Warren Blumenfeld's Blog

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

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Protocols of a Speech of the Ignorant Demagogue of Republicans

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“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, rally speech, West Palm Beach, Florida, 10/14/16

Donald Trump may not have a general grasp of politics and history, but he certainly understands how to use of the propaganda of fascism to sway public opinion. While his wife, Melania, finally admitted to plagiarizing the words of Michelle Obama in her speech before the delegates at the Republican National Convention this past summer, Donald will never admit to lifting the sentiments and words verbatim from the notorious Protocols (Minutes) of a Meeting of the Learned Elders of Zion.

The Protocols was a fabricated anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semite, 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 dog whistle 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.”

While Hillary Clinton apologized for her characterization of half of Donald Trump’s supporters as fitting into “a basket of deplorables,” she was most clearly on target that some, possibly a significant number, as well as Trump himself have constructed that basket and reside quite confidently inside.

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-author with Diane Raymond of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (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).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

October 16th, 2016 at 1:14 pm

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McCarthyism and the Scary Lavender Gang

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The United States Supreme Court finally legalized marriage equality in its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Until 2003, same-sex sexuality remained a criminal offense in 14 states, which the landmark Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision eventually overturned.

While three states in the U.S. have passed laws protecting people’s civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation and an additional 19 states include protections on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, the remainder have no such safeguards.

In those remaining states, individuals and organizations can summarily fire or refuse to hire, refuse to rent or sell property, and deny a number of public services based solely on an individual’s sexual and/or gender identity.

Not so very long ago, LGBTQ people had no specified protections in any areas of their lives.

Like all civil service employees working during the Eisenhower administration, Madeleine Tress – a 24-year-old business economist at the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC – was required to pass a security investigation as a condition for employment. At her position for only a few months, on that April day in 1959, Madeline was led into a room by two male interrogators who began the “interview” by asking her a few mundane questions regarding her name, where she lived, and her date of birth.

“Miss Tress,” one of the interrogators then retorted, “the Commission has information that you are an admitted homosexual. What comment do you wish to make regarding this matter?”

Shocked, Madeleine froze and refused to answer the question. The men disclosed that they had reliable information that she had been seen frequenting a gay bar, the Redskins Lounge, and they named a number of her lesbian and gay male friends.

One of the interrogators then sneered, “How do you like having sex with women? You’ve never had it good until you’ve had it from a man.”

Tormented into silence, following the grilling, she refused to sign a document admitting her alleged “crime.” The next day, Madeleine Tress handed in her official resignation.

By the late 1950s, literally thousands of women and men working in Washington, DC experienced similar inquisitorial examinations conducted under the guise of “national security.”

There are moments in history when conditions come together to unleash a seismic shift in the social and political geography. Three critical moments sparked an era of fear, suspicion, and repression leading to the interrogation of Madeleine Tress and so many others.

The first occurred during the Truman administration in June 1947 when the US Senate Appropriations Committee warned Secretary of State Marshall that a concerted effort was being carried out to shield a number of Communist employees in high government positions, and that this subversive project “involved extensive employment in highly classified positions of admitted homosexuals who are historically known to be security risks.”

In their attempts to counter these alleged security lapses, the Committee attached the McCarran rider to an appropriations bill giving the Secretary of State authority to dismiss any employee at his “absolute discretion” to promote public security.

A second critical moment occurred three years later in February 1950 when a relatively young and brash US Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, provocatively claimed in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia that 205 “card-carrying Communists” worked for the US State Department.

In part as a response to McCarthy’s allegations, the third moment transpired when Deputy Undersecretary of State, John Peurifoy, testified at a Senate appropriations committee meeting on February 28, 1950 denying, on the one hand, that his Department hired Communists, but, on the other hand, disclosing that a number of persons had been fired for being “security risks,” including 91 homosexuals.

These disclosures set off a firestorm. Within one month, Republicans in Congress ordered investigations looking into the extent of the “homosexual problem” and the “infiltration of sexual perverts” in government.

It is important to note that the Soviet government itself criminalized homosexuality under Joseph Stalin and blamed homosexuality on the West as a product of “bourgeois decadence.” The US countered by blaming homosexuality on a Soviet Communist international “godless conspiracy.”

The so-called “Red Scare” in the US was, nevertheless, saturated in lavender: the color associated with homosexuality at the time. Some US government officials connected the Comintern (an international Communist organization) with what they termed the “Homintern,” which they saw as an international homosexual conspiracy linked to Communists.

Although gay and lesbian US  citizens were never blackmailed into divulging classified state information, and the connections between homosexuality and “security risk” were groundless, mere allegations of homosexuality triggered congressional hearings, Presidential Executive Orders (for example, Eisenhower’s Order 10450, which extended and enlarged the Truman loyalty/security program to exclude explicitly those who engage in “sexual perversion” from obtaining government jobs), as well as executive agency security briefings.

A determination of the exact number of women and men harmed by the anti-homosexual inquisition cannot be known since detailed records were not kept, and many individuals simply resigned before they were interrogated. Historian David K. Johnson estimates, however, that approximately 5,000 federal agency employees lost their jobs on suspicions of homosexuality during the 1950s through early 1960s.

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-author with Diane Raymond of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (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).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

October 15th, 2016 at 10:02 am

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Donald Trump and the Trump (Bullying) Affect

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As a member of a Facebook group for educators, I see an increasing number of messages from teachers, professors, and other educational professionals asking for suggestions regarding ways to assist students understand and deal with the stress they experience in the context of the current election season, and, in particular, the demeaning rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump. The latest message I received serves as an urgent and poignant example.

“As we get closer to the election, I’m seeing more and more of my students of marginalized identities struggle — seriously, deeply struggle — with their mental and emotional health, to the point of discussing suicide. Many of my students, for various reasons, don’t feel that the counseling services we offer are helpful.

“Does anyone here have thoughts, ideas, suggestions for what can be done to better serve students who are feeling the full oppressive weight of current events and hostile overall national climate? I’m concerned for my students’ safety as election day approaches. I suspect that I’m not alone in what I’m seeing, and that it’s happening on other campuses as well.”

I find Donald Trump’s entire candidacy disconcerting for many reasons, the most important being that his popularity seems founded not on the substance of this policy initiatives – of which he has generated very few – but, rather, on the style and tone of his arguments.

Trump has conducted a campaign of attack, innuendo, name-calling, character assassination, and downright and incessant racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and misogynistic bullying. I would not find this as troubling if he had not positively resonated with a significant segment of the electorate.

Donald Trump, arguably the more prominent of the so-called “birthers,” continually accused President Obama of illegitimacy as Commander in Chief by arguing that he was born outside the United States, even well after the President released his official birth certificate. This along with his supposed investigations into Mr. Obama’s time spent in Indonesia as a child, and inquiries into his African roots on his father’s side coexist as not-so-veiled xenophobic and racist threats.

Trump called Rosie O’Donnell “a fat pig”; attacked Megan Kelly by saying that “blood was coming out of her eyes, blood was coming out of her…whatever”; called undocumented Mexican immigrants drug dealers, criminals, and rapists; renounced a U.S.-born federal judge on the basis of his ancestry; exposed his predatory attitudes and actions on women in the Access Hollywood tape; said he would impose bans on Muslims entering the U.S.

The 2016 GOP Presidential Platform validates Trump’s bigotry by referring to undocumented people as “illegal aliens” as if they were invaders from a distant planet in deep space bent on torching the country.

He excused his staff for producing a blatantly anti-Semitic poster by depicting Hillary Clinton surrounded by $100. bills and a Star of David; mocked a disabled journalist; used the f*ck word in a press conference; argued that he could randomly shoot someone in New York City without losing a voter; told a rally audience that he would pay the legal expenses of anyone who punched out a protester, advised Russia to hack Hillary’s emails.

In addition, he refers to anyone who disagrees or opposes him in demeaning terms: “lyin’ Ted,” “little Marco,” “low energy Jeb,” “crooked Hillary,” Biden’s “not a very bright guy,” Ryan’s a “weak leader,” McCain’s “not a war hero,” and the bullying goes on.

Throughout elementary school, other students continually called me derisive names: “Woron the moron,” eagle beak” (referring to my nose), “little girl,” “fag,” “cry baby,” and so many others. The ways Donald Trump treats people that he does not like directly equates to how my peers treated me in my early schooling.

The American Medical Association defines “bullying” as a specific type of aggression in which the behavior is meant to harm or disturb, it occurs repeatedly over time, and where there is an imbalance of power with a more powerful individual or group attacking a less powerful one. This can occur face-to-face, through gossip or innuendo, or over the media, including social media.

In a 2014 National Civility Survey by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, with KRC Research, found that about 66% of U.S. citizens believe that we have “a major civility problem” in our country, and 70% believe that “civility has eroded over the past few years.”

While studying a number of bullying prevention programs, I find that, while providing good overall theoretical and conceptual foundations and strategies for prevention and reduction of incidents, some crucial components are still missing. We must also discuss and examine the social and cultural contexts where bullying attitudes and behaviors often stem. We must find ways not only to understand, but to actually engage in correcting these larger social and cultural environments.

We must not view bullying and harassment as simply youth problems and behaviors, but rather, investigate the contexts in which bullying “trickles down” from the larger society and is reproduced within the schools. Young people, through the process of social learning, often acquire bullying and harassing attitudes and behaviors, and they also often learn the socially sanctioned targets for their aggression.

The developmental and educational psychologist, Albert Bandura, proposed that young people learn primarily through observation, and that one’s culture transmits social mores and what Bandura called “complex competencies” through social modeling. As he noted, the root meaning of the word “teach” is “to show.”

Society presents many role models, from very positive and affirming to very negative, biased, aggressive, & destructive. Modeling, he asserted, is composed of more than concrete actions, which he referred to as “response mimicry,” but also involves abstract concepts, “abstract modeling,” such as following rules, taking on values and beliefs, making moral and ethical judgments.

As young people observe negative role modeling in the society, at home, in the media, at school, and other social sites, this can result in them taking on prejudicial judgments and aggressive and violent behaviors. Youth can learn behaviors, like verbal and physical aggression, by observing and imitating others even in the absence of behavioral reinforcements.

Bandura found that young people can be highly influenced by observing adult behavior, and perceive that such behavior is acceptable, while freeing their own aggressive inhibitions. They are then more likely to behave aggressively in future situations.

Those who bully, therefore, often fulfill the social “function” of establishing and reinforcing the norms stemming from their environment. They often justify their behaviors by blaming the targets of their attacks, and emphasizing that they somehow deserve the aggression because they in some ways deviate from established societal standards.

So, what affect does Trump’s behavior as a so-called “leader” have on the attitudes and behaviors of other adults and on young people? Furthermore, what are we all teaching young people, and do we truly understand our own complicity in the bullying we see in our schools?

Unless and until we grapple with the ways in which we as individuals and our larger society promotes and gives justification to such bullying, we will never truly solve the problems.

Donald Trump, take note!

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

October 12th, 2016 at 7:40 pm

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The Predatory “Other” Double Standard

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We have long known and understood Donald Trump’s predatory and misogynistic representation and admitted sexual abuse of women. Statistically, 91% of sexual abuse cases are perpetrated against women and girls. In the vast majority of cases, heterosexually-identified cisgender men commit these acts.

If one believes Republican legislators, however, in states like North Carolina with its passage of House Bill 2, its notorious so-called “transgender no bathroom” bill, trans people epitomize the greatest threat to the safety of women and girls.

From ancient to modern times, from long before Thomas Jefferson, Grover Cleveland, Franklin Roosevelt, and the “Johns” (Fitzgerald Kennedy, Edwards, and Ensign), through William Jefferson Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and, of course, Donald Trump, married men have found it engorgingly hard to keep their pants zipped. But the perplexing stereotype remains that primarily gay and bisexual men are the “promiscuous” ones.

From long before biblical references to Abraham, through King Henry VIII, to Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Senators Gary Hart and David Vitter, Governors Mark Sanford and Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and golfer Tiger Woods, men have engaged in sexual relations outside the confines of marriage. But we continually hear the charge that ensuring marriage equality for same-sex couples has cheapen and will ultimately destroy the institution of marriage.

Currently, political pundits and psychologists alike impart their “reasons” why high profile and powerful heterosexual (usually white) men commit “sexual transgressions,” anything from the thrill in the risk of getting caught, to their privileged status, to, in Schwarzenegger’s case, the result of taking steroids during his body building days, which has turned him into the “sperminator.”

Virtually no one accuses these men, however, of destroying marriage and civilization itself. And most importantly, no one consciously or through the “dog whistle,” asserts that they represent all white men or all rich men. These men, therefore, are shielded in their cocoon, for most, of white privilege, and in all these cases, their heterosexual male and class privilege. 

Think back, though, to the vision of the “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania,” Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show, the cannibalistic-murderer-mad-scientist obsessed with constructing the perfect Adonis to submit to Frank’s erotic pleasures. Served up as the next delightfully tasty prey, enter the young and naïve Brad and Janet at the doorstep for an adventure they will never forget, that is, if they live to tell the tale.

And who can forget those conniving gay men who con-cock-ted the elaborate conspiracy to commit sex acts on heterosexual men by joining the ranks of the military, with all those hard bodies to pick from in the bunks and showers while just waiting for them to drop the soap?

In addition, we must still remain on guard to protect our fine white innocent womenfolk from the sexual pursuits of those wild savage black men and those swarthy eagle-beaked Jewish men who want nothing more than to seduce and carry them away to their lairs of sin.

In addition, we must stand forever vigilant in protecting our impressionable children from the exploits of the Jews and the homosexuals.

We certainly can’t allow Jews access to our infant boys since they continue inflicting forced circumcision onto them in order to recruit them into their distorted cult-of-a-religion. And don’t forget how the Jews kidnapped and drained the precious blood from our lovely virginal Christian male infants to use in the making of their sacred matzah, and to symbolically re-crucify our Lord.

Likewise, homosexuals need to entice and recruit our children into their disgusting and deviant lifestyle since they are incapable of producing their own. We can’t allow them to come into our schools to teach children about their deranged sex acts in the guise of bullying prevention training, and we certainly can’t allow children anywhere near their so-called “Pride” parades of seething perversion.

Lest we don’t forget those disease-laden bisexual vectors of infection into the general (read “heterosexual”) population.

As we can see, a crucial point in the psychology of scapegoating is the representation of minoritized “Others” as violent predators resolved on ensnaring, torturing, and devouring primarily women and children of the dominant group. When demagogues play on people’s fears and prejudices by invoking these images for their own political, social, and economic gains, in more instances than not, this results in loss of civil and human rights, harassment, violence, and at times, death of the “other.”

By passing House Bill 2 in North Carolina, which Governor McCrory signed into law, the North Carolina legislature has played with fire by further stigmatizing and misdefining the state’s trans residents. Some North Carolina proponents of the bill are calling transwomen “men in women’s clothing” (heard as “wolves in sheep’s clothing”), and the law effectively prohibits trans and intersex people from going into the restroom facility matching their gender identities.

Members of the trans* community often suffer the consequences of other truth tellers of the past. Nearly every two days, a person is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender nonconformity. The vast majority of murders are of trans* women of color.

Today we still live in a society that proclaims in certain quarters that we don’t have a right to exist, but exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life.

For as we all know, we are the students, professors, teachers, guidance counselors, day care workers, parents — and still some people and groups attempt to prevent us from having contact with the young people of our nation. And because of their insensitivity and fear, the queer bashing continues.

We are the social workers, psychiatrists, workers at homeless shelters and rape crisis centers — and still some people and groups blame us for the break-up of what they call the “traditional family.” And the queer bashing continues.

The reality is that we are holding up this culture. If all the lesbians, bisexuals, gay males, and trans people suddenly left our jobs and communities, this country would literally crumble.

We must halt the stereotyping and end the double standards.

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

October 9th, 2016 at 3:42 pm

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Critical Multiculturalism & Christopher Columbus

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I have never forgotten one essential point my educational psychology professor related to my class back at San José State University when I was working toward my Secondary Education Teacher’s Certification. His point crystallized for me the intent of true and meaningful learning.

My professor explained that the term “education” is derived from two Latin roots: “e,” meaning “out of,” and “ducere,” meaning “to lead” or “to draw.”

“Education,” he said, “is the process of drawing knowledge out of the student or leading the student toward knowledge, rather than putting or depositing information into what some educator’s perceive as the student’s waiting and docile mind”—what the Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Reglus Neves Freire termed “the banking system of education.”

Education, as I have gained from Freire, is a path toward permanent liberation in which people became aware (conscientized) of their position, and through praxis (reflection and action), transform the world. Educators, to be truly effective, must spend many years in self-reflection and must have a clear understanding of their motivations, strengths, limitations, “triggers,” and fears.

They must thoroughly come to terms with their positions in the world in terms of their social identities: both the ways in which they are privileged as well as how they have been the targets of systemic inequities. They are not afraid of showing vulnerability and admitting when they are wrong or when they “don’t know.” They have a firm grasp of the content area, and they work well with and are accessible to students and their peers.

Joel Spring’s book, Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality, explores history from multiple perspectives, and explodes some of the myths and misinformation students may have learned throughout their educational experiences. Along with this book, I assign a “Critical Analysis” paper that requires students not to merely summarize, but rather, to critically reflect and analyze the information.

I designate numerous pages in our course syllabus detailing precisely what I am looking for in terms of “critical analysis” (see in particular pages 4-5).

Stemming from our reading of Spring’s book, I give students a two-part assignment to be completed by the following class session in two days: the first part asks students a question for critical contemplation, the second part includes a research exercise.

The question I pose: “Did Christopher Columbus discover what has come to be called ‘The United States of America’? Why or why not?”

I tell students that after they reflect on this question, they are to investigate articles communicating Native American Indian perspectives of Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day.

Entering the classroom one year on the next class session, students filled the room with frenetic energy. I asked them to divide into their smaller reading discussion groups (of 5-7), and asked each group to choose a recorder who was to report themes discussed. I wrote on the board discussion directions:

  1. Discuss with group members how you had initially answered the question: “Did Christopher Columbus discover what has come to be called ‘The United States of America’? Why or why not?”
  2.  Discuss what you learned from Native American Indian perspectives of Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day. What did you already know? What surprised you? What insights did you gain? What, if any, emotions came up for you? What questions do you still have?

Following twenty-minutes of lively student discussion in small groups, I facilitate a large classroom discussion. Many students expressed anger over the ways that teachers and textbooks portrayed Christopher Columbus during their early schooling. These students felt they somehow “had been lied to” in the “white washing” of the history commonly taught in schools.

One student, a geology major, responded by answering a question with questions:

“How could Columbus have discovered what would later be called ‘America’ when Indians have lived on this land for an estimated 12,000 years after coming over the Bering Isthmus during a glacial age when the sea level dropped? How can one ‘discover’ people who have been here so long? Actually, Indians discovered Columbus on their land!”

A number of students nodded their heads in silent agreement. Other students articulated the love they have for their Christian faiths, but expressed shock and some disbelief over the murder and forced Christian conversions perpetrated by European explorers, missionaries, and settlers.

At this point, I asked students to interrogate (analyze) the concept of “European settlers.”

“If this was Indian land (‘First Nation Peoples’), how accurate, then, is the term “European settlers”?

Some students showed confusion on their faces by this question. For others, their eyes opened widely and they sported a wide grin. “Yeah,” said one student. “Say I own a house, and someone knocks on the door, walks in, pushes me outside, and claims: ‘I like your house, and I am now settling here. You be on your way. Good bye!’ And he slams the door in my face.” Others pondered this student’s comments.

I then asked students to contemplate the terms “New World,” as distinguished from “Old World.” From whose perspectives come these terms?

Critical Multiculturalism

The multicultural/social justice classroom poses exceptional challenges, or more importantly, opportunities to find creative solutions to address not only potential but actual student resistance to course materials and concepts since we touch upon some very personal and potentially triggering issues related to identity, social inequities, and critical histories that for many reasons are not often investigated in other coursework.

Throughout my courses, I continually reconnect the elements and processes of multicultural education and reiterate that the course connects theory with practice by asking students to critically engage with the material, each other, and with their professor as we all come to a deeper understanding of the importance of multicultural/social justice education.

The day we critically analyzed Christopher Columbus and the concept of Columbus Day, I referred back to preeminent multicultural educator, Sonia Nieto who likens multiculturalism to a great tapestry:

“A tapestry is a handwoven textile. When examined from the back, it may simply appear to be a motley group of threads. But when reversed, the threads work together to depict a picture of structure and beauty. A tapestry also symbolizes, through its knots, broken threads and seeming jumble of colors and patterns on the back, the tensions, conflicts, and dilemmas that a society needs to work out.”

The spirit of both collaboration and struggle is evident in the schools. The multicultural process is not always comfortable, not always neat, but the multicultural classroom provides a space for everyone to be heard, to reflect, to engage in critical dialogue, and to enter into a space of understanding, though not always agreement of views and cultures different from one’s own.

For me, critical multiculturalism/social justice education is far more than my academic interest and focus. On a number of occasions, I have been asked the following question: “Are you a professor/educator, or are you a community organizer/activist, a writer, a theorist, or a researcher?” I always answer “Yes, all of the above,” for I view critical multiculturalism/social justice as providing a seamless connection to all of these elements in my life. And I attempt to practice what I teach.

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-author with Diane Raymond of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (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).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

October 7th, 2016 at 8:07 pm

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National Coming Out Day and Recommitment to Peace through Justice

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On October 11 each year, we commemorate National Coming Out Day. Activists Robert Eichsberg and Jean O’Leary founded the holiday on October 11, 1988 to mark the one-year anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

I am not sure of the exact derivation of the word “closet” as referred to in the phrase “coming out of the closet,” but as author and historian Judy Grahn states in her groundbreaking 1984 book Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds:

“At present the term ‘closet’ implies a scandalous personal secret, or skeleton, in the family closet. In the case of a Gay person, it refers more precisely to being the skeleton in the family’s closet. That skeleton is the reality of Gayness itself. The sometimes violent and always frightening suppression of Gay culture often forces Gay people to live in the closet, in a secret world….”

Today, and even many years ago, we can understand there existing many closets based not only on sexuality, but also on issues of race, ethnicity, gender and gender identities, religion and non-religious identities, ability and disability, age, and other “Othered” identities.

The good news is that lesbians, gay males, bisexuals, trans people, and heterosexual allies are coming out of their particular closets of silence, hatred, and fear in greater numbers than ever before. As marginalized people, we are pushing back the boundaries unwilling any longer to accept the repressive sexuality and gender status quo. In coalition with other disenfranchised minoritized groups, we are refusing to buckle under and assimilate into a corrupt and corrupting system that forces people to relinquish their integrity and their humanity.

This year, as we observe National Coming Out Day, I am reminded of one of my heroes, Harvey Milk, San Francisco City Supervisor, who was assassinated on November 27, 1978. Harvey was a visionary. He was a man who clearly saw the way toward a society free from bigotry, where all people could walk side-by-side while maintaining their uniqueness, their multi-dimensional diversity.

Harvey Milk was also a realist. As an open and proud gay man he clearly understood that he ran the constant risk of being the target of violence bred by a society that teaches people to hate us and teaches us to internalize that hatred.

Though Harvey’s election as the first openly gay man to the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors was indeed stunning and ground breaking in its scope, in the greater course of things, he knew that he still lived in a country that practices sexual and gender apartheid. He saw the ways in which lesbians, gay males, bisexuals, and trans people were targeted and denied many of the basic rights granted to others, including the right to live.

I believe, for example, that whenever anyone is demeaned, targeted, and oppressed for their gender identity and expression, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever hate crimes legislation is drafted without including the documentation of violence directed against LGBT people, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever any person is targeted and murdered for living their truth, as for example, the ever-growing number of trans women of color and unarmed black and brown men and women, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever our relationships are devalued and not accorded equal social status, and whenever states or municipalities pass so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,” like the one supported and signed by Indiana Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever the Centers for Disease Control and the Red Cross refuse blood donations for no other reason than the sexual identity of the prospective donor, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever our state legislators refuse to pass bullying prevention legislation because it would include homophobic and cissexist harassment and prevention, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever states refuse to pass anti-discrimination laws that would protect people on the basis of sexuality identity and gender identity and expression, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever homophobic, cissexist, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, ableist, ageist, and anti-Muslim epithets is lodged against anyone or spray painted around our communities, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever educators exclude the issues and stories of our lives in the classroom, that’s everyone’s issue.

Whenever anyone of us is taught to hate ourselves, each one of us is demeaned, and that certainly is everyone’s issue, and we have a right, or rather an obligation, to speak up, to fight back with all the energy and with all the unity of which we are capable.

Today we still live in a society that proclaims we do not deserve equal rights and should not exist to the same extent as others, but exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life. The reality is that we are helping to hold up this society. If all the lesbians, bisexuals, gay males, and trans people suddenly left their jobs, this country would literally crumble.

Yes, we are still fighting a war against ignorance, but there is much of which we can be proud, much about which we can be optimistic. For we have traveled many miles, though we still have many more to go.

One year before his death, Harvey Milk recorded a will that was to be played in the event of his assassination. In it he stated that he never considered himself simply as a candidate for public office, but rather, always considered himself as part of a movement: a liberation movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people, and a liberation movement for all people.

Each time Harvey spoke in front of a crowd, he urged people to come out everywhere and as often if they could:

“Tell your immediate family,” he would say. “Tell friends, neighbors, people in the stores you shop in, cab drivers, everyone.” And he urged heterosexual people to be our allies, to interrupt derogatory remarks and jokes, to support us and offer aid when needed. If we all did this, he said, we could change the world.

A concept of Jewish tradition is Tikkun Olam, meaning the transformation, healing, and repairing of the world so that it becomes a more just, peaceful, nurturing, and perfect place. I hope that we can all join together as allies to defeat all the many forms of oppression and to make the world a more nurturing, perfect, and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds and identifications.

Let us all join and go out into our lives, and to work for Tikkun Olam (or however people express the concept in their own traditions). And let us transform the world.


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

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

October 7th, 2016 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Queers Responsible for Earthly Disasters: A View from the Loony Bin

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The utter power and strength of the LGBT community allows us to control the course of hurricanes, floods, and droughts, and thus, we get to determine who lives and who dies, who retains their treasured belongings and who gets wiped out and wiped away.

Well, that is if you believe the looney tunes on the theocratic right who hold us responsible for causing many of the greatest natural disasters of modern times.

The latest installment from the loony bin came from a columnist on the website shoebat.com in an article titled “Hurricane Matthew Is The Wrath Of God Poured Out On the Cities Of Orlando And Savannah For Supporting The Evil Sodomites.” This must be urgent since the initial letter in each word of the title is capitalized! Also, I’m sure they employ the term “sodomites” not only to signify men who have sex with men, but also those perverted women-on-women, bisexuals, and trans people as well.

The author, Andrew Bieszad, argues that the hurricane forecast to hit Florida and other points in the U.S. Southeast results from God’s wrath directed against the upcoming Pride Festivals (“sodomite pride parades”) in Orlando, Florida and Savanna, Georgia. Bieszad asserts that this particular hurricane has dramatically erupted in “unnatural” ways and “is unexplained by science,” and

“The word ‘Hurricane’ originally comes from the Taino Indians, a people who inhabited the Caribbean and parts of Florida when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The original word, ‘Huracan,’ was a god of evil in their pagan religion, and the natives thought that these storms were attacks from this evil diety. Interesting.”

In addition, Bieszad asserts that it is no mere coincidence that this current hurricane holds the name “Matthew.” Saint Matthew is depicted as an angle in the Christian Bible, and angles are “the ones obedient to God [who] always play important roles in executing God’s will, both for aiding man in his struggle for righteousness and punishing him in accordance with God’s will.”

But Bieszad simply pulls from the looney bin scavenged before by so many others. For example, in May 1978, Anita Bryant, Florida Orange Juice queen and chief organizer of her so-called “Save Our Children” campaign to overturn a gay-rights ordinance of Dade County, called homosexuals “human garbage,” and blamed the drought then overtaking California on their sinful behavior. Ironically, however, just one day following the first openly-gay San Francisco City Supervisor, Harvey Milk’s November 8 election, and six months following Bryant’s claim, it started to rain.

In addition, others blamed the torrential winds, rain, and devastating flooding of hurricane Katrina in 2005 on LGBT people. Reverend John Haggee, evangelical pastor of a “mega-church” in Texas, was quoted in an interview in 2006 saying that “God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before and was filled with sexual sin.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson has most likely talked to God who told him of an upcoming calamity. After Orlando, Florida city officials in 1998 voted to fly rainbow flags high atop city lampposts during Disney World’s annual Gay Days events, Robertson issued a stern warning to the city:

“…I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. … [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”

Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Robertson, along with his conspiratorial-theory evangelical buddy, Jerry Falwell, reiterated past warnings. Falwell, with an air of righteousness, proclaimed on Roberson’s 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network on September 13, 2001:

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen!’” To this Robertson responded: “I totally concur.”

The cause for wide-spread and devastating health pandemics have also been laid at the feet of LGBT people. For example, Ronald Reagan, under whose presidency the AIDS pandemic was detected and spread, had not formally raised the issue until April 1, 1987 in a speech to a group of physicians in Philadelphia — a full seven years after the onset of AIDS in the United States.

The one and only time he publicly spoke of AIDS before 1987 was in his first year in office when he inferred that “maybe the Lord brought down the plague because illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

When AIDS was perceived by many as a disease of primarily gay and bisexual men, Pat Buchanan, who served as Reagan’s Chief of Communications between 1985-1987, was quite outspoken, referring to AIDS as nature’s “awful retribution,” and saying it did not deserve a thorough and compassionate response.

Writing in 1986, Buchanan claimed: “The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution.” Also, back in 1983, Buchanan demanded that New York City Mayor Ed Koch and New York Governor Mario Cuomo cancel the Gay Pride Parade or else “be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague.” And later: “With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide.”

In 2007, Falwell extended the blame: “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”  

Some even fault gays for ultimately bringing about the total destruction of humanity itself. In his annual “State of the World” address at the Vatican delivered to diplomats from 179 countries, Pope Benedict XVI, on January 9, 2012, released a dire warning stating that marriage for same-sex couples “undermine the family, threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”

The pontiff stated earlier on December 22, 2008 at a Christmas address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration, likening saving humanity from homosexual and gender-variant behaviors to saving the rain forest from destruction:

“[The Church] should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed….The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”

The Pope warned that humans must “listen to the language of creation” and understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behavior outside heterosexual relations as “a destruction of God’s work.”

But now, Mr. Bieszad, Ms Bryant, Reverends Haggee, Robertson, and Falwell, Mr. Reagan and Buchanan, and Pope Benedict XVI, you better tell the queers to move over, for they no longer have a monopoly on bringing about world disasters. The gods have said “ENOUGH” to you Evangelicals and Republicans for your insane inquisitorial attacks.

As God tested Abraham (the patriarch of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims) by demanding that he kill his beloved son Isaac, hurricane Isaac returned in a deadly tumult to test the very moral character of the Republicans at their convention in Tampa, Florida in 2012. Could it be that the gods forced the Republicans to shorten their convention by one day for their evil transgressions against LGBT people?

And now, have the gods punished the rabidly anti-LGBT, Tony Perkins, President of the so-called Family Research Council by flooding his home and Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Louisiana where he is the interim pastor? Perkins has himself linked natural disasters to God.

Asked if he believed God was involved in the catastrophic deluge hitting Louisiana, which he described as a “flood of biblical proportions,” Perkins responded that “We’re gonna look for what God’s gonna do in this. I’m asking those questions and I’m going to see.”

Well, Tony and all others who profess that God(s) warn you about LGBT people, wait just a minute. Glory be, I think I hear God speaking. Yes, yes, yes indeed, she is telling me that I must notify you in no uncertain terms that you are all false prophets who profit by using your bigotry for your own personal advancement and enrichment.

By scapegoating and stereotyping LGBT people, you hope to fill your organization’s bank accounts and attract others to your causes.

If there is any lesson to learn from the spate of natural disasters hitting the globe, we as a collective human species, and not God(s), have the power to destroy or save our planet if we stand resolved to reverse our destructive and insane use of fossil fuels. Rather than blaming LGBT people, start to embrace science to save humanity from itself.

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-author with Diane Raymond of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (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).


Written by Warren Blumenfeld

October 5th, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shame on You, Donald Trump!

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Throughout this long presidential season, among all the disturbing images that stick most in my mind’s eye is of Donald Trump in mocking imitation of New York Times reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition. Trump did a great disservice to Mr. Kovaleski and brought shame upon himself.

And, therefore, Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name and life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, though losing his ability to walk, ran further and faster and lifted up a nation and the entire world higher than you could even dream.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name and life of Helen Keller, who, though losing her ability to see and to hear, saw the shining faces and heard the cries and whispers of those oppressed and the privileged alike, and felt more love in her heart than you are ever capable of realizing.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name and life of Stephen Hawking who, though losing his ability to move his body as he once did, has since moved human scientific knowledge and has thus taken our understanding to heights you could never begin to imagine.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name and life of Muhammad Ali who, though losing much of his body strength and motion, had more spiritual strength, fortitude, courage, and grace than you could ever know.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name and life of Alan Turing who, though standing on the autism spectrum, as one of the greatest heroes in World War II by breaking the Nazi code, stands higher and firmer in the admiration of people whose numbers you could never even count.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very name of Congresswoman Barbara Jordon who, though ultimately losing her ability to use her muscles, was a congressional powerhouse and a leader, and someone you will never and could never even stand beside.

Donald Trump, you do a great disservice to the very names and lives of all of my hundreds of former students at Perkins School for the Blind, who have more self-awareness, a greater sense of community, and a higher degree of compassion and empathy than you could ever feel or demonstrate.

And Donald Trump, you do a great disservice and bring shame to the very name of the United States of America and the office of the presidency by even running for this high position.

So shame on you Donald Trump, and shame on anyone who votes for you!

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

October 1st, 2016 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“Goat”: Homosocial Homoeroticism in Contextualized Homophobia

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Since viewing Andrew Neel’s new film “Goat,” currently screening in theaters and Pay Per View, I have been haunted by images of the underbelly of toxic hypermasculinity, which our patriarchal cultural system imposes on all boys and men as it assigns us a sex at, or even before, our birth.

The film exposes the paradox of promoting and maintaining the seemingly contradictory notions within all male environments of members operating in homosocial and homoerotic contexts mediated by deep and profound expressions of homophobia and misogyny.

Throughout the opening credits, in extremely slow motion, seemingly all white shirtless young college-age men in very close proximity observe some sort of spectacle off screen while gulping beer and carrying broad grins of joy. This surreal scene of young men moving animal-like transforms in regular motion to a pre-pledge fraternity party on the campus of a Midwestern university. Revelers consume massive quantities of beer and hard liquor, young women expose their breasts, and two women engage in passionate kissing to the utter excitement of male gawkers.

The film’s chief protagonist, 19-year-old Brad Land (Ben Schnetzer) enters college determined to get his life back to normal following the horrendous, brutal, humiliating beating at the hands of two off-campus men he offered to give a ride home.

Brad, at this point in his life, feels desperate for acceptance and connection. His brother, Brett (Nick Jonas), a confident, charming, and popular student on campus and a fraternity leader, convinces Brad to pledge Phi Sigma Mu with assurances of security, protection, popularity, and life-long friendships.

Mitch (James Franco), an older alum who returns for a fraternity party, promises Brad that the brothers will always protect him from the abuse he underwent. And Mitch demonstrates his strength and power.

“Slap me in the face,” he yells at Brad. “Slap me in the face.” When Brad refuses, Mitch rips off his own shirt. “Okay, punch me in the stomach!” To force him to do so, Mitch slaps Brad in the face.” “Punch me in f’ing stomach.” Brad punches and Mitch slaps back. Eventually Mitch tightens his muscles, pounds his chest like a gorilla, lifts his arms tightly in the air, and shouts, rather paradoxically, within the entire circle:

“We are the greatest group of gentlemen the civilized world has ever known!!”

Throughout the pledge training (read “hazing”) process, established fraternity brothers pressure pledges on numerous occasions to strip down and perform dehumanizing and brutalizing trials. These include everything from violent mud wrestling; to bobbing for penis-shaped sausages, which they must pass mouth-to-mouth through the pledge line; to placing an assumed cock of a brother in their mouths while blindfolded; to slapping one another with rapid and intense blows to the face and spitting at one another; to being force-fed blazing tabasco sauce squirted down their throats; to having their hands and legs all bound together as a group for an entire night; to the group guzzling a full keg of beer within a certain timeframe, which, if not performed to the liking of the pledge leader, each pledge must sexually molest and rape the fraternity goat mascot from the rear.

Throughout the film, young men torture other young men. Some do it for control and power, while some do it for a sense of connection.

Chance (Gus Harper), the pledge leader, singled out Will (Danny Flaherty), Brad’s dormitory roommate, as an example of what happens to anyone who fails to sufficiently tolerate the “training.” Brothers lifted an animal cage into the training site, and scolded Will to place himself inside. Once they locked the enclosure, brothers grabbed their swelling penises from their pants and proceeded to rain down golden showers onto the squealing and nauseated pledge below.

Throughout the hazing process, fraternity brothers shouted orders and debasing terms at pledges, most commonly “faggot,” “pussy,” and “goat” interchangeably. The choice of terms used as epithets is most informative of what exists in the taunters’ minds in which gay men equate to women, and both equate to subhuman creatures.

Undergoing the hazing, images continually reoccurred in Brad’s mental library of the beating he endured at the hands of the street thugs just before coming to campus. While he could not label it at the time, both the beating by strangers and hazing by the fraternity brothers amounted to very similar forms of male-on-male violence.

What the pledges and their brother masters, as well as most people in the larger society do not realize, however, is the actuality, the fact that this “perfect” celestial norm, this iconic form of masculinity stands unattainably well above and far beyond the grasp of all mortal men and boys. From our birth, our culture, through its socializing masters, place the goal and target out in front of us just beyond our reach like race masters place the puppet rabbit just in front of greyhounds at the track after which they run until exhausted.

Though ultimately unattainable, this deceptive rabbit of masculinity circulates around our track of life on patriarchal wires that project the alluringly tasty rewards of control, security, and independence, but only if we perpetually continue competing in the race.

Like the young fraternity brothers and pledges, though, as we run and run and run around the course, we invariably stumble, hurt ourselves, we build and accumulate frustration turning to resentment and then turning to anger and often rage because we can never truly reach, grasp, and consume the promised patriarchal bait.

I leave it to viewers to witness the results of one pledge in particular who figuratively and literally ran the track in pursuit of these treasures.

Any sign of challenge or deception to the “rules” will not be tolerated. Fraternity brothers secretly fed the goat a box of laxatives and deposed it in a pledge’s room whom they suspected of snitching to campus authorities about the hazing.

Earlier, at the fraternity party, older alum Mitch symbolically represented not only an elder “statesman,” but could be viewed as representing the voice of the patriarchy, his persona subliminally shouting to all men and boys: Challenge me, punch me, attack me, and I will survive and thrive. No amount of counterattack will topple or replace me. Resistance is futile. I will literally and figuratively crap on you and muck up your personal space and your life chances for success and connection if you defy.

Invariably, though, our training takes hold of us. We thus indoctrinate the next and the next and the next group of pledges/generations, often resulting in attempts to control and prey upon girls and women in so many ways. Consider Donald Trump’s campaign of body shaming and “slut” shaming so many girls and women in his life, for he is simply a clear and present dangerous example.

For those men and boys who survive, the masters dispose of us as dog trainers dispose the overworked greyhounds. We, the pledges of life, are stalked, controlled, used, wasted, and ultimately slaughtered. We see clearly how boys and men are consciously taught to deny and never talk about their needs. We are taught never to express emotion except in the trials of competition, when inebriated, and during the heat of sex.

The latter backfired for Brad, however, when he blurted out “I love you” to the young woman he was about to engage in a sexual encounter. The woman, upon hearing this, immediately cooled her passion and demanded Brad leave her room.

Girls and women, who also grow up in a patriarchal system of domination, are certainly not immune to internalizing these messages and thereby, they often collude, in this instance by requiring her sex partner to deny and inhibit all feelings of intimacy or to show any signs of vulnerability except lustful passion.

Fraternities, of course, perform many benefits for its members and for society. Friendships and networks often endure well beyond graduation. Brothers perform great service projects for their campuses and communities. Brothers also often learn many poignant and important life lessons. And they certainly can engage in good, lighthearted fun.

I personally do not call for the elimination of Greek letter societies. In fact, I served as a proud faculty advisor for seven years to Delta Lambda Phi, a social and service fraternity at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa designed to support gay, bisexual, and other progressive men. I found working with these young men to be one of the most rewarding and inspirational experiences of my university career.

Nevertheless, compulsory toxic hypermasculinity demands of all boys and men their surrendering of their critical reasoning in challenging the system, along with their individuality, their moral and ethical compasses, their emotions, and their very integrity and humanity for some promise of security, support, and sense of camaraderie and the privileges that automatically accrue to followers of the patriarchal system of domination and control.

All-male societies, like fraternities, though, have important decisions to make along a wide continuum from continuing to maintain and promote the systemic patriarchal domination, to redefining what is means to be boys and men.

“Goat” serves as a cautionary tale, and is based on the probing memoirs of Brad Land.

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

October 1st, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“It’s Hillary’s Fault,” in Rhyme

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If one believes Donald Trump and other nay-saying Republicans:


It’s Hillary’s fault for ISIS to rise,

And for all her oh too many clear lies.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Syria’s homeless,

Because of her, that country’s a mess.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Taliban terror,

Yes, it’s her fault and her fatal error.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Middle East wars,

And for all of our students’ failing scores.


It’s Hillary’s fault for all racial tensions,

For killings of blacks, and police, and others not mentioned,


It’s Hillary’s fault that good jobs did flee,

For hair loss, acne, and the sting of a bee.


It’s Hillary’s fault for poverty, hunger, disease,

When we are hot, and when we all freeze.


It’s Hillary’s fault Iran split the atom,

And for America’s slide to the very rock bottom.


It’s Hillary’s fault for North Korea’s bombs,

And for all the world’s many terrorist alarms.


It’s Hillary’s fault for the deaths in Benghazi,

And even in the ‘20s for the rise of the Nazis.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Russia in Ukraine,

And for the rain on the plain throughout all of Spain.


It’s Hillary’s fault for aliens on our shores,

These raping, murdering, drug-selling hoards.


It’s Hillary’s fault for rising tax rates,

And for shifting economic tectonic plates.


It’s Hillary’s fault for the burst housing bubble,

In fact, she’s responsible for all of our troubles.


It’s Hillary’s fault for oil prices to soar,

And her fault when crude now reaches the floor.


It’s Hillary’s fault for deficits in trade,

And because things are no longer American made.


It’s Hillary’s fault for wars on Christmas,

And it’s her fault for all of the fracas.


It’s Hillary’s fault for all unsafe streets,

And for too few cops who walk on their beats.


It’s Hillary’s fault for cities going under,

And when thieves pillage and when they go plunder.


It’s Hillary’s fault when planes fall and cars crash,

When the Earth shakes and lightning bolts smash.


It’s Hillary’s fault for heat waves and drought,

And when fires, cyclones, and floods they do mount.


It’s Hillary’s fault for bridges and roads failing,

And whenever we encounter any bad sailing.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Flint’s water pollution,

While she’s been swimming in her delusion.


It’s Hillary’s fault for contaminated air,

With her head in the clouds and her elitist stare.


It’s Hillary’s fault when our sports teams rank last,

Now because our best days have long since past.


It’s Hillary’s fault when there’s no solution,

The fault lies in her evil collusion.


It’s Hillary’s fault for the state of the states,

And whenever anyone in America gains weight.


It’s Hillary’s fault for terrorist plots,

And when any and all of our good food does rot.


It’s Hillary’s fault when our lovers do leave,

And anytime that anyone of us must grieve.


It’s Hillary’s fault when our rockets go thud,

And it’s her fault for melting Milk Duds.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Obama’s haughty laugh,

And it’s her fault for Joe Biden’s many gaffs.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Bernie Sander’s hair,

And it’s her fault for Elizabeth Warren’s strong flair.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Harry Reid’s moods,

And it’s her fault for Nancy Pelosi’s attitudes.


It’s Hillary’s fault for James Clyburn’s actions,

And also her fault for Chuck Schumer’s passions.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Keith Ellison’s religion,

And it’s her fault for John Lewis’s activism.


It’s Hillary’s fault that Congress won’t work.

The reason being that Hillary’s a jerk.


It’s Hillary’s fault for AIDS and TB,

For cancer and also ADHD.


It’s Hillary’s fault for Obama care,

For anything and everything that is not fair.


It’s Hillary’s fault when stocks and bonds fall,

In fact, it’s Hillary’s fault that we have faults at all.


But I don’t believe what conservatives say,

Because Hillary has made us safer, more productive, and better during her stay.


Thank you Hillary Clinton for taking on the critical issues of the 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

September 25th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized