. So in that spirit, I highly recommend you read and heed these words from Courtney Ariel.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the question: “What’s wrong with calling out both sides?” has continually received air time. Consider this question as a response, for what reason are you calling out both sides? Every American must understand–one side arrived in Charlottesville intent on abusing our First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly in order to spread their racist propaganda and carry flags of treason under our flag of freedom. The second group showed up like the soldiers on the shores of Normandy to defend American principles of freedom, equality, justice, and truth. Members from one group shouted racial slurs and hate-filled rhetoric, were armed with knives and guns, carried torches as they chanted and marched, and ultimately plowed a car into a group of peaceful protesters, killing one and injuring at least 19 others. The other group defended (some forcefully pushing back against that which both insulted and assaulted) our Constitution, our national heritage, and individual citizens. There is NO MORAL EQUIVALENCY here.  There are NO EQUALLY VALID talking points.

If these words sound judgmental to you–they are! Hatred, Neo-Nazi propaganda, physical aggression, and domestic terrorism deserve nothing short of our harshest rebuke and our absolute refusal to submit or be intimidated! We do not need a declaration from Congress to know the United States is at WAR.  We are fighting for our national soul.

The outcome of this conflict will not be decided by a single battle. Charlottesville was not a lone skirmish. In words most millennials understand, “winter is coming”. We must decide now on which side we stand. Our silence, our vacillating, and our reluctance to get involved paints us with the same brush strokes history painted the German people after World War II. But we. have. no. excuses. because we. have seen it. before.  We must not allow a racist, narcissistic leader bribe us with the promise of economic growth. We cannot allow this evil to snuff out what most of the world once regarded as a shining city on a hill.

Choose.  Choose this day which god you serve–money or freedom, fear or courage, silent self interest and the spoils of war or the unfettered voice of truth and justice.  Choose where you stand and where you fight.  Choose who you stand beside and what you fight for. Ultimately, this war will be won or lost in the hearts and minds of the American citizen. History is being written. Choose yours.

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