by: Cat Zavis on June 29th, 2015 | Comments Off
Wow. For a brief moment I am feeling such gratitude for our Supreme Court—well, at least for five justices of the court! This is a time to celebrate. Gay and lesbian couples are finally recognized for their commitment to love their partners just as any heterosexual couple does. What an amazing moment of honoring and respecting people who choose love and commitment. What an amazing moment of honoring the sanctity of marriage. I am overcome with joy and celebration.
With this decision, the Supreme Court made it clear once and for all that anyone who loves another person can marry that person in any state in this country regardless of their partner’s sex. No longer will gay rights advocates have to waste time and money litigating the right to marriage on a state-by-state basis. No longer will they have to waste time and money fighting for partner benefits from their spouse’s employer. No longer will they have to argue with hospitals to be at the bedside of their loved ones when they are sick and dying. (I realize that some of these battles will persist but they will be resolved much more quickly than if they had been challenged on a piecemeal basis.)
The impact on the families is enormous—as one of the plaintiff’s from the case in California said after hearing the decision, his children will no longer have to explain to kids at school why they have two daddies. Gay and lesbian youth who suffer a sense of loneliness, separation, and bullying will now know they are not alone, they are not crazy and that their love of someone of the same sex is not only natural but even recognized and held in equal regard as heterosexual love. What a beautiful day it is.
Credit: CreativeCommons / Josh.
I typically find pride in my ability to find words to express what I am thinking and feeling on a given topic. After reading the reaction from Charles L. Cotton, a board member of the National Rifle Association, however, responding to the terrorist act perpetrated against worshipers at a Bible study group at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston by a deranged racist ending in the fatal shooting of 9 good people, I fell speechless, enraged, and emotionally overwhelmed. I had to absorb, attempt to grasp, and reflect upon Cotton’s statement.
In my life, when I have felt emotionally overloaded and blocked, I find a way to process my feelings by taking on some kind of simple physical activity, one I can perform that gives me immediate gratification like mowing the lawn or performing housework. This time, I reached under the kitchen sink for the spray bottle of floor cleaner, gathered a cloth, kneeled to my knees, and scrubbed my kitchen and living room floors as my little doggies licked my face with soggy kisses. I then mowed both the front and back lawns, ate my lunch, and took a long and deep early afternoon nap.
by: Cat Zavis and Rabbi Michael Lerner on June 24th, 2015 | Comments Off
Credit: CreativeCommons / jamieskinner00.
Racism is the demeaning of an entire group of people and refusal to see them as fully human in the way we see ourselves and those we deem to be “like” us. When we fail to see the humanity of the “other,” we ascribe to them ugly characteristics that somehow justify treating them with less honor and less generosity than we would others who are part of the groups we do see as fundamentally like us. From this place of separation we justify denying the “other” equal rights, benefits, and caring that all human beings deserve.
Racism in the United States has a long history. It was foundational to U.S. expansion throughout the North American continent, allowing white people to justify to themselves genocidal policies toward Native Americans, to allow slavery, and to incorporate into our Constitution a provision that would count African slaves as three-fifths of a human being so that Southern States would have higher representation in the Congress, though racists both North and South didn’t think of them as human beings at all.
by: Warren Blumenfeld on June 23rd, 2015 | Comments Off
Credit: CreativeCommons / Jagz Mario.
While all available evidence points to Dylann Storm Roof’s racist motives in his admitted mass murder of 9 worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday evening, June 17, in Charleston, South Carolina, still, a number of conservative Republican politicians frame the tragedy as either something we can never truly understand, or primarily as an attack on Christians, Christianity, and religious liberty.
According to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley: “While we do not yet know all of the details, we do know that we’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”
Well, Governor Haley, I believe that in most instances of terrorism directed against houses of worship in the United States, the attackers’ motives were crystal clear: white supremacism!
Credit: CreativeCommons / lcars.
The gigantic cover banner headline, “CLOWN RUNS FOR PREZ,” appeared on the New York Daily News the morning following real estate mogul Donald Trump’s announced run for the office of the presidency. While apt in many ways, I would not represent Trump this way since clowns traditionally never speak. And as we know all too well, “silence” has never been a descriptor of Donald Trump. Such words I would use for Trump include adjectives like “narcissistic,” “egotistical, “xenophobic,” and “racist.”
by: Rachel Lederman on June 9th, 2015 | Comments Off
In Oakland, California, peaceful demonstrators block traffic to protest the non-indictment of St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson, on November 24, 2014. (Photo: Amir Aziz)
The following post was published on truth-out.org on Friday, June 6th. Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.
Under pressure from business after a large May Day demonstration, in which dozens of new cars and bank windows were smashed, Oakland’s new mayor, Libby Schaaf, has instituted a ban on nighttime street marches, which has outraged the Oakland activist community. The mayor’s directive violates a federal court order and has escalated ongoing tension between police and protesters – while doing nothing to address the serious issues of state-sponsored racism, extrajudicial killings and police impunity, targets of the growing movement.
Banning protests doesn’t work as a way to stop property damage or squelch popular anger. Across the Bay, San Francisco tried it in response to vandalism during protests over the 1992 acquittals of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King. The resulting National Lawyers Guild (NLG) lawsuit cost the city $1 million and led to a Ninth Circuit decision recognizing that First Amendment activity may not be banned simply because prior similar activity involved property damage. As the court put it, the constitutional way for police to deal with “unlawful conduct that may be intertwined with First Amendment activity is to punish it after it occurs, rather than to prevent the First Amendment activity from occurring in order to obviate the possible unlawful conduct.”
by: Antoine Pécoud on June 8th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Open borders may be an unrealistic goal, but it is one that deserves some contemplation and discussion. Credit: CreativeCommons / Fons Heijnsbroek
The free movement of people across state borders is a taboo in international political debates. Borders, it is often argued, would play a decreasing role in a globalising world. And indeed, there is strong support for the free circulation of goods, capitals, services or information. But when it comes to people, this no longer applies. The idea that human beings could be free to move from one state to another, choosing where they want to live, is usually dismissed as unrealistic. The unchallenged assumption is that peoples’ access to countries other than their own should be carefully monitored and controlled.
Opening state borders to human migration would certainly be no easy scenario. It would constitute a complete upheaval in the world’s organisation and raise more than a few fundamental questions. But does this prevent us from at least thinking about this scenario? Many of today’s realities used to be deemed ‘unrealistic’, from the abolition of slavery to gender equality. Yet, even those who are deeply dissatisfied with today’s world rarely consider this particular scenario. The United Nations repeatedly calls for many goals that are hardly ‘realistic’ – world peace, ending poverty, and so on – but never mentions open borders. The same could be said of NGOs. Most of them, even those that are actively engaged in the promotion of migrants’ rights, take migration control for granted. In other words, many objectives exist that are extraordinarily difficult to achieve yet are never rejected as illegitimate. The free movement of people is not one of them.
by: Jeffery Vogel on June 5th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
"Emphysema and lung cancer don't discriminate, we all bleed red, and when a surgeon cuts through our various skins our vital organs are all the same." Credit: CreativeCommons / Iulian Circo.
Growing up in the 1950s as a white person in an all white, mostly Jewish neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn, I had essentially no contact with darker complexioned people from different ethnic groups. It wasn’t until I started working in hospitals as a respiratory therapist that I began to have consistent personal contact with people of various ethnicities and skin colors both as co-workers and patients. In a society that emphasizes our differences, working in a hospital has brought me face to face with issues and facts that unite us all. In the context of human illness, pain and death, our nation’s long and tragic obsession with skin color seems absurdly superficial. Emphysema and lung cancer don’t discriminate, we all bleed red, and when a surgeon cuts through our various skins our vital organs are all the same.
by: Tom Engelhardt on June 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
How will America's newest graduating students effect transformational change? By going for broke. Credit: CreativeCommons / Jason Bache.
It couldn’t be a sunnier, more beautiful day to exit your lives — or enter them — depending on how you care to look at it. After all, here you are four years later in your graduation togs with your parents looking on, waiting to celebrate. The question is: Celebrate what exactly?
In possibly the last graduation speech of 2015, I know I should begin by praising your grit, your essential character, your determination to get this far. But today, it’s money, not character, that’s on my mind. For so many of you, I suspect, your education has been a classic scam and you’re not even attending a “for profit” college — an institution of higher learning, that is, officially set up to take you for a ride.
by: Robert Cohen on June 5th, 2015 | 7 Comments »
Radical change in our attitude toward Palestinians isn't a boycott of Judaism. It is part of an eternal and universal Jewish heritage. Above, the sun rises over Mount Sinai. Credit: CreativeCommons / Richard White.
The following post was commissioned by Jews for Justice for Palestinians and published on its site on Sunday, May 24th as part of the JfJfP Signatories Blog series.
As time goes on I’m attracting more and more hostility. This is not entirely unwelcome.
Nothing tells you better that you have arrived on the scene than someone taking the trouble to insult you.
It’s taken me a few years of writing about Israel-Palestine to move beyond a welcoming and supportive readership of like-minded folk to something rather different.
But now it’s happened.
Recently I have been described as a “traitor”, a “Marxist”, “narcissistic”, and “shameful” because I have advocated for boycotts in support of Palestinian human rights.
One Twitter correspondent said my writing was attempting to “groom” a false conclusion, a verb we now use when describing the act of entrapping children with the intention of sexually abusing them. I’m quite sure this was the intended association.
But what is it my critics want me to be loyal to?