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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



Lerner’s Huffington Post article on Sanders Supporters’ Dilemma

Aug3

by: Rabbi Michael Lerner on August 3rd, 2016 | 3 Comments »

THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

Senator Bernie Sanders had two good reasons for endorsing Hillary: 1. His firm belief that the country would be considerably worse off were Donald Trump to win the presidency; 2. If his movement to push the Democratic Party in a progressive direction would had been perceived as having failed to support Hillary Clinton, it would have been blamed if Hillary were to lose in November. If that happened, it would have given progressives the kind of bad reputation consumer advocate Ralph Nader got when he failed to tell his supporters in the 2000 presidential election to not vote for him but vote for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in those few states where the polls indicated that the outcome might well depend on Gore getting the Nader voters. The burden of that would have crippled his movement for many years to come. After Sanders’s talk appealing to his delegates to vigorously support Hillary’s presidential candidacy despite the Wikileaks revelations that the Democratic Party’s pro-Hillary national leadership actively sought to undermine his candidacy during the primaries, no reasonable person could blame a Trump victory in November on Bernie Sanders (although if Trump wins, you can bet some in both parties will try).

Sadly, Senator Sanders conveyed his support in a way that undermined his integrity and disillusioned some of his most ardent supporters, reducing his credibility, thereby leaving them doubtful that the movement he had promised to create along with his campaign would be little more than a Bernie-controlled political PAC playing politics the “old-fashioned way.” Bernie derived his power and appeal to millions of Americans not solely from the wisdom of his political program, but also from the widespread perception that he was a truth-telling man who refused to follow the normal rules of establishment-oriented politics.He was loved in part because he rejected the advice of all the political realists and spoke truth to power.


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The Moment that Defeated Donald Trump

Aug1

by: on August 1st, 2016 | 1 Comment »

When Ghazala and Khizr Khan stood before the Democratic National Convention, when Mr. Khan said to Donald Trump: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one”, he defeated the Trump campaign. The words reverberated through the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and through millions of television screens across the globe with such clarity and truth that while the crowd in the hall cheered everyone watching paused. Everyone knew something important had just happened.

Donald Trump will never be president of the United States of America.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan are the parents of Captain Humayan Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Their son graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000 where he was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corp. His plan was to leave military service and become a lawyer. However, after 9/11, he decided to stay in the military. While in Iraq, one of his duties was morning inspection of the troops. The day he died, a suicide bomber driving a taxi sped toward his troops. He called for them to hit the ground. He moved forward and was killed when the bomb exploded. His actions saved numerous lives. (http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-36945318)

He sacrificed his life for the warriors who he led. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John15:13) His family and friends live with this loss daily. It is a grief so deep that his mother still finds it difficult to speak of him. Her heart aches an unspeakable ache when she sees his picture. Such was the reason for her silence at the convention.

During this campaign, after terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Republican candidates for president seemed to be in a contest over who could be the toughest not only against Daesh – aka ISIS, ISIL, IS – but also against Syrian refugees and Muslim Americans living in the United States. John Cassidy writing in the New Yorker, “Donald Trump and America’s Muslims”, reminds us that after Paris, Jeb Bush wanted to invade Syria. Chris Christie would not allow even children from Syria into the United States. Both Trump and Ted Cruz wanted to increase surveillance of both Muslim communities and mosques. (http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trump-and-americas-muslims)

Only Trump called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States. He said it was a temporary ban until a mysterious we could learn some mysterious information that allowed us to know a mysterious what is going on. He has since modified his position to say he would ban those who come from “terror states.” Again he has not said which states these are.

While there has been so much attention to Trump’s various positions on banning Muslims from coming to the United States, we have forgotten his proposal to create a database of Muslims in the United States. Cassidy quotes Trump saying: “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”

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Star Trek Beyond the Trump GOP Brand of Crisis

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

After four days of the 2016 Republican doom and gloom be afraid be very afraid convention, after Donald Trump’s forever acceptance speech, I needed to transport myself for a while to another world to live in. I took myself to the movies to see “Star Trek Beyond.” It did not disappoint. The movie made me think about the meaning of leadership, the role of popular culture in our perceptions of reality, and how art imitates life and how life imitates art.

This year marks fifty years since the original Star Trek series made its debut on television. Since then, there have been several television series and movies. The current set of movies made for the big screen tell the story of the original crew of the starship Enterprise from before the series begins. Our favorites – Kirk, Spock, Uhuru, Chekov, Sulu, McCoy, and Scotty – are back in fine form. The movie is self-referential in ways that only true trekkers will notice. However, I was delighted by the references that I did find. The new movie maintains the Star Trek brand of excitement with a touch of philosophical thinking. At the very beginning, we see Kirk trying to offer a gift to an alien people who are deeply suspicious of him and of his motives. His encounter with them is as exasperating as are human encounters with Others who do not want diplomacy on any level.

I started to think about Kirk, the leader of the group. He is now and has always been portrayed as a kind of ubermensch, an over much man, a man of superior abilities. He is courageous, with a devil may care elan that allows him the creative force to break the rules when it suits him or when he thinks it is necessary. He is the combination of the cerebral Spock and the emotional McCoy. He is the tip of the spear, the one who is not afraid to take charge.

Our popular culture has given us many such heroes, the man, usually European but not necessarily, who rides in to save the day. Kirk is another iteration of Superman, Batman, the Lone Ranger, Matt Dillon, Bond, James Bond, James West and others. They have a supporting cast of characters, but usually they are the men who will think their way or fight their way out of trouble and save the town, or world from utter destruction. Women find the over man irresistible, and men are always grateful to see him come and display the courage that they lack.

Is this who Donald Trump thinks he is? Or, is his declaration that the United States is in a state of crisis and that he is the only one who can fix the situation cynicism, a carbon copy of the recent movie “Our brand is Crisis”?

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A NATIONAL LIBERATION – WHERE?

Jul25

by: Jon D. Olsen on July 25th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

World attention is focused on the long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory by an ever-encroaching Israeli presence which began in 1947. A great deal has been written on this subject and this focus is entirely appropriate. But there is another occupation that has continued for fifty years longer, but which receives scant attention, even among the educated Left. That is the continued occupation of the country called Hawai’i. “Whoa, wait a minute!? The reader will exclaim, “Wasn’t that issue ‘settled’ in 1959 with US. statehood?” That’s what the whole world thought, including most Hawaiians, until Hawaiian scholar-activists began to research the legal and historical details. What they discovered is that both by international law and by US. Constitutional law, the relation that exists is that of prolonged occupation and that the claim to “annexation,” the foundation of the “statehood” claim has no validity whatsoever. Rather, control, but not sovereignty, passed to the US. in 1898, and that sovereignty has remained dormant, like the giant volcano Haleakala on Maui.

 


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Seeing Donald Trump: How a Sensible Empathic View of Him Can Help Progressives Stop Him

Jul19

by: John H. McFadden on July 19th, 2016 | 5 Comments »

[Editor's note: Tikkun does not endorse or reject any candidate for office or any political party (we are prohibited from doing so by our IRS non-profit status). We do publish on Tikkun Daily and on our website articles from selected boggers and sometimes from submissions directly from our subscribers or members of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, usually without comment, but hoping our readers understand that articles on our web or Tikkun Daily do NOT necessarily reflect our editorial stance which you can find ONLY in the editiorials I write in the print edition of the magazine. Nevertheless, because many of our readers are spiritual progressives, the articles on the election on our blog or website can sometimes seem to give more positive attention to one candidates and less for another candidate. For that reason, we want to again urge our readers to write to us with your feelings and thoughts about the presidential candidates and political parties least likely to be predictably what you'd find in Tikkun, in the hopes of having a wider range of views and a wider range of supporters of positions that we editorially oppose. Send those to Ari@tikkun.orgor torabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com(along with a one or two sentence bio and your email and snail mail addresses, please.]

If in this article I do a good job of creating a sensible empathic explanation of Trump’s troubling behavior, I’ll evoke what at first to my fellow critics of him must seem impossible, much less undesirable. I hope to evoke compassion for him as the innocent victim of influences beyond his knowledge and, therefore, his control. But why strive to evoke compassion for horrible people? I believe this compassion-evoking view of any person is more credible than the degrading view held by nearly everyone. Incidentally, I’m one of those haters – Trump disgusts me. But it’s vital, I believe, to at least able to be angry at and feel compassion toward practically everyone.

The practical point of this empathic explanatory view? Perhaps most importantly regarding Trump, we must have a credible view of him and his supporters to plot an effective strategy for preventing him from winning the Presidency. That ought to be unarguable. And empathic explanations make the best sense of people. Of course, Trump may alienate the populace enough to derail his bid, but as of this writing, the polls haven’t tipped against him enough to quiet our worries about the possibility that the perhaps the most dangerous man to every run for this office will win the election, the growing number of Republicans for Hillary notwithstanding.


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Grief

Jul15

by: on July 15th, 2016 | 18 Comments »

Soon after the news from Nice popped up on my newsfeed an old friend wandered into our shop. Last I’d seen her she had told me that her partner of 16 years had died after a long battle with cancer. She was leaving town, then, and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d see her again. Now here she was, grieving, in need of a friend to talk to. I closed my computer and for the next hour and a half, except when briefly interrupted to help another customer, I spent the time talking… actually, mostly listening.

Grief.

The other day another woman was standing outside our shop looking lost. I went out and asked what was wrong. “I can’t remember where I parked my car.” I told her that it happens to all of us. “I just lost my husband and ever since he…. My brain just doesn’t work right anymore.”

Grief.

Most people would walk by my friend and this other woman and not notice that something terrible had happened to them.

Grief.

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Social Justice and Theater at a Time of Crisis

Jul14

by: on July 14th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Augusto Boal at Riverside Church, NY City, in 2008

All of last week I was at a Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) training. I was drawn to the intensely evocative and provocative forms first created by Augusto Boal in the 1960s, designed to support marginalized groups in creating social change. Intuitively, I sensed these practices could support the rudimentary role play forms that are part and parcel of learning Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and dramatically (pun almost not intended) enhance NVC’s social justice applications.

This week became a thick, rich, powerful, challenging entanglement of the personal, the symbolic, and the political as a group of 36 of us from across many social divides and several countries grappled together with our experiences and all else that unfolded that week. By necessity of care for our agreement to protect the specifics of what happened in the room, most of the below is only about my own experiences and lens.

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Poem on the Murders

Jul12

by: Anita Barrows on July 12th, 2016 | 4 Comments »

Phliando Castile was an African-American Nutrition Services Department supervisor at a Montessori School in suburban Minnesota. He was shot dead by police on July 6 after being stopped for a broken tail light. His girlfriend, Diamond Lavish Reynolds, immediately began narrating his murder on her phone (sent out via Facebook) as she sat beside him while he was dying in the car. Her four year old daughter, also in the car, witnessed everything.

This is for you, Diamond Lavish Reynolds,

before your name disappears among so many

others, before your voice

is forgotten, before you wake up

one morning, still just 24, your child

beside you, and find only the goneness

on the other side of the bed.This is for you

on the morning you wake and wonder

what you are going to do now

with your life, how you are going to talk

to the four-year-old child who saw the cop

fire the gun at Philando, the child you called

your “angel,” your first consolation.

This is for you when the news has stopped talking

about what happened, when the news has passed on

to other deaths.This is for you

in this country of guns, of cruelty, of dismissal;

for you, Diamond

Lavish Reynolds, on some humid morning

in August, as you push the blankets

away, your child

curled in sleep, so small,

and walk into the bathroom and look for the first

time in weeks carefully

at your face in the mirror, ask yourself how

you are going to live

now with only this absence,

one of your eyes consumed with grief, the other

with outrage.How can we hold this

with you, how can we make your tears not

another deleted narrative?

Anita Barrows is a poet, translator, and psychologist in Berkeley, California. She is a professor at The Wright Institute and maintains a private practice.

Dehumanizing and Delegitimizing

Jul8

by: Mazin Qumsiyeh on July 8th, 2016 | 8 Comments »

There is a growing movement of applying Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions
(BDS) on Israel just like we did to defeat apartheid in South Africa.
Zionist apologists are understandably declaring war on this nonviolent and
moral movement. In many countries including several states in the USA,
there are attempts to delegetimize the movement and declare BDS illegal. Of
course this is contrary to the principles of free speech and free
association. People’s right to boycott was recognized in key legal
precedents but more legal challenges are needed to dispel the myth that
engaging in BDS is somehow illegitimate. Israeli apologists around the
world engage in all sorts of dirty tricks to keep the racist system going
(a racket to keep the flow of cash if I may say so). Having faced Israeli
apologists in public debates, many do not want to debate again because they
lose badly as they attempt to delegitimize and dehumanize their victims.
They have no facts and they are defending injustice. So they resort to
personal attacks and strange racist mythologies (for example that we
Palestinians sacrifice our children for publicity or that we “hate Jews”).
This is expected from colonial power to dehumanize their victims.

Elie Wiesel died recently. He spent most of his life defending Israel and
dehumanizing Palestinians. He was challenged on many occasions to say
something about the Palestinian victims and all he could muster was
regurgitating Zionist lies about colonizers needing to “defend themselves”.
Here is what a real prophetic Jew  (Sara Roy who teaches at Harvard) wrote
on September 9, 2014

Mr. Wiesel,
I read your statement about Palestinians, which appeared in The New York
Times on August 4th. I cannot help feeling that your attack against Hamas
and stunning accusations of child sacrifice are really an attack, carefully
veiled but unmistakable, against all Palestinians, their children
included.  As a child of Holocaust survivors—both my parents survived
Auschwitz—I am appalled by your anti-Palestinian position, one I know you
have long held. I have always wanted to ask you, why? What crime have
Palestinians committed in your eyes? Exposing Israel as an occupier and
themselves as its nearly defenseless victims? Resisting a near half century
of oppression imposed by Jews and through such resistance forcing us as a
people to confront our lost innocence (to which you so tenaciously cling)?

Unlike you, Mr. Wiesel, I have spent a great deal of time in Gaza among
Palestinians. In that time, I have seen many terrible things and I must
confess I try not to remember them because of the agony they continue to
inflict.  I have seen Israeli soldiers shoot into crowds of young children
who were doing nothing more than taunting them, some with stones, some with
just words. I have witnessed too many horrors, more than I want to
describe. But I must tell you that the worst things I have seen, those
memories that continue to haunt me, insisting never to be forgotten, are
not acts of violence but acts of dehumanization.

There is a story I want to tell you, Mr. Wiesel, for I have carried it
inside of me for many years and have only written about it once a very long
time ago. I was in a refugee camp in Gaza when an Israeli army unit on foot
patrol came upon a small baby perched in the sand sitting just outside the
door to its home. Some soldiers approached the baby and surrounded it.
Standing close together, the soldiers began shunting the child between them
with their feet, mimicking a ball in a game of soccer. The baby began
screaming hysterically and its mother rushed out shrieking, trying
desperately to extricate her child from the soldiers’ legs and feet. After
a few more seconds of “play,” the soldiers stopped and walked away, leaving
the terrified child to its distraught mother.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: this was the act of a few misguided
men. But I do not agree because I have seen so many acts of dehumanization
since, among which I must now include yours. Mr. Wiesel, how can you defend
the slaughter of over 500 innocent children by arguing that Hamas uses them
as human shields?  Let us say for the sake of argument that Hamas does use
children in this way; does this then justify or vindicate their murder in
your eyes? How can any ethical human being make such a grotesque argument?
In doing so, Mr. Wiesel, I see no difference between you and the Israeli
soldiers who used the baby as a soccer ball. Your manner may differ from
theirs—perhaps you could never bring yourself to treat a Palestinian child
as an inanimate object—but the effect of your words is the same: to
dehumanize and objectify Palestinians to the point where the death of Arab
children, some murdered inside their own homes, no longer affects you. All
that truly concerns you is that Jews not be blamed for the children’s
savage destruction.

Despite your eloquence, it is clear that you believe only Jews are capable
of loving and protecting their children and possess a humanity that
Palestinians do not. If this is so, Mr. Wiesel, how would you explain the
very public satisfaction among many Israelis over the carnage in Gaza—some
assembled as if at a party, within easy sight of the bombing, watching the
destruction of innocents, entertained by the devastation?  How are these
Israelis different from those people who stood outside the walls of the
Jewish ghettos in Poland watching the ghettos burn or listening
indifferently to the gunshots and screams of other innocents within—among
them members of my own family and perhaps yours—while they were being
hunted and destroyed?

You see us as you want us to be and not as many of us actually are. We are
not all insensate to the suffering we inflict, acceding to cruelty with
ease and calm. And because of you, Mr. Wiesel, because of your words—which
deny Palestinians their humanity and deprive them of their victimhood—too
many can embrace our lack of mercy as if it were something noble, which it
is not. Rather, it is something monstrous.

Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern
Studies, Harvard University.
——————-
Max Blumenthal similarly wrote a poignant reflection on the hateful
tribalist opportunist Elie Wiesel
http://www.alternet.org/print/grayzone-project/huge-part-elie-wiesels-legacy-being-whitewashed

But our problem is not with Wiesel now, he is gone. Our problem is with
those who are around trying to go more right wing hoping somehow that saves
the silly notion of a “Jewish state”. It is not less crazy than an Aryan
white state or an Islamic state or a Christian state. All such concepts are
destined for the dustbin of history. Isn’t it also boring to try to create
monolithic societies? Isn’t it time people respect other religions and
cultures and learn to share in equality this beautiful earth instead of
spoiling it?

>From here in Palestine we cry out for justice and for simple human rights.
The rights of refugees to return and the right to live in our lands
peacefully regardless of our faiths/beliefs. First do no harm. Here are my
reflections on our responsibility (the Savior in each of us) that I wrote
six years ago and is still relevant today
http://qumsiyeh.org/thesaviorineachofus/

Stay human and welcome to visit us in Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org

Meditation on Pedagogies of the Traumatized

Jul8

by: on July 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

Print: Amos Paul Kennedy Photo: Gina Athena Ulysse

There is a mini-poster by the journeyman printer Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. on one of my bookshelves. This black block print on cardboard contains an equals sign with the caption “Equality is a special privilege for Blacks these unitedstatesofamerica.” The USA is spelled out in lowercase (as presented), as a single word, bracketed by the stars and stripes upside down ― a signal of distress. I also keep a copy in my office where I teach to look at everyday as a crude reminder that in the eyes of the law, Whiteness is supreme, we (Blacks) were never equal, and know full well, we still are not.

We live in a market economy, where the value ascribed to Black bodies remains high only when we reinforce the state of our original conditions as human chattel. Property. Slaves. We were restricted by a system of codes, rules that managed our behavior and manners back then. In a sense, we still are. Lest we were to forget, or if and when we dare to question this order of things, the price for our disruption is a lashing of one kind or another from the seemingly benign, to the fatal. In her award winning book, Citizen: An American Lyric, the brilliant poet Claudia Rankine puts it this way, “because white men can’t police their imagination, Black men are dying”. The fact of our Blackness to paraphrase Frantz Fanon, is non-negotiable, since our belonging in this society has always been provisional. Human chattel. Property. Slaves. As the great James Baldwin once wrote, “we could hope to arrive only by imitation.” We are rewarded in the myriad ways we are accorded opportunities to uphold and re-inscribe White supremacy. So the message, just in case we didn’t get the memo, is clear: This is a White world. The story of our existence therein is one of inequity that, at the least, requires our infantilization to thrive, and at best, our absolute submission to survive. There are no boundaries and protection. Respect is exclusively reserved for Whites only. It is their birthright. We must stay in our place.

I woke up too early this morning and broke my own rule by going to social media. I inadvertently saw Lavish Reynolds’ livestream video of the police killing of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, on my Twitter feed. Caught up, in a sense of outrage, disbelief, and shock, I tried to suppress it. I was still processing Alton Sterling as another victim of police violence days before, trying to decide whether to write about it. I decided against it (because I can), and also pondering like Roxane Gay ― what more could be said that has not already been said? My vocabulary does not need to expand to rephrase what members of the #BlackLivesMatter movement have been demanding in three words: Stop Killing Us!

I avoid these videos. There’ve been so many. They stay with you and threaten to desensitize you. They are numbing us to the spectacle of Black death according to Jamil Smith. More evidence of the normalization of a civilization predicated upon the near annihilation of a people and the fortification of a nation intimately structured with violence. That’s always been the hypocrisy in our moral values. We remain cavalier in our practices of discard and ‘so aghast’ by the racist rhetoric of he who shall not be named.

My FB feed contains continuous advice from folks warning each other to avoid encounters that will further aggrieve this trauma. Human chattel was always disposable. Property’s value depreciates. Slave need to be dominated. Each hashtag memorial, and media report that reverts to stereotypes, become new trigger points. Reminders of how White Power works. Last summer, the incessant assault on Black Lives prompted @eveeeeezy to suggest a more vigilant approach to self-care. It may have been delivered with comic relief, but “Calling in Black” was a cry of “Enough!”

Indeed, the devaluation, embodied or otherwise, takes its toll. #BlackLivesMatter made its way into the Ivory Tower with the student uprising last fall. Institutions, not made in our image, were forced to confront their Whiteness and their cultivation of “exclusionary practices.” Centuries later, we did not, and could not, escape the fact of our history. It has simply been digitized.

As an educator in an historically white institution, inspired by Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I have been confronting this dilemma personally and pedagogically. I have been reorienting myself interrogating notions of belonging to figure out collective and sustainable ways to deploy my intellectual knowledge in a manner to be of service to a greater good. That is the story I tell myself knowing the greater good often subsumes us and leaves Black folks behind. I have gotten more involved in institutional matters with a mature awareness of the potentials and impossibilities of some interventions. We can’t keep running away from the past. Besides, social media has assured we can only run so far; the brutality that used to happen in private is now ever so public. My optimism wanes and my patience continues to be tried with each new extra judicial killing, each exoneration. Each one is more confirmation of the deep rootedness of our inequality. We bear the weight of history so unequally. It is written on our bodies and etched in the color of our skin. Human chattel. Property. Slaves. That is the undue burden, the inequity we live with, that simply cannot be undone unconsciously. Its transformation, if that (I am not naïve), requires so much more than will. To bring about a modicum of change we must not only intentionally attempt, but also be determined, to shift. It will not happen par hazard. Because history has seen to it that the exchange, use, and sign value ascribed to Black lives remains unequal to that of Whites. We are differentially positioned and invested.

What story do you tell yourself to assuage the comfort you find in the social luxury of being in an unmarked body. Your silence is your complicity. Where is your outrage as we all bear witness to this moment?