I would like to provide a bit of a historical retrospective as we begin to enter the sweepstakes for the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I do this for the purpose of assessing whether Republicans — individual candidates and as a larger Party – remains attached to the policies of the past or has evolved and moved forward in terms of issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality (LGBT).
Back in 2011, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum described marriage for same-sex couples as “a hit to faith and family in America,” and he asserted that if legalized, “their sexual activity” would be seen as “equal” to heterosexual relationships, and it would be taught in schools. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” he continued. Previously, he said that marriage between same-sex couples will cause our country to “fall.”
When asked by Jane Schmidt, student coordinator of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Waverly High School in Waverly, Iowa on November 30, 2011, “Why can’t same-sex couples get married [throughout the United States]?,” Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann responded that gay and lesbian people should have “no special rights” to marry people of the same sex, insisting that “the laws are you marry a person of the opposite sex.” She added: “They can get married, but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.”
Bachmann has consistently represented same-sex attractions and sexuality as a “disorder” that encourages child abuse and “enslavement.” Her husband, Marcus, has been roundly criticized for his so-called “conversion therapy” (“praying away the gay”) practices at his Minnesota counseling center. Michelle Bachmann’s Iowa co-chair, Tamara Scott, was recorded as asserting that the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples would ultimately lead to people marrying turtles and inanimate objects, like the Eiffel Tower.
by: Robyn Henderson-Espinoza on January 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! – Isaiah 64:1-9
In times like these, when marginalized communities sense the threat of violence for their own livelihood and well-being, words fail. Words fail because the injustice seems insurmountable. Words fail because the system that is supposed to bring justice feels irreconcilably broken. Words fail because we can’t fully articulate the profound anger, sadness, and frustration that this decision of the non-indictment engenders in us. But, as Audre Lorde so importantly reminds us, our silence will not protect us.
by: Emilye Crosby on January 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
In this 50th anniversary year of the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act it helped inspire, national media will focus on the iconic images of “Bloody Sunday,” the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the interracial marchers, and President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act. This version of history, emphasizing a top-down narrative and isolated events, reinforces the master narrative that civil rights activists describe as “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, and the white folks came south to save the day.”
But there is a “people’s history” of Selma that we all can learn from — one that is needed especially now. The exclusion of Blacks and other people of color from voting is still a live issue. Sheriff’s deputies may no longer be beating people to keep them from registering to vote, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that the Justice Department may no longer evaluate laws passed in the former Confederacy for racial bias. And as a new movement emerges, insisting that Black Lives Matter, young people can draw inspiration and wisdom from the courage, imagination, and accomplishments of activists who went before.
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was. They’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something….Fix society. Please.”
Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old trans* girl, wrote these tragically poignant words just before stepping in front of a 18-wheel tractor trailer on December 28, 2014 at 2:20 a.m. as she walked along the southbound lanes of I-71 near her home in Kings Mill, Ohio. Also in her suicide note, she outlined her troubled relationship with her conservative Christian parents who would not accept or support her trans* identity claiming their religious beliefs as justification. They sent her to a so-called “Christian therapist” who refused to grant her permission to undergo gender confirmation medical procedures.
Congress of Homosexuals “welcomes” church hierarchy
Credit: Creative Commons / Magnus Manske
After days of intense and strident debate, a meeting of LGBT activists and leaders in New York City issued a dramatic statement yesterday that recognized the “gifts and contributions” of the Catholic hierarchy.
“Of course we’re not saying that all in all Catholicism is a good thing,” said Sander Peterson, working chair of the group. “We just couldn’t go that far, not as long as there are no women priests, and they still discriminate in lots of other ways. And the sexual abuse scandals? Well, what can I say that hasn’t been said already? We’re just saying that despite everything some of the Catholic hierarchy really are good people, doing their best despite their sins and shortcomings. And I for one will welcome them at our events and organizations, providing they don’t make too big a deal out of their Catholicism, of course.”
“Over my dead body,” said Patricia Vasquez, leader of a dissenting minority that threatened to create a new LGBT group, tentatively known as “The Schismatics.” “With the history of their treatment of women in general, and lesbians in particular–not to mention witches–I’ll be damned if I’d let one of those perverts in my groups. Let them repent, publicly, big time, and disavow their sinful past, and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll think about forgiveness and acceptance.”
by: Huma Munir on January 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Liwa-e-Ahmadiyya is the flag of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Credit: Creative Commons / Ceddyfresse
During my second year of college in New Jersey, another Muslim student stopped me in a hallway and said Ahmadis can never be Muslims. He told me if he had his way, he would make sure everyone converted to the ‘true’ Islam.
For those unaware, the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are persecuted in different parts of the Islamic world for their beliefs. Many clerics in Islamic nations believe that Ahmadi Muslims are a threat to their brand of Islam because millions have joined the Community since its inception in 1889.
In countries like Pakistan, where I am from, Ahmadis face government sanctioned persecution because the government itself declared them non-Muslims in 1974. Hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims have been targeted and killed because of this state-sponsored persecution.
by: Juan Cole on January 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
Originally published on Informed Comment
When American commentators like Carl Bernstein complain that Muslim authorities have not sufficiently denounced the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris, they show a profound ignorance of the current situation in the Middle East.
The fact is that both governments of Muslim-majority countries and the chief religious institutions have been engaged in a vigorous war on religious extremism for some time.
Egypt has gone too far in this direction, criminalizing the activist members of the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is also committing troops to fight extremists in Sinai. Egyptian acquaintances of mine in Cairo say that it has become unpleasant to wear a beard there (for long a sign of religious commitment).
Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke to an audience of clerics at the Department of Religious Endowments a few days ago. He made waves by denouncing terrorism among Muslims, and said it wasn’t right for the rest of the world to be afraid of 1.5 billion Muslims. He pointedly insisted that the al-Azhar clerics do something about this stain on the honor of Islam, implying that they were not effectively combating extremist ideas. He called for a new sort of “religious discourse” and a “new revolution” to combat extremism.
The physicist Niels Bohr said it very well: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”It occurs to me that prediction is just a short sidestep from analysis. Saying what you think will happen has got to be grounded in some interpretation of whatever is happening now. Maybe Bohr should have said this too: Analysis is very difficult, especially about the present. The problem is, it takes a rare human to being to admit that he or she doesn’t know what may happen, and rarer still to admit to not knowing what it all means right now.
I’ve been sending myself a long chain of links from people who have something to say about the assassinations in New York, Paris, Yemen (if you haven’t seen it, here’s the roster of targeted assassinations), and the NAACP bombing in Colorado. Many commentators are certain in their attribution of causes, which drives me a little crazy whether or not we share a general worldview and values. My problem is the persistent category error that confuses correlations with causes.
It happens I’ve been listening to Think Like a Freak, the recent book by the Freakonomics duo, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I love this stuff, not because I always agree with the authors, but because learning about the pitfalls of the human brain is one of the most empowering forms of study I have found. Especially in a time like this – when there is so much to mourn, so much to feel enraged about, and so much opportunity to feel small and powerless in relation to the changes needed – I take a good deal of comfort from understanding that inside my own skull, where I control the means of production, there are things I can do to improve my own perception, judgment, and therefore action.
“The ruling class has…needed people to control those on the bottom. Some of the largest male occupations are police, security guards, prison wardens, immigration officials, deans and administrators, soldiers, members of the National Guard and state militias, and, of course, the father of the family as the disciplinarian.”
Paul Kivel, You Call This a Democracy?
The current demonstrators protesting alleged police harassment and unprovoked killings of unarmed black men and boys surfacing throughout U.S. highlights the longstanding and continuous tensions and confrontations between police forces and the communities they are meant to serve. An essential question we must discuss and eventually answer, however, is: “Whose interests do they actually serve?”
Examination reveals that in communities where incidents of police killings occur most frequently, law enforcement officers come primarily from similar socioeconomic classes (middle and working class) — while not necessarily from similar ethnic, cultural, racial, or gender backgrounds — of the people they patrol. What we are witnessing is an intra-class conflict in the service of the wealthy ruling class.
by: Fred E. Katz on January 9th, 2015 | 2 Comments »
Credit: Creative Commons / PublicDomainPictures
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The Spiritual Progressive agenda of creating a caring society presupposes that our human species will actually continue to exist. Yet, by our own actions, our human species is endangered. During the past century we managed to kill over 100 million of our fellow-human beings. We produced genocides and ever-more sophisticated forms of warfare, including nuclear weapons that may yet put an end to human life on this earth. We attempted to put a stop to social horrors by creating the League of Nations after the First World War and the United Nations after the Second World War. Those attempts did not stop the endangerment of our species. Neither did the efforts of the psychological and social sciences (my own background) produce a viable end to our social impotence.
From Henry Margenau, a highly respected theoretical physicist of the past century, we have the lesson that the most basic tools of science are Constructs. What are constructs? The Periodic Table is a construct in chemistry. Gravitation is a construct in physics. DNA is a construct in genetics. What do all of these have in common? Each takes something that exists in nature and adds the Mental Leap to make sense of it! The resulting constructs can become mainstays of a very real and practical science.
For the past decade I have operated from the conviction that we need better science about the Social Space in which we humans operate. Only then can we achieve better control over our actions and, with it, work toward a more secure and humane social existence. We can do so by developing, and seeing the power of four constructs: Links, Transcendence, Closed Moral Worlds, and The Second Path. I am going to give you a brief taste of each of these below.