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Warren Blumenfeld
Warren Blumenfeld




We Are “Carefully Taught” to Hate

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »

Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein reminded us in one of the songs, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,” in their 1949 Broadway musical, South Pacific that:

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught….

President Obama echoed this sentiment at the recent White House Countering Violent Extremism Summit when he said that “Children learn to hate.”

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Acknowledging the Racism that Saturates Our Nation

Feb19

by: on February 19th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

“What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful when they have…an encounter with a police officer.”

- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, ABC’s “This Week”

The Mayor added that “With Dante, very early on, we said, ‘Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do. Don’t move suddenly. Don’t reach for your cellphone,’ because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”

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Trans* People Murdered for Truth Telling

Feb16

by: on February 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Abolitionists jointed together to work for the immediate end to the institution of human slavery and the cessation of racial discrimination and segregation. They faced steep opposition from many quarters including a number of Christian denominations who asserted that sacred scripture not only condoned, but more importantly, mandated the practice of slavery.

Trans* Women:

Alejandra Leos,41, fatally shot, Memphis, Tennessee.

Aniya Parker, 47, fatally shot, Los Angeles, California

Young people conducted a number of sit-in demonstrations at Southern lunch counters to end Jim Crow laws of segregated public facilities, to the abusive taunts of onlookers and crashing batons of local police. Demonstrators faced imprisonment and the imposition of permanent criminal records.

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Church of Latter-day Saints: Way Too Little, Far Too Late

Feb10

by: on February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »

 

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel….

The Handbook of Instructions, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

These words express God’s supposed “revelation” to the leadership of the Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and reaffirmed in 1995 when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles entered the debate on the parameters of marriage by issuing “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It stated in part,

A group of Mormons is marching for marriage equality at the Pride Parade in San Francisco.

Not all Mormons are against same-sex marriage. Here, Mormons for Marriage Equality marches during the San Francisco Pride Celebration in 2013. Credit: InSapphoWeTrust / Creative Commons.

“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His Children…”

If the Church’s position on same-sex attractions, expression, and marriage for same-sex couples were not clear enough, LDS President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Boyd K. Packer, referred to homosexuality throughout a sharply worded sermon as “wrong,” “wicked,” “impure,” “unnatural,” “immoral,” “against nature,” “evil,” and as a threat to civilization.

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The Insanity of Extremism

Feb6

by: on February 6th, 2015 | 5 Comments »

Oh my name it is nothin’

My age it means less

The country I come from

Is called the Midwest

I’s taught and brought up there

The laws to abide

And that land that I live in

Has God on its side.” (Bob Dylan)

The latest propaganda missile in the current political and theocratic Right’s Christian Crusade aimed at followers of Islam worldwide was detonated by Fox News commentator and radio host Todd Starnes who asserted that Jesus would love the film “American Sniper” and would graciously thank all the American snipers who assassinate “godless” Muslims and transport them to the “lake of fire.”

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Going Beyond Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Non-Discrimination Updates

Feb4

by: on February 4th, 2015 | No Comments »

After consistently refusing for the past 17 years to initiate protections in the workplace for its LGBT employees, Exxon Mobil Corporation finally announced that it will update its corporate policies to safeguard employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

People cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill

What good are workplace protections in an industry that has granted no such protections to our planet? Above, volunteers cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, the second largest oil spill in U.S. history. Credit: Jim Brickett/ Creative Commons

The company will now comply with President Obama’s historic amendment to executive order 11246 issued in July 2014 forbidding businesses receiving federal contracts from discriminating against LGBT people. Earlier, Obama amended Executive Order 11478 to include “gender identity” to other protected categories in the federal civilian workforce. During his presidency, Clinton amended this Executive Order to prohibit discrimination toward U.S. government employees based on sexual orientation.

This may be fine that Exxon Mobil Corp. has ever-so-reluctantly, though finally, added LGBT workplace protections. However, Exxon Mobil Corp. remains one of the primary environmental polluters in an industry that threatens the Earth and life as we know it. What good are workplace protections in a corporation and in an entire industry that has granted no such protections to our planet?The environment group, Sierra Club, charges Exxon Mobil Corp. with being one of the biggest polluters in the country. Even a cursory review of Exxon Mobile Corp.’s environmental record brings to light this corporation’s criminal policies.

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New Hope Ministries Offers No Hope At All

Feb2

by: on February 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »

Three women holding up a picture of Vanessa Collier at a demonstration

A pastor at New Hope Ministries in Colorado stopped Vanessa Collier's funeral in the middle of the service because she was a lesbian. Vanessa's friends are shown above, demonstrating at a rally in front of the church. Credit: Craig F. Walker/ The Denver Post)

I am continually amazed, but no longer surprised, when I witness incidents where individuals and entire denominations justify and perpetuate acts of bigotry and tyranny in the name of God and religion. From scorn, marginalization, forced conversion, and expulsion to kidnapping, rape, enslavement, invasion, and murder, throughout the ages up to our current epoch, people have taken literal and not-so-literal interpretations of their scriptures to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and entire nations targeted by these texts.

The latest incident in this heinous saga comes from the New Hope Ministries in Denver, Colorado when at approximately 15 minutes into conducting a funeral service, Pastor Ray Chavez suddenly stopped and announced that he will not continue. He then ordered that the funeral must be moved since, apparently, he discovered that the deceased was a lesbian.

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Steve King’s Brand of “Freedom” Only for People Like Steve King

Jan30

by: on January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

U.S. Representative Steven King from Iowa’s fourth congressional district, on January 24, attempted to play kingmaker by bringing some of the most politically conservative of the Republican Party’s potential 2016 candidates to his so-called “Iowa Freedom Summit” in Des Moines. This event is seen as the kickoff — of a deflated Right’s game ball — to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus.

I find the title of this gathering very misleading, and actually a form of false advertising. When Steve King talks about “freedom,” just what exactly does he mean? As a former resident living in his congressional district, I never understood his definition of the term.

King certainly has no need of promoting freedom to undocumented residents. Last year, he dismissed the notion that many undocumented immigrants are high-achieving students. He asserted that they should not receive a pathway to citizenship saying that for every valedictorian who is legalized, “there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

And King has no use for the concept of “freedom” for the diversity of cultural traditions in the United States other than his own. He claimed that the promotion of the concept of multiculturalism will ultimately bring about the demise of the country as we know it.

In the course I taught at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa titled “Multicultural Foundations in Schools and Society,” I showed students a video of Steve King’s. Speaking to supporters on August 21, 2012 at a Le Mars, Iowa, Town Hall meeting, King conjured up a supposed deep and sinister plot to ensnare young and impressionable first-year college students into campus multicultural groups for the purpose of turning them into victims, which he asserted will convince them to work toward the eventual overthrow of this country’s power structure.

King talked about preparing for a debate some time ago on the Iowa State University campus on the concept of multiculturalism. He talked about checking out the university’s website: “I typed in ‘multicultural,’” he stated on the video, “and it came back to me at the time, 59 different multicultural groups listed to do, to operate on campus at Iowa State….And most of them were victims’ groups, victimology, people who feel sorry for themselves.”

He warned that these groups are “out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group who are feeling sorry for themselves….But just think of 59 card tables set up across the parking lot on the way to the dorm….And the first group says, ‘Well, you’re a victim that fits us. We want to help you. Why don’t you join us?’….And then you’re brought into a group that has a grievance against society rather than understand there’s a tremendous blessing in this society.”

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Blasting Away Black Faces and Lives

Jan28

by: on January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Mugshots with bulletholes

Florida National Guard Seargent Valerie Deant saw her brother's mugshot being used for target practice by North Miami Beach Police. Credit: @truthseekerstv

With the increased visibility of police officers killing unarmed black men and boys surfacing in the media, the wide scale demonstrations of outrage and protest traveling throughout the United States and in countries around the world, and investigations by the Justice Department into allegations of racial bias in policing, one would anticipate that police force officials might begin to assess procedures, at the very least, to give the impression they are willing to correct any appearance of racial profiling of black and brown people. I suppose, however, the Chief of the North Miami Beach Police Department in Florida never got that memo.

What members of the Florida National Guard found when they showed up at a shooting range for their annual weapons qualifying training shocked and angered them. Before they arrived, the North Miami Beach Police Department conducted sniper training at the site using mug shots of African American men for target practice, and for some reason, they failed to removed the pictures. For one of the members of the Guard, Seargent Valerie Deant, this was extremely traumatic. One of the hanging mug shots was of her brother, Woody Deant, with a clear bullet hole in one of his eyes and another in the center of his forehead.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Inescapable Network of Mutuality’

Jan20

by: on January 20th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

“My husband, Martin Luther King Jr., once said, .’We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny…an inescapable network of mutuality….I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.’ Therefore, I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

— Coretta Scott King, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference Plenary Address, Atlanta, Georgia, 2000

At this time of year, as we commemorate and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am reminded once again of his vibrant image of the “inescapable network of mutuality” that links humanity. Dr. King envisioned an inclusive model of social justice because he believed that “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

Though the concept of “social justice” has been defined a number of ways, I have constructed my definition as:

“The concept that local, national, and global communities functionwhere everyone has equal access to and equitable distribution of the rights, benefits, privileges, and resources, and where everyone can live freely unencumbered by social constructions of hierarchical positions of domination and subordinationbased onsocial identities.”

Yes, identities based on race and sexual and gender identities, for example, are very distinct, and the weight of oppression often falls on members of these groups differently. However, many argue that since “race” is an immutable biological trait that people are born with, certain protections must be provided to prevent the dominant group from persecuting minoritized “races.” They also assert that same-sex and both-sex attractions and gender identities and expressions outside the binary are not factors that people are born with but rather “choose” later in life, and therefore, they do not deserve nor require “special rights” for their chosen so-called “life styles.”

I see an underlying assumption to this argument: there are only limited rights to go around, and since there is such a scarcity of rights available, we must divide them among people on the basis of biology. This “scarcity” theory results in marginalized groups competing for what they see as the crumbs of a small and limited pie, rather than joining together to work for a larger and more equitable pie. This argument also fails in that it neither understands nor even acknowledges individuals’ intersecting and multiple identities or multiple positionalities from which they experience the world.

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