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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Stigmatization & Violence as Social Control: Making the Connections

Aug19

by: on August 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Officials in 17th-century Puritan Boston coerced Hester Prynne into permanently affixing the stigma of the scarlet letter onto her garments to forever socially castigate her for her so-called “crime” of conceiving a daughter in an adulterous affair. Stigmata include symbols, piercings, or brands used throughout recorded history to mark an outsider, offender, outcast, one who is enslaved, and others.

Though Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter is a work of fiction, members of several minority communities continue to suffer the sting of metaphoric stigmata through their skin color, hair texture, facial features, sex assigned at birth, sexual and gender identities and expressions, religious beliefs and affiliations, countries of origin, linguistic backgrounds, disabilities, ages, and so on.

1999, Amadou Diallo, 23; 2000, Patrick Dorismond, 26; 2003, Ousmane Zongo, 24; 2004, Tim Stansbury, 19; 2006, Sean Bill, 23; 2009, Oscar Grant, 23; 2012, Stephon Watts, 15; 2014, Eric Garner, 43; 2014, Michael Brown, 18.

This list stands as a black or Latino parent’s worst fear. It includes the names of innocent, unarmed black people, primarily boys and men, killed at the hands of police officers for virtually no other reason than the color of their skin.

Many white parents often dread engaging with their children in “the talk,” you know, the one about the so-called “birds and bees.” The trepidation they feel compels them sometimes to put it off as long as possible or never to bring it up at all. While this version of “the talk” may also engender anxiety in black and Latino parents, they must not only broach, but delve deeply into another form of “the talk” with their children, and in particular with their sons, that most white parents never have to consider.


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Jesus Died With His Hands Up, Too

Aug19

by: on August 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Rev. Jim Burklo has, for many years, had quite an influence on my spiritual and vocational journey. When I read this most recent of his “musings” I thought it needed to be shared with the Tikkun Daily community. So, with Jim’s permission… read on!

Jesus on the cross

Credit: Creative Commons-Flickr: Waiting For The Word

Michael Brown should not have been shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri. His hands were up. He was unarmed. It doesn’t make any difference whether or not he had stolen earlier something that day. If he had committed such a crime, he should have been given appropriate justice, not a volley of bullets. At the time he was shot, there was simply no excuse for what happened to him.

Somebody else had his life stolen from him, too: a man named Jesus, killed for no good reason. Jesus also died with his hands up. He had been ethnically profiled by the Roman occupying army in Jerusalem, and was brutally murdered on a cross.


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90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor, Hedy Epstein, Arrested in Ferguson Protest

Aug18

by: on August 18th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor and long-time human rights activist, was arrested today in front of Governor Jay Nixon’s downtown office along with eight others.

Epstein, charged with failure to disperse, was protesting Nixon’s actions in Ferguson, and said after her detainment, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90. We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

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Hedy Epstein, arrested before Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's office.


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Palestinians Expressing Empathy for & Solidarity with Protesters in Ferguson

Aug18

by: on August 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

The scenes in Ferguson, with unarmed protesters being confronted by militarized police forces, is one Palestinians intimately recognize. Indeed, they even recognize the American-made brand of tear gas being used in Missouri. It’s the same issue Israeli soldiers fire regularly upon unarmed demonstrators in the West Bank, made by CTS in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

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On the left, an unarmed protester in Ferguson throws a tear gas canister back to St. Louis police.

 

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On the right, an unarmed protester in the West Bank town of Hebron throws a tear gas canister back to soldiers. Photo via Activestills.

 


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Border Lessons: Jewish Resources for Resisting Nationalism

Aug18

by: Mandy Cohen on August 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Last month I was in Warsaw. I was on my way home to LA after two weeks traveling with a group of university students through places that Yiddish-speaking Jews once called Lita, Lithuania. Jews from this area are called Litvaks, Lithuanians, they have distinctive dialects of Yiddish, and a reputation as intellectuals, given that Lita was the home of the greatest yeshivas, houses of study, in Jewish Europe.

Today, cities and towns that once belonged to the same Russian province are now separated not only by national borders, but by the border of the EU, which feels like it has re-concentrated all of the displaced energy of the open borders within the Schengen zone. All of the stress of border crossing that has disappeared between, say, Poland and Germany, feels manifested on Poland’s eastern border with Belarus. In order to travel through the places that were part of the largest state in Europe in the sixteenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, we now travel between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania, moving between time zones, currencies, alphabets, languages, and the legacy of the Soviet Union and her satellite states.

Helix project

Exploring creativity in the places where writers and artists lived for centuries. Credit: Yiddishkayt

I am an instructor in The Helix Project, a program that offers students – Jewish and non-Jewish – an opportunity to learn about the rich intricacies, complexities, and variety of Jewish life in Europe in its 1000 year history, focusing on Yiddish culture, literature and daily life in the great blossoming of that culture beginning towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Necessarily we confront the Holocaust, as we face the reality of towns that were once 60-90 percent Jewish and are now 90-100 percent Polish, or Lithuanian, or Belarusian. But we try to contextualize the Holocaust by giving equal attention to the long history preceding it and the history that continues to be written.


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Baptist Pastor Inflicts Grief upon the Grieving

Aug18

by: on August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

“The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Biblical scholar Matthew Henry interprets this biblical passage as one in which, “The priests were solemnly to bless the people in the name of the Lord…while he mercifully forgives our sins, supplies our wants, consoles the heart, and prepares us by his grace for eternal glory….”

Pastor T. W. Jenkins welcomes guests with these comforting words from Numbers 6:24-26 when contacting his website for the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of Tampa, Florida. Jenkins explains his Church as “Christ-centered and biblically-based…[and] offers over 30 ministries, all of which are open to visitors searching for a spirit-filled place to call home.” Well, this may hold true, except if your family wishes to assemble a funeral service when the deceased man happens to have been married in life to another man. In that case, this biblical command no longer applies, and the pastor declares it null and void.

During the wake of Julion Evans who had succumbed to amyloidosis (a rare disease of a certain protein building up in bodily organs), his mother, Julie Atwood, and his husband and life partner for over 17 years, Kendall Capers, found no hope after receiving word from Jenkins that he had cancelled Evans’s funeral after reading a newspaper obituary that Evans was married to another man, that Capers was the “surviving husband.” Jenkins told Atwood that conducting the funeral at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church would be “blasphemous.”

Explaining his decision, Jenkins asserted: “I try not to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God and have to stand upon my principles.”

Well, Jenkins, in your refusal to conduct the funeral service, you have, indeed, condemned Evans’s so-called “lifestyle.” Actually, I never really understood why it is that heterosexual people and couples live their lives, while those of us who love and partner with someone of the same sex lead sorted “lifestyles.” Be that as it may, Jenkins has the absolute right “to stand upon [his] principles” as he defines them, though he would do well to take note of an action taken by another branch of Baptists.


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10,000 in Tel Aviv Protest Israel’s Occupation of Palestinians and Gaza War

Aug16

by: on August 16th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

In the largest protest of its kind in years, 10,000-15,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to call for a just peace with Palestinians and to protest Israel’s occupation and Gaza military operations.

The gathering is particularly significant given that, in previous anti-war rallies since the beginning of hostilities in Gaza, right-wing nationalists have attacked and sometimes beaten progressive protesters, leaving anti-war activists in Israel feeling increasingly threatened.

Tonight’s rally, sponsored by a number of left-wing groups in Israel, including the political party Meretz, overwhelmed those extremists who showed up with the volume of participants.

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Thousands of anti-war activists gather in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.

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The Murder of Mike Brown: A Call To Action

Aug15

by: on August 15th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

The murder of Mike Brown and response by the St. Louis Police Department to nonviolent protestors is emblematic of the persistent racism in our country and disproportionate response to peaceful actions and protests. It was only 13 months ago when a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murder for his shooting of Trayvon Martin and here we are again, this time with a police officer shooting an unarmed black man as, according to witnesses, his hands were raised — the officer was not in any danger.

And then the St. Louis police department, a week after the incident, finally announces the name of the officer who killed Mike Brown. Why a week? Well, one can only wonder, but during that week they uncovered a video of an African-American man who robbed a convenience store in the neighborhood and shoved the store owner, possibly laying the foundation for a defense case for the officer. Three witnesses to the shooting of Mike Brown say that he had his hands up when he was shot dead. How dare the police department attempt to justify the killing of an unarmed civilian because he might have stolen a box of cigars earlier that night? Once again the victim is being demonized and the very government that is meant to protect and serve ALL is instead unwilling to champion the victims of classism and racism in America.

Why should anyone be surprised? This is not new — Obama abandoned those who voted for him when he bailed out the banks rather than the individual homeowners who were the victims of the scandal, our Congress does it every time it approves more corporate welfare while cutting welfare for individuals and demonizing recipients at the same time, and it is done every time a woman is asked what she was wearing when she was raped.

Institutional racism and perpetuation of blaming the victim is alive and well in our country and results in the murder of innocent African American men and now free speech and assembly, in protest of that racism, is on the butchering block as well.


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A Letter to Jon Voight about Gaza and the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Aug15

by: Mark LeVine and Gil Hochberg on August 15th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

Editor’s Note: While there are elements of the argument presented below that differ from that presented in Embracing Israel/Palestine which you can order from www.tikkun.org/eip(e.g. my claim that it was illegitimate for Palestinians to resist immigration of Jews to Palestine, consistent with my view that no group should be excluded from being allowed to come to any country while other groups are being allowed to come — except on the basis of demonstrable lack of land or economic impossibility of that country absorbing the potential immigrants — and my claim that the Palestinians’ refusal to allow Jews living in displaced persons’ camps after the Holocaust generated fury at Palestinians that was not there among the Jewish yishuv/settlement in the years 1945-48 and led to some horrendous treatment of Palestinians thereafter), there is much that is important to absorb in the account presented by Tikkun Contributing editor Mark Levine and his colleague Gil Hochberg which, if really understood by Americans, Israelis, and Jews around the world, could open their hearts to a more generous and compassionate approach to the fate of the Palestinian people today, a compassion which needs to be accompanied by a great deal of compassion for the Jewish people and the traumas that we too carry in our unconscious and shapes how we understand the present realities in ways that keep us from being able to fully understand what needs to be done to make a lasting peace that would work for both sides of this struggle. So please read this note to Jon Voight.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner

Dear Jon Voight,

We write to you as admirers of your work for many years. We are also professors of modern Middle Eastern studies, specializing in the history and contemporary realities of Israel, Zionism and Palestine, and between the two of us have written and edited over half a dozen books on the country and the two peoples who are destined — or doomed, depending on your point of view — to share it.

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Why Hindus Should Be More Vocal on Issues Affecting Our Communities

Aug14

by: Murali Balaji on August 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Originally published in the Huffington Post

The turbulent American summer has seemingly reached a boiling point in the last few days, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri, where daily unrest has ensued in the wake of the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The Brown shooting has come on the heels of other racially and economically charged events across the country, whether it has been the shutting off of water for poor Detroit residents, the upholding of North Carolina’s dubious voter ID laws, or the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied undocumented children on the U.S.-Mexico border.

When Hindu Americans are asked to join interfaith efforts to advocate or speak out on these issues, a common response is “How does this affect us?” That question is driven in part by the demographics of the Hindu American community, which is still overwhelming of South Asian descent. As a result, there still tends to be a conflation between ethnic and religious identities.


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