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Pride, Consumerism, and the Tchotchketization of a Movement

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Today, we see more lesbian and gay people, and occasionally bisexual and transgender characters on television, in films, fiction and non-fiction written materials, magazines, commercials, and ads.

From the pages of slick magazines, Melissa Ethridge and her (now former) partner, sporting broad smiles and holding hands, display chic Cartier bracelets on their wrists; a male couple with a young girl and a yellow Labrador Retriever smile as they are all seated on the floor beside their Ikea couch, a lesbian couple learning American Sign Language in advance of their adoption of a young deaf girl in an ad for Wells Fargo Bank, and there’s Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series.

Then there are shows like “Glee,” “Modern Family,” “Will and Grace,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Project Runway,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Looking,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How To Get Away with Murder,” “Scandal,” “Shameless,” “Empire,” “The Fosters,” “Transparent,” and movies like Brokeback MountainThe Kids are Alright, The Single Man, The Imitation Game. These represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of recent examples of media visibility.

These characterizations, though on occasion representing minoritized races and ethnicities, comprise largely white and middle- to upper-class people. While the majority today would be considered by many as “positive” representations for the most part, which may more fully and accurately represent some of our lives relative to the rather sad and miserable or violently threatening characterizations presented previously, the majority depict the upwardly mobile, socially assimilated character who poses little overt challenge to the status quo, those who function rather successfully in the competitive corporate world, those who shop for a dishwasher or go on an expensive vacation with their heterosexual friends and relatives.

While many benefits accrue with these representations, such as providing better role models for our youth, helping to overcome many of the stereotypes and reducing prejudices, the capitalist system seems to have employed these images of “we are just like you” in its attempts to coopt critique and possible challenge to that very system.

A few years back, I entered my university classroom and was about to introduce that day’s lesson when my eye caught a large poster pined to the bulletin board displaying a tightly clenched raised fist, reminiscent of the iconic Black Power symbol popularized in the 1960s. Above the image read the words in large capital letters, “JOIN THE FIGHT.”

Encouraged by the sight, I walked over to the poster hoping to find some indication of resurgent social activism. To my dismay and utter aversion, however, appearing in smaller letters, the poster advertised “The Fighting Burrito,” a local fast food campus hangout. The profit motive transformed this iconic symbol into a sales pitch for burritos, tacos, carbonated drinks, and nachos.

In our communities, the “Pride” marches of the past have morphed into parades and festivals funded on major corporate sponsorship and capitalist consumption. Parade contingents now include large canvas banners affixed with familiar logos of national and local banks, insurance companies, soft drinks and beer, and real estate offices. Ironically, some of these same companies not so long ago refused to hire “out” members of our communities, but seeing how our business will improve their economic bottom line, we are now happily welcomed.

Along the parade routes and at rally sites, companies and individuals display and sell their wares, from internet and phone company subscriptions to rainbow-colored everything imaginable: from t-shirts to teething rings, and from towels to toilet seat covers. Gucci just introduced their new rainbow pride-theme sneakers for the bargain price of only $995.

In addition, merchants and artisans borrow the pink triangle — the Nazi patch gay men were forced to wear on their clothing when incarcerated in concentration camps — to fashion glimmering pink Rhinestone jewelry worn as glamorous fashion accessories.

Originally, the pink triangle, this symbol of ultimate oppression of gay men in Nazi concentration camps, in the 1970s our communities deployed as a mark of solidarity, in the AIDS activist movement of the 1980s and 1990s, as an emblem of resistance in mobilizing against the intransigence of governmental and societal inaction, and today often as simply as an accoutrement of vanity as a fashion statement.

The latter is an example of what I refer to as “the tchotchketization of a movement” (“tchotchke” in Yiddish means knick knacks, small objects, etc.).

While possibly the exception, and certainly not necessarily the rule, some of us at least are now “out” at work with few or no real consequences to our job security. Others now ascend the corporate ladder with relative ease, and own exclusive vacation homes in the Florida Keys, Panama, or Tuscany to “get away from it all.” We gentrify older urban neighborhoods, and spruce up city landscapes with the newest decorative trends.

However, are we actually contributing to the ever-widening income gap that has overtaken our country? And what about the folks and entire communities we dislocate as we gentrify entire neighborhoods?

More often than not, these gentrifiers include white gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women who conform fairly closely to traditional conceptualizations of gender expression, as cisgender.  Lesbians and bisexual women, as women within an overriding sexist society, however, statistically earn less than their male counterparts, and individuals who present along the transgender spectrum continue to find less freedom of expression, and, therefore, far less job security.

While upward mobility stands as a somewhat laudable goal, I believe that if we are going to achieve a truly equitable society, we must reach higher, wider, and broader. As important as economic security may be, I hope we do not envision this as the final resting place over the rainbow.

If the relatively few of us who attain this security, after having been seduced by promises of achieving some degree of credibility and respectability, I fear we will have become part of the very problems that so many of us have fought so tirelessly to eradicate.

Metaphorically, oppression operates like a wheel with many spokes. If we work to dismantle only one or a few specific spokes, the wheel will continue to roll over people. Let us, then, also work on dismantling all the many spokes to conquering all the many forms of oppression in all their many forms.

Until and unless we can join in coalition with other groups, I consider that the possibility for achieving a genuine sense of community and a genuine sense of equity will be unattainable. I believe also that sexual and relational attractions and gender identities and expressions alone are not sufficient to connect a community, and by extension, a movement for progressive social change.

We must, therefore, look beyond ourselves and base a community and a movement not simply on social identities, but also on shared ideals and values among individuals from disparate social identities, with like minds, political philosophies, and strategies for achieving their objectives.

Let us revel in our past victories, for we have fought tirelessly for them. But let us not dwell there because we have further to go to ensure a truly just and equitable society and world.

In the final analysis, whenever anyone is diminished, we are all demeaned, when anyone or any group remains institutionally and socially marginalized, excluded, or disenfranchised from primary rights, benefits, and resources, the possibility for authentic community cannot be realized unless and until we become involved, to challenge, to question, and to act in truly transformational ways.

I hope, therefore, that we can reignite the revolutionary and transformational flame of what was Stonewall.

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

May 22nd, 2017 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

He’s “Assertive,” She’s “Bossy”: The Double-Standard Language of Gender

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Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, in 2014 fired the paper’s Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, after she served only three years as the first woman in this top position. Though reports conflict over the cause of the firing, Sulzberger claimed that “I chose to appoint a new leader of our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects….”

Abramson seems to have talked with top officials at the paper about the apparent discrepancy between what she is paid in her position compared to a substantially higher salary paid to men who previously held the same rank and title. This, together with allegations over Abramson’s supposed brusque personality and management style “may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was ‘pushy.’”

According to The New Yorker, “Abe Rosenthal, an executive editor during the late seventies and eighties, was never considered a subtle personality, to say the least. And so there is a reason that gender has been widely discussed in relation to Abramson’s firing and how she was judged, even if it was not the decisive factor.”

Regardless of what was the basis for her firing, clearly social customs and norms reinforce many shared preconceptions about the genders in and out of the business world. Some of these may be inconsistent or even contradictory, but they share the common element that they prescribe rules of conduct for us all. These preconceived notions, or stereotypes, become standardized mental pictures that societies hold representing oversimplified opinions, attitudes, of judgments.

I define ”sexism” as the overarching system of advantages bestowed on males. It is prejudice and discrimination based on the sex we are assigned at birth, especially against females and intersex people, and is founded on a patriarchal structure of male dominance promoted through individual, institutional, social, and cultural systems.

Language itself often reinforces sexist stereotypes. Indeed, the language we use expresses the way we experience the world around us, and the words people use in talking about the genders reveal social attitudes that tend to maintain sexist behaviors.

When males and females both exhibit similar outward behaviors, the sex we are assigned at birth will often determine the societal stereotype affixed to that behavior.

For example, what may be seen as “assertive” behavior in a male may be called “pushiness” in a female. A male may be seen as being “enthusiastic” or “passionate,” whereas a female is accused of being “emotional” or “on the rag.” Where a male is viewed as “confident” or “firm,” a female, on the other hand is considered “stubborn” or “b — chy.”

When a woman aims to be a corporate executive, stepping outside the gender role assigned to her, she is sometimes accused of “trying to be like a man” and considered “too masculine.”

Though referring to non-human animals, these names are sometimes applied to people depending on their assigned sex. For example, people refer to males as “studs,” “stallions,” “bucks,” “wolves,” and “lions,” whereas females are “foxes,” “kittens,” “pussies,” “bunnies,” “birds,” “chicks,” “lambs,” “b — ches,” “shrews,” “cows,” “dogs,” “nags,” and “sows.”

The animals used to refer to males signify bravery or sexual prowess, while those applied to females tend to be either negative in tone or they cast females in the role of sexually-passive objects.

Other words, usually used as “masculine” and “feminine” nouns, have not-so-subtle differences in meaning that reflect the values placed on males over females. Masculine nouns include “brave,” “king,” “wizard,” “landlord,” “patron,” “grandfatherly advice,” “sir,” “master,” “bachelor,” “host,” “player,” “red-blooded American,” “the stronger sex.”

Feminine nouns include “squaw,” “queen,” “dame,” “broad,” “witch,” “landlady,” “matron,” “old wives’ tale,” “madam,” “ho,” “whore,” “slut,” “nymphomaniac,” “maiden,” “mistress,” “bachelorette,” “hostess,” “old maid,” “old bag,” “easy,” “frigid,” “the weaker sex,” she has a “maiden name,” and is a “cock tease.”

In addition, some words seem to apply almost exclusively to females, such as “flirt,” “moody,” and “hysterical,” carrying negative connotations. In fact, the term “hysteria” from the 19th century C.E. was used to refer to women only, and was thought to be caused by a disturbance in the uterus, from the so-called “wondering” or “floating womb.”

Taken in tandem, these linguistic double standards reflect the sexism still enforced within our society. 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; 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.

In other words, females have been constructed as second-class and even third-class citizens, but certainly not as victims, because through it all, as a group they have challenged the inequities and have pushed back against patriarchal constraints.

Though many females, males, and intersex people are fully aware of the continuing existence of sexism and male privilege, and they are working tirelessly for its eradication, many others, however, fail to perceive its harmful effects on themselves and others. This apparent invisibility of patriarchy, sexism, and male privilege in many countries, in fact, not only fortifies but, indeed, strengthens this form of oppression and privilege 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 even “accuse” them of being “overly analytical” or “too sensitive.” Possibly those who make these accusations are not themselves sufficiently analytical or sensitive.

I have heard some people refer to our current times as a “post-Feminist” era, where sexism and male privilege no longer impose major social barriers. They are referring to “Feminism,” which can be defined as the cultural, political, economic, and civil rights movement for the advancement of equality and equity between the genders.

For me this brings to mind a cleaver and I believe insightful bumper sticker produced by the National Association for Women: “I’ll be Post-Feminist in the Post-Patriarchy.” Unfortunately, however, the patriarchy is still alive and fully functioning.

I would like to thank Dr. Diane Raymond for her invaluable input into this commentary.

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), Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

May 22nd, 2017 at 8:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

President Trump Stress Disorder (PTSD) Infecting Worldwide Body Politic

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“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat….[D]ishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark, [with his] bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”

Mitt Romney, March 3, 2016

Though I seldom agree with Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential standard-bearer, on Donald Trump’s temperament and character, though, we stand on common ground.

One must first have command over one’s mental faculties before one can possibly have command over the affairs of state and can command respect from any constituency! Donald J. Trump fails on all levels. And now the world watches as our basic democratic principles come under assault by a man and most of his appointees who use the presidency as an entry-level position with little overriding supervision.

We are left with is what I refer to as “President Trump Stress Disorder” (PTSD), which has assaulted the worldwide collective body politic as a virus attacks the body’s defenses.

Whether by sheer incompetence, carelessness, and error or by clear intend, purpose, and design, President Donald J. Trump, with his words and actions, poses a greater threat to the security of the United States from within than any opponents from without.

Right-wing populists, like Donald Trump, are popular until they get into office. Then the former populists dump bait-and-switch policies and actions into the pool of voters as the bait snares and destroys them.

As more details surface about Trump and his associates’ alleged ties to the Russian government and specifically to Vladimir Putin, we are hearing accusations thrown at Trump from political pundits and residents alike of his conscious treachery and insurrection with comparisons to the notorious traitor, Benedict Arnold.

Arnold initially served the Continental Army as a general during the American Revolutionary War. During the War, however, he turned his allegiances to the British whose high command commissioned him as a brigadier general in the British Army to fight against his former comrades.

Some have accused President Trump of failing to abide by his oath of office “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America” by violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause,” colluding with foreign governments against the interests of the United States, calling into question the integrity and undermining the workings of the U.S. judicial system, and failing to carry out his responsibilities of appointing numerous officers to key federal agencies.

History will judge whether Donald J. Trump has committed any actual high crimes and misdemeanors to initiate impeachment procedures, for the facts have not yet been gathered and the jury has yet not been formed. Trump, though, has clearly strained our relations with our allies and has placed our world standing, in terms of our values, competencies, and trustworthiness, into serious doubt.

If Trump has any remaining sense of mind, he will resign immediately for this President Trump Stress Disorder pandemic to abate and for the healing to begin. Full recovery, however, will depend on our country’s ability and dedication to diagnose the cause of this disease and to find preventive measures ensuring its final and complete eradication.

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

May 17th, 2017 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Donald Thump Gives Commencement Speech at Liberty University

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President Donald J. Trump gave the commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 13, 2017. What follows is the transcript of a (fictitious) speech he delivered there, though most of the points and incidents are indeed factual.

Hello. My name is President Donald J. Thump, though I still can’t believe people actually elected me.

Well, anyway. Dear graduates of 2017, faculty, staff, and administrators of Liberty University, which was founded by one of my ultimate and most beloved mentors and heroes, the honorable moral Christian crusader, Jerry Falwell Sr.

Imagine a young child watching the communist-inspired children’s television program “Teletubbies.” You are introduced to the newest cast character, the subversive purpled-bodied, triangle-headed, Tinky Winkie. We as a country indeed owe a great debt of gratitude to your founding father, Jerry Falwell Sr. He was the first to unearth the plot by militant homosexuals to recruit our impressionable youth into their deviant gay lifestyle by using this purple pervert who carried a bright red handbag, and is a homosexual role model.

If Jerry Falwell Sr. had never been born, we might never have known what he reminded us about: that “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuality.”

Also, we never would have known the true words behind the acronym “NOW.” He was correct by alerting us that NOW, rather than standing for “National Organization for Women” as feminists purport, actually stands for “National Order of Witches.” He also exposed reality when he announced:

“I listen to feminists and all these radical gals – most of them are failures. They’ve blown it….Feminists hate men. They’re sexist. They hate men – that’s their problem.”

And just imagine a world without Jerry Falwell Sr. It was Jerry who courageously uncovered the real criminals behind the historic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 inside our true God-fearing country when he exposed the perpetrators as

“…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 don’t know about you, but I can’t even imagine such a world without Jerry Falwell Sr., this remarkable televangelist alerting us to THE truth.

Thank you Jerry for your wise words of wisdom, but enough about him. This commencement is about me.

I want to tell you all here and now in front of this packed audience, I want to tell you that now in my honored and privileged position as President of the United States, you’re going to see “Merry Christmas” in department stores, and no more of this pansy politically correct “Happy Holidays” stuff. As President, I now declare victory against the war on Christmas that liberals and other creepy multiculturalists have been waging in our Christian nation. I won, they lost!

I’m telling you here and now something that you already know: Christianity is under siege, and we have to band together to defend ourselves from the infidels in the United States. I want you to understand that the United States of America is now under my great and inspiring leadership. I am smart. I am rich. I am powerful, and I know how to get things done. I and only I can do it!

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when the upper 10% (mainly of white families) of our population controls even more than the approximately 80-90% of the accumulated wealth and 85% of the stocks and bonds that they already control. And imagine when corporate executives, who currently pay lower tax rates than their secretaries, incur even lower taxes. And also imagine when I together with the Congress outlaw labor unions and eliminate a government-imposed hourly minimum wage system.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I take back from the estimated 20 million people who now have health insurance for the first time in their lives under the Affordable Care Act, which I dub the “Euro-Socialist-inspired” Obama Care.

As President, I will return us to the good-old days when 50 million people in our country went uninsured and their only form of health care was the hospital emergency room that the remainder of the population had to pay, a time during those bygone days when young adults could not remain on their parents’ health plans until age 26, when insurance companies could deny people coverage for preexisting medical conditions and could drop people when they became sick.

I will return us to a time when women had to pay higher insurance premiums than men, when companies could make unjustified rate hikes whenever they wanted, and limit peoples’ rights to appeal company decisions regarding their benefits. Now that’s real liberty. (enormous applause from audience)

As President, I also promise to rescind Comrade Obama’s stated policy of providing free junior college tuition to students. I guarantee never to increase governmental student assistance programs, which I hope will further restrict deserving students from middle and working class backgrounds. Also, imagine when I cut and eventually eliminate governmental entitlement programs, thereby drying up the support systems from the “takers,” including many of our elders, people with disabilities, and other residents sitting on their butts in front of the TV.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I enact an executive order and encourage our Congress to pass legislation to construct a fence well into the celestial heavens on our southern border payed for by Mexico, when I even further increase deportations and dump people in the middle of the oceans, and continue to restrict immigration and social and educational services to youth, and most importantly, when the courts finally let me prevent Muslims from entering our Christian country. (loud sustained applause from audience with standing ovation)

Also imagine when I together with the Congress declare English as the “official” language of our entire nation, thereby eliminating bilingual education and mandating that all government documents be written in only good old English – the American language. It’l be a uuuuuge victry!

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I re-criminalize women who attempt to control their bodies, and when doctors and others assist them in carrying out the choices they make. (loud sustained applause from audience with standing ovation)

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I overturn those laws that spit in the face of God by allowing homosexuals to marry each other, and other laws granting them the benefits of living where they wish, eating in restaurants and purchasing things in stores they wish to patronize, visiting their so-called “partners” in hospitals and attending their funerals, inheriting their partners’ stuff after they die, and all the other benefits that should only be granted within the sacred bonds between one man and one woman.

If you want to hear about how sacred I take the marriage vows, you can ask all three of my beautiful – and once-were-beautiful — wives!

And imagine when we return to the days when men were men and women were ladies, because now, I already outlawed transgender students from entering the bathroom of their choice, and I will make it harder to have transition procedures. And returning to the good old days of the mid-20th century, I will mandate that everyone wear the clothing of their sex and behave as our God had intended.  (“amen” coming from throughout the crowd)

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I terminate all so-called “affirmative action programs” that get in the way of hard working righteous white men, for as we well know, as it currently stands, white people, especially white Christians, and heterosexuals are the real victims of our current Nanny State big government society.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I assist Congress in privatizing our national parks, and loosening environmental and consumer protections of all kinds. I will grant even more mining, oil, and lumber companies an enhanced right to exploit the land, and grant them more enormous tax breaks and subsidies. I promise to expose the lie that the liberals perpetuate daily in their claims of some sort of human-caused climate change and the warming of the Earth. As we all here know, God can only change our climate.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I downsize government by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as many other agencies during my term in office.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when we divert money currently going into public education into school vouchers so parents can send their students to good Christian schools at tax payer expense. And imagine when we reintroduce prayer into the public schools, and when the current pretext of a supposed separation of religion (“Church”) and state is finally exposed as the heresy it is.

Imagine our liberty and how free we will be as individuals and as a nation when I am given free rein to conduct invasions into sovereign nations to bring about American-style democratic reforms and restore civility. Look out Iran and California!

So, I ask you all here today, don’t merely imagine an America with more liberty and freedom through a peewee size government with severely reduced public services, an unlimited defense budget, enhanced state rights and the ability for states to secede anytime they wish, and a return to the true God. Now that I am your Divine Commander-In-Chief, that is exactly what you will get.

So to you graduates, I say, good luck and God bless you, God bless Jerry Falwell Sr. and Jr., and God bless the Christian Theocracy of the United States of America.

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

May 15th, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Segregated “Colored” Railroad Car Rolls into Michigan Police Station

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The Louisiana General Assembly passed in 1890 the “Separate Car Act” granting railroad companies the right to provide separate railway cars for the “white” race and the “colored” race.

On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy, a shoemaker, was jailed for sitting in a “white” car on the East Louisiana Railroad. Though demographically he was defined as one-eighths black and seven-eighths white, he was required to sit in the “colored” car under the so-called “one drop” rule — one drop of “black