Go Back To Africa

Go back to Africa…a little bit if vitriol that should never have survived into the 21st Century.

Go back to Africa…something I wouldn’t be writing about except it’s being re-voiced by supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Go back to Africa…being said to people whose ancestors have been Americans for generations…in most cases far longer than the familial lines of the racists who are shouting it.

Go back to Africa…go back to what? these people are wholly Americans!

And the response in some of the videos I’ve seen have included Go back to Europe…which often leaves the racists sputtering and only able to shout back F*ck You! But that isn’t equal…not by a long shot…my ancestors came here voluntarily…could settle anywhere they wanted…and could return home if they desired. They weren’t torn from their families and communities and culture and sold to slavers. If they were lucky enough to survive the journey to America they were trapped under institutional slavery. So by no means does Go back to Europe carry the weight that Go back to Africa bears.

The only maybe benefit coming out of the Trump campaign is the nakedness of racism and xenophobia in America being exposed for all thinking people to see. That we aren’t a post racial society…we haven’t yet attained the land of the free and the home of the brave…not by a long shot.

Go Back To Africa…when someone says that: they OWN Slavery.

This President

This president…a pretty simple neutral sounding sentence fragment. Perfect for any number of uses in a newscast, newspaper article, political speech or a blog post like this one. But if you listen to Fox News for any length of time you’ll soon realize they use it as a pejorative…to denigrate the president…to project a negative image without actually having to say President Obama out loud. And it runs through not only their on air staff but their guest commentators as well. Milwaukee County Sheriff Clarke used it in one of his fantasy island appearances and even Marco Rubio has used it in interviews now.

So how did this become a thing? Who determined that they needed code words to be rude to our president? And how did they get everyone else to buy into it.

It’s ugly…you can hear the vitriol in their voices as they say it…you can sense the bile running down their chin as they spit it out…so this little neutral sounding phrase becomes a semi-secret handshake amongst the anti-Obama clique. How the heck did we get to this?

Super Bowl Ad We All Need To Think About:

This was posted on Policy.mic today, an ad from the National Congress of American Indians:

For years, America has been debating the use of the term “Redskin” by Washington’s NFL team, the Washington Redskins. Though the NFL says they’re listening, nothing has been done. But with this ad, the NCAI has put a human face on the story and shows exactly why the term “Redskin” is so problematic, in compressing an entire people’s rich and varied identity into one stereotype.

Even though the term “Native American” has its own issues of blanket categorization, it’s at least used cautiously and with the knowledge, if even tacit, that this group of people can be somewhat identified by their long-standing relationship to the continent. Redskin, however, is simply a terrible slur. It reduces these groups to the color of their skin (in a very racist way) and lumps everyone together with no thought to their heritage or history.

Despite almost constant pressure, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said he has no plans to change the team’s name. In a letter to fans, Snyder wrote that the team name “was, and continues to be, a badge of honor. … I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”

I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem and Style?

There is a marvelous article in today’s New York Times interviewing long time friends Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the face of American feminism and former editor of Ms. magazine, Gloria Steinem. I enjoyed reading it but felt it didn’t go anywhere near far enough in covering their contributions to American history and American culture…and the reason was: It appears in the NY Times STYLE section! Do you suppose if Dr. Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy were alive today and the NY Times did a joint interview today…would it be in the STYLE section? HELL NO!!!

What’s wrong with these folks?

Here’s the article:

Blame Those Dang Commies!

One of the minor brouhahas rattling around the fringes towards controversy is the trend by (primarily Bible Belt) police forces to put “In God We Trust” on their squad cars. And of course these actions are garnering complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation which is headquartered in Madison Wisconsin.

Now we know how I feel about the national motto…I think it should be retired…and replaced with “We The People”. And I certainly think it has no place on police cars or any other governmental vehicle or equipment. But quite frankly, as long as it is our nation’s motto, and no matter how much I empathize with their complaint, I don’t think the Freedom From Religion people are going to have a leg to stand on.

Well, the police chief from Childress, Texas, on Chief Adrian Garcia says:

Police Chief Adrian Garcia said he decided to add the decals in response to recent attacks on law enforcement personnel that have received broad attention, including the Aug. 28 killing of a sheriff’s deputy who was shot 15 times at a Houston-area gas station.

“I think with all the assaults happening on officers across the country … it’s time we get back to where we once were,” Garcia told the Red River Sun newspaper.

Well that would be back to 1956 when “In God We Trust” became the nation’s motto during the Eisenhower administration…a knew jerk reaction to ‘godless’ communism during the height of the cold war.

But it really is time that the motto was retired…it is on its own shaky ground constitutionally and will continue to draw fire.

Charles Haynes, vice president of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., explained that “In God We Trust” began appearing on federal coins in the Civil War era, and Congress in 1956 approved it as the national motto.

The foundation notes in its letter to Nichols that the history of the motto has “no secular purpose,” explaining that it was adopted during the Cold War as a reaction to the “godliness” (sic) of communism. It says the country’s original motto, E Pluribus Unum, was purely secular.

Haynes said pitched battles over religious phrases likely will increase as groups like Freedom From Religion become better funded and gain broader support.

“I think we’re going to see a growing number of fights over these symbolic references to god by government,” he said.

After Mr. Gorbachev brought down the wall, this motto should have gone to the dustbin as well.

Kim Davis Is Not Martin Luther King Jr.

It is too bad that it had to come to this…but County Clerk Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue same sex marriage licenses. I respect her right to hold her religious beliefs but as an elected official she can’t refuse to discharge her legal obligations as the county clerk. It would have been better if she had been willing to comply or if the judge thought simply fining her for refusing to do her job would be sufficient.

But where the wheels come off is in the comments from her attorney, Roger Gannam:

Davis’ lawyer, Roger Gannam, said it was the first time in history an American citizen has been jailed for believing that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. He compared her willingness to accept imprisonment to what Martin Luther King Jr. did to advance civil rights.

Well Mr. Gannam is right…this is reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement…but she is more in line with Governor George Wallace standing the school door.

The New York Times covers the issue in far more detail and they actually bring up the Gov. Wallace comparison. But it also expands on Mr. Gannam’s comments:

“And she’s been ordered to stay there until she’s willing to change her mind, until she’s willing to change her conscience about what belief is.”

Aaahmmm…no…she’s not being asked to change her beliefs…she can continue to believe that same sex marriages aren’t right…she is just being asked to change her mind on whether she wants to do her job or not.

One last snippet from the NYT before I publish this:

A lawyer for the couples (who are trying to get married – ed), William Sharp, said Thursday’s ruling demonstrated that “religious liberty is not a sword with which government, through its employees, may impose particular religious beliefs on others.”

And that seems to be a trend…impose one’s beliefs on another by not doing your job.

Your rights end where the next person’s begins.

Eggs Benedict, the Milwaukee Art Museum : “Je suis Charlie”

Milwaukee area artist Niki Johnson created a portrait of retired Pope Benedict out of colored condoms in response to a less than correct statement he made while in Africa concerning the use of condoms and the spread of AIDS. The portrait created something of a ruckus when it was displayed at the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee back in 2013.

Since then it was purchased by local philanthropist and gay rights activist Joseph Pabst and donated to the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). MAM intends to display the work in their newly renovated galleries this fall.

Needless to say this has garnered the requisite weeping and gnashing of teeth and docents at the museum resigning, benefactors revoking their support, members resigning their memberships and complaints from Archbishop Listecki…this is not unexpected and certainly within each individuals rights. For more details, check out this article from JSOnline.

The decision by the Milwaukee Art Museum to acquire and prominently display a controversial portrait of Pope Benedict XVI fashioned from 17,000 colored condoms has created outrage among Catholics and others who see it as profoundly disrespectful, even blasphemous.

Many suggest that if a piece were as offensive to other faith traditions or communities it would not be tolerated, much less embraced.

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki blasted the decision as insulting and callous. The museum acknowledged it has fielded about 200 complaints. A handful of patrons dropped their memberships; one longtime docent tendered her resignation; and at least one donor vowed never to support the museum financially again.

Museum officials said an equal number of people have voiced support for the piece and that memberships and pledges in general are growing. They said they regret that the portrait, by Shorewood artist Niki Johnson, has elicited such enmity. But they insist it was not their intent — nor the intent of the artist — to offend Catholics or anyone else. And they said they continue to enjoy the support of people of all faiths, including Catholics.

“This was never intended to be derisive, mocking or disrespectful of the pope,” said museum board of trustees president Don Layden. “It was to have a conversation about AIDS and AIDS education. And my hope is when the piece appears in the museum that will be the focus of the discussion.”

I don’t need to say too much more other than requote this line: “Many suggest that if a piece were as offensive to other faith traditions or communities it would not be tolerated, much less embraced.”

And repeat part of my headline: “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).

Supreme Court (finally) rules in favor of marriage equality for all

It’s about time!

In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory.

In the 5-4 ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

Nearly 46 years to the day after a riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn ushered in the modern gay rights movement, the decision could settle one of the major civil rights fights of this era. The language of Kennedy’s opinion spoke eloquently of the most fundamental values of family, love and liberty.

Campaign 16: We The People!

Sometime between the inauguration speech and the first ball, I would start pressuring Congress to replace the current motto, ‘In God We Trust’ with ‘We The People’!

Originally I thought this was just going to be a trivial add on to my thoughts on Campaign 16 and I would throw it out here during a peak time when there wasn’t much time to write. But then I got busy with real life and haven’t had the time to spend writing and researching…and some of the big issues I want to address just haven’t got to the Blogging Blue yet.

Then I realized that the concept to change the motto is the perfect starting point to the campaign. Because ‘We The People’ perfectly describes the difference between how I interpret government’s role in America and the ‘professed’ beliefs of most all of the other candidates.

‘We The People’ represents the entire Constitution as the guiding principle to protect and support ALL of the people of the United States. The principle that we all have the rights outlined in the document, that we all have the protections outlined in the document and that we all share the responsibilities inherent in those rights and protections. The actions of the government need to be directed to benefit the common good…the entire common good…not a select few…not a particular class…not a particular race. It implies a proactive nature, a proactive stance…where a love of nation is exhibited in a love of our fellow man…not in flag waving patriotic zealotry…where jobs provide the means of life…where education provides the means to jobs…and where the national goal is to build the greatest nation to live in…not the greatest military might on earth.

I am not going to go to great lengths to dis ‘In God We Trust’ on first amendment grounds nor that it doesn’t reflect the diversity that is the United States. But it just doesn’t suit the vision and promise that should be the United States.