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Warren Blumenfeld
Warren Blumenfeld




Time Has Come to Fix U.S.-Iran Policy

Apr6

by: on April 6th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

President Obama speaking indoors at a podium.

Though President Obama has been roundly criticized for having a soft foreign policy, he continues to prove the value of dialogue. Credit: CreativeCommons / Gage Skidmore.

A corollary to the old saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” is the reverse, “If it’s broken then fix it.” Well, the U.S. and other nations’ policies of imposing sanctions alone to inhibit Iran’s nuclear ambitions and capabilities has been tried, and it has failed in its stated purpose. It has, though, succeeded in at least pressuring Iranian leaders to talk with us and some of our European allies at the negotiating table.

While the full terms of the agreement are to be drawn up by the end of June, the framework coming out of Switzerland garnered support from our chief European allies, the British and the French.

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Religious Freedom Restoration Acts Restore Bigotry & Repression

Apr6

by: on April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

The movement gaining support in State Houses around this nation, as exemplified through Indiana’s new ironically named “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” permits businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* people, and members of all other groups they consider nonconformists to their judgments and precepts.

So what can we infer from those religions that justify such discriminatory treatment of other human beings? On what sacred tenets would a baker refuse to bake a confectionery delight; a photographer refuse to preserve joyous moments; a caterer refuse the pleasures of delectable sustenance; a florist refuse the beauties from the garden; a jeweler refuse a band connecting human souls; a realtor refuse showing shelters signifying new chapters in one’s book of time; a shop owner refuse selling the common and special objects supporting and enhancing life; a restauranteur refuse anyone a time away from the kitchen; a spiritual advisor refuse to treat one’s neighbor as oneself?

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Florida Proposes “Stand Outside My Loo” Law

Mar20

by: on March 20th, 2015 | Comments Off

A sign for a unisex bathroom.

Florida is proposing a law that would impose criminal penalties on those who knowingly enter restrooms of a sex not designated on their birth certificates, implicitly discriminating against transgender citizens. Credit: CreativeCommons / Matthew Rutledge.

Florida, one of the states known for its infamous so-called “stand your ground” law (“justifiable use of force” law), has now proposed standing its patriarchal ground once again, this time in its “Single Sex Facilities” (what I am calling its “Stand Out of My Loo”) law. If passed by the state legislature, CS/HB 583 would impose criminal penalties on persons who knowingly enter restrooms of a sex not designated on their birth certificates.

Sponsors of this clearly discriminatory bill designed it specifically to ban trans* people from using restrooms that most closely align with their gender identities. Legislators see the writing on the bathroom walls signaling the establishment of gender inclusive restroom facilities throughout the nation, which have existed in a number of nations around the world for decades.

Some may refer to these spaces as “gender neutral,” though “gender inclusive” has become the preferred terminology to describe a space – most notably restrooms and floors in college and university dormitories and in many businesses – denoting a cite of inclusion welcoming individuals of all genders and gender identities and expressions. The terminology “gender neutral” overlooks the actual hierarchal power dynamics among genders, and the implications on the lived experiences of virtually everyone in our society.

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Tea Party & Likud East & West: A Symbiosis of Fear & Division

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | Comments Off

Only hours after the results revealing the Likud Party’s lead in obtaining the most seats – 30 to its closest competitors’ 24 of the Zionist Union (formerly the Labor Party) — in the next Israeli Knesset (Parliament), the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the U.S. sent an email message to millions of U.S. residents congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what most likely will result in his re-election for a fourth term. The announcement includes a congratulatory petition for people to sign, and states in part:

“The people of Israel have spoken: Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was just reelected to office, in a sweeping victory for those who value freedom and democracy around the world.”

Yes, this election is a “sweeping victory,” but not for those of us “who value freedom and democracy around the world.” Right-wing politicians who run and rule by fear and division stand as the only winners in this travesty: those hardliners who promote intolerance, hatred, xenophobia, and racism.

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Netanyahu’s Speeches a Travesty

Mar4

by: on March 4th, 2015 | Comments Off

I took the opportunity of watching both of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.S. speeches this week – in front of over 16,000 attendees at AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and at a joint session of the Congress – and I followed the process and developing controversy from the time Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, first announced that he had extended and the Prime Minister had accepted his invitation to present.

During both speaking venues, with all his praise at the beginning of his speeches for President Obama and his support for the state of Israel and the safety and prosperity of the Israeli people, the clear subtext was to plant distrust of the President’s negotiating abilities with Iran specifically, and to call into serious question his foreign policy initiatives more generally.

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Open Letter to Rudy Giuliani on the Characterization of Obama

Mar4

by: on March 4th, 2015 | Comments Off

A cartoon of Rudy Giuliani with bats flying out of his mouth.

Rudy Giuliani's continuing criticism of President Obama is neither informed nor constructive. What, exactly, is he saying, asks Dr. Blumenfeld. Credit: CreativeCommons / DonkeyHotey

Dear Rudy,

I realize that you don’t know me, but I hope you won’t mind if I refer to you as “Rudy.” Anyway, I am writing to you because, frankly, you said some things about President Obama that confused me. I hope you can clarify some things.

During a private dinner held in New York City for possible GOP 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, you said:

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

“I do not believe that the president loves America.”

So, Rudy, let’s break down your statement. When you say that “I do not believe that the president loves America,” what indication do you have or what criteria are you using? I really want to know,

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We Are “Carefully Taught” to Hate

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | Comments Off

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 | Comments Off

 

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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