Nel's New Day

June 3, 2023

LGBTQ Community Faces a Rocky Pride Month in 2023

At the beginning of Pride Month, the U.S. is facing increased violence from 268 mass shootings thus far in 2023 with 17,769 gun deaths, the leading cause of childhood death, in the same time period. Conservatives in the legislatures claim that nothing can be done while they have proposed at least 520 anti-LBBTQ+ laws in 2023 and banned at least 1477 books. Over 220 bills target transgender and non-binary people. The 50 anti-LGBTQ laws thus far enacted in 2023 ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, misgendering of transgender students, and drag performances while censoring school curriculum and creating a license to discriminate.  

In the mid-20th century, a person could be arrested if they weren’t wearing three articles of clothing of the gender they were assigned at birth. The “three-article law” wasn’t on the books, but police used it anyway until the 1969 Stonewall protests when police moved to an anti-masquerade “law.”

The GOP culture war is returning to the “good old days” as “model” legislation (aka identical wording from conservative groups writing bills for state legislatures). Laws from at least 12 states in several of their 25 bills banning or restricting drag performances criminalize “any transvestite [sic] and/or transgender exposure, performances or display” by people exhibiting “a gender identity different” from the person’s gender assigned at birth. If the definition becomes law, trans people cannot even sing karoke in a bar. Arizona’s bill would target Drag Queen Story Hour, when drag performers read to children at public libraries, by removing state funds.  

The most aggressive anti-LGBTQ+ states include Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas with Missouri and Montana not far behind. U.S. people, however, don’t agree with this legislation: 64 percent of likely voters—including 55 percent of Republicans—think there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America.” Majorities also oppose bans on gender affirming care, drag performances, and LGBTQ+ content within schools in their states.

Legislation, both failed and passed, gives more hope. The Louisiana Senate failed to pass a House bill banning gender-affirming medical care for youths by one vote in the Health & Welfare Committee. That one vote was cast by a Republican, a pharmacist in rural Louisiana who believes in “the physician-patient relationship.” Unfortunately, the committee moved the bill to the Judiciary Committee, keeping it on life support. The Democratic governor has not said whether he will sign the bill if it survives. Medicaid data shows only a few dozen Louisiana minors received gender-affirming care, including hormones and puberty blockers, between 2017 and 2021 and no minors received gender-affirming surgeries. Under the age of 18, children in the state must have parental permission for any gender-affirming healthcare.   

At least 18 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the ban in Arkansas, the first state to prohibit this healthcare. A federal judge appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) declared Tennessee’s anti-drag law unconstitutional on the basis of freedom of speech and discrimination. The decision covers only two Tennessee countries. Tennessee was the first state to block drag performances.

In contrast, Michigan became the first state in three years to pass comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, becoming the 18th state to have these laws. The new legislation forbids discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation within businesses, government buildings, and educational facilities.

Other countries are exhibiting LGBTQ+ acceptance. Mexico issued its first non-binary passport last month in honor of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, May 17. Over a dozen countries, including the U.S. starting in April 2022, permit national non-binary documents. Latvia, once part of the Soviet Union, has elected the European Union’s first openly gay president. The country of 1.9 million people ranks among the worst places in Europe to be an LGBTQ+ citizen in lack of legal rights.

Businesses are struggling with harassment and violence from people in their store and making decisions unpopular with both sides. Target, for example, has backed down on the placement, and in some cases the sale, of Pride products which has not satisfied conservatives and has offended LGBTQ+ people and their allies. One of the more rabid anti-LGBTQ+ activists, Matt Walsh, summarized the conservative goal to erase rights and support for LGBTQ+ people and perhaps erase their visibility: “The goal is to make ‘pride’ toxic for brands.”

The high visibility of protests advocating discrimination of LGBTQ+ school policies, civil rights, and advertising belies preferences of people in the U.S. A survey of non-LGBTQ+ adults found that 96 percent believe schools should be safe places for LGBTQ+ students, 91 think that LGBTQ+ people should live a life free from discrimination, 84 percent support equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, and 70 percent believe companies should publicly support the LGBTQ+ community through inclusive policies, advertising, and sponsorships.

Thumbing its nose at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Disney released a Twitter drag show with an historical perspective of Bugs Bunny’s decades of crossdressing since 1939. Disney also hired a drag queen greeter at Disneyland in California and invited drag queen Nina West to the world premiere of its new live-action version of The Little Mermaid. (Conservatives are also offended by the highly popular movie because a Black woman was cast in the part of the mermaid.) DeSantis has repeatedly attacked Disney with punitive laws since the company declared its opposition to DeSantis’ “ don’t say gay” laws for schools. Last month, the animated TBS series American Dad! celebrated drag “herstory” in its 350th episode by naming the alien character Roger as a “drag icon.”

Twitter owner Elon Musk has taken the opposite tactic by sharing great quantities of anti-trans content. He apologized for the deletion of Walsh’s “What Is a Woman” film pushing trans intolerance and made the movie available for those who followed The Daily Wire. Musk then shared the video himself with the recommendation, “Every parent should watch this.” His trans daughter has separated herself from her father and changed her name.  

The L.A. Dodgers baseball has flipflopped twice, initially after backlash to its original decision to invited the famous “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” the San-Francisco-founded international “drag nun” activist group famous for its community charitable efforts, to the team’s 10th annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night on June 16. The team is giving the Community Hero Award to the group. After homophobic Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined other groups to complain, the Dodgers “disinvited” the Sisters but received widespread scorn. The L.A. LGBT Center, L.A. Pride, and the local ACLU affiliate all withdrew from the event. The Dodgers responded with an apology and a new invitation, promising to “better educate ourselves.” L.A. Pride has returned to the event.

The Sisters of Perpetual is devoted “to community service, ministry, and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment,” according to their mission statement. According to their statement, they are “not anti-Catholic, but an organization based on love, acceptance, and celebrating human diversity.” They said they dress as nuns to counteract the Catholic Church’s rejection of LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized individuals, especially during the HIV epidemic when the Sisters ministered and fundraised for the sick. The statement added that “children are at less risk in the company of drag queens than clergy.” Currently, the Sisterhood has worked to address homelessness, especially among transgender youth.

Conservatives are even intimidating the military with a ban on drag performances. The shows cost taxpayers nothing; they were privately funded. The GOP philosophy is to keep violent white supremacists in others who also steal and leak classified information but refuse entertainment from law-abiding people. Drag shows have a century-long history in the military; during World War II, the Armed Services publishing information of how to hold these. Republicans are the founders of the “cancel culture.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s official statement:

“This Pride Month, we honor the service, commitment, and sacrifice of the LGBTQ+ Service members and personnel who volunteer to defend our country. Their proud service adds to America’s strength.”

Just not in drag.

Teens are making a difference. In Walla Walla (WA), a high school junior met with about 40 peers at a student-run social justice club to develop strategies for school library book challenges from community members. They attended a school board meeting in December but felt they were ignored. Collecting $3,500 from a GoFundMe campaign, the girl worked with a local bookseller to buy 40 copies of four different frequently banned titles in the U.S. They gave away the books, and some of recipients discussed them at banned-book meetings. The challenges failed, and student representatives are now included on review committees.

Brooklyn Public Library’s teen focus group Books Unbanned discusses books banned in other parts of the U.S. The library’s Intellectual Freedom Teen Council meets monthly to discuss book challenges in the news, talk about the members favorite banned books, and strategize ways to support and engage with teen activists through the country. It also helped planned the four-part virtual Freedom to Read Advocacy Institute, open to all teens in the country, that addressed intellectual freedom as it pertains to banned books.

High school senior Shiva Rajbandhri successfully ran for the Boise (ID) school board, defeating a hardline conservative campaigning to remove books from the libraries. He said:

“Books create a safe space in the lives of people who don’t have one otherwise.”

These are just a few of the students who protest book removals by writing letters to the editor, posting on social media, speaking at school board meetings, and forming banned-book clubs. They may save the United States.


April 24, 2023

April 24 – Right to Read Day


Today is Right to Read Day, and Fox has “agreed to part ways” with Tucker Carlson, a leader in banning books. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla) His departure came only days after Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems because of the network’s hosts lying in defamatory statements about election fraud since November 2020, falsehoods proved by their contradictory texts and email messages. One of the 20 broadcasts specified by Dominion was Carlson’s January 26, 2021, show featuring MyPillow founder Mike Lindell. Privately, Carlson, who called former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) “a demonic force, a destroyer,” wrote in early January 2021:

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait… I hate him passionately.”

On April 12, 2023, Carlson gave his entire hour to fawning over DDT at Mar-a-Lago when DDT was allowed to ramble for the entire time. With no challenging questions about critical issues, Carlson occasionally injected such comments as “of course” to DDT’s lies. Carlson’s final show was last Friday with no chance for a grand finale. He obviously wasn’t aware of the “separation”: he signed off by saying, “We’ll be back on Monday.” Another Fox host, Dan Bongino, also lost his show last week, and Carlson’s executive producer, Justin Wells, is also gone.

Carlson’s separation is the fourth in two decades: the others are from CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends, who took over Carlson’s timeslot on Monday, spent ten seconds reporting Carlson’s absence.

[Minutes after Carlson left Fox, Don Lemon’s agent told him that CNN had fired him with no warning. Both men have hired the same lawyer, Bryan Freedman, to get golden parachutes from their respective networks.]

The American Library Association designated Monday of National Library Week as the first National Right to Read Day, a “national day of action” defending libraries and the freedom to read. ALA is also releasing its annual State of America’s Libraries report, including a list of the top 10 challenged books of 2022.

Because some books were tied, the report released 13 titles. People challenged seven of the titles because of LGBTQ+ content, the other six because of sexual content.



  • 1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.
  • 2. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson.
  • 3. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
  • 4. Flamer by Mike Curato.
  • 4. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
  • 5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
  • 7. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison.
  • 8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
  • 9. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez.
  • 10. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.
  • 10. Crank by Ellen Hopkins.
  • 10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.
  • 10. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson.

According to a statement from ALA president Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada:

“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues. The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other. It’s time to take action on behalf of authors, library staff, and the communities they serve. ALA calls on readers everywhere to show your commitment to the freedom to read by doing something to protect it.”

In 2022, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38 percent increase from the 1,858 unique titles in 2021. By comparison, ALA tracked 377 challenges in 2019. Of the challenges tracked that year, 90 percent were part of attempts to censor multiple titles. Prior to 2021, most challenges to library resources sought to remove or restrict access to a single book.

The remainder of National Library Week:

Tuesday: National Library Workers Day, “a day for library staff, users, administrators, and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers.”

Wednesday: National Library Outreach Day (formerly National Bookmobile Day), “a day to celebrate library outreach and the dedicated library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are.”

Thursday: Take Action for Libraries Day, “a day to rally advocates to support libraries.”

Book bans in the U.S. are still on the rise, 28 percent up for the first half of the 2022-23 academic year. The organization Pen America described a “relentless” conservative “crusade to constrict children’s freedom to read,” more prevalent in Republican-run states. Pen found that “seven districts in Texas were responsible for 438 instances of individual book bans, and 13 districts in Florida were responsible for 357 bans.” Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina are other states heavily into censorship. Of the 1,477 books banned this school year, 30 percent are about race, racism, or characters of color while 26 percent have LGBTQ+ characters or themes. 

This interactive map gives the number of challenges and most-challenged title by state.

The book banning movement starting in 2021 came from complaints, many times from organized groups, by people who had not read the books as they pressured libraries to violate their own policies to remove books. From there, the trend expanded to state legislation dictating what should be in classrooms and libraries. Wholesale bans resulted in closure of entire classrooms and school libraries, either temporarily or permanently. Democracy has disappeared because restrictions are imposed on everyone at the whim of a few or even one person, sometimes not even from the community being censored.

Conservative activists and politicians misrepresent challenged or banned books as “pornographic” or “indecent” to justify their removal although the books don’t “remotely fit the well-established legal and colloquial definitions of pornography. Books containing any sexual content or LGBTQ+ characters are typically conflated with “pornography.”

Politicians also justify book banning with the new mantra of “parents rights,” ignoring all parents except those with the same conservative ideals as the book banners. As laws have become more punitive, however, a backlash may be starting. Last week, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis lost a major donor after he expanded his law preventing any education about gender and LGBTQ+ issues to all students in public schools up to seniors in high school.

One community fought back against censorship and temporarily won. After threatening to close its three county libraries because a judge ordered the banned books to be returned, the county commissioners said they will comply with the court order and allow the century-old library system to continue operating. Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, who opposes the books in the library, said that they will appeal the decision. Taxpayers have already been on the hook for over $100,000 in legal costs. A minority of the county residents will join Cunningham in his objection to some of the books.

Educators and parents throughout the U.S. speaking out against the decision to control what youth read have been joined by retired Navy officer Wes Rexrode, a 54-year-old single father of a 14-year-old son. Rexrode had been on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on September 11, 2001, and at a Martin County (FL), he expressed his opposition to DeSantis’ book banning:

“I want my son exposed to different ideas and different viewpoints so that he can learn to think critically and not be force-fed somebody else’s opinion. We’ve all been exposed to different opinions. It makes us better, makes us stronger.

“Remember the Little Rock 9? If those kids could endure a year of people spitting on them and hating them just to go to school, just to get an education, our kids can deal with a little uncomfortableness from Jodi Picoult or Toni Morrison.”

Asked why he publicly spoke out, he said, “I started remembering what books meant to me and how they helped me.” He talked about how “books got me out of the trailer parks” when he was growing up in South Carolina and that his “parents trusted those educators and the librarians to let me read what I needed to read.”

Rexrode added:

“And the whole notion of deciding what other people’s kids can and cannot read seemed a manifestation of domestic fascism that is too much like what he had spent a decade combating. My philosophy is, ‘If something goes against my beliefs, I can’t do that.’ But increasingly we’ve seen a lot of, ‘If that goes against my beliefs, YOU can’t do that. And I’m sorry, but that’s not America.'”

Comparing 9/11 and the present, he said:

“Religious fanatics, who wouldn’t even let women be educated, flew planes into the World Trade Center and my Pentagon. I spent the last decade of my naval career fighting religious fascism abroad. I never thought I’d have to fight it right here in the United States of America.”

He concluded by saying that “diversity made me stronger” and emphasized that “I didn’t sacrifice 21 years of my life to stand idly by while religious fanatics and other fanatics try to impose fascism on my country.”

Despite laws censoring books inundating the U.S., the movement comes from a vocal minority; in 2022, 70 percent of parents agree with Rexrode and oppose book banning. Speaking out against censorship, however, brings threats in a conservative campaign to provoke anger and fear to suppress free expression in public education and undermine students’ freedom to read, learn, and think. The people who support the “right to read” are to be applauded.


January 30, 2023

Videos Released, Past Comes Home to Roost

Since seven criminal charges including second-degree murder were made against the five Memphis police officers who beat and killed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, three city fire department personal and two emergency medical technicians have been fired. Two other police officers have also been relieved of their duties, and an elite unit to create “peace” in neighborhoods, Scorpion, has been discontinued. On January 7, police pulled Nichols from his car when he was almost home, declaring with no evidence that he was recklessly driving. Their abusive treatment led him to run, the officers viciously beat him, and he died in the hospital three days later.

More questions exist:

  • Do more officers face charges or other discipline, including officers at the scene of the beating who did nothing to stop it?
  • Will there be a reckoning for the police chief?
  • What happens with the two Shelby County deputies put on leave after the sheriff watched the videos?
  • Is nation-wide police reform possible?

Nichols was a FedEx worker who lived with his parents and four-year-old son. Suffering from Crohn’s disease, he weighed only 145 pounds. He loved skateboarding and photography with his own website. At the time of his killing he was headed home on his break to have dinner with his family. 

Last week the world saw the vicious brutality of law enforcement in released videos of Nichols’ treatment. They begin with police yelling at Nichols and pulling him out of his car and culminate with continued beating fewer than 100 yards from his home while he repeatedly cried, “Mom!” After the beating, Nichols waited 22 minutes for an ambulance. The officers who beat him stood around talking during that time, and one of them laughed while Nichols was slumped on the ground.

No video footage exists of the initial traffic stop. The officer was driving a brand-new unmarked car not equipped with dashboard cameras. Police chief Cerelyn Davis did not know why the police officer was using that car. Without proof, officers accused Nichols of reckless driving on the wrong side of the road and of grabbing for their guns. 

Officers involved in the beating were part of a 14-month-old elite unit of 40 officers called Scorpion to saturate high-crime neighborhoods with police presence. The unit’s activities were first suspended, awaiting an examination by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the DOJ, and then shut down the day after Davis praised its “good work.”  

The Memphis police website states best-practice policies to reduce police killings and requires officers to de-escalate situations—“eliminating the need to use force”—when possible and stop excessive violence by other police in all instances. Yet Scorpion officers have a history of excessive force before killing Nichols. 

An analysis of the videos shows police shouted 71 commands in 13 minutes, often confusing, conflicting, and sometimes impossible to obey with escalating force. They told him to show his hands although they were holding them and ordered him to get on the ground when he was already on the ground. According to police training, one officer issues clear and specific commands with professional, proportionate response to any perceived act of defiance. Memphis officers continually did exactly the opposite, shouting at Nichols and beating him. Details are here.

The video of Nichols’ beating wasn’t the only horrifying one released last week. Last Friday, a court made public the body cam of the brutal attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (R-CA) husband, by a Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) supporter while Pelosi was alone in their California home. When officers opened the door of the home on October 28, 2022, both Pelosi and his 42-year-old attacker had a hand on a hammer. The officer ordered the attacker to drop the hammer, and the attacker refused, grabbed the hammer from Pelosi, lunged toward him, and struck him in the head. An officer said, “Oh shit” before two of them rushed into the home and handcuffed the attacker. Nancy Pelosi said her husband is “making progress, but it will take more time.” His surgery had been “to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.”

The attacker admitted the attack and said he was there to take the speaker hostage. “If she f**king lied, I was going to break her kneecaps.” He repeated GOP lies such as the speaker and Democrats spying on DDT’s campaign. On his 911 call, Paul Pelosi subtly indicated he was in danger. The attacker’s online history shows his engagement with extremist and Trump-aligned narratives such as the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Far-right members, including new Twitter owner Elon Musk, spread homophobic rumors about the attacker and Pelosi, accusing them of being in a drunken quarrel. Donald Trump Jr. supported the scurrilous lie by posting an image of underwear and a hammer with the caption it was a Halloween costume for Paul Pelosi. Musk gave a “sort-of” apology after the video was released, but Fox worked hard to maintain its original sleazy lies.  

In a phone call to a TV reporter after the video’s release, a man identifying himself as the attacker said he was upset because he didn’t hurt more people, that he “should’ve come better prepared.” The call came from the jail where the attacker is incarcerated. A blog under his name and registered to his former address last August is filled with fact-free claims against Jews, Blacks, media, and transgender people. Posts are pro-DDT and anti Democratic. A Canadian citizen, he is in the U.S. illegally.

In more QAnon theories, North Dakota legislators are including language about students masquerading as animals in the proposed discriminatory anti-transgender bill. Despite no proof that schools install litter boxes for these students, the strange myth won’t die. Thus, thanks to six Republicans, the bill states that schools cannot “adopt a policy establishing or providing a place, facility, school program, or accommodation that caters to a student’s perception of being any animal species other than human.” Schools using students’ “preferred gender pronoun, if the perceived or expressed gender is inconsistent with the student’s” sex assigned at birth can face up to $500,000 in fines. A rejected bill should have imposed a $1,500 fine each time a person refers to themselves with the “wrong” pronoun.

Last week, the DOJ indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal and former Russian diplomat and interpreter Sergey Shestakov for money laundering and violating sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. According to the indictment, the oligarch hired the two men to investigate another unnamed Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, Deripaska’s competitor for controlling a large Russian corporation. Worth $27.5 billion and the second wealthiest man in Russia, Potanin may have been trying to take over Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium.

Both McGonigal and Deripaska were involved in the FBI investigation of DDT’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia; McGonigal’s email about having “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton helped set off the investigation when the FBI tried to recruit Deripaska for a potential informant. Deripaska was still paying McGonigal and Shestakov money for “dark web” files worth over $500 million in October 2021, the month before the FBI seized their personal electronic devices.

McGonigal may have been behind DDT’s election in 2016 with a search warrant tying candidate Hillary Clinton with Anthony Weiner emails only 11 days before a tight election. Later FBI director James Comey explained he sent the warrant because he feared leaks from the FBI’s New York field office where McGonigal was stationed because of the investigators’ hostility to Clinton.

Two days before FBI director James Comey publicly reopened its probe into Clinton’s emails, DDT insider Rudy Giuliani announced “some pretty big surprises” and bragged about sources in the FBI. The New York Times devoted two-thirds of its front page to the story, and Clinton lost the election. Nothing incriminating was found, but that announcement was too late after all the hype. On October 31, the NYT also cited unmade “intelligence sources” in reporting “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia”—which, of course, was false. The election was November 8, 2016.

Polling expert stated that FBI disclosures cost Clinton as many as three to four percentage points, at least one point, which would have given her Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—and the Electoral College. The NYT never apologized for its egregiously faulty mistakes, and DDT is running for president again.

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) succeeded in getting Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019, followed by the announcement of a Deripaska-linked aluminum plant in Kentucky, where McConnell then won his reelection. The plant wasn’t built. Three years earlier, McConnell had refused to sign a bipartisan statement warning about Russian election interference.

The principal of the Virginia school who ignored the possibility of a six-year-old having a gun at school has been reassigned to another school, and the vice principal has resigned. Earlier in January, the boy shot his first-grade teacher in the chest; she was released from the hospital after over two weeks. The family said the gun, which the boy’s mother purchased, was secured. They also said that a family member usually goes to class with the boy but didn’t on that day. The district school board voted to remove the superintendent as of February 1 with $502,000 in severance.

October 10, 2022

Indigenous Peoples Day/Columbus Day – 2022

On the second Monday of October, the U.S. and many states celebrate Christopher Columbus Day, repeating the myth that the Italian “discovered” America in 1492. Children have been taught this false story for over a century, and banks and the post office have been closed on that day since it  was declared a national holiday in 1934. As usual, most people ignore the history: a sailor on Columbus’ ship, Rodrigo Bernajo, was the first European to sight the Bahamas archipelago and then the island named Hispaniola, now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Columbus took credit for the sighting and claimed the island for the King and Queen of Spain although it was already populated. He called the people on the island “Indians” because he thought he had reached the Indies. Instead of going to what is now the U.S., he headed south to Central and South America. In another journey, he thought Cuba was Japan. Dying in 1506, he had made conditions at Hispaniola so bad that Spanish authorities sent a new governor and arrested him, returning him to Spain and stripping him of his titles. His model of conquering Native Americans began centuries of Europe colonizing the American continents and exploiting of native American populations.

A year ago, President Joe Biden signed the first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day, an event beginning in 1977 to honor Native American history and culture. The second Monday of October has been a national holiday for close to a century, but this will be only the second year that Indigenous Peoples Day has nationally held that designation. Starting in 1989 with South Dakota calling the second Monday in October Native American Day, over 13 states and the District of Columbia changed the name of this day to Indigenous Peoples Day, and at least 130 local governments officially recognize this day instead of Columbus Day.

Almost 500 years before Columbus’ first voyage, Leif Eriksson may have been the first European to land on North American land when he and his sailors searched for a new world. The single-sail Viking boat left Norway, either going off course on his way back to Greenland or deliberately searching for North America after hearing about it from Icelandic trader Bjarni Herjolfsson who saw land from afar.

Eriksson may have landed on Baffin Island, east of the Prince of Wales province, before going to the northern tip of Newfoundland. He called the area Vinland because the wild grapes were suitable for wine. In the spring, Eriksson returned home to Greenland to stay, but other Vikings traveled to Vinland for at least the next decade. In 1960, archeologists found Viking artifacts dating back to AD 1000 and the remains of a Norse village on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland at L’Anse aux Meadows. Leif Eriksson got his own day in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation honoring him, his crew, and the country’s Nordic-American heritage. The date was chosen because of the 1825 arrival in New York of the ship Restauration, carrying the first organized band of Norwegian immigrants to the United States.

Greenland brings back the story of then Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) trying to buy the island from Denmark in 2018 and the background for his attempt. A new book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, describes how Estée Lauder heir Ronald S. Lauder, longtime friend of realtor DDT, offered to negotiate a trade of Puerto Rico for Greenland. Or the U.S. could buy Greenland outright by taking federal money from Puerto Rico because DDT found it “dirty” after visiting after Hurricane Maria in 1917. Denmark refused, and DDT created a rift with the country with his demands. 

Aides supposedly used ideas like this to keep him from far more bizarre and reckless paths. Still, the aides tried to keep the delusional Greenland story from leaking out, and DDT’s second chief of staff, John Kelly, bought a best-selling book written by psychiatrists about DDT’s mental health. He told others it was a helpful guide for the pathological liar whose inflated ego came from a deeply insecure person.

Kelly’s stories about DDT’s ignorance regarding history and inability to absorb information were humorous, but DDT’s flawed judgment shook Kelly. He decided DDT’s problem was not that he didn’t know right from wrong but that “he always does the wrong thing.” When DDT refused to lower the flag after Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) death, Kelly told him,

“If you don’t support John McCain’s funeral, when you die, the public will come to your grave and piss on it.”

In “normal” times, the stories in the book would be only a reflection of the past and how lucky the U.S. was to escape. At this time, however, DDT is leading the GOP by its nose and heading for a possible reelection in two years—a world disaster. And the Greenland story provided great fodder for late night show jokes while taxpayers paid for months of internal studies.

Home to almost 58,000 people, Greenland is the biggest island in the world, and 80 percent of its 811,000 square miles, three times the size of Texas, are ice-capped. The island’s residents are Danish, but they have governed by self-rule since 1979. Fishing and tourism drive the island’s economy, but it has coal, zinc, copper, iron ore, and rare minerals. Since 1943, Thule Air Base, the northernmost U.S. Air Force base, has operated on Greenland with a ballistic missile early warning system and satellite tracking system. Greenlanders have expressed horror. One Greenlander Else Mathiesen, told local media about DDT’s attempt to colonize Greenland:

“You can’t just buy an island or a people. This sounds like something from the era of slavery and colonial power.”

Before the GOP term “cancel culture” developed glitz by being called “critical race theory,” Fox network had a discussion about Indigenous Peoples Day. Host Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed, “Christopher Columbus, by the way, is the first victim of cancel culture” and added that Native Americans “were just as brutal” as Columbus and other European colonizers. Jesse Watters responded, “Yeah, they’re just going to try to send more slush funds to the reservations and make them out to be victims.” (Right: From Florida, the land of revisionist history.)

Some conservatives justify Columbus by calling him “flawed” and “complex,” but he was basically a murdering, raping, thieving thug who enslaved the people who had lived for thousands of years where he landed. Soon after he took control of Hispaniola, 95 percent of the Taino living there were dead, many of them from diseases brought by Columbus and his men.

If the New York Latin Culture organization is correct, however, the day originally had a positive purpose: the U.S. celebration was founded in the 1890s to stop white supremacist Confederate Southerners from lynching Italian Americans. The Italians migrating to the U.S. from southern Italy had mixed with Africa, only 100 miles away. They did work formerly done by Blacks and lived in and married into African communities. Violent racism led to victimization of Italian men, women, and children with lynchings, murders, rapes, maimings, burnings—any form of inhumanity imaginable. After a massacre of Italian Americans in New Orleans, Italy forced the U.S. to pay reparations to the dead Italians’ families.

The article concluded:

“America’s Italian community can choose its own icons, but why would anyone want to be represented by such a flawed character who stands for unspeakable crimes against humanity? We can do better.”

More about Christopher Columbus and his day: 2015; 2018; 2019; and 2021. 

August 26, 2022

GOP Obsessed with Banning Books

Republican legislators have decided that substituting knowledge with conservative ideology in education creates more GOP voters and more money from big business for themselves. According to a PEN report

  • Thus far in 2022, proposed educational gag orders have increased 250 percent from all of 2021 with 137 gag order bills in 36 states.
  • Gag orders are now more harsh and punitive—heavy fines or loss of state funding of state funding for educational institutions with termination or even criminal charges for teachers.
  • Most gag order bills started with targeting teaching about race, continuing to do so, they are broadening out to discrimination against LGBTQ+ identities including Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and 22 other bills in other states.
  • Higher education has been targeted more frequently than in 2021 as bills attack colleges and universities. In 2022, 39 percent of gag order bills are aimed at higher education compared to 30 percent in 2021 while bills blocking diversity trainings at government agencies have decreased. For the first time, bills are also targeting nonpublic schools and universities.
  • GOP legislators overwhelmingly drive educational gag order bills in 2022: only one of the 137 bills has a Democratic legislative sponsor. A few years ago, Republicans sponsored bills protecting free expression on college campuses; now most of them censor the teaching of particular ideas.
  • Conservative groups and educational official broaden interpretations of existing gag order laws, and state boards of education deliver draconian penalties in excess of the laws’ requirements.
  • PEN anticipates the assault of education will continue in 2023 with more gag order bills in states where they failed this year along with an increase in other legislative attacks on education such as “curriculum transparency” bills, anti-LGBTQ+ bills, and bills mandating or facilitating book.

Founded 100 years ago, PEN works to protect free expression. 

In a planned attack on government, militias such as Proud Boys and Three Percenters participating in the January 6 insurrection, are supporting far-right candidates for schools boards, already winning in places such as Sarasota (FL), Sacramento County (CA), and Eatonville (WA).   

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis managed to get 21 people elected to school boards for his far-right agenda. Not satisfied with that success, he suspended four of nine Broward County School Board members, all women, for  “incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority.” “It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance.” His new appointees are all men. In 2019, DeSantis empaneled a grand jury to fire the school superintendent after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in 2018 who resigned last year. No crime has been proved. DeSantis tried to suspend another female board member, but she reigned last year and was elected to the state Senate.

The majority of people at the school board for Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District spoke against the restrictions instituted by members elected by the conservative Christian wireless company, Patriot Mobile. New policies used faulty definitions of such terms as “gender fluidity” in the board’s attempt to erase its existence. 

Library director Kimber Glidden in Boundary County (ID) resigned after religious and political extremists violently threatened her for LGBTQ books that her libraries don’t carry. The recall group for four of the five library board members was upset because the county belongs to the professional American Library Association.

Northwest High School in Grand Island (NE) eliminated the 54-year-old high school newspaper and journalism program after the year-end issue in May featured a story on the history of LGBTQ rights and editorials on LGBTQ topics.

Jamestown (MI) defunded its library after it refused to remove an LGBTQ book. Two librarians have resigned, one of them the lesbian director who left for fear of her safety.

In Florida, teachers are pulling books off their shelves and removing photos of their same-gender spouses on their desks. Across the nation, one-fourth of the teachers have been told to limit discussions about race and racism.

An Oklahoma teacher faced a disciplinary hearing and was put on leave after she covered all the books in her classroom but gave students the QR code for the Brooklyn Public Library’s “Books Unbanned” site that circulates digital and audio access of books to any student in the U.S. She resigned.

A police officer went to a Texas high school to “investigate” a graphic narrative about a bullied gay teen. A middle school in Texas declared parts of a book by the man for whom the school was named, the grandson of slaves who learned to read when he was 98, to be “inappropriate.”

Virginia’s new law is purging books with ideas and identities, according to the nonprofit EveryLibrary, and one school district sends an email notification every time their child checks out a book. Almost all books eliminated in schools are by LGBTQ and minority authors. According to one policy complying with the law:

“While librarians are trained in selecting materials … the ultimate determination of appropriateness for a minor lies with the parent.”

In Kentucky, politicians control book selection.

An Ohio school stopped Jason Tharp from reading his book It’s Okay To Be a Unicorn although it’s not gay as school administrators claimed. Artwork from the book was also removed from classroom walls. He also wasn’t allowed to read his book It’s Okay to Smell Good about a skunk.

Parents in Virginia have even tried to block Barnes & Noble from selling some titles. In Florida one district says that children can check out books only approved by their parents. Susan Meyers’ Everywhere Babies was banned for a drawing of one man having his arm around another man’s shoulders on one page in her book about numerous families. Another form of “soft censorship” is putting “warning” stickers on books.

One America News (OAN) reporter Kara McKinney showed a photo of Nazis burning books when she called LGBTQ literature “filth” that deserved to be banned. Fox network calls teachers lazy, stupid, anti-White Marxists trying to “groom” students for sexual abuse.

Oklahoma has added a new word to banned topics of race, sex, and LGBTQ people—abortion. Library workers are told not to help patrons locate abortion-related information on computers and could face penalties under the law. 

DeSantis rages against education with the term “woke,” bragging about his “anti-woke” laws. The term originated in African-American English with the dictionary meaning of being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” Therefore, DeSantis laws are truly “anti-woke” in that they work to remove knowledge of “important facts and issues.” His goal is ignorance. It assaults and demonizes Blacks and other minorities, anyone considered “other” than the White ruling class if they have different opinions.  

Not all the news is bad. A Minnesota board lifted its gag order preventing staff from talking publicly about issues that could reflect negatively on the district, including its curriculum, after the teachers’ union filed a lawsuit. The district still hasn’t voted on its new curriculum restrictions that teachers believe would prevent students from learning about American history, including racism, and from learning how to think critically and speak civilly about difficult topics.

Proponents of bills argue that they’re supporting “parents,” but conservative ones force their views on everyone. In Granbury (TX), books are taken from school shelves, and the superintendent told employees to “better hide” any non-conservative beliefs. At a school board meeting, however, Adrienne Quinn said:

“I do not want random people with no education background or experience determining what books my child can read, what curriculum they learn, and what clubs they can join. Just because you can get up at every meeting and rant and rave does not give you authority over my child’s education. Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination.”

Applause erupted after he speech. The superintendent said nothing.

Last spring, Llano County (TX) citizens group filed a federal lawsuit for unilaterally removing “award-winning books” from public libraries “because they disagree with the ideas within them.”  The filing claimed violation of the First Amendment, including when the library “permanently terminated access to over 17,000 digital books” they could not censor. “Public libraries are not places of government indoctrination,” according to the lawsuit. Some censored books were as innocuous as Maurice Sendak’s classic In the Night Kitchen.

Some students are forming groups to discuss sex education and having “banned book clubs.” In Missouri, students are suing their district to restore eight censored books.

Last February, 87 percent of people in the U.S opposed bans on books that discuss race and slavery. Only 12 percent support banning books concerning “divisive topics,” and 71 percent of voters oppose removing books from public libraries, almost equal between the two major parties.

Articles about the huge shortage of teachers generally cite only the stress of COVID. Journalists need to start examining the effect of the conservative control on curriculum. Reading helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking. Banning books bans this development in young readers. 

February 7, 2022

Protest, Discrimination Dominate News

On Monday, the news from Washington keeps pouring in. Some pieces and updates from the past few days:

The worst news of the day may be that the Supreme Court overturned a three-judge panel by permitting the Alabama redistrict map to violate Section 2 of the Voter Rights Act while the case is adjudicated. Gerrymandering allows Black voters in only one of seven congressional districts to elect a candidate of their choice although the state is 27 percent Black. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three progressive justices in dissent to the majority that determined they will consider the legitimacy of the 1965 law, partially rejected by the high court in 2013.

The fallout from the RNC censure of two of their House members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (IL), received reactions on the Sunday talk shows. Like Democrats, a few Republicans condemned the resolution exonerating the insurrectionists on January 6: Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, Arkansas’ Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Utah’s Sen. Mitt Romney. Others avoided the topic or put a spin on the resolution: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) switched to saying former VP “Mike Pence did his constitutional duty” on January 6, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said people “who committed crimes … should be prosecuted” but that wasn’t the responsibility of the House committee, “a partisan scam.” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) used the RNC line from Chair Ronna McDaniel that the resolution was only for “legitimate protesters” although it wasn’t restricted.   

An editorial from the conservative National Review called the censure “both morally repellent and politically self-destructive” as well as “an indefensible disgrace.”

On the Fox network, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) smeared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Fox network, saying that the Chinese government has something “strong” on her and promising an investigation into Pelosi and President Biden’s families being compromised by their interests. All Republicans except one voted against almost $300 billion to build U.S. competition against China in a bill passed by the Housem and Pelosi has repeatedly criticized human rights in China from the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 to the current maltreatment of Uyghurs.

Last week, a big story about Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was aides taping together the documents that DDT illegally tore up while he was in the Oval Office. Some were sent to the Archives in pieces. This week, the story moved on to how the National Archives had to rescue 15 boxes of official documents from DDT’s Mar-a-Lago home, including letters from Barack Obama and Kim Jong Un and national security sensitive records. The Presidential Records Act requires all written communications from a president’s official duties such as memos, letters, notes, emails, and faxes be preserved. Records personnel called the preservation of DDT’s documents the most challenging since President Richard Nixon tried to hide official materials almost a half century ago. DDT may illegally have more records. 

Former White House staffers said that they frequently sent documents in “burn bags” to the Pentagon to be incinerated, choosing what would be destroyed. Presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky said DDT’s behavior “reflects a conviction that he was above the law.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) abandoned his constituents without electricity during bitter cold last winter with a trip to Cancun, even leaving the family dog alone in his ice-cold house. This year, the man vehemently opposed to any “lockdowns” during the pandemic crisis wants to starve people because the Vancouver (British Columbia) mayor told truckers protesting COVID vaccination mandates that they should stay away. Truckers in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” have protested for almost two weeks in Ottawa against the requirement that they be vaccinated before permission to drive across the border into the U.S. About 90 percent of truck drivers are already vaccinated.

 Canada isn’t following Cruz’s idea to clear off grocery store shelves. Ottawa police have declared an emergency in the country’s capital and are arresting demonstrators, issuing over 500 tickets, and seizing vehicles and fuel after protesters shot off fireworks, blared horns, and blocked streets. Over 60 investigations have been opened into thefts, hate crimes, and property damage. Other violations are lack of vehicle insurance and obstruction of license plates as well as defacing national monuments and dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Staff members at the soup kitchen Shepherds of Good Hope were “harassed” and verbally assaulted with racial slurs. A GoFundMe website, which had given protect leaders one million dollars shut down and returned the rest of the money, and organizers are turning to a Christian crowdfunding site.

The convoy also faces a $9.8 million class-action suit for Ottawa citizens in blasting air horns 16 hours a day while jamming streets. Protesters also harass residents and shoppers, even assaulting some of them and ripping off their masks. They are moving to Toronto, Winnipeg, Quebec City, and other provincial capitals in what Ottawa’s police chief calls a “siege.” A man was arrested in Winnipeg for a hit and run when he drove into the protesters and injured four people outside of Manitoba legislature. Another convoy supporter in Toronto threw feces at someone. Demonstrators in Vancouver threw eggs and rocks, kicked cars, and placed nails along roadways; five people were arrested. Convoy supporters block the Canada-U.S. border between Alberta and Montana with cars, trucks, and tractors.

While a winter storm blasts his Texas constituents and the energy grid hasn’t been repaired, Cruz is taking up the cause of the poor trucker protesters in Canada. (After all, he was born there!) He plans an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission into the removal of the GoFundMe site (a private and not a public entity), declaring the shutdown of funding “theft.” The site claims the money will be returned within 7 to 10 days because of COVID disinformation about vaccines. Cruz called the Canadian truckers “heroes” and “patriots.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a state with 5,677,802 COVID cases and 66,007 deaths, has joined Cruz’s bandwagon, both of them aiming toward president, as has Donald Trump Jr. demanding GOP AGs to investigate. Those in Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia agree with Jr. Other complainers include Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), currently being investigated by the House January 6 committee, and Elon Musk, head of Tesla.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Ontario Trucking Association disavow the protest, and University of Ottawa associate criminology professor Michael Kempa said the movement is organized and funded by an autocratic political agenda, including U.S. interests, and to undermine Canadian rule of law and democracy. “They’re not interested in the … liberal system we have here in Canada,” Kempa said.

The trucker convoy may embolden more violence in the United States. DDT supporter Steve Lynch, a GOP candidate in Pennsylvania, talked about opposition to mask mandates in front of a crowd at the state capitol in Harrisburg:

“Forget going into these school boards with freaking data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I’m going in with 20 strong men and I’m gonna give them an option—they can leave or they can be removed.”

Other similar interventions across the nation include physical assaults and verbal racial slurs.

Two other GOP wishful presidential candidates are also in trouble with Republicans. The Texas National Guard is criticizing its governor, Greg Abbott, for their deployments with only days notice to the Mexican border last fall. According to complaints, they lost money when they had to leave college, jobs and businesses to sit around for perhaps a year. Their Guard pay is either late, incorrect, or nonexistent, and at least 20 percent of the 6,500 in the “operational force” suffer from lack of critical equipment such as cold weather gear, medical equipment, and plates for ballistic vests while they rarely see any migrants. Deployment is typically a federal call with the state doing so only in short deployments for natural disasters or civil disturbances. Abbott is also taking heat for his mismanagement of the COVID crisis and the collapse of the state’s power grid, leaving millions without electricity or heat for days in below freezing temperatures.

In South Dakota, GOP lawmakers are getting fed up with Gov. Kristi Noem because of her possessive attitude toward bills and budgets instead of giving credit to legislators. Political observers think she may even have trouble winning a re-election. A strong DDT supporter, Noem is being investigated for her extensive use of state airplanes to attend out-of-state conservative political gatherings, trips she has tied to keep secret. Another of her scandals was a push for the state to give her daughter a real estate appraiser license. According to state Sen. Reynold Nesiba, “She’s not very good at being a governor.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has another reason why he wants to destroy the Build Back Better jobs bill that would help a vast majority of people in the U.S., especially those in his own state: it didn’t go through committee. Never mind that he helped write the bipartisan bill with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK). He left out the part that GOP megadonors are giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign as long as he blocks the

“We are suffering because the Senate could find trillions in less than two years for corporations but can’t protect voting rights and invest a few trillion over 10 years in the people.”

And Congress needs to pass a budget in order to prevent a government shutdown on February 19. As usual, they are negotiating a stopgap bill for another short term, “as short as you can,” according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).  

October 14, 2019

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today eleven states, 128 state and local municipalities, and the District of Columbia recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a holiday instead of Columbus Day. In 1989, the movement to change the commemoration of the day from Christopher Columbus began in South Dakota although the federal government sticks with Columbus Day. South Dakota calls its holiday “Native American Day,” and Hawaii honors “Discovers’ Day” to pay homage to Polynesian voyagers. (This map is available in interactive format here.) 

Seventy-nine percent of college students support the acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of the national holiday for Columbus that was created in 1937.

There are good reasons to drop the adulation of the racist and genocidal Columbus, who never landed on the coast of what is now the United States.

On Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 to present-day Bahamas, he enslaved the Taínos, a civilization that he called curious and friendly. His exploitation of the island’s inhabitants and the theft of their land set the tone for European conquests of the Americas. With an African slave on his voyages, he laid the foundation for slavery in America.

Governor and viceroy of the Indies, the tyrant Columbus was known for being a brutal autocrat, generally hated by the people. He cut off the nose and ears of a man stealing corn before he sold him into slavery. After a woman said that Columbus was of lowly birth, his brother Bartolomé cut out her tongue, stripped her naked, and paraded her around the colony on a mule. The two men were finally ordered back to Spain because of being power mad.

Columbus was known for his sexual abuse of women, his focus on finding gold, and his total disregard for humanity. He saw people of color as obstacles and treated them with extreme cruelty. Only a few hundred Tainos remained of the 250,000 on the Bahamas when Columbus landed 60 years earlier because he cut off their hands, gave them diseases, and destroyed their way of life.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced a proclamation to celebrate Columbus Day rather than Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit. The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration.”

The purpose of Columbus Day was to overcome the severe discrimination and violence against Italians who immigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century. In designating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamas, President Benjamin Harrison described the man from Genoa as a “pioneer of progress and enlightenment.”

Those who celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day honor the millions of natives who lived in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus’ reign of terror. As a nation, we deserve better than to use the name of a vicious, violent, power-hungry, racist man as a symbol of the United States.

October 8, 2018

Celebrating Columbus Day–Or Not

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:28 PM
Tags: , ,

Buzzfeed has a report on the changes across the nation from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. As much of the U.S. celebrates Columbus Day on Monday, nine new cities will join a growing movement that celebrates Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples Day by Michelle Broder Van Dyke.

Nine new cities decided this year to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Bexar County, Texas; Traverse City, Michigan; and Olympia, Washington.

Last year, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Minneapolis and Seattle, encouraging Native American leaders across the country to push for a new holiday on the second Monday of October that recognizes indigenous people, the Associated Press reported.

The push follows a decades-long campaign that was first realized in 1990, when South Dakota renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Two years later, Berkeley, California also created Indigenous Peoples Day.

Two other California cities, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol, as well as Dane County, Wisconsin now also celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, according to Indian Country Today. Alaska and Oregon do not celebrate the day at all, while Hawaii calls it Discoverers’ Day, honoring the Polynesian explorers who first arrived at the archipelago.

The federal holiday for Christopher Columbus was established in 1934. Activists say it celebrates a painful history of colonialism and genocide that followed the explorer’s 1492 arrival, while ignoring the significant contributions of indigenous people.

Supporters of the holiday say it commemorates an important explorer and the relationship between Europe and America. Many Italian-Americans also mention Columbus’ Italian roots and say the holiday is a celebration of their heritage.

John Viola, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Italian American Foundation, said to Reuters that changing Columbus Day dishonors 25 million Italian-Americans and their ancestors.

“By default, we’re like the collateral damage of this trend,” Viola said.

For over a decade, San Francisco and several other cities have called the holiday Italian Heritage Day instead.

Native Americans make up about 2% of the U.S. population, making them the nation’s smallest demographic.

“For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something,” said Nick Estes, who is coordinating a celebration Monday following the Albuquerque City Council’s adoption of the holiday. “We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater.”

Parades and festivals honoring Columbus Day have been met by protests over the years, with many in Denver becoming confrontational. The city stopped the protest for almost a decade, after a 1992 parade became particularly tense.

Native American groups have now turned to City Hall, hoping to make changes in the holiday there. Oklahoma City is set to vote on a similar proposal later this month.

Still, protests are planned near places honoring the explorer, such as in midtown Manhattan, where the world’s largest Columbus parade is held, according to Reuters.

It’s difficult to think of a more perverse hero than Christopher Columbus, the Italian who led Europe’s first landing party in the Americas.

From rape, to pillage, to flat-out murder, Columbus and his men were the first Europeans to commit horrendous atrocities against America’s indigenous people.

Among the reasons for changing the name are these reports about Christopher Columbus’ actions:

Wrote “we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” In his journal, he added, “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

Ordered all natives 14 years and older to collect an identified amount of gold every three months and cut off their hands if they failed. The order was in an area with little gold, and fleeing natives were hunted down and killed.
Knifed Indians by twenties and cut “slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades, according to priest Bartoleme de las Casas about Columbus’ Spaniards. He reported that “our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy.”
Hung or burned captive Indians to the the point that Arawaks committed mass suicides, feeding cassava poison to their infants. Two years after Columbus’ arrival, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead, either through murder, mutilation or suicide. By 1550, 500 Indians were still alive, and by 1650, the Arawaks were wiped out from the island.
Kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape.
And Christopher Columbus never set foot on United States land. Happy Columbus Day!

January 7, 2018

Evangelicals Aim to Control the U.S. People through Discrimination

The Alabama senatorial election is over, and the true “moral majority” won when Roy Moore lost. Religion is at a crossroads between those who use their beliefs as a guidepost to becoming more moral, generous, forgiving, and compassionate and others, supposedly religious, who oppose all those characteristics that Jesus espoused. Like David Brooks, they think that everyone should give up their rights to fundamentalist, evangelical Christian to be “neighborly” and for “community-building.”

Fundamentalist Christians are using the judicial system to force the 75 percent of non-evangelical people in the U.S. to follow fundamentalist Christian believes through a legal army called Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). This group of “freedom” advocates in ADF has trained thousands of lawyers and sent many of them to government levels where they work to establish control. Its over 3,000 attorneys litigate cases pro bono. Its international presence fights LGBTQ equality in the European Union and advises Romanian parliamentarians.

AG Jeff Sessions consults with ADF in drafting DOJ religious-freedom issues, ADF Noel Francisco is DDT’s solicitor general, 18 ADF lawyers work in 10 attorney-general offices, and DDT has appointed at least four ADF judges. Trenton Garmon, the attorney representing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after women accused him of sexual assault, belongs to ADF’s “Honor Corps” for donating more than 450 pro bono hours to ADF.

ADF was created almost 25 years ago to protect Colorado’s Amendment 2, a state constitutional amendment allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court overturned Amendment 2 in Romer v. Evans (1996) on the basis that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause. ADF’s co-founders maintained that rights for other people threatened them as Christians, and ADF burgeoned, now receiving largely anonymous $50 million donations annually and placing 58 staff attorneys in its Arizona headquarters and Washington, DC offices.

All ADF “allied attorneys” must agree with an 11-point statement of faith, including a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, marriage for only one man and one woman, and homosexuality as “sinful and offensive to God.” Their ideology opposes secular government and law with the belief that conservative Christians face persecution. Only five appellate cases involved non-Christian religious plaintiffs; the others supported religion in the schools and during legislative sessions, anti-choice, anti-abortion activities, and, most recently, campus free-speech wars maintaining that a student counselor could refuse to counsel LGBTQ clients.

As LGBTQ people earned the right to marry and have some other federal benefits, ADF shifted from the unworthiness of same-gender couples to marry to the position that same-gender marriage violates Christian rights, an argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop. ADF declares that Christians are victims if LGBTQ people have rights. The current Supreme Court case is about limiting LGBTQ from equal access to public accommodations by declaring that county clerks, website designers, florists, photographers, and bakers are persecuted by civil rights laws.

In 2004, ADF claimed that “public officials must follow the laws—even laws with which they disagree” when same-gender couples were issued marriage licenses in California. A decade later ADF is claiming that Christians have the right to violate the law in refusing service and goods. Now ADF purports that “free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs”—and persuaded AG Jeff Sessions to install this position into official policy. Their arguments are consistently designed to give Christians the ability to disregard, disobey, and dismantle laws that they see as persecuting them. In September, Sessions argued in favor of restricting a state civil-rights law.

Kristen Waggoner, the ADF lawyer supporting the Colorado baker in the current Supreme Court case, has represented a pharmacist who used religious beliefs to not fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives and a Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-gender wedding. Although Waggoner’s argument is that the baker doesn’t object to his gay customers, over one-fourth of the 146 ADF appellate briefs argue for restricting LGBTQ rights. ADF has used terms such as promiscuous and unfit to parent to describe LGBTQ people in briefs against marriage equality.

A former ADF allied attorney, Noel Francisco, DOJ Solicitor General, argued before the Supreme Court in his defense of the baker that the law should allow some “breathing space” for “a small group of individuals” and not compel them “to engage in speech” at events “to which they are deeply opposed.” In his questionnaire for his confirmation, he did not list his membership in ADF because his impartiality in ADF cases might be questioned. DOJ refused to comment about Francisco’s participation undergoing an ethics review. While in private practice, Francisco had given a speech at the Heritage Foundation calling for lawyers representing religious groups to “build powerful cases” with “sympathetic plaintiffs” and to “focus on the florist, on the baker, the sincere small businessmen under attack.” The Southern Poverty Center has declared ADF a hate group; thus a member of a hate group is arguing for the government against the people of the United States before the Supreme Court.

In arguing for the baker, ADF asked for vast exemptions from civil-rights laws for conservative Christians, a 180-degree turn from seven years ago in its amicus brief regarding a case about a public school’s use of a church for graduation ceremonies violating the Constitution’s establishment clause. The ADF dismissed the possible objections of Jewish and Muslim students who could not enter a church. The state, ADF argued, “cannot possibly organize its affairs to comport with the subjective views of all potentially religious groups.”

The Supreme Court case brought by a baker will determine whether businesses can turn away people because of who they are. A common response from conservatives is that people should just go elsewhere when they are refused. It’s easy for people who don’t risk rejection to give this solution because it makes the discrimination seem trivial and it assumes that there will be equal services in the same vicinity. Beyond the fact that LGBTQ people, especially those who do not live in a metropolitan area, cannot always find alternative services, searching for these services after rejection has a negative affect on both psychological and physical well-being.

This discrimination results in humiliation and diminishment of lives. People always wonder if someone will refuse to serve them no matter where they go. According to a report by Caitlin Rooney and Laura E. Durso, “discrimination, prejudice, and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as well as an increased risk for physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease…. LGBT people who had experienced discrimination had higher average stress levels than LGBT people who had not.” The impact is permanent because the anticipation of discrimination always exists. After a florist turned away a gay couple, they had the wedding in their home with only eleven guests instead of the celebration that they wanted. A recent survey showed that one-third of LGBTQ people experiencing discrimination were seven times more likely to avoid public places such as stores and restaurant as LGBTQ people who did not.

Recent research shows that pervasive discrimination continues to negatively impact all aspects of LGBTQ lives as they are forced to change their everyday lives. LGBTQ people change their persona and dressing style to avoid bias, hide personal relationships, and commute long distances to work. Even trying to “pass,” eleven to 28 percent of LBG workers lose promotions because of sexual identity, and 27 percent of transgender workers are fired, not hired, or denied promotions. Discrimination causes LGBTQ people to lose homes, access to education, and participation in public life as well as to suffer a sense of well-being. Before the Affordable Care Act in 2010, over half LGBTQ people faced discrimination by healthcare providers. Even in 2014, More recently, a pediatrician refused to care for a child with lesbian parents.

LGBTQ people no longer have support from the Department of Justice. Earlier this year, the DOJ argued in a federal court that employers should be able to fire an employee because he is gay.  Last July, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit ruled that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the Texas Supreme Court ruled that married same-gender couples do not have the same rights as married heterosexual couples.

Evangelical Christians have separated themselves from Christ when they support the election of a pedophile while claiming that businesses should not serve LGBTQ people. The baker and the ADF are not arguing about freedom of speech or religion; they are arguing for the right to discriminate against anyone in all ways—to refuse to rent to someone or allow people to adopt children or give them health care. The culture of the time increasingly pushes the refusal of services to LGBTQ people, minorities—anyone who the religious right considers “unsuitable.”

In declaring “freedom,” ADF argues that government and business can violate the civil rights of marginalized groups. A Supreme Court that rules in favor of the baker can allow discrimination in other retail, housing, lodging, education, and medical needs. In another six months, the Supreme Court will tell the people of the world whether legalized discrimination is the law in the United States.

October 4, 2017

A Needed Conversation on Race

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 11:34 PM
Tags: ,

My small community on the Oregon coast is a mix of active progressives who fight for human rights and conservatives who pray to the Second Amendment. The local newspaper is a popular venue of discussion, some of it strongly opposed to public education, LGBTQ rights, and healthcare for all. (Many from the latter group are firmly attached to their Medicare because retired people compose a large percentage of the population.)

The tragedy of 59 deaths and at least 527 wounded people in Las Vegas earlier this week has consumed much of the media space, but the slow careful reading of condolences by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doesn’t erase his antagonism toward a majority of people in the United States. His recent behavior in Puerto Rico when he was off teleprompter was indicative of his dismissal of anyone who doesn’t have his white skin. His throwing packages of towels at a group of survivors after the destruction of their second hurricane in a few weeks and his insistence that they grovel for assistance demonstrated his belief that, to him, Puerto Rico, is an inferior colony.

Conservatives keep writing letters with the message of “get over it” in their attempt to normalize DDT’s behavior. There is nothing normal about his behavior or his actions, and we can’t buy in to a need for this normalizing. Below is an op-ed to the local newspaper in response to letters supporting DDT’s racism. The author is right in stressing the importance of dialog about issues surrounding racism in the United States. Keep educating yourself, and keep talking!

A rash of letters here has begun to supply a needed conversation on racism. The public should be grateful to the editor for providing a venue for this. It’s time to step back and consider the whole issue more objectively.

The issues which set off this debate were the actions of neo-Nazis (which they proudly call themselves) at Charlottesville, Trump’s defense of them, and his equation of peace activists and leftists with the various neo-Nazi, KKK, and other white supremacists groups which began the provocation.

Trump’s obvious sympathy for groups of this kind was long preceded by his bigoted attacks on women, Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and Muslims. This was followed by the pardon of Joe Arpaio, guilty of abusing his office, racial profiling, contempt of court, and violating the Constitution. Trump’s pardon excuses these things and undermines the rule of law.

As a result, there have been letters attacking Trump’s racism and letters defending him. The letters attacking Trump refer to facts, i.e. 74% of hate crimes in the last 10 years have been committed by right-wing hate groups, 24% by Islamists” and only 2% by “leftists.” Letters defending Trump rely on name-calling, using words such as “haters,” “dims,” and even “Californians.” Anything to avoid the facts of the argument. Always, they promote the idea that Trump’s critics are a radical extreme.

The facts are different. Trump has been denounced not only by Democrats, but by noted Republicans, his own Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, former party chairs, etc. Across the world, people are appalled as well.

One of the letters which sparked special local outrage was one in which the author said that “if you stand with Trump, you stand with the Nazis.” Even some progressives thought this was a bit too much. Really? In criminal law you would talk about “aiding and abetting,” in military law, you would talk about “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

People trying to stop hate speech aren’t as “hate-filled” as armed thugs shouting, “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil.”  The blood part of that chant refers to the idea that human “goodness” resides in the “purity” of your “blood.”  Do such utterances not deserve loud and very clear denunciation?

My point is that this really is about race, not political correctness.  Our community needs to talk about it. And I hope that readers note the quality of the arguments on both sides.  On one side, there are denunciations of real faults; on the other deflections and denial.

The bottom line is, lots of Germans supported Hitler, not because they were members of the Nazi party, or because they hated Jews or foreigners, but because they liked some of what Hitler said, especially the idea that he was “making Germany great again.” These supporters and others who just kept quiet helped him along, and they rightly share the blame for what happened.

Trump is a package deal—in the end you will be responsible for the whole ugly package.

Diane Eckstein

Next Page »


Rethinking Before Restarting


Commentary. Reflection. Judgment.

© blogfactory

Truth News

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Free Press

Quaker Inspired Art/Humor, Sarcasm, Satire, Magic, Mystery, Mystical, Sacred, 1984 War=Peace, Conspiracy=Truth, Ignorance=Strength, Sickness=Health, Ego=Divine


Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: