Warren Blumenfeld's Blog

Social Justice, Intersections in Forms of Social Oppression, Bullying Prevention

Theocracies and Justification for Widescale Oppression Then and Now

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Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

John Lennon

Whether we realize it or not, history determines how we frame current events. Take, for example, two recent incidents that represent legacies from millennia past.

Donald Trump, as the most politically-powerful person on the planet, officially declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and announced plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from the city of Tel Aviv – the site of all other nation’s embassies in Israel.

By taking these actions, the President of the United States confirmed what most Orthodox Jewish leaders have asserted for literally thousands of years that the entire ancient land of Israel, “The Promised Land,” this “Land of Milk and Honey,” was guaranteed by almighty G*d to the Jewish people as it is said in the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) in Genesis 15:18-21, 26:3, 28:13, and other biblical passages. The city of Jerusalem appears 669 times in the Jewish Bible.

The text most quoted to justify Jerusalem as the Jewish “Eternal City” is found in 2 Chronicles 6:5-6, where King Solomon quotes G*d as saying, in part: “…I [your G*d] have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.”

But then again, according to many Orthodox Christian leaders for the past two thousand years, though God may have given Jerusalem and the ancient land of Israel to the Jews, the Holy City holds immense importance to the Christian people not only because Jesus died and has risen there, but also since this is the very place of “the end of days” where “the Christ,” according to Christian prophesy, the one anointed by the Lord, will return and rein forever and ever.

After the Muslim Seljuk Turks conquered Jerusalem and much of the Holy Land, and closed it to all Jewish and Christian pilgrims, Pope Urban II commenced the First Crusade (1096-1102), and others followed until 1291 to recapture the territory for Christians.

While Mecca in the current nation of Saudi Arabia is the most sacred of all Muslim places, Jerusalem is important religiously as the site where the Islamic prophet Muhammad took his Night Journey to heaven ((isra’), and where the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque rests. In political terms, the Palestinian people claim East Jerusalem as the capital of any eventual Palestinian nation.

The problem seems that God has promised the same parcel of land to three peoples of three Abrahamic religions. How different is this “God-given” right from the justification used by European-heritage people in its colonial expansion in “the Americas”?

For example, the doctrine of “manifest destiny” embraced a belief in American Anglo-Saxon superiority. “This continent,” a congressman declared, “was intended by Providence as a vast theatre on which to work out the grand experiment of Republican government, under the auspices of the Anglo-Saxon race.”

Another current event where the past reared its not-so invisible head was in the U.S. senate race in Alabama with the candidacy of Judge Roy Moore. Moore rose to prominence (infamy) with his extreme Christian biblical interpretations that directly contradict the United States Constitution that he swore to protect and defend.

Moore rationalized breaking his oath as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court on religious grounds by invoking Biblical texts when he imposed a large stone slab of the Ten Commandments on the publicly-owned courthouse grounds, and when he urged all Alabama judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to ensure marriage equality for same-sex couples. He has also asserted that Muslims do not have a right to serve in Congress.

Moore ironically justified his opposition to marriage equality by allegedly defending children from “an inherent evil” by calling for the seizure of the children of gay and lesbian people and sending the parents to prison. He argued that children must not be “raised in unnatural families that contradict the created order.”

On issues of race, he referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as “reds” and “yellows,” and when asked by an African American to state a time when America was great,” Moore responded:

“I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

Nine women, some who were underage at the time, charged this supposedly highly religious Christian man with sexual harassment and assault, which Moore denied. Many of his staunch supporters invoked religion in his defense. For example, Jim Ziegler, Alabama state auditor stated:

“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

And Jerry Moore, Roy’s brother proclaimed:

“The allegations against Roy Moore are not true, not true at all….[My brother is being persecuted] like Jesus Christ was.”

The lighted billboard sign standing outside The Living Way Ministries Church in Opelika, Alabama, a tax-exempt religious institution, announced:

““THEY FALSELY ACCUSED JESUS! VOTE ROY MOORE”

Religion and its perversely distorted interpretations by individuals, groups, denominations, and nations throughout the ages have devoted themselves to justifying the most unimaginable and egregious forms of oppression against other human beings and against the environment.

Individuals and organizations have employed “religion” to justify the marginalization, harassment, denial of rights, persecution, oppression, theft, and murder of entire groups of people based on their social identities. During various historical periods, people have applied these texts, sometimes taken in tandem, and at other times used selectively, to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and groups targeted by these texts and tenets.

Monocultural theocratic ethno-states and denominations justify the very worst in the human psyche. How much more division, though, and how many more deaths will it take for people to come to understand that religion, if one chooses to believe, should be used to establish a connection on the personal level with a force outside oneself, and not as weaponized ammunition to aim at those who believe otherwise?

So let’s just continue marginalizing, attacking, robbing, and killing one another over beliefs we can never prove. That makes a lot of sense. Or does it?

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

December 11th, 2017 at 3:14 pm

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Remembering a First: Elmhurst College Leading the Way

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Elmhurst College became the first institution of higher education in 2011 to include an optional demographic question on its admission application forms related to sexual and gender identity. The question asks: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT community?” with the three multiple-choice answers: “Yes,” “No” and “Prefer Not to Answer.” Numerous campuses have since followed Elmhurst’s lead.

Though the way students answer this question will not impact their chances for admission, college administrators took this move to increase student diversity on the campus, which is part of their mission statement.

Elmhurst took an important step forward because it sends a strong message that this institution acknowledges, welcomes, and supports LGBT people. In the midst of Elmhurst’s progressive advancement, however, conditions related to campus climate often remain difficult at best for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students.

I along with my co-researchers Sue Rankin, Genevieve N. Weber, and Somjen Frazer conducted our comprehensive study, 2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People, which was sponsored by the Q Research Institute in Higher Education of the national organization Campus Pride.

Our results found that LGBT students, staff, faculty, and administrators remain at significantly higher risk, compared with their heterosexual and gender normative counterparts, for harassment at our colleges and universities. The on-line study comprised 5149 participants including students, staff, faculty, and administrators representing all 50 states who attended all the Carnegie Basic Classification of institutions of higher education.

We found that a considerable number (31%) experienced difficult or hostile campus climate, 21% experienced some form of harassment around their sexual identity or gender expression. Among LGB participants, 13% feared for their physical safety, while 43% along the transgender spectrum feared for their physical safety.

Approximately 50% of our participants concealed their identities (stayed in “The Closet”) in an attempt to avoid intimidation. These rates were significantly higher for LGBT participants of color. In addition, more than one-third of all participants seriously considered leaving their campuses.

While enumerated categories on official forms, and also within bullying prevention, hate crimes, and civil rights legislation, and directed questions in research surveys aid in successful efforts to raise the visibility and to determine the unique needs of members of specific communities, for example, minoritized ethnic, racial, sexual, and gender diverse segments of the larger population and specifically within our campus communities, we typically encounter resistance and backlash to these efforts.

Elmhurst College’s inclusion of an LGBT demographic question on their standard student admissions form has not, as some had contended, taken us down the slippery slope from a focus on equity and equality of opportunity to the realm of affirmative action. Those who assert this show utter lack of knowledge regarding the goals of the LGBT movement. Those who employ this scare tactic divert attention from the real goal we have of heightening visibility of LGBT students and their issues and ending the isolation and marginalization on our campuses.

Those who find concern about the preference abounding in college admissions policies, they should investigate the inequities in granting preferences to “legacy” students whose parents and grandparents graduated from these esteemed institutions, many who have contributed substantial amounts to their alma maters. According to The Economist:

“In most Ivy League institutions…‘legacies’ make up between 10% and 15% of every class….The students in America’s places of higher education are increasingly becoming an oligarchy….”

In fact, all the major movements for progressive social change have had many “firsts,” and they have gained from the theorists, activists, and movement leaders who have preceded them.

The first wave of the Feminist movement in the 19th century gained its inspiration from the leadership and strategies of the Abolitionist movement. The workers and union movements built on the strengths of the Abolitionist and Feminist movements. The Civil Rights movements continued to build on those who had gone before. In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gained inspiration for his philosophy of non-violent resistance not only from his religious faith, but also from Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa and India, and Leo Tolstoy in Russia.

The second wave of the Feminist movement recharged from previous movements reflecting the first wave and the movements during the intervening years. The counter-cultural youth movements, the environmental justice movements, movements for peace, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movements, the movement for intersex equality and rights, the disability rights movement, the movement for medical and mental patients’ rights, the movement for youth liberation, indeed, the movements for all oppressed people somehow connect and draw from one another.

In addition to social movements, academic discourses also align in a number of ways. Critical Multiculturalism, Critical Race Theory, Critical Feminist Theory, Post-Colonial Theory, Queer Theory, and others synergize, reflect upon, and enhance one another.

One of my favorite poets and essayists, Adrienne Rich, highlights the damage done through silencing and invisibility:

“When those who have the power to name and to socially construct reality choose not to see you or hear you …when someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing.”

But we can take strength that at these moments of “firsts” like those at Elmhurst College, we have the opportunity to join in unified action. Rich continues:

“It takes some strength of soul — and not just individual strength, but collective understanding — to resist this void, this non-being, into which you are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.”

Thank you Elmhurst College for leading the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

December 8th, 2017 at 2:23 pm

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Donald Trump Provokes Third Intifada by Recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli Capital

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The body of Donald J. Trump has become the site where reason, truth, and empathy go to die!

By officially declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from the city of Tel Aviv – the site of all other nation’s embassies in Israel — Donald J. Trump imperials the world, and further jeopardizes a peaceful resolution to the seemingly perennial Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinian organization, Hamas, has accused Trump of opening “the gates of Hell,” and has called for organized protest. In anticipation, the U.S. State Department has issued safety warning for embassies around the world.

Except for most Israeli officials and several people in the United States, Trump’s action has been roundly criticized by leaders in capitals throughout the world, with mere tepid support from his own Secretaries of State and Defense. In his own perverse way, Trump has brought together constant rivals in the Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, in one united voice opposing his decision.

All other U.S. Presidents of both parties since the modern state of Israel’s inception in 1948 hoped that West Jerusalem would become the capital of a peaceful Israel, and according to the interests and wishes of most Palestinians and their leaders, East Jerusalem would become the capital of the eventual Palestinian state. By taking these unprecedented and premature actions, Donald Trump has poured Middle Eastern oil onto a tinder box that, likely, will ignite the Third Intifada in the region.

Ariel Sharon instigated the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising against Israel) in September 2000 by walking upon the Temple Mount, the home of some of the holiest shrines in Islam. In the four years following Sharon’s provocation, estimates place the death toll of military personnel and civilians at 3,000 Palestinians, 1,000 Israelis, and 64 foreigners. Sharon became Israel’s eleventh Prime Minister six months following his infamous “visit” to the Temple Mount.

Trump’s official recognition and intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem makes no political sense other than to appease his ever-decreasing base of supporters and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, one of Trump’s many puppet masters. Trump’s decision further endangers U.S. and Israeli security, and offers nothing to move the peace process forward. In fact, it places the final nail in its coffin.

Surrounding investigations into Trump’s connections with Russia, he acts like a wounded and caged animal fending for his life. His latest announced plans in Israel along with his repeated insults and incitements toward a volatile and brutal North Korean autocrat appear likely that he is attempting to take down the entire planet and all its inhabitants along with him.

Donald Trump’s actions have risen to the level of high crimes of treasonous offenses that present clear and present dangers to the citizens of the international community.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

December 6th, 2017 at 11:05 pm

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Peace Will Prevail Over Trumpism Only With Justice

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“There can be no justice without peace, and there can be no peace without justice.”

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace activist and civil rights leader, Dr. King chanted this statement outside a California prison, which was holding Vietnam War protesters on December 14, 1967. In his commitment and passion for justice, and in his inimical and profound way, he understood several connecting strands:

“I see these two struggles as one struggle,” he said. By fighting a war “against the self-determination of the Vietnamese people,” he realized that his country, the United States of America, had been proliferating injustice. While fighting for the civil and human rights of people in his home nation, without opposing what King believed to be the clear exploitation of the Vietnamese people, would contradict his declaration that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Throughout his life, he invoked his vibrant image of the “inescapable network of mutuality” that links all of humanity.

With King’s words swirling around my mind, I sat stunned in complete disbelief watching as Donald Trump announced and then signed, with his typical overexaggerated flare, Executive Orders to shrink by over two-million acres two national monuments, Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, in the state of Utah utilizing “states’ rights” as his justification.

Through his disingenuous words, however, the staged cheers from invited guests, the gleaming teeth flashing from plastered smiles of political leaders, we see clearly that Trump’s assault on the environment and on the native peoples’ sacred lands has more to do with the rights of mining, drilling, and logging corporations that it ever could have with the rights of states.

For the second time in barely over a week, Trump has launched the second battle in his declared war on First Nations peoples. Flanked by surviving Navajo war veterans in a White House ceremony giving honor to them one week prior, President Donald Trump lacked any sense of decency and respect by again taunting his nemesis, Senator Elizabeth Warren, with a racial epithet, “Pocahontas,” referring to her Native American heritage. He did this while standing beneath a portrait of Trump’s acknowledged “favorite” president, Andrew Jackson, who is infamously known to have committed genocide on native peoples.

But whenever I think this incompetent, dishonest, and psychologically damaged man could not surpass the hurt he has wrought, there he goes shoveling even more dung on the people and institutions he swore to protect.

I write these words as my heart is breaking yet again. Over the past two years, ever since Donald J. Trump descended the escalator in his golden tower to announce his run for the most powerful position in the world, he has offended so many individuals and entire groups of people, most of whom hold little political and social power, that I find it difficult to comprehend how and why such a person could attain and then remain in office.

I wept as he stereotyped Mexicans as criminals and rapists, and when he mocked a journalist with disabilities. I shook with rage as the gloated about grabbing women by their genitals, and when he personally attacked courageous Gold Star families.

I felt breathless when he summarily declared transgender military members disqualified to serve their country, and excluded from public facilities most closely aligning to their identities. But I took it as par for this president’s (non-golf) course when he officially endorsed an accused child sexual predator and molester over a qualified Democrat in a U.S. senatorial contest.

Throughout his march to the Oval Office, he has stereotyped and further marginalized Muslims and the religion of Islam, alienated our closest international allies, provoked our adversaries, demeaned and degraded members of our Intelligence agencies and judicial institutions, deregulated environment policies that further imperil our planet.

In league with Republican flawmakers, he has attacked the middle and working classes with retrograde healthcare and tax policies. Had this President and his Republican co-conspirators been physicians, we the people would have already sued them for malpractice.

Each week throughout the year as I make my pleasant two-mile walk to my local supermarket with four-wheeled cart in tow, I pass a house with a large white pole and a United States flag in the front yard flowing in the breeze. Recently in my western Massachusetts neighborhood, we experienced very heavy sustained winds with even stronger gusts.

Subsequently, this week as I traveled my customary jaunt, I noticed that the wind somehow noticeably tilted the pole and tore and battered the flag. Seemingly one of the holes hooked up and over the pole causing the flag to knot up onto itself. Metaphorically, this torn, battered, and knotted flag incapable of flying unfurled symbolizes the current political climate ravaging our country.

As a resident of Washington, D.C. during the presidency of Richard Nixon and the upheavals surrounding the Watergate investigations, which ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation, I was reassured that our nation’s Constitution, while imperfect, held our institutions together even as our people stood disunited.

During these current troubling times of discord and dissent, political polarity and incompetence, ever-increasing social and economic inequalities, scapegoating and stereotyping, and our nation’s shrinking moral leadership throughout the world, I believe our Constitution will get us through as long we as a people remain vigilant working tirelessly to ensure that justice rises and ultimately prevails in our quest for peace.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

December 5th, 2017 at 12:10 am

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Grade School as a Gender-Noncomforming Student

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I dedicate this commentary to my life-long friend and comrade, Lawrence (Larry) J. Magid, who has been there himself, and who always has been there for me.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This was one of the biggest lies our culture teaches us growing up. Another myth states that bullying is simply a sign of a youthful rite of passage, that “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls,” and that it will toughen them to better meet the demands of life.

In a longitudinal study conducted by Boston Children’s Hospital and published in the February 17, 2014 issue of Pediatrics, “Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade,” while the results might appear rather intuitive, researchers confirmed that the longer the timeframe peers bully a young person, the more severe and lasting the impact on that person’s health.

I did not have to wait for the study to understand full well the long-term consequences of bullying. For most of my years in school, I was continually attacked and beaten by my peers who perceived me as someone who was “different.”

Names like “queer,” “little girl,” and “fag” rained down upon me like the big red dodge ball my classmates furiously and sadistically hurled at one another on the schoolyard. I would not – or rather, could not – conform to expressions of the gender roles that my family and peers so clearly expected me to follow, and I regularly paid the price.

This kind of bullying and policing of my gender started the very first day I entered kindergarten. In 1952 I attended public school in Bronxville, New York. As my mother dropped me off and kissed me good-bye on the cheek, I felt completely alone and began to cry. My new teacher walked up to me and said, in a somewhat detached tone of voice, “Don’t cry. Only sissies and little girls cry.”

Some of the other boys overheard her, and quickly began mocking me. “The little girl wants her mommy,” one said. “What a sissy,” said another. Without a word, the teacher simply walked away. I went into the coatroom and cried, huddling in a corner by myself, until she found me.

Not knowing what else to do at this time with what they considered as my gender non-conformity, my parents sent me to a child psychologist at the age of four until my 13th birthday because they feared that I might be gay (or to use the terminology of the day, “homosexual”), and because they were afraid for my safety.

There was a basic routine in the “therapy” sessions. My mother took me out of school every Monday and Thursday at 11:00 to the psychologist’s office. I walked in, took off my coat, and put it on the hook behind the door. The psychologist then asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to discuss. I invariably said “no.” Since I did not understand why I was there in the first place, I surely did not trust him enough to talk candidly.

When I was less than forthcoming in our conversations (which was on most occasions), he took down from the shelf a model airplane, or a boat, or a truck, and we spent the remainder of the hour assembling the pieces with glue. In private sessions with my parents, he told them that he wanted me to concentrate on behaviors and activities associated with males, while of course avoiding those associated with females.

He instructed my parents to assign me the household tasks of taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn (even though we initially lived in an apartment building and we did not have a lawn), and not washing or drying the dishes. He also told my parents to prevent me from playing with dolls or to cook. And – as if this all was not enough – he advised my parents to sign me up for a little league baseball league, which despite my hatred of the sport, my father basically forced me to join for two summers.

“When you wave,” my father sternly warned one afternoon on the front steps of our apartment building when I was eight years old, “you MUST move your whole hand at the same time. Don’t just move the fingers up and down like you’re doing.”

He grabbed my arm, and despite my free-flowing tears and cheeks red with shame, he vigorously demonstrated the “proper” hand wave for a “man.” Then, as if anticipating the scene in the film La Cage Aux Folles (and the U.S. remake The Birdcage), my father took me into the backyard and forced me to walk and run “like men are supposed to move their bodies.” Obviously, I had previously been doing something wrong. “Of course the other children pick on you,” he blamed. “You do act like a girl.” I was humiliated.

Despite this, I developed what would become a lifelong appreciation of music and art. When I was in the fifth grade of my elementary school in Van Nuys, California, I auditioned for the school chorus, and the music teacher accepted me along with only a handful of boys and about 50 girls. The scarcity of boys in the chorus was not due to any gendered imbalance in the quality of boys’ singing voices. The determining factor was one of social pressure.

I and the other few boys in the chorus were generally disliked by our peers. In fact, most of the other boys in our class picked on us, and labeled us “the chorus girls,” “the fags,” “the sissies,” and “the fairies.” The girls, on the other hand, who “made it” into the chorus were well respected and even envied by the other girls.

I can see now that this all amounted to an insidious and dehumanizing fear and hatred of anything even hinting at femininity in males. This is, of course, a thinly-veiled misogyny, and it nearly succeeded in taking my life.

Looking into the bathroom mirror, my 14-year-old self stared back at me, tears rolling down into the sink below. All I could envision was the continual and relentless attacks: boys flicking my ears from behind me when we were aboard the school bus, girls loudly giggling as I walked by, peers isolating me on the school yard keeping me from playing games or joining them for lunch, students flinging food at me from multiple corners of the lunchroom, boys waiting for me with constant blows to my stomach and face when teachers weren’t looking.

I don’t remember where, but I learned that if I took more than the recommended dosage of aspirin tablets, I could develop serious internal bleeding and die. Seeing no way out, I opened the bathroom medicine cabinet turning my 14-year-old reflection away. Reaching inside, I grabbed the 1000-count aspirin bottle, and with hands shaking, soundlessly twisted off the cap as not to arouse suspicion from my family just beyond the door.

Then with seeming effortlessness, I poured a handful of pills as if I were pouring sugar from a shaker. With little hesitation, I lifted my clenched hand toward my mouth and tossed the white pills into my mouth, choking and gagging as they hit my throat. Their bitterness, though, forced me to vomit them into the sink.

Though I was angry at myself for not having the “stomach” to kill myself, I was also relieved because I suppose at least a part of me still wished to live.

All things considered, my life turned out fairly well. I entered college in 1965 during a time our society underwent dynamic changes. I joined with others to demonstrate our opposition to the war in Vietnam; I worked with students of color in our common struggle against housing discrimination around our campus, and I helped plan ecology workshops to highlight the state of our increasingly polluted planet. I chose to join a therapy group in my college counseling center, which gave me the support to “come out” as gay. I later went on to become a teacher for children with disabilities, a journalist, and a tenured university professor. I now define myself as “agender.”

As I am writing this today at age 70, I consider myself not as a victim, but rather as a survivor of the bullying and abuse from those earlier times. When my therapist diagnosed me having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with Social Anxiety Disorder, moderate Agoraphobia, and clinical depression over 30 years ago, I was actually relieved, for then I could begin to let go of the self-blame I had carried for so long.

Today, I often hear Steven Sondheim’s song, “Anyone Can Whistle,” in my mind’s ear, a Broadway show tune about a person who has accomplished many difficult tasks – like speaking Greek, dancing the tango, even slaying a dragon – but who seems incapable of managing simple things like whistling.

Anyone can whistle, that’s what they say — easy.
Anyone can whistle, any old day — easy.
It’s all so simple.
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me, why can’t I?

In my life, I earned numerous degrees including a doctorate, and I published several books and peer reviewed journal articles. I have been asked to speak throughout the United States and around the world on varied topics focusing on issues of social justice, and I have been given a wonderful opportunity to travel to places I only dreamt about when I was younger.

I have come to understand full well, though, and I have come to accept my severe limitations due to the bullying I endured and the damage I suffered from those earlier times. Sondheim’s “whistling” stands as an analogy for relationships.

Though I have attempted to develop long-term romantic relationships along my way, I have come to understand the harm to my emotional self. I have lived alone since 1977 following a series of tries at sharing residences with trusted roommates, though none of these living arrangements worked for me.

In truth, sticks, stones, and names can damage the body as well as the spirit, and they all can kill. Fortunately, schools have at least begun to leave the myths and lies behind, and to take actions. Most notably, we are witnessing more schools conducting programs to empower the so-called “bystanders” – those who know of the bullying, but often feel powerless to step in – transforming them into active “upstanders” by intervening to stop the abuse.

With knowledge, understanding, and interventions, young people are now leading the way to a better future. So…

Maybe you could show me how to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.

* * * * *

I was honored by my friend Larry Magid to write “The Parent, Educator, and Youth Guide to LGBTQ Cyberbullying” for his important life-saving website ConnectSafely. The site generally and the Guide specifically is “dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy and security. Here you’ll find research-based safety tips, parents’ guidebooks, advice, and news and commentary on all aspects of tech use and policy.”

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 30th, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Volcanic Cultural Eruption Changing Patriarchal Landscape

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“What is patriarchy? A society is patriarchal to the degree that it promotes male privilege by being male dominated, male identified, and male centered. It is also organized around an obsession with control and involves as one of its aspects the oppression of women.”

Allan Johnson

Within a patriarchal system of male domination, cisgender heterosexual male bodies matter more, while “othered” bodies matter less. These “othered” bodies include female and intersex bodies, and bodies that violate the “rules” for the reproduction and maintenance of the dominant patriarchal system, such as trans, gender diverse, non-binary, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual bodies, and bodies with disabilities. In addition, within many Western societies, non-European-heritage bodies are regarded also as “othered” abject bodies.

The United States stands at a critical cultural juncture in which victims of sexual harassment and assault are stepping out of the shadows of isolation and fear to challenge abusive patriarchal power, domination, and privilege. Recently their testimony has taken down several prominent high-visibility men in numerous spheres of life, from political to entertainment and media. By doing so, these former victims have empowered others to step out and speak up not only against specific men, but most notably against a patriarchal system of oppression.

Though people of all genders are fully aware of the continuing existence of the patriarchal system, and they have been working tirelessly for its eradication, many others, however, fail to perceive its existence and its harmful effects on themselves and others.

This apparent invisibility in many Western countries, in fact, not only fortifies but, indeed, strengthens its power by perpetuating patriarchal hegemony in such a way as to avoid detection. In other words, male dominance is maintained by its relative invisibility (though for many of us, it stands as blatantly obvious), and with this relative invisibility, privilege escapes analysis and scrutiny, interrogation and confrontation by many.

Dominance is perceived as unremarkable or “normal,” and when anyone poses a challenge or attempts to reveal its true impact and significance, those in the dominant group brand them as “subversive” or “accuse” them of being “overly analytical” or of being “political.” Possibly those who make these accusations are not themselves sufficiently analytical. Most likely, they are attempting to hold on, as long as possible, to their power and privilege.

Within a patriarchal society that transmits distorted binary gender extremes, questions inevitably arise: How dare women demand their reproductive freedoms, which would reduce or even take away my (the male) making the decision whether to carry or abort my genetic offspring? How dare a woman choose not to marry a man? How dare women compete with me for a high social position? How dare gay men think of coming on to me? How dare transmen take on the privileges by transitioning that I have “earned” from birth? How dare transwomen relinquish male privilege and betray their gender (read as betray patriarchy itself)? How dare intersex people not choose to “become either one or the other”?

Toxic forms of hypermasculinity require the promotion and use of firearms to keep at bay the intensive psychosocial compulsive fear and dread of penetration from bullets, and by extension the gaze of gay and bisexual men, and the female gaze since patriarchy promises males the right to the aggressive outward intrusive gaze, the right of penetration of “others.”

Laws are built upon and reflect the society in which they are meant to affect. Our patriarchal individualistic society opposes and inhibits women’s reproductive freedoms, encourages the inequities in salaries between men and women, establishes and maintains the massive development of wealth for a very few while encouraging the enormous financial disparities between the very rich and everyone else, and many other issues.

Throughout history, examples abound of male domination over the rights and lives of women and girls. Men denied women the vote until women fought hard and demanded the rights of political enfranchisement, though women in some countries today still are restricted from voting; strictly enforced gender-based social roles mandated without choice that women’s only option was to remain in the home to undertake cleaning and childcare duties; women were and continue to be by far the primary target of harassment, abuse, physical assault, and rape by men.

In addition, women were and remain locked out of many professions. At one time, rules required that women teachers relinquish their jobs after marriage. In fact, the institution of marriage itself was structured on a foundation of male domination with men serving as the so-called “head of the household” and taking on sole ownership of all property thereby restricting these rights from women.

And when patriarchal social and family structures converge with patriarchal religious systems, which reinforce strictly defined gender hierarchies of male domination, women and girl’s oppression and oppression of those who transgress sexual-, sexuality-, and gender binaries and boundaries became inevitable.

In other words, women have been constructed as second-class and even third-class citizens, but through it all, women as a group have challenged the inequities and have pushed back against patriarchal constraints.

The current cultural shift has been long in coming. It must not be considered, though, as arising from a quick and sudden earthquake, but more from a long-simmering and often erupting volcano that changes the entire landscape from time to time. The latest victims of this patriarchal system to speak out are standing on the strong and firm shoulders of multiple generations over several centuries, to the activists in the first, second, and third waves of feminists, from the courage of individuals like Sojourner Truth to Anita Hill to Anthony Rapp to Leigh Corfman.

As volcanic eruptions alter forever the physical landscape, all the courageous upstanders against patriarchal oppression will forever alter the cultural and social landscape.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press), co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense Publications), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge), editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 29th, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Donald Trump Insults Native American Heroes & the Country They Served

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“I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas!”

Flanked by surviving Navajo war veterans in a White House ceremony giving honor to them, President Donald Trump lacked any sense of decency and respect by again taunting his nemesis Senator Elizabeth Warren with a racial epithet referring to her Native American heritage.

Trump then turned to the Navajo man standing next to him adding, “But you know what? I like you. You are special people.” Trump also referred several times to White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, as “the chief.”

Included at the ceremony were former Marines like those memorialized in the Hollywood movie, “Windtalkers,” in which Navajo Marines formed an unbreakable internal radio code using their native language in the Pacific during World War II saving countless U.S. and allies’ lives.

As if Trump’s words were not bad enough, he further insulted these courageous veterans by conducting the official ceremony directly beneath a portrait of Trump’s acknowledged “favorite” president: Andrew Jackson.

During the early years of the new republic, with its increasing population and desire for land, political leaders, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, advocated that Indian lands should be obtained through treaties and purchase. President Jefferson in 1803 wrote a letter to then Tennessee political leader, Andrew Jackson, advising him to convince Indians to sell their “useless” forests to the U.S. government and become farmers. Jefferson and other government leaders overlooked the fact that this style of individualized farming went contrary to Indian communitarian spiritual and cultural traditions.

Later, however, when he inhabited the White House, Jackson argued that white settlers (a pleasant term for “land thieves”) had a “right” to confiscate Indian land. Though he proposed a combination of treaties and an exchange or trade of land, he maintained that white people had a right to claim any Indian lands that were not under cultivation. Jackson recognized as the only legitimate claims for Indian lands those on which they grew crops or made other “improvements.”

The Indian Removal Act of May 28, 1830 authorized President Jackson to confiscate Indian land east of the Mississippi River, “relocate” its former inhabitants, and exchange their former land with territory west of the River. The infamous “Trail of Tears” during Jackson’s presidency attests to the forced evacuation and redeployment of entire Indian nations in which many died of cholera, exposure to the elements, contaminated food, and other environmental hazards.

In addition, though Jackson founded the Democratic Party and brought greater popular control to government, as a farmer, his wealth increased enormously through his enslavement of Africans, and he gave the lash to any who attempted escape.

Earlier, the Naturalization Act of 1790 excluded Native American Indians from citizenship, considering them, paradoxically, as “domestic foreigners.” They were not accorded rights of citizenship until 1924 when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, though Asians continued to be denied naturalized citizenship status at that time.

Once again, Trump proved that he has no love or need for knowledge or preparation, he has no apparent understanding of history or of science, and he has even less use for either. This President is a complete embarrassment to the office he holds and the country he very pathetically represents.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 27th, 2017 at 8:12 pm

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Top 10 Most Bigly Yugest Really-Great Best-Ever Trumpian Lows of the Year

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As individuals and organizations busily prepare their “best” and “worst” lists of 2017, I have compiled categories of the ten most bigly yugest really-great best-ever Trumpian lows of the year. I arrange my list in no particular order of rank, and because there are so many low lows, unfortunately I can’t include them all.

  1. Personnel

While Trump promised during the campaign that when elected as the 45th President of the United States he would hire the best, brightest, and most qualified people to serve in his administration and on the bench, he has actually taped the least qualified and least demographically diverse staff advisors and cabinet secretaries in modern history, most who have certified conflicts of interest in the positions they hold.

In addition, he has forced out experienced and competent career administrators in several departments, including the diplomatic core personnel at the State Department, without refilling these positions, most notably in international hotspots such as South Korea.

By hiring his son-in-law and daughter, he has engaged in a cynical form of nepotism, which itself poses extreme conflicts of interest.

  1. Statements

Donald Trump talks in hyperbolic exaggeration and blatant lies while never missing an occasion to promote and give credit to himself for alleged and false successes virtually each time he moves his lips. He has conducted a campaign of attack, innuendo, name-calling, character assassination, and misrepresentation toward anyone from all stations of life who fail to bow down and kiss his ring or who challenge him on any level no matter who they are, including Gold Star families, black athletes, the cast of a Broadway musical, and former political allies.

This is even more troubling since he is considered the “leader of the free world.”

  1. Legislative Domestic Supports

Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump posed in the guise of a “populist” of the people, by the people, and for the people. Through his actions and support for policy initiatives, he has unmasked himself as a defender of industry and the ultra-rich with an overriding concern for his own economic self-interests.

If his support for Republican attempts to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act eventually succeed, an estimated 30 million lower-income workers will lose healthcare benefits. The current Republican tax “reform” bill will grant enormous tax deductions to corporations and the top 1% of the population, while ultimately raising taxes for many if not most middle- and working-class earners.

The Republicans with Trump’s support have served up once again their so-called “trickle-down,” or more formally referred to as “supply-side,” economics in the latest incarnation of their tax reform plan. “Trickle-Down” has also been referred to as the “Horse-and-Sparrow Theory”: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. Shit happens!

  1. Executive Orders

In his brief time in office, Trump has declared war on the environment by proposing a substantial budgetary reduction of an estimated 24% and a staff cut of 20% to the Environmental Protection Agency, consideration of lower automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, relaxation of prohibitions against dumping toxins like coal ash into streams and rivers, reinstatement of the environmentally damaging Dakota Access and Keystone oil pipelines, and increased coal mining, natural gas, crude and scale oil drilling.

He advised federal agencies to “identify all regulations, all rules, all policies…that serve as obstacles and impediments to American energy independence.” In addition, by loosening banking regulations, Trump has set the stage for yet another great recession or worse.

Trumps assault on transgender people is stunning. In a memo sent from his “Department of Anything-But-Justice” to US attorneys, department heads, and federal agencies, Trump’s Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, reversed an Obama-era policy that protected trans employees from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Session made clear that his department would no longer interpret gender protections in Title VII to include gender identity and expression.

Since Trump’s inauguration, the White House website has removed reference to LGBT issues and policies from the previous administration, and reversed an Obama-era executive order permitting trans students to use school facilities most closely aligning with their gender identities.

Recently, in a three-tweet tirade, he wants to eliminate trans service members from the military.

“After consideration with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…… ….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….. ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Thankfully, the courts have stayed Trump’s military ban from taking effect.

In other executive orders or tweet storms, Trump has expressed his intention of expelling Dreamers and Haitian refugees of the 2010 earthquake from the U.S.

  1. Character

Trump has no love or need for knowledge or preparation, he has no apparent understanding of history or of science, and even less use for either. This President, rather, operates purely on emotion and instinct. He shoots from the mouth, and thrives on chaos, disarray, and perpetual infighting among his staff and advisors, whom he discounts when they attempt to give him counsel.

Born apparently without the character software responsible for empathy, which is installed standard in most human operating systems, conditions causing human suffering don’t move him.

He is unstable in character, ignorant in mind, unfocused in action, which he alters from one minute to the next and after talking with each person he meets. He employed the bait-and-switch tactic though his campaign slogans of “America First” and “Make America Great Again,” transforming these in operation to “Me First” and “Make Donald Trump Even Richer and More Powerful, Again.”

  1. International Relations

Throughout the presidential campaign, during the transition, and now well into his first year, Donald Trump, who has virtually no international relations experience other than business, has made policy proposals and placed into office key officials, some who themselves have limited credentials for the positions they hold.

On Russia, for example, Trump encouraged Russia to cyberattack Hillary Clinton’s email server, and when the CIA offered conclusive evidence of Russia’s hacking into the Democratic National Committee, Trump issued continual denials and challenges to the efficiency and accuracy of U.S. intelligence.

The term useful fools (Russian полезные дураки, tr. polezniye duraki) refers in Russian to a person perceived as a beneficial mouthpiece for policies they do not fully understand, and who are contemptuously exploited by leaders for a goal or cause.

Donald Trump has and will continue to serve as Vladimir Putin and other demagogues’ useful fool in the scope of international relations (and domestic issues), since he knows either nothing, does not fully understand foreign policy issues, and quite possibly does not want to know. In his refusal to take daily intelligence briefings or delve deeply into these issues, he demonstrates his lack of interest in learning.

On his initiatives toward Israel, Trump has willingly served as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s useful fool by supporting Israel’s annexation of portions of the occupied West Bank, and officially recognizing Jerusalem as its capital.

Trump’s U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, makes Netanyahu appear as a Kumbaya Peacenik in comparison. Friedman, a far-right-wing lawyer, does not support a “Two State Solution,” but does support a Jerusalem capital, the “settlement” program, and Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank.

Also on the international front, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the latter action now opens wide the door for China to control trade throughout Asia.

  1. Performing as Divider-In-Chief

Before his declared run, Donald Trump arguably the most prominent of the so-called “birthers,” continually accused President Obama of illegitimacy as Commander in Chief by claiming he was born outside the United States.

Throughout the remainder of his jaunt to the White House up to today, he stepped over the bodies of Muslims, Jews, all women, black people, Latinx people of all nations, activists in Black Lives Matter since they do not matter to him, people with disabilities, bodies that do not fulfill his rigid standards of feminine beauty, prisoners of war, the military in general and military generals whom he knows more about how to defeat ISIS, Gold Star parents, women who have the audacity to fight to control their own bodies and their own lives, transgender people of all ages, couples in same-sex relationships, invading “alien” immigrants, dreamers, Haitian and Syrian refugees, and certainly anyone and everyone who disagrees with or criticizes him.

We are increasingly seeing what has come to be known as “The Trump Effect” in which through Donald’s derisive and abusive words and actions, many young people mirror his behavior and react similarly against their peers.

  1. Toxic Masculinity

This Republican president has exhibited and appealed to compulsory markers of hypermasculinity, for example, to rugged individualism (“I alone can fit it!”), appeals to extreme xenophobic nationalism to defend our country from the invading hoards, objectification of the female body both in language and in alleged deed, and to base notions of tribalism of us versus all “others.”

Toxic misogynistic utterances and allegations of sexual harassment by numerous women have reached historic proportions. Trump’s predatory actions on women he finds attractive has been documented, and his testosterone-fueled bravado has brought our country and countries throughout Asia to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea.

While Donald Trump has no difficulty calling out those he sees as his political opponents, even within the Republican party, while he jumps quickly to label bombings and trucks or cars plowing over people in Europe as “radical Islamic terrorists,” even well before the evidence was collected, he talked in vague terms about the murderous actions by neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, and he refused to call out the perpetrators by name. Trump ejaculated a moral equivalency argument between the white supremacists and demonstrators protesting xenophobic nationalism.

  1. Assaulting the Constitution and the Separation of Powers

By failing to divest his vast business holdings worldwide, Donald Trump not only faces valid charges of conflicts of interest, but more importantly, possibly violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

He continually assaults the First Amendment’s “free speech” clause by going after the media: “[Journalists are] among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” He persistently calls them “liars” whenever they write stories unflattering to him and his administration.

At press conferences, Trump tells reporters to “sit down” when they ask questions he doesn’t like, and he speaks of a “running war” with the media. He has even accused “freedom of the press” as the cause of terrorist bombings in the U.S. He repeatedly has threatened to sue the “crooked and lying” media (Lügenpresse, “lying press” popularized by the German Nazis to silence opposition).

He incessantly blasts “Islamic jihadist terrorists” as the number one threat to our nation, thus exposing U.S. Muslims to increased calls for travel bans from majority-Muslim countries, and a call for a “national registry” and surveillance to track their movements. In his near-obsessive calls for “law and order,” he has called for a return to draconian (and possibly unconstitutional) measures of torture and surveillance.

Assisted by the larger Republican Party and the Supreme Court, which has virtually gutted the 1965 Voting Rights law, Trump has supported measures like gerrymandering and other means resulting in voter suppression campaigns effectively reducing the number of polling stations in primarily minoritized racial communities, and limiting days and times for pre-election-day voting.

  1. Presentation to the World

Donald Trump, through words and actions, presents the U.S. to residents and leaders throughout the world as erratic and ineffective, as retreating from its stated position of defender of human rights and as a guardian against attack to our allies. Unfortunately, this President has alienated our closest international allies while cozying up with brutal dictators in Russia, the Philippians, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, among others.

Going from Obama to Trump has brought about a national and international collective whiplash. From the forward motion of the Obama administration regarding the advancement of civil and human rights to the backward and downward direction of the Trump presidency. Trump’s statements, policies, and actions, coupled with his cabinet and other staff appointees has resulted in furthering the already deep skid marks across the landscape, and a collective fracture of divisions and anxiety on the international body politic.

From what Trump proposes and his manner of presentation, he has continued his radical descent from his golden escalator to the lowest bowels of rhetoric and hurtful policy positions. Donald J. Trump imperials the entire world and brings us closer to horrors previously only imagined in science fiction (which is the only science he believes).

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 24th, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Invading, Raping, Kidnapping, Enslaving, Killing African Lives

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The Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reversed an Obama-era ban on the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia by sports hunters. Following a concerted outcry against lifting the ban, Trump temporarily placed it on hold.

Primarily wealthy white people invade Africa, and then track, entice, snare, capture, kill, sometimes skin, and behead majestic and noble animals, some already appearing on the endangered species list, as trophies for their personal ego fulfillment.

These so-called “hunters” kill not for food, but rather, for sport. In so doing, they demolish complete blood and succession lines, and interrupt entire ecosystems placing species in peril. Surrounding their actions come their sense of entitlement from amassing the discretionary income to satisfy their desires for power over other forms of life. The world exists for them simply for the taking. They view other forms of life as cheap that do not matter, except to fulfill their pleasures.

The philosophy and practice of white supremacy devalues all African and African heritage lives whether human or non-human. White supremacy links slavery in the “Americas” with the ongoing police murders of unarmed black people and to the murder of animals on the continent of Africa.

The institution of slavery in the “Americas” was built on a foundation of white supremacy. Primarily white people, backed by wealthy whites, invaded Africa, and then tracked, enticed, snared, and captured the proud people on the continent, chained and packed them like sardines into crowded ships’ cargo holds, and transported them across vast oceans to foreign shores stripping those who survived of their dignity, languages, cultures, families, and humanity.

The kidnappers as well as the Euro-heritage residents of the “Americas” viewed the “cargo” as cheap lives that did not matter, except to fulfill their needs for unpaid labor and to satisfy their sadistic ego and sexual gratification. If the enslaved had the audacity to misbehave or to escape the reserve called “the plantation,” whites tracked, enticed, snared, captured, and either returned them to the reserve where their so-called “masters” tortured them as examples to inhibit others from “misbehaving,” or they killed them.

Though whites did not need a rationalization for their terror, they justified their brutality on the newly-constructed “science” of “race.” Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), born Carl Linné, (whom we call today the “Father of Scientific Racism”), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, developed a system of scientific hierarchical classification.

Within this taxonomy under the label Homo sapiens, (“Man”), he enumerated five categories based initially on place of origin and later on skin color: Europeanus, Asiaticus, Americanus, Monstrosus, and Africanus.

Linnaeus asserted that each category was ruled by a different bodily fluid (Humors: “moistures”), represented by Blood (optimistic), Phlegm (sluggish), Cholor (yellow bile: prone to anger), Melancholy (black bile: prone to sadness).

Linnaeus constructed his taxonomy in descending order: Europeanus: sanguine (blood), pale, muscular, swift, clever, inventive, governed by laws; Asiaticus: melancholic, yellow, inflexible, severe, avaricious, dark-eyed, governed by opinions; Americanus (indigenous peoples in the Americas): choleric, copper-colored, straightforward, eager, combative, governed by customs; Monstrosus (dwarfs of the Alps, the Patagonian giant, the monorchid Hottentot): agile, fainthearted; Africanus: phlegmatic, black, slow, relaxed, negligent, governed by impulse.

The “founding fathers” of the United States took Linneaus’s constructions not only to reinscribe and revalidate the institution of slavery — many of these “founders” themselves enslaved large numbers of kidnapped Africans — but they also wrote into the U.S. Constitution the so-called “three-fifths clause” counting enslaved Africans as equivalent to three-fifths of a full human being for census purposes. As we can see, then, black lives certainly did not matter.

Though Congress passed on January 31, 1865 and the President signed into law on December 6, 1865 the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery, black lives continued not to matter relative to white lives through Reconstruction, the Jim Crow South, into the 20th century CE, and beyond as we have clearly witnessed in the current spate of killings of black people by police officers.

Black people in the United States coined in the 1960s the battle cries “Black is Beautiful” and “Black Power” as counter hegemonic narrative discourses in a nation that viewed black as ugly and where white people fought ruthlessly to preserve supremacy over black people. Recently black people coined the rallying cry “Black Lives Matter” in a country where historically black lives have not mattered much relative to white lives.

In the final analysis, we must see the senseless murder and devaluation of the lives of animals on the continent of Africa as directly linked with the enslavement, segregation, denial of rights, and murder of African heritage people in the United States, for all this attests to the white supremacist plundering of life continuing to this very day.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

 

 

 

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 17th, 2017 at 8:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Fourth Estate as Antidote for the Fourth Reich

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“Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein. I’m a reporter for the Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5000 and $7000 dollars. We will not be fully investigating these claims; however, we will make a written report. I can be reached by email at albernstein@washingtonpost.com, thank you.”

This specious Robocall injected into the Alabama senatorial campaign is offensive and provocative on countless levels. The caller, by portraying himself (?) as a New York Jew with full-throated accent who represents an “Eastern elitist” newspaper, the Washington Post – the paper that broke the Judge Roy Moore sexual predator scandal – attempts to divert the focus away from the controversy swirling around Moore to the so-called “fake news” run by Jews to control the flow of information, which they hope will control the minds of good “upstanding” (read as Christian) Americans.

The Washington Post issued a statement asserting, in part:

“The call’s description of our reporting methods bears no relationship to reality. We are shocked and appalled that anyone would stoop to this level to discredit real journalism.”

Looking back over the course of the last presidential campaign, Donald Trump expressed similar sentiments to those of Moore in his West Palm Beach, Florida rally speech on October 13, 2016:

“The Washington establishment and the financial and media corporations that fund it exist for only one reason: to protect and enrich itself….For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests…[i]t’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities….This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen or continue. This is our moment of reckoning as a society and as a civilization itself.”

Donald Trump and his misogynist predatory compatriot Roy Moore may not have a general grasp of history, but they certainly understand how to use the propaganda of fascism to sway public opinion in the tactics of Divert-Divide-and-Conquer by lifting the sentiments and words virtually verbatim from the notorious Protocols (Minutes) of a Meeting of the Learned Elders of Zion.

The Protocols was a fabricated antisemitic text dating from 1903 that was widely distributed by Russian Czarist forces to turn public opinion against a so-called “Jewish Revolution” for the purpose of convincing the populace that Jews were plotting to impose a conspiratorial international Jewish government.

It is the alleged minutes of a late 19th-century meeting where Jewish leaders planned to subvert the minds, morals, and cultures of non-Jews by controlling politicians, the press, and world economies for world domination. The Protocols was translated into many languages and circulated throughout the world.

In fact, the raging antisemite, Henry Ford, the U.S. automotive pioneer, argued that Jews controlled world leaders, international finance, and the media. He had the Protocols translated into English in 1927, and published in his newspaper, The Dearborn (Michigan) Independent, thereby introducing it to a large U.S. audience.

Beginning in 1920, Ford chronicled what he considered the “Jewish menace” in his paper. Every week for the next 91 issues, Ford exposed some sort of Jewish evil. The most popular and virulent of his articles he chose to reprint into four volumes titled The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.

Adolph Hitler bestowed on Henry Ford the highest award given to a non-German, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938. Following WWII at the Nuremberg Trials, Baldur von Shirach, leader of Hitler Youth, stated that Hitler had become “Jew-wise” by reading Henry Ford’s writings about the Jews.

Though Jews had little control over their lives in many European countries, the stereotype that they are obsessed with money and power, that they control politicians, the media, and banking systems, and they are interested in world domination persists into the modern era.

During his Florida speech, Donald Trump succeeded in having his anti-Semitic leitmotiv heard, since, amongst many of his ardent supporters, the racist white supremacist so-called “alt-right” received it loud and clear.

The white nationalist website, The Right Stuff, celebrated Trump’s Florida speech. Lawrence Murray wrote an article affirming that “somehow Trump manages to channel Goebbels and ‘Detroit Republicanism’ all at the same time.”

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister for Propaganda and Public Education, wrote and spoke continually of an alleged “Jewish conspiracy” to undermine German culture and civilization itself. Speaking at the September 1935 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, for example, Goebbels connected Bolshevism with international Jewry. He warned Nazi party members of a supposed international Jewish conspiracy to snuff out western civilization.

Goebbels headed efforts to purge all Jews and other so-called “un-German” influences from Nazi German cultural institutions. He and other Nazi leaders blamed Jews for starting WWII by controlling politicians, the media, and world finances for their own ends.

In his article, Lawrence Murray concluded that Trump’s speech was “almost unprecedented in its militancy and vitriol for the luegenpresse (Nazi term meaning “lying press”) and the brahmins.” Murray also designated the speech as “88% woke.” (White supremacists use 88 as an abbreviation of “Heil Hitler” since “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet.) He added: “Can you picture the shvitzing (“extreme sweating” in Yiddish) that must be going on in some circles right now? I can, and it’s glorious.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader and current racist radio host, David Duke, added his praise of Donald Trump’s “incredible speech” on his radio show:

“Donald Trump had an incredible speech last night in West Palm Beach, maybe the strongest, most all out speech concerning the war that is being waged against us and the war that is being waged by the oligarchs who control the international banks and the globalists….These Jewish supremacists and these Jewish radicals who have been dominating international banking, the financing of politics and leaders, bribing them in effect, the people who have controlled the media, the people who have controlled the political apparatus in so many countries, who have controlled much of the academia, much of the discourse, they’re crazy….They’re willing to risk World War III for their political objectives in the Middle East, in Israel, and elsewhere.”

Donald Trump and Roy Moore blew from this same anti-media and antisemitic dog whistle, which they transformed into an amplified bull horn as a cynical diversionary tactic to pump up their base and to shelter themselves from the bright lights of media scrutiny.

Trump and Moore will ultimately fail, however, because the U.S. today has something the Nazi regime never permitted, a free press. Thus, our Fourth Estate will prevent the imposition of the Fourth Reich.

Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

November 16th, 2017 at 9:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized