Nel's New Day

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
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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

September 25, 2017

Divider-in-chief Attacks Athletes, Ignores Presidential Issues

Forty percent of the states in the United States have a population less than 3.4 million—the population of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory that is completely without power—perhaps for another six months—after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Seventy-thousand people are in danger of the Guajataca dam’s breaking. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may send a disaster aid request to Congress in another few weeks while Puerto Rico suffers a humanitarian crisis. Texas got help within a week.

DDT tweeted over a dozen times this past weekend about athletes not kneeling during the national anthem but presidential. Nothing about Puerto Rico. Or North Korea’s claim that DDT has declared war and they will shoot down U.S. even if they’re not in North Korean airspace. Or that DDT is getting deeper into the Russia influence on the presidential election. And certainly nothing about DDT’s most recent problem, that his family and aides—Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Gary Cohn—used government business while he continues to accuse Hillary Clinton of doing this. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was a prime fixture in DDT’s campaign against her, and he’s still promoting the “lock her up” argument, as recently as last week’s rally in Alabama.

At the same rally when DDT sort of supported GOP Sen. Luther Strange for election to his appointed position, DDT started a firestorm by demanding the firing of sports players who kneel instead of stand during the national anthem in protest to racial injustice in the country. (You may have heard about this; there are almost 40 million links to the story.) DDT also suggested an NFL boycott and referred to those who kneeled as a “son of a b—-,” an insult the players’ mothers. On ABC’s Sunday news show, This Week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to cover for DDT by saying that he means NFL players “can do free speech on their own time.” Mnuchin added that the president is saying “that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.” To DDT’s profane slur, Mnuchin said that “the president can use whatever language he wants to use.”

The protests moved to London where several Ravens and Jaguars players knelt during the national anthem. Shadid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jaguars who donated $1 million to DDT’s inauguration, demonstrated solidarity with his players by linking his arms with them. Several professional teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem yesterday, and coaches and owners supported them. The responses from over 30 pro NFL teams is here.

America First Policies, a DDT-supporting PAC, is disseminating an anti-NFL ad called “Turn Off the NFL” on social media to boost DDT’s criticisms. It encourages NFL fans to watch a patriotic movie instead of NFL games.

DDT attacked the NBA as well as the NFL.  LeBron James called DDT a “bum,” and Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, called DDT “an embarrassment in the world.” After the NBA champion Golden State Warriors waffled about accepting an invitation to the White House, DDT said that he was disinviting them although he had not sent them one. DDT personally attacked Warriors star Stephen Curry, who said that DDT’s comments to “target certain individuals … rather than others” are “beneath” his office.

Non-pro teams protested as well.  Garfield’s Bulldogs, including the coaches, knelt during the anthem before the team’s 52-9 Metro League win against West Seattle. A coach asked why people talked about the flag instead of the issues (listed here) surrounding the players’ actions. The third verse of the anthem ridicules black men for seeking freedom from U.S. slavery by joining the British, stating that “the hireling and slave” cannot find “refuge.”

DDT, who avoided military service with “bone spurs,” has tried to make his battle against sports figures about patriotism. He tweeted, “Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it!” In a classic blog, Margaret wrote her friend Helen that a sports player has as much right to “taking a knee” as DDT has to say that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) isn’t a war hero because he was captured.

The White House and DDT are trying to avoid the racial overtones of his criticism. DDT overlooked the refusal of Tom Brady, a white player, to accept an invitation to the White House but lambasted Stephen Curry, a black player, for doing the same thing. Colin Kaepernick started the movement over a year ago to protest police brutality against people of color, but this morning DDT tweeted that the protests have nothing to do with race. His war started in a place known for segregation, and conservatives have praised DDT for his brilliant strategy. Yet the statements may have come from DDT’s impulsivity, not his thoughtfulness. He loved the attention he received, however, and continued to dominate the press with his tweets.

The massive internet exchange on the issue of kneeling during the national anthem is reminiscent of events a half century ago during the civil rights protests. Moderate Republicans currently think that blacks should politely sign a petition instead of taking up the cause at the sports games; in 1964, 74 percent of people thought that “mass demonstrations by Negroes” would “hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality.”

DDT also repeated his argument at the same rally that pro football isn’t violent enough for him. Part of his disjointed babblings in the speech described a “beautiful tackle” and made sarcastic comments about a referee’s wife “sitting at home …. so proud of him” when the ref throws a penalty flag. He said:

“Today if you hit too hard — 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.’’

In USA Today, Tim Sullivan called DDT’s statement “callous, short-sighted and without nuance, the kind of barstool bluster you hear from those wired to react without research or reasoning.” The calls for more violence came the same week as the revelation that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered from a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Just days before that discovery, a study showed the same brain disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players who had died.

In another study released last week, men who played football before they were 12 have a doubled risk of “problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning” and a tripled danger of “clinically elevated depression scores.” The increased risk is dependent on the number of years playing football and the number of reported concussions. Key brain development in males occurs between ten and 12 years of age, but earlier first exposure to football is connected to worse clinical function.

CTE begins with headaches and loss of concentration and moves to depression, mood swings, short term memory loss, and explosive behavior. The disorder moves to language difficulties, impulsive behavior, and thoughts of suicide as well as cognitive impairment and ends with memory loss combined with dementia. Common causes of death in people suffering from CTE are respiratory failure, cardiac disease, suicide, overdose, and symptoms associated with end-stage dementia and malignancy.

DDT’s latest campaign is to promote violence and concussions for his personal entertainment with indifference to the possibility that the majority of men in the United States will develop symptoms of CTE. Future polls and NFL ratings will determine his success.

September 24, 2017

Christian Goals against ‘Others’ Fail to Protect ‘Us’

The travel ban may be extended to eight countries as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his battle against terrorists from a religion other than Christianity. “We cannot gamble with American lives,” said John Kelly last January when he was secretary of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, an average of one person has died each year on U.S. soil because of Islamic terrorists both foreign and U.S. Using the excuse of keeping the nation safe, the government has spent at least $4 trillion on wars, veterans, and interest on the expenditures.

Yet 16 people have been killed in only two mass killings thus far this year in the U.S., eight each in Plano (TX) and Bogue Chitto (MS). The reason for both was domestic violence. Most people don’t even know about these tragedies—or the thousands of other deaths in U.S. mass murders. The recent, non-lethal bombing at the London tube consumed the media for days, but the Plano tragedy that occurred about the same time got less than less than 5 percent of internet links.

In 2015, 1,686 women were killed by men in “single victim/single offender” incidents. Ninety percent of the victims knew their offenders, and of those who did, 64 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Three women are murdered every day by a current or former intimate partner.

The news coverage of the London bombing fits the U.S. obsession with “Islamic terror” driven by conservatives. Fear is the motivation for their successful elections. When they become legislators, they make guns more accessible, again using the motivation of fear.

During the past two days, the issue of kneeling during the national anthem has consumed the media. Conservatives are on television bitterly complaining about the “disrespect” for the flag. Yet domestic violence and sexual assault by prominent sports figures are overlooked or explained by blaming women. In the past 14 years, 80 football players had been involved in 87 arrests.

Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice was suspended for two NFL games for knocking out his fiancé—now his wife—in an elevator. Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for one game in 2015 for assaulting his wife, Molly. She had been assaulted almost two dozen times, once when she was pregnant, according to police and court records. A sheriff said that the NFL never asked him for records in their investigation. Brown’s journal revealed that he abused his wife and saw her as a slave. “I have controlled her by making her feel less human than me,” Brown wrote.

Brown used the same tactic that white supremacists use against the Muslims, people of color, and other minorities: white conservatives consider everyone else as less humans. One way to do that is to overemphasize the violence of “others,” and de-emphasize the violence of “us.” That way white conservatives can maintain their feelings of superiority and ignore the suffering of others.

DDT is a master of “othering.” His selection of nominees shows his prejudices with white male far-right religious conservatives dominating his appointments to courts, cabinet, and staff. For example, Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for a Texas federal judgeship, is a classic symbol of LGBT hatred. He not only advocates for nondiscrimination laws but also calls transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer is a former high level staffer for the religious right organization Liberty Institute, now known as First Liberty Institute (FLI). The organization founded to ban marriage equality represents conservative Christians and opposes separation of church and state. While working there, he advocated against nondiscrimination laws that included LGBT people, lamented the increase in states banning the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and described transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer, who has no judicial experience, thinks the separation of church and state is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Federal judges are appointed for life.

Another nominee with no judicial experience, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is also associated with FLI. Federal judges are appointed for life. Russell Vought, pick for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that Muslims have a “deficient theology” because they “do not know God.” And the list goes on.

Another DDT appointee who was confirmed with only 50 votes, Department of Education Betsy DeVos, is also protecting white males against everyone else. She has rescinded the college sexual assault policy to help rape victims in favor of their rapists. DeVos said that rapists should be expelled from a school only when found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” not when the preponderance of evidence is against them. Schools can also use informal mediation for sexual assault accusations, forcing victims to meet face-to-face with their rapists for an “amicable” solution. The only advantage is that—thus far—universities don’t have to follow DeVos’ new guidelines.

DeVos got her information from men’s organizations, including the National Coalition for Men that publishes names and photos to women whose cases were dismissed. Another of her consulting organizations, SAVE, wants a victim’s sexual history used as evidence.

Candace Jackson, appointed by DeVos as her civil rights official, claims she was a victim of discrimination because she is white. She also said that 90 percent of rape accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.” There is no evidence for Jackson’s claim. Jackson also believes that all the women accusing DDT of sexual assault were lying “for political gain.”

Early in the summer, DeVos cut back investigations of civil rights issues so that there will be no check into systemic problems. DDT’s budget removes over 40 employees from the investigation staff.

As part of his Christianizing the U.S., DDT officially proclaimed September 3, 2017 as a National Day of Prayer in violation of a judge’s ruling on separation of church and state in 2010. His announcement told people to “go to your church and pray”—no synagogue, mosque, or other place or worship and no provision for people who choose to have no place of worship. A president’s direction to “pray” is also exclusionary and endorses a religious message.

The base of the GOP is the white Christian. There is no guarantee that changing demographics mean changing numbers of elected Democrats, but there’s some hope and whites will stop hating the “others.” An example of that is the Christian church that is “tithing for trans people,” raising money to help people obtain gender affirmation medical care. Faithfully LGBT wants to repair the damage of right-wing pretend Christians who discriminate against trans people and encourage violence. The church started its project after 150 evangelical leaders signed the “Nashville Statement” that rejects transgender identity, homosexuality, and feminism in its need to reestablish the “Christ-defined” roles of men as household leaders.

White Christians are going to be fighting even harder now that they are in the minority—43 percent of the population to be exact. That’s a little over half the number 40 years ago when eight of ten people identified as white Christians. During the past several decades that demographic has elected presidents, locked in Congress, and taken over the majority of state governors and legislatures. The percentage of white Christians shrinks with younger voters: two-thirds of seniors are in that category whereas only one-fourth of those 18-29 are white Christians.

 

August 24, 2017

Louise Linton Epitomizes DDT Cabinet Wealth

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 8:10 PM
Tags: , , , ,

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) selected most billionaires for his Cabinet, he justified it by explaining that these are successful people who can “make America great again.” Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, known as the “king of foreclosures” for his ability to drive more people into poverty, married another privileged person who recently offended millions of people in the United States. She began by bragging about how much her wardrobe cost as she and her husband flew to argue in Louisville (KY) for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The $16,000 that she wore is comparable to an annual salary for many people. Nineteen percent of people in Kentucky live below the poverty level.

In Our Future, Richard Eskow (right) explains a few facts of life to Ms. Linton:

Dear Ms. Linton,

This has undoubtedly been a difficult couple of days for you, both as a person and as the wife of the United States Treasury Secretary.

Nobody enjoys the sudden onrush of hostile attention that comes when something they’ve said goes viral, and not in a good way. Your public record, and even your recent infamous post, suggests you want to be a good person – or, at the very least, that you’d like to be seen as one.

That’s not how people are seeing you at the moment, and that has to be rough.

Perhaps it would help if someone explained why you’ve received so much negative attention in the last 48 hours.

Bubble Life

Simply put: You live in a bubble. That’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is. According to the Internet – the same Internet that has turned on you with such ferocity – you were born into a wealthy Scottish family and educated at the prestigious St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College.

Your family owns a real-life, honest to God castle, for God’s sake.

A little self-awareness is therefore in order: Your experience is not like that of most people. Some people are born into privilege and make a dedicated effort to see life from other people’s point of view. That does not seem to have been the case with you.

Out of Africa

The controversy about your “memoir” of life as a volunteer teenager in Zambia suggests that you didn’t see the people of Zambia at all. The country itself seems to have passed you by. There are, for example, no 12-inch spiders there. [Last year, Linton has pulled her self-published “memoir,” In Congo’s Shadow, from Amazon.]

You portrayed Zambia as a savage, untamed place where wild animals roamed the street. You also imagined they saw you as an idealized, almost heavenly figure: a skinny foreigner “with long angel hair.”

Here’s a tip: Zambia is not a wild land, and you were not the first blonde that the people there had ever seen. They have many foreign visitors. They are also familiar with European and American magazines, television, and film.

The only “angel hair” spoken of in the capital city of Lusaka, in fact, is served at one of the city’s many Italian restaurants: here’s a listing of the top five, courtesy of TripAdvisor. Casa Portico has good pasta dishes, we’re told, while Frescobar is praised for its “great food and vibe.” 

 

 

See the People

You apparently do not appear to see the people of this country, either. In the United States, the wealthiest nation in human history, 45 million people live in poverty. That’s unjust. Most of us have endured decades of wage stagnation, a dying middle class, rising deaths of despair, mass incarceration, and other ordeals undreamed of in your rarefied world.

That might help explain why you received a rather unfriendly response when you posted a picture of yourself exiting a U.S. government plane with your husband, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with the following comment:

Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa

You were shown exiting an aircraft that is paid for and bears the symbolic markings of the American people, while wearing – and boasting about – your very expensive clothing. You ended your hashtag string with the name of the country itself, as if this nation – suffering and struggling as it is – was nothing more than another accessory, a bauble to be worn around your wrist or finger or ankle or neck.

An Expensive Bauble

But then, that’s how the entire billionaire-heavy Trump administration, from the President and your husband on down, has treated this country: as a personal trinket to be used for personal enrichment or glorification.

That’s undoubtedly why an Instagram user named Jenni M responded, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable”

You certainly didn’t empathize with Jenni, did you? Here’s what you wrote:

@Jennimiller29 cute!….Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity [SIC] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!

Have You Given More?

Oh, Louise. You got that so wrong. There’s no room to list all your grievous mistakes, but here are some highlights:

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband?”

I don’t need to know anything about Jenni M to know that, in fact, she has been better for the economy than your husband.

There’s no kind way to put this: Your husband was involved in some very bad business. He literally foreclosed on a widow over a 27-cent error.

Investigators in the California Attorney General’s office concluded that his bank had engaged in “widespread violations,” identified over a thousand illegal actions, and wanted to file charges.

Most people find that behavior even creepier than… well, than a 12-inch spider.

Mortgage holders, especially elderly widows, are not something to be used and then discarded like last year’s Hermes scarves.

Your husband’s reputation wasn’t helped when reports emerged alleging that he had perjured himself before Congress. He was once required to run his bank under the supervision of an independent monitor – by an agency he now oversees. Maybe that can help explain why people are a little touchy about the flaunting of your family’s wealth in a government aircraft.

Your husband hasn’t “given” anything to the economy. He and his fellow bankers nearly crashed the global economy, in fact, and the recession they caused has robbed the U.S. economy of trillions of dollars.

Fort Knox

It’s more than a little ironic that you and your husband were in Kentucky to tour Fort Knox, that target of James Bond villains where the nation’s gold bullion is stored. He and his fellow bankers robbed the economy of much more money than Fort Knox could ever hold.

Your wealth isn’t the product of personal virtue. You, along with other billionaire families, have benefited from government policies that created levels of economic inequality unseen since the Roaring Twenties of the last century.

You should not have as much as you do, and that which you do possess should be taxed appropriately to restore economic balance.

What’s more, paying taxes isn’t a “sacrifice.” It’s a reciprocal obligation, a chance to repay the nation that has allowed people like you to become so wealthy. It’s an opportunity for gratitude. What’s more, given the way tax laws work in this country, there is every possibility that Jenni M has paid a greater percentage of income in taxes than you or your husband have.

Angel Heart

In all likelihood, your ordeal is ending as I write these words. You’ve apologized for your comments through your publicist, and that’s good.

Most of us have to apologize directly, because we don’t have publicists, but any apology is appreciated. Your social media account is now private. If you’re not prepared to grow and change, that’s undoubtedly a good decision.

In any case, I hope this has been “a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity.”

I know it’s been harsh in places, but sometimes the kindest thing we can do is be honest. I hope that the next time you’re tempted to speak out publicly, you will do so with humility and compassion.

Oh, and here’s one last hint about life here in the ordinary world: We identify angels by looking at their hearts, not their hair.

[Thank you, Mr. Eskow.]

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