Tikkun Daily button
Warren Blumenfeld
Warren Blumenfeld




Forceful Penetration as Terror Tactic in Immigration Debate

Jul31

by: on July 31st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“Listen, if you’re 14, 15, 16, 17 years old, and you’re coming from a country that’s gang-infested – particularly with MS-13 types, that is the most aggressive of all the street gangs – when you have those types coming across the border, they’re not children at that point. These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery, a culture of murder, of rape. And now we are going to infuse them into the American culture. It’s just ludicrous.”

- Florida Republican Representative Rich Nugent

Credit: Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons

Rich Nugent does not stand alone in his dire warnings of the dangers children and other migrants will impose on the citizens of the United States if allowed to enter and remain. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican Representative, warns of grave public health threats as well. In a July 7, 2014, letter Gingrey wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

“As a physician for over 30 years, I am well aware of the dangers infectious diseases pose. In fact, infectious diseases remain in the top 10 causes of death in the United States. …Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.”

Well, “as a physician for over 30 years,” he should know that Ebola is not only extraordinarily difficult to spread, but that it also does not occur in Central America. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola has only been discovered in humans living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Unfortunately, the absence of facts has never seemed to get in the way of anti-immigration activists. Nugent and Gingrey join a long list in their rhetoric of horror, hysteria, hyperbole, and hypocrisy throughout the immigration battles of the United States.

Read more...

Front Door, Back Door, Economic Chasm: Not a PBS Series

Jul28

by: on July 28th, 2014 | No Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

In scenes reminiscent of the PBS series “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and “Downton Abbey,” a luxury condominium complex in New York City’s Upper West Side, according to an agreement reached between the developers and City government, when completed, will contain a door for use by wealthy residents only, and a separate door for lower-income tenants. In exchange for permission to build a bigger and taller building, the developers have agreed to include 55 affordable rent-regulated units.

Residents living in these more “affordable” apartments within high-end complexes throughout the City are usually restricted from availing themselves of amenities granted to wealthy occupants, including swimming pools, gyms, and tennis and basketball courts. Since traditionally in New York City the majority of renters and buyers paying market rates for housing are white and the majority of tenants living in rent-regulated units are people of color, these sorts of “agreements” promote legalized segregation based on skin color and the color of money.

No matter how utterly offensive we may consider this arrangement, it does not even begin to represent the enormous economic gap and segregation of communities in the United States today. While economic disparities plague all nations across the planet, nowhere are these disparities more extreme than in the United States. No other problem affects the security and the very survival of our nation and other nations across our ever-shrinking planet more than the income and resource gap between the rich and the poor.

Read more...

Intent & Impact of Giants Hiring David Tyree

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“This will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it’s a strong word, but anarchy. How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda … and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country.”

 - David Tyree, to the National Organization for Marriage, 2011

Credit: Creative Commons

David Tyree, former NFL wide receiver for the New York Giants, is probably most renowned for his amazing “helmet catch” in 2007 to continue the ultimately decisive game-winning surge against the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLI by the close score of 17 – 14. In 2011, though, he announced that he would gladly trade his phenomenal catch in exchange for a law outlawing marriage for same-sex couples.

Tyree, who is married, a father of four children, and a devout Christian asserted that homosexuality and marriage for same-sex couples defies God: “I don’t agree with it [gay marriage] because God doesn’t agree with it. As a Christian, I don’t agree. Society may be changing but God is not.”

He also claimed in a series of Tweets in 2011 that homosexuality is not inborn: “…there are many former homosexual men & women in this country & no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay” and that he has met “former homosexuals.”

Well, Mr. Tyree, if you don’t “agree” with marriage for same-sex couples, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Simple! If you think having attractions for others of the same sex and acting on this is a choice, well, don’t choose it yourself. Period, the end! Can we move on now?

Read more...

The Renaissance Cheapness of Life Like Today?

Jul23

by: on July 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

During this summer, I have had some time to catch up on some pleasurable reading and, I must admit, binge watching of three TV series.

Credit: Creative Commons

“The Borgias,” an Italian Renaissance-era Showtime series, in which the Spanish-born Cardinal Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja (Italianized “Borgia”), through ruthless ambition, deceit, and criminal activity, rises to the Papacy as Alexander VI on August 11, 1492 until his death on August 18, 1503. At the time of his ascension, he was married with a number of children. After becoming Pope, he continued having sexual relations with his collection of mistresses, and he eventually elevated his offspring to high posts.

The HBO series “Game of Thrones,” located within what could be considered as a Renaissance timeframe in terms of technological development, weaponry, and garment styles in the backdrop of the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos toward the conclusion of a decade-long summer, meshes a number of plot lines, most notably ones in which members of numerous noble houses engage in civil war for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The series investigates issues of power, social hierarchy, religion and spirituality, loyalty and betrayal, virtue and corruption, war and rebellion, crime, murder, and punishment.

“Elizabeth I,” a two-part TV miniseries appearing originally on British Channel 4, staring Helen Mirren, covers the final 24 years of Queen Elizabeth I in her nearly 45-year reign as Queer regent of England and Ireland (November 17, 1558 – March 24, 1603). Elizabeth’s time on the throne covered a period of enormous tensions and transitions as governments consolidated power through plots and conspiracies, alliances, war, and confiscation of territories. It was also a period of great religious upheavals.

Read more...

“What If They Gave a War and Nobody Came?”: The Israeli and Palestinian Conflict

Jul21

by: on July 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Credit: Creative Commons

I keep hearing in the press and in popular discourse about the “two sides” in the Middle East conflict, with the sides being the Palestinians and the Israelis. I understand that there are indeed a number of “sides,” but I believe that the Palestinian people and the Israeli people are generally on the same side.

I do not see the two opposing sides being the Palestinian people versus the Israeli people. Rather, the opposing sides represent many of the leaders verses the peace loving Israelis and Palestinians who truly want to live in harmony with one another.

Many of the Israeli leaders desire to maintain and expand current borders and territories and to impose harsh penalties (for example the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza) upon the Palestinian people, which has resulted in a great humanitarian crisis, while the Palestinian leaders, primarily members of Hamas, vow to destroy the Jews, fire rockets on Israeli civilians, and are committed to forcing all Jews into the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, those who want peace are being held hostage by their leaders.

I visited Jerusalem last year, and I talked with Israelis and Palestinians who truly desire peace, who truly desire an era in which they can live alongside one another in trust and in harmony, but they are feeling that the continuing politics of hate and fear, war, and division are preventing this peaceful coexistence.

Read more...

…Then I Am a Proud Socialist!

Jul18

by: on July 18th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

Even before the Cold War and the so-called “McCarthy Period” (named after Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy), individuals and groups on the political and theocratic Right have flung the term “Socialist” from their metaphoric sling shots into the faces of their political opponents to discredit their characters and dismiss their political ideas and policies, and to sway the electorate toward a conservative agenda. This continues to this very day as evidenced by the Tea Party’s representations of President Obama and of various progressive politicians.

As destructive and as freedom-killing as the Right would have us believe,Socialisminvolves “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole,” where each of us has a stake and advances in the success of our collective economy.

No country in the world today stands as a fully Socialist state, but rather, some of the most successful economies combine elements of Capitalism with Socialism to create greater degrees of equity and lesser disparities between the rich, the poor, and those on the continuum in between.

Read more...

Immigration Laws as Official “Racial” Policy

Jul14

by: on July 14th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

Politicians and most other residents of the United States alike, from every rung along the full political spectrum, generally agree on one issue: our immigration system is severely broken and needs fixing. Seemingly insurmountable gaps in political solutions to repair the system along with Congressional inaction to the point of blockage have brought the country to the point of crisis.

Though Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and other prior occupants of the White House, in addition to select members and committees of Congress have suggested possible solutions to the current standoff, change seems impossible this year, even as growing numbers of people attempt to enter the country to reunite with family members or to escape violence and poverty abroad.

Though politicians and members of their constituencies argue immigration policy from seemingly infinite perspectives and sides, one point stands clear and definite: decisions as to who can enter this country and who can eventually gain citizenship status generally depends of issues of “race,” for U.S. immigration systems reflect and serve as the country’s official “racial” policies.

Read more...

“Can We Forgive You?”: A Manifesto

Jul13

by: on July 13th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

Though I have contemplated writing this for many years, I have continually put it off because it represents thoughts and feelings I never really wanted to make visible. I believed that if I relegated them to the recesses of my consciousness, over time, they would simply evaporate sparing me the task of putting pen to paper (or more appropriately, key strokes to computer screen). But no matter how hard I have tried to let go of the pain and hurt, nonetheless, these thoughts and feelings keep resurfacing. Maybe now if I write them down, I can let go.

Credit: Creative Commons

It began for me back in 1987 when I first learned that one of my favorite writers and personalities had died in France at the relatively young age of 63. James Baldwin, essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, activist, hero to many including myself, expatriated to France where he lived much of his later life. He was attracted to the cultural and political progressivism of the Left Bank, where he could escape the pressures of Jim Crow racism and the enormity of heterosexism in the United States, and where his creative energy could soar. His numerous works directly tackled issues of race, sexuality, and socioeconomic class with an unflinching and inescapable honesty, and with a clear indictment of the corrupt systems of power that dominated his native land.

Read more...

Open Letter to Walmart on Camp Dachau Gate Poster

Jul11

by: on July 11th, 2014 | 6 Comments »

Dear Walmart,

It’s me, Warren.

I noticed you have beenmarketingon your website a black and white picture suitable for framing.For the bargain price of only $52.25, your loyal customers can now purchase a poster-size photograph of the front gate of Camp Dachau in Bavaria, Germany with its (in)famous inscriptionArbeit Macht Frei(Work Will Set You Free), which you declare”would make a great addition to your home or office.”

Credit: Creative Commons

So let me try to understand your psychology here. Are you employing the behavioral technique of negative reinforcement? Possibly, if we see the Dachau gate hanging in our bedroom when we first rise in the morning, we will be truly grateful to have the job we go to work to perform instead of the toil Jews and others were forced to carry out at Camp Dachau. Is that what we are supposed to take away from this? Or if we see the poster hanging in our work space, maybe we will more fully adhere to the Protestant work ethic by laboring as hard as we can right now, so we will be financially set in retirement one day? So, are you attempting to emphasize deferred gratification?

You do know don’t you that Camp Dachau was not like the Jewish camps in upstate New York? To have the opportunity of escaping the hot and crowded city and spend the summer at Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel near Liberty, New York, for example, people had to work throughout the year. In this sense, work set them free to vacation. The opposite (well, actually the lie) was the case at Camp Dachau. If you were not aware, Grossinger’s was a vacation spot, whereas Dachau was a concentration camp.

Read more...

Mercy over Vengeance: Israeli Jews and Palestinians

Jul8

by: on July 8th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

“I would like nothing better than to see you die, Mr. McKinney. However, this is the time to begin the healing process. To show mercy to someone who refused to show any mercy. Mr. McKinney, I am going to grant you life, as hard as it is for me to do so, because of Matthew.”

Credit: Creative Commons

Thus, Dennis Shepard, speaking for himself and his wife Judy during a gut-wrenching and terribly emotional court-room speech to one of his son Matthew’s convicted murders, Aaron McKinney, 22, spared both McKinney and his accomplice, Russell Henderson, 21, of the death penalty. As he spoke, his voice often breaking as he wiped tears streaming down his cheeks, the sound of weeping throughout the courtroom, including both men and women in the jury box, Dennis Shepard called his 21-year old son his hero, and talked of Matthew’s special gift for reaching out and helping others.

McKinney and Henderson beat, tortured, and left Matthew for dead tied to a wooden fence near Laramie, Wyoming on the chilly night of October 6, 1998. Surrounded by his loving family and friends, Matthew died six days later in hospital succumbing to severe head and brain injuries.

Read more...