Is Gay the New Black?

Is Gay the New Black?

© copyright 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

June 27, 2013

Dearest Rachel…

It is me, Betsy. I am writing to say Congratulations to you and all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans.  It has been a great week for all our LBGT brethren. Sadly, it is a little less so for those whose complexion is Black or Brown.  What or who am I kidding? It has been an awful week for America as a whole.  Once again, we have done as we did since the day of our founding; we denied our brothers and sisters equal rights.  I hope you understand that while I too think anytime rights are afforded to an individual or group it is a good time, a time to celebrate, this week I cannot. Indeed, I do not see a day when I will reflect on this Court’s rulings and be ready, willing, and able to rejoice.

Affirmative Action lost.  The inalienable right to cast a ballot for your Representatives, gone!  It was not that either of these laws, in practice, ever brought about equality, but a girl can dream.  I had hope.  Now, I do not.  Today, my heart broken, I can only reflect on the old adage; if my brother is poor or in pain then so too am I.  John Donne spoke for me when he said “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I am unsure if you are with me Rachel.  I listened to your review of the week and felt confused.  Therefore I ask.  On Thursday, June 27, 2013, you spoke of the angst yourself. You recounted the woe millions of California voters expressed on election night 2008. First there was elation; the first Black man was elected President of the United States.   It seemed we had arrived. It was as you exclaimed. a “civil rights milestone.” People took to the streets and danced.  Corks were popped.  Confetti fell from sky-high windows.  Then, as more ballots were tallied, a dark realization set in.  In California, marriages once declared legal would not be going forward. As you stated, “That whiplash moment, that California, alone, experienced the night 
President Obama was first elected,” was devastating. Perhaps, the man in the video clip you played this Thursday evening said it best for the LBGT community.

“In 2008 when we elected the first African-American 
president, it was a glorious day, but later that night it was a horrible night when the returns for Prop 8 came in saying that we were going to be 
treated as second-class citizens, and we just could not fathom being 
treated like that anymore.”

Therein lies the difference Rachel, one of many that I see.  People of color can fathom being treated like scum.  Granted persons in the LBGT community can too.! That said, the two experiences are not one.  The color of our skin cannot be camouflaged. Sexual orientation is perhaps but a subtle “clue.”  In other words, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders come out of the closet.  Blacks and Browns are more likely to be invited into the [water] closet to clean the mess white persons’ leave behind.  Caucasians can be so cruel, as can those of a certain socio-economic “class.”  I guess anyone can be.

Thus, I ask; do we celebrate our own victories and ignore the victimization of others?  ‘Tis true, we can delight in one while decrying the other.  It is the imbalance I bemoan.  I too, as the millions of others did, expressed elation for the decisions that brought good fortune to the LBGT community. I also cried and cried tears of distress.  For me, the long history of struggles is barely equivalent.  I am forlorn and again befuddled as I reflect on your review of the week.

Oh Rachel, after the aforementioned clip you said,  “Now, this week, we are essentially having the mirror image of that [2008] moment, 
thanks to the Supreme Court. “  Really?  Seriously?  Rachel, for me, what occurred in this, the last week of June is not the image in reverse.  The decision on the Voting Rights Act is, as you also stated in the next sentence, “a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of American civil rights law.”  However, sadly, it has not elicited a similar response.  With the race related rulings we heard silence or worse; endorsement for the now “Supremely” sanctioned divide.

Conservatives did not object. Liberals barely said a word.  States shouted, but in glee.  Loss of Affirmative Action and Voting Rights?  ‘It is as though the country as one said, Oh well.’  Gay rights on the other hand brought out the best in people.  Beginning years ago, Dick Cheney, made it known that he supports gay marriage.  The Democratic elite such as the former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “came out” with her own declarative statement.  Legislators within Grand Ole Party chimed in.  They too were there to support gay marriage.  The reactions to racism are not as strong as we think they might be.  I think of your own response Rachel and say “Wow!”

I was not surprised that white families, the wealthy and powerful did not take up the banner. Here in Florida, when the elderly and well-established citizens were purged from voting rolls few voices were heard.  Certainly States did not complain.  Eliminate the Black and Brown vote? That works well for Republican Governors.  Measures were and are already underway.   The “new prejudice”  persists and is supported. Black and Brown persons are not.  Their  second-class” citizenship is the accepted standard.  Their “forgiveness is just expected.”

Equality? First-Class citizenship?  Rarely. Barely. Quite the contrary.

Oh there are the few who appear to have “made it.”  We might cite President Obama, General Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, or, hmmm? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?  I wonder. Put any of these in casual clothes, without the accoutrement of an office and might they be stopped and frisked, arrested for Driving-While-Black, or conceivably denied their right to vote? Oh Rachel, for me there is a glaring difference between the fights for rights.

Do you remember the words of the Author, John Howard Griffin, a white man who only occupied a darker skin for a time? I do. “The Negro is treated not even as a second-class citizen but as a tenth-class one.” Granted, times have changed since Griffin penned his words in 1964. Then racism was overt. Today, it is covert and sanctioned by the Highest Court in the Land.   What is it they say Rachel, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”?  That is likely true for those who are born Black, Brown, or on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

Oh I heard the calls.  Beginning in 2008 white citizens proclaimed that we live in a post-racial society. Black Americans on the other hand knew we did not.  Indeed, in 2011 Researchers affirmed for those whose complexion is dark in color, life is hard. Only two years ago, Black Americans said that it is actually worse than it was a score earlier. As of this week, with the Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, surely it is no better.  The Court’s action is a clear step backwards. In reality, it is a slap in the face or a whip lashing in the back.

Class and color affords access and is the genesis for our attitudes.  I recall the “Roots” of African-American History and the historical origins of homosexual expression.  The former was borne out of enslavement while the later was an outgrowth of greater freedom in society and the workplace.

Rachel, was it Janis Joplin who said it so well? “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose – Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free.”  I wonder; are we to presume that Blacks are now free? There is little left for them to lose. I reflect on self-identity.

You might recall the original Doll Experiment or the more recent 2009 repeat of the research.  The results were the same. In the “Doll Test,” four plastic, diaper-clad dolls, identical in every respect except for color determine racial perception and preferences amongst children.  Regardless of the decade, black children between the ages of three and seven, responded in-kind. Almost all of the children readily identified the race of the dolls. Even the young see color.  When asked which they preferred, the majority selected the white doll and attributed positive characteristics to it. Indeed, the consensus was Black dolls were “bad.”  White dolls are far better.  That is what we teach and affirm through Supreme Court rulings.  Sad; but true.

“Second-class citizenship.”  Children of color know it well, and likely, their children will too.

Bigotry is common, all too common, as are expressions of it.  Therein lie the similarities between the Gay Rights and Black Civil Rights Movements.   Nonetheless, the contrast is stark.   As millions noted, the realization of Gay Rights came quickly.  The Civil Rights Movement, on the other hand,  is riddled with detours, deterrents, disillusionment, and disinvestment. Discrimination never realizes deliverance.  After centuries of sanctioned enslavement, The Emancipation Proclamation, gave way to a failed Reconstruction and another ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. the landmark Supreme Court decision that held that racial segregation was constitutional. We had the Brown versus Board of Education decision and The Great Society legislation.  Future rulings resulted in their ultimate demise.  The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson returned the dictum, white is again right.

We saw the Voting Rights Act come into being only to be threatened at every turn. Today, well that “right” is lost and Dick Cheney’s endorsement of the  “more civil union [sic]” is nowhere to be found. This essential democratic right is again, and again denied.  We might guess who might be coming to dinner, but we must know that even if it were the first Black American President, he may not be welcome.

Indeed Rachel as we celebrate the rights awarded to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender let us also ask ourselves what is the State of the Union? What if Barack Obama were born today?  Eighteen years from now will a young Barack have the opportunity to attend a college, and were he to run for President, would he himself be allowed to vote? What bell will toll in the next score, and will it toll for thee?

References and Resources…

SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education


SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education

By Betsy L. Angert

Save Our Schools [SOS] is an organization devoted to fair and equitable education for all. We work to preserve and transform public education.  We are a venue for active, people-powered, grassroots education innovation.  In cyberspace and in communities throughout this country we advance solutions that bring learning back to our children, education back to public school classrooms, and policy decisions back to the students, teachers, and parents.

SOS is dedicated to finding a better, more balanced, path for education reform in this country.  In that spirit, we propose The Equitable Education Policy Path.  We establish that public education must be an American priority. Education is a basic civil and human right.  Every child has the right to attend a high quality public school.

“America’s future will be determined by the home and the school.

The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”

-Jane Addams [Public Philosopher, Sociologist, Author]

Our initiative was born out of an overwhelming awareness that today, and for the last several decades, students and teachers have been increasingly reduced to data-points.  Humans are no longer given the opportunity to learn for more than the mere moments required to memorize facts and formulas for a battery of tests.  

Schools have been “restructured.”  Bureaucratic business models have been adopted, imposed, and anointed as “Real Education Reforms.” As a Nation, we abandoned “The Great Society” program; which acknowledged that when a culture allows poverty to flourish, failure follows.  Instead of addressing what prevents true learning, Americans favored quick-fix agendas, such “No Child Left Behind.”

Standardized lessons were put in place.  One-Size-Fits-All High-Stakes Testing policies were employed. Curricula, void of substance and sustenance, were fed to students whose bellies were empty.  Standards are now the norm in our schools.  Test scores are deemed a sign of success or reflect a dearth of achievement.

For decades now, students who perform poorly on examinations are punished, as are their teachers.  Today, these same learners, educators, and institutions are told, starved as you are, it is time To Race To The Top!

Do policymakers not realize that without food or funds to sustain them, massive breakdowns are inevitable?  There is ample evidence.

Young bodies need attention if they are to grow healthy, happy, and strong. Food first. Motion and Emotional Stability too. Each nourishes a soul.  Test scores?  Anecdotal and empirical research reveals, these bring about little learning and increase the level of stress.

Clinicians acknowledge the long and short-term effects of tests and/or distress.

Equal access to excellent and equitably funded schools, superior, well-trained teachers, and curricula that offers opportunities for critical and creative thought, will begin to grow our children’s minds.  Play too is a phenomenal educator.  Children learn when they see facts within meaningful contexts, invent their own ideas and problems, explore, solve problems, and share their solutions.

Presidents, Philanthropists, and the policymakers, each of whom embraces Corporate Education Reforms, which establish business-efficiency-models, miss the obvious – performance measures the pressure to perform do not further education.  

The Obama Administration, through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported in 2011, 82 percent of American schools are failing. The Center on Education Policy studied the numbers and asserts the claim is “overstated.” In 2011 their estimate shows 48 percent are failing.  This is up from the 39% percent calculated in 2010.  That number too was the highest recorded since George W. Bush established No Child Left Behind.

Fortunately, there is agreement. The law is broken.  Waivers are issued. However, the one aspect of the NCLB policy and the more punitive Race To the Top that remains strong and stable is the over-reliance on high-stakes testing.  That is the problem.  High-stakes testing serves no one well, that is with the exception of publisher profiteers.  

The young and their elders do not learn quickly.  Solutions too take time and energy.  The thought that we might eradicate the achievement gap or poverty in a week of exams is anachronistic.  Still, there is reason to believe we can we can rebuild the American education system. Let us renew our belief in the commonweal.  Let us again advance democratic principles in education policy and practices.  It is time for true change.

It is in this spirit that Save Our Schools puts forth, the People’s Education objective.  Through sound people-centered policies and actions such as Seminars, Webinars, Town Hall Meetings, Rallies, Protests, and Marches Save Our Schools works tirelessly to effectuate change.  We address the issues of import in education.  Topics include and are not limited to, Early Childhood Education, Curriculum [Creation and Use of Curricula,] Accountability and Authentic Assessments, Racial and Socioeconomic Integration, Student Voices, Equitable Funding, Parent and Community Involvement, and Labor.


REBUILD THE AMERICAN DREM THROUGH EDUCATION


 1. INVEST IN AMERICA’S CHILDREN..  Preserve and transform public education. Keep public education strong. Hire, not fire teachers.  Rebuild our crumbling classrooms.


 2. INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION..  We must provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. A high-quality education system, from preschool to vocational training and affordable higher education, is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.


   3. FUND SCHOOLS EQUITABLY..  We must invest in American innovation. American needs to provide the funds to pay for quality resources and teachers regardless of the socio-economic status of a community.  Twenty-First Century technologies need to be made available to impoverished children, as well as the wealthy and those of middle-means. We must provide our children with the latest and greatest tools, and ensure that education is inspirational. Imaginative minds crave a challenge.


   4. OFFER PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE..   Education is the foundation that establishes a safe and stable society.  Unemployment rates among Americans who never went to college are double those who have a postsecondary education.   By 2018, an estimated 63 percent of all new U.S. jobs will require workers with an education beyond high school. Let us adequately and equally prepare our young, and establish affordable institutions of higher learning.


 5. ENSURE EQUAL EDUCATION FOR AL  Keep our schools equal. Current court decisions strengthen the deleterious divide. We must ensure that physical, mental, and emotional challenges do not hinder access to quality education.  Non-English language speakers and children whose second language is English cannot be shut out from our schools. Funding inequities must be remediated


 6. PROVIDE AGE APPROPRIATE  EDUCATION..  Learning is a process. Children develop in time when challenged to explore constructs that are meaningful to them.  Increasingly, 3 to 5 year olds are required to perform academically at a level once deemed appropriate for 1st – 3rd graders. The result is our young experience more rote “learning,” less direct play and hands-on experiences that lay the foundations for later academic success.


   7. RETURN TO FAIRER/BALANCED, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT. End, high-stakes testing used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools. Adopt Authentic Assessments, Portfolio Reviews, Student Journals and Interviews.  Abandon the quick-fix, one-size-fits-agendas of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top that have established failure as the norm in our schools.


   8. PUT THE PUBLIC BACK IN THE LEAD. The people make all our schools better. Parents and students are profoundly aware of what aids learning. Teachers, trained experts in education, are there in the classroom and are in-tune. Rely on the people; they will rebuild the education dream.


   9.  STRENGTHEN DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION FOR ALL.  We need equal education – a system in which money doesn’t buy policy, a curriculum plan, or secure a contract for services rendered to public schools. We must ban anonymous political influence, posed as philanthropy, and end the corporate endowments that misshape education.  The doors in D.C. cannot be open to entrepreneurs and closed to the people. Immigrants and their children want to join in our democracy. The challenged child and children of lesser means cannot be scorned in a democratic country.  Each deserves his or her right to dream. . http://owl.li/eCZ6a

Together, we must rebuild our education dream and reinvest in our young and their schooling. We have a civil and human rights crisis, not an education crisis, and we must begin to solve it now.

Please Join Save Our Schools [SOS]! Help us work to preserve and transform public education. Let us end policies that promote separate and unequal, and for all time ensure that public education is not influenced by or operated as a for-profit industry. Let us restore  pedagogical principles and prescribe practices that return learning to our classrooms.  Let us not fail our youth, while labeling them “failures.”  It is time to honor humans and the Whole Child.   Now, and in the future, let us Rebuild the American Dream Through Equal, Equitable, and Excellent Education For All.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively
and to think critically. Intelligence plus character –

that is the goal of true education.

~ Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 March on Washington

Betsy L. Angert is an Educator, Author, and an active learner. She advocates for Empathy and Education and Save Our Schools.

The Qualified Quest for Justice



Jews, Christians and Muslims Unite Against Evildoers

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Just days ago, throughout the globe, people celebrated religious holidays.  Peace on Earth and good will to all men was the palpable feeling that filled the air.  Everywhere anyone turned expressions of fondness for our fellow beings could be heard.  People were filled with glee.  Then, suddenly, the sound that is the silent hum of joyous laughter was broken.  Everything changed.  Yet, indeed nothing did.  The cycle of violence that has perpetually existed on this planet began again.  The qualified quest for justice was once more the people’s agenda.  In Israel and Gaza, bombs blasted.  Bullets whizzed by the heads of frantic, frightened people who sought shelter from another Mediterranean storm.  Some died.  Hamas was blamed for the initial attacks, this time.  As had occurred on other occasions, Israel, in the name of self-defense, fought back.  The roles might have been reversed and have been.

Each believes the other is at fault.  One force characterizes the antagonist as an occupier.  Late in 2008, the people who are said to have been the provocateurs are tagged as terrorists.  The monikers are interchangeable and have been for centuries.

This recent barrage of words and weapons was not the first on sacred terrain.  No one expects it will be the last.  Apparently, today, as has been true for eons, people have accepted peace as a temporal occurrence.  It is always followed by war.  

Pious people only pretend to honor the hallowed Commandment found in every faith, “Thou shalt not kill.”  In truth, on some principle not evident in scriptures, the Bible, the Qur’an, or other religious teaching, humans conclude all men and Not created equal.

For the wise, the worthy, the wondrous creatures who believe all beings are created equally, and in G-d’s image, the concept of fairness and empathy for all others are only ones of convenience.  These can be, and by all means should be, ignored, when a country, clan, chap, or cute daughter of Eve feels there is reason for self-defense.  When the quest for conquest is greater than the desire for tranquility, justice is found in a series of deadly explosions!

Rational persons become self-righteous when they feel attacked or wish to assault another.  Whatever excuses an ethical individual, or a respectable region, can find to intellectualize war will serve a being who wishes to be brutal.  One need only reflect upon the writings of a few to understand why warfare never ends.

In what would become a foundation for America, within the Declaration of Independence, the words of Thomas Jefferson appear, “All me are created equal.”  This thought was meant to remind citizens of this country of a tenet adopted in ancient times, by not just one, but by many religions.  

A Jewish theologian, Torah scholar, Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld reflects on a historical reality rarely honored by modern man.  “(A)ll men are created equal” (women too for that matter), and, as eloquently as Thomas Jefferson put it, this comes directly from our own Torah.  Maimonides (Mishne Torah, Hil’ Teshuva 5:2) writes that unlike the belief of foolish Gentiles and unlearned Jews that each person is predestined to good or evil, it is within the ability of each person to determine his or her own fate.”

Rabbi Rosenfeld then further elucidates each of us can be virtuous or iniquitous.  As individuals, apart from our intellectual measure, personal milieu, history, monetary means, or influence we have the capacity to choose what we wish to do and who we yearn to be.

The scholar and teacher of Torah, Dovid Rosenfeld shares the observations of another, devout academician, Dean of Aish HaTorah International, Rabbi Noach Weinberg (www.aish.com), “We are certainly not equal when it comes to talents, predilections, or natural abilities.  But in this one regard we are all equal: we all possess souls.  We have the potential to develop ourselves, whether in goodness or wickedness, and we possess the free will to determine which path we will follow.  Goodness and closeness to G-d are not reserved for the intellectual, the scholarly, or the well-pedigreed.  It is the inherent right of all mankind and the simple fact of our humanity.”

While many amongst the Jewish faithful quote the wisdom of each of these devout devotees of the Almighty, the significance of the statements is void in action.  The same is true in Islamic tradition.  Several fervent followers find solace in the scriptures; indeed, “The Glorious Qur’an mentions, with commendation, Prophet Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as it does to Prophet Moses (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him),” others who purport to believe in teachings of Islam, Hamas amid these, ignore the splendor found in the religious text.

Islam aims at eliminating all aspects of racism and dislikes prejudiced-oriented party gatherings.  Islam, equally, disapproves all acts leading to disputes, fights, among individuals and peoples.  Islam requires its followers to believe in the Divine Messages and Scriptures of all previous nations [community] in order to eliminate any hatred or biased feelings.  Islam considers such an act as one of the essential tenants of faith.

While the most boisterous today, and for centuries, have beat the battle drums, murdered, caused mayhem, massacred, and engaged in the most dire deeds, all in the name of justice, a very few participate in another, more harmonic quest.  

These individuals believe in sacrosanct traditions too.  The truly peaceful propose actions must reflect religious and rational reason.  Those who work towards universal serenity walk with the Lord on holy days and during the most mundane of times.  Advocates of amicable exchanges and equality for all, aspire to a stable serenity, as is referenced in theological text.  

“Pacifists,”, do not adopt the vicious edicts of those who think war will bring about peace, albeit, the warriors admit, provisionally.  The tranquil people have faith that all men, women, and children can choose how they wish to respond to conflict.  People are free to engage in good or evil.

Those on a quest for nonviolent justice, one without qualifiers that restrict the significance of religious commandments, talk without the accompaniment of a big stick.  They walk with a sincere sense of awe for kindnesses.  They also type articles that advocate for empathy and avoid the argument of self-defense.

Thus, on November 10, 2000, Deborah Ducrocq, then Managing Editor of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, a devout Jew in her own right, published an article, she received.  The missive penned by another Judaic faithful, Judith Stone, is titled, “The Quest for Justice.” The tone and transcript were considered controversial by the clannish amongst the American Jews.  Indeed, after the missive appeared, the Ms Ducrocq was promptly dismissed by her ?superiors.

Yet, as much as the words offended the Jewish employers, for persons who struggle with a spiritual history, Jew, Gentile, and Islamist who yearn for authentic and lasting global harmony, the wisdom Judith Stone inscribed, and Deborah Ducrocq delivered, resonates.

While some might say this early essay is no longer politically pertinent, others trust, the sentiment expressed is as valid today as it was then, and will be tomorrow.  


“Quest for Justice”

By Judith Stone

I am a Jew.  I was a participant in the Rally for the Right of Return to Palestine.  It was the right thing to do.  I’ve heard about the European holocaust against the Jews since I was a small child.  I’ve visited the memorials in Washington, DC and Jerusalem dedicated to Jewish lives lost and I’ve cried at the recognition to what level of atrocity mankind is capable of sinking.

Where are the Jews of conscience?  No righteous malice can be held against the survivors of Hitler’s holocaust.  These fragments of humanity were in no position to make choices beyond that of personal survival.  We must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist of the victims of the European Holocaust does not grant dispensation from abiding by the rules of humanity.

“Never again” as a motto, rings hollow when it means “never again to us alone.”  My generation was raised being led to believe that the biblical land was a vast desert inhabited by a handful of impoverished Palestinians living with their camels and eking out a living in the sand.  The arrival of the Jews was touted as a tremendous benefit to these desert dwellers.  Golda Mier even assured us that there “is no Palestinian problem.”

We know now this picture wasn’t as it was painted.  Palestine was a land filled with people who called it home.  There were thriving towns and villages, schools and hospitals.  There were Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  In fact, prior to the occupation, Jews represented a mere 7 percent of the population and owned 3 percent of the land.

Taking the blinders off for a moment, I see a second atrocity perpetuated by the very people who should be exquisitely sensitive to the suffering of others.  These people knew what it felt like to be ordered out of your home at gun point and forced to march into the night to unknown destinations or face execution on the spot.  The people who displaced the Palestinians knew first hand what it means to watch your home in flames, to surrender everything dear to your heart at a moment’s notice.  Bulldozers leveled hundreds of villages, along with the remains of the village inhabitants, the old, and the young.  This was nothing new to the world.

Poland is a vast graveyard of the Jews of Europe.  Israel is the final resting place of the massacred Palestinian people.  A short distance from the memorial to the Jewish children lost to the holocaust in Europe there is a leveled parking lot.  Under this parking lot is what’s left of a once flourishing village and the bodies of men, women, and children whose only crime was taking up needed space and not leaving graciously.  This particular burial marker reads: “Public Parking.”

I’ve talked with Palestinians.  I have yet to meet a Palestinian who hasn’t lost a member of their family to the Israeli Shoah, nor a Palestinian who cannot name a relative or friend languishing under inhumane conditions in an Israeli prison.  Time and time again, Israel is cited for human rights violations to no avail.  On a recent trip to Israel, I visited the refugee camps inhabited by a people who have waited 52 years in these ‘temporary’ camps to go home.  Every Palestinian grandparent can tell you the name of their village, their street, and where the olive trees were planted.

Their grandchildren may never have been home, but they can tell you where their great-grandfather lies buried and where the village well stood.  The press has fostered the portrait of the Palestinian terrorist.  But, the victims who rose up against human indignity in the Warsaw Ghetto are called heroes.  Those who lost their lives are called martyrs.  The Palestinian who tosses a rock in desperation is a terrorist.

Two years ago I drove through Palestine and watched intricate sprinkler systems watering lush green lawns of Zionist settlers in their new condominium complexes, surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire in the midst of a Palestinian community where there was not adequate water to drink and the surrounding fields were sandy and dry.  University professor Moshe Zimmerman reported in the Jerusalem Post (April 30, 1995), “The [Jewish] children of Hebron are just like Hitler’s youth.”

We Jews are suing for restitution, lost wages, compensation for homes, land, slave labor and back wages in Europe.  Am I a traitor of a Jew for supporting the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their birthplace and compensation for what was taken that cannot be returned?

The Jewish dead cannot be brought back to life and neither can the Palestinian massacred be resurrected.  David Ben Gurion said, “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves… politically, we are the aggressors and they defend themselves…The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country…”

Palestine is a land that has been occupied and emptied of its people.  It’s cultural and physical landmarks have been obliterated and replaced by tidy Hebrew signs.  The history of a people was the first thing eradicated by the occupiers.  The history of the indigenous people has been all but eradicated as though they never existed.  And all this has been hailed by the world as a miraculous act of G-d.  We must recognize that Israel’s existence is not even a question of legality so much as it is an illegal fait accompli realized through the use of force while supported by the Western powers.  The UN missions directed at Israel in attempting to correct its violations of have thus far been futile.

In Hertzl’s “The Jewish State,” the father of Zionism said, “…We must investigate and take possession of the new Jewish country by means of every modern expedient.”  I guess I agree with Ehud Barak (3 June 1998) when he said, “If I were a Palestinian, I’d also join a terror group.”  I’d go a step further perhaps.  Rather than throwing little stones in desperation, I’d hurtle a boulder.

Hopefully, somewhere deep inside, every Jew of conscience knows that this was no war; that this was not G-d’s restitution of the holy land to it’s rightful owners.  We know that a human atrocity was and continues to be perpetuated against an innocent people who couldn’t come up with the arms and money to defend themselves against the western powers bent upon their demise as a people.

We cannot continue to say, “But what were we to do?”  Zionism is not synonymous with Judaism.  I wholly support the rally of the right of return of the Palestinian people.

Indeed, what is to be done amidst the bombs and bullets.  Those who have faith in talk, treatises that remain forever intact and tranquility can only bemoan the truth when they witness calm, compassionate, persons, who say they care for all mankind, become clannish when they chatter about political agendas in the Middle East.  

What can anyone do when people preach peace and practice violence in the name of the Lord, Allah, or the Almighty, or even atheist theories.   When the pious come to blows, fist to cuffs, as they fight for freedom and justice for all, or at least all who look or live as they do, what do the quieter “others” do?

The peace lover takes no comfort in the obvious; canons are practiced inconsistently.  Even the religious are ready to attack.  Excuses are made.  Each nation and its inhabitants offer validation for vicious, vindictive, imprudent assaults.  Nor does the antiwar wish to ask questions that are never truly answered.  Is it ethical, inevitable, eternal, and when, or how will it ever end.  Conscientious objector to combat acknowledge the mantra will likely be reactive.  Attack; inquire of ethics anon.

This is why peaceful persons might try not to actively engage in discussions of the affairs in the Mediterranean, ever.  They know.  While warriors wish to answer such inquiries with another, “What would you do if your home were blasted, would you retaliate?”  The peaceful can only ponder, what is this strange quest for justice?  Revenge?

“Don’t take vengeance and don’t bear a grudge against the members of your nation; love your neighbor as yourself”. (Leviticus 19:18.)

~ Torah

“Those who spend in ease as well as in adversity and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men.”

~ Qur’an

Religious References . . .

Peace, Justice, and Prosperity

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

For most of my life I have been a dreamer.  As a child I sat many a fine hour on a creek bank with a cork floating on the water (often with no bait on the hook) and dreamed of other times and other places.  In those years science fiction was a staple of reading.  Television was young and barely available.  Entertainment was found by one’s self or not found at all for the most part.  

In years past I dreamed of a better life for myself and my family.  In those days the dream was more about myself than for other people.  As life has continued in time the dream has come to encompass the people around me and now extends to the nation and around the entire globe.  Today I dream of a world in which peace, justice, and prosperity are the rule of the day.

Most of all I dream of a United States President who works to insure our nation benefits from the principles of peace, justice, and prosperity.  The dream includes a President who brings our troops home from our occupation zones around the world before more damage is done on either side of the affair.  The dream holds an administration focused on diplomacy using carrots instead of sticks to deal with foreign nations.  

The dream means a world in which peace is a primary objective to be sought far ahead of any thought of belligerence or of military operations.  In my dream the world’s military forces are maintained at low levels in peacetime status.  The forces are prepared to defend their individual nation from outside attack, but are not used to invade or to occupy any nation without being attacked first.

I dream of a world in which justice reigns as a supreme rule for all people no matter their sex, age, skin color, or nationality.  Every person in my dream is treated fairly according the same rules as every other.  In the world of my dreams all have an equal chance at finding success and happiness in their own fashion.  There are no special rewards accorded the rich and the powerful beyond those of just treatment.  Education and health care are given freely to one and all as a benefit of society and to benefit in return the society.  A nation that holds an educated and healthy citizenry will be a more prosperous country at the end of the day.

Prosperity rules in my dream as all peoples of all nations work to the betterment of the entire globe.  In the absence of massive military expenditures to drain national economies, investments are made in basic research, in infrastructure such as highways and public buildings, and in education.  Factories produce goods that people with good jobs can buy.  And the capitalist circle continues to the benefit of all.

Is this too much for which to dream?  I think not.  Every day we hear news of the failures in our nation and in our world at large.  There are more than enough reports of crime to go around these days.  The housing market is slumping.  The financial markets suffer.  News of war zones and various areas of armed conflict around the globe are terrible.  Global warming increases day by day as the environment is affected by the actions of humankind and the natural forces of our globe.

When ever will this situation end?  Can my dream of peace, justice, and prosperity come to fruition one day?  I submit the dream is much more than the meanderings of a simple mind unable to face reality.  Leaders with great visions and dreams of a better future exist in our country today.  The trick is to find those people and to see to their election at every level in our nation.

We need leaders who not only espouse great dreams but who have solutions to the issues facing us today.  Any person can find fault and point out the problems.  The real trick is finding solutions.  We need leaders who surround themselves with problem solvers.  We need people with the ability to see a problem and to find a variety of solutions to the issue.  Then we need a leader who can sort through the various solutions to find the one way to best face and correct the problems.

We need our dreamers in the world today, and no, I am not talking about any one political candidate of the day, but speaking in general to one and all.  In particular I speak to the voting public at large.  We each and every one must take action every day to see to solutions.  We must cease our bickering and begin to work together to make the best solutions become reality.  We have no more time to complain about what is not happening.  We must move to make progress on all fronts.

Together we can move a nation.  We must hold to that dream of a finer place one day.  Those who let go their dreams lose all hope.  We who dream must share our hopes and our ambitions and our dreams that others, too, may find the right to dream.  We stand together or we fall apart.  We are after all in this together.  

By touching one heart, one mind at a time we can begin to make the differences that will shape our world for generations to come.  It is only by failing to take action and failing to share our dreams that we insure the status quo.

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-01.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

The Myth Of Hard Work

It is my honor to introduce Forgiven.  I believe his thoughtful, reflective treatise speaks volumes.  As I read it, so much of the information resonated within me.  I hope you too will appreciate the missive and the message.

copyright © Forgiven The Disputed Truth

There is a common myth that runs through America, propagated by the wealthy for mass consumption.  This myth has been one of the most dangerous and divisive instruments used against the American working class of all races.  This myth has been a part of Americana from the beginning and continues today unabated for the most part and constantly being reinforced by the media, corporate America, and the talking heads.  The myth is simply this: that if an individual will work hard, follow the rules, and be patient that they can be successful.  The biggest determinate to a person’s rise in this society is hard work and personal responsibility.

On the surface, this myth seems plausible and almost logical.  The harder one works the more successful one will become.  It is simple cause and effect, right?  It is precisely this logic that allows the constant criticism of our poorest citizens as being lazy, irresponsible, and foolish to go unchallenged.  If asked, the majority of Americans of all races will state unequivocally that most people are poor because of a lack of personal responsibility and hard work.  The truth is that in accumulating wealth hard work plays a very small role.  The wealth and income gaps between Americans is not based on the fact that one group worked harder than another.  If that were in fact the case in American history, no group has worked harder than the slaves that built this country, the Chinese that built the railroad, or the Mexicans that continue to do the menial labor that drives our information society.

Today, as Tim Wise writes in “The Mother of All Racial Preferences” white baby boomers are benefiting from the largest transfer of wealth in American history as they inherit their parents’ estates.  Some of that wealth dates back to the years of slavery, when Blacks were forced to work for free while their white owners and the American economy accumulated the benefits of their toil.  Another large category of the transferred wealth is land, much of it stolen by the American government from Native Americans and Mexicans and sold for a pittance to white settlers.  For the average white family, however, some of the largest sources of wealth are the result of racial preferences in government policies that were started in the 20th century.   Focus On Affirmative Action

As I was researching this essay, I began to look back on my own work experiences and it was a fact that I worked the hardest on the jobs that paid me the least.  There is something wrong with a system that pays a person more who is actually doing less and not only are they paid more but there is a great disparity in those earnings.  How can we in good conscious claim that the person working for minimum wage or working two menial jobs is not working hard enough and are therefore responsible for their lack of wealth?  Unfortunately for them and most other poor minorities, wealth is the accumulation of advantages or disadvantages.  If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge the discrepancy of labor to income, except for labor intensive trades.  These low end wage earners work very hard and yet despite their efforts they continue to be poor.

The problem I have is simply this, I want the opportunity to be successful based on the premise that all are equal and therefore have equal access to the tools of success.  The issue is not whether everyone will take the opportunity provided, the issue is that the opportunity be provided to all equally.  Not every white person takes advantage of all of their advantages, but I don’t hear any talk that they as a group are not worthy to have opportunities.  For some reason, if some blacks choose not to take advantage of their opportunities, it is an indictment against all blacks and therefore we do not deserve any opportunities.  The point is this, if not one black takes advantage of an equal education or employment opportunities, so what.  Equality is the key, not what one does with it.  These opportunities should still exist and be equal for all, because that is what is right.

Critics of affirmative action lean heavily on the myth that people make it on their own in the United States based on hard work and individual effort.  They also maintain that government intervention in the wealth creation process is not just unprecedented, but un-American.  Simply put, they ask: Why should the beneficiaries of affirmative action be the recipients of preferential governmental policies when whites acquired their wealth through hard work?  The answer is simple: in reality governmental policy has played an absolutely crucial role in determining the racial character of the haves and the have nots in America.  Focus On Affirmative Action

Since the beginning of America, the government has provided the tools for one group to have advantages at the exclusion of other groups.  The majority of wealth in America is based on the government policies that favored one group over another, for anyone to say that the government should not now show any favoritism is either being blatantly dishonest or ignorant to the history of America.  The majority of personal wealth in America is based on home ownership, if governmental policies provided funds for one group and not all groups equally then that is favoritism.  With the government condoning and encouraging “red-lining” in mortgage loans by the FHA, it allowed whites to receive low interest loans on their mortgages thus providing them with the needed equity to begin the process of wealth accumulation.  This is just one of many government policies that helped to decide who was going to be well-off in America and who wasn’t.

I want to state that I believe that personal responsibility is important.  It is important however not for accumulating wealth, its importance lies in the health of the society.  The health of a society is based on the principle that everyone in that society is personally responsible for their actions, not because it leads to wealth but because it leads to a better society.  Whether you are a low wage worker or the CEO of a Fortune 500, it is incumbent upon all of us to do what is right and to do our best.  Again, the point is not that we base opportunity on a given person’s response to it, but on equal access.  When we reach the stage where everyone has equal opportunity for success, then we can talk about who is taking advantage and who isn’t.  Until that time it is a moot point, because the myth will still just be a myth.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy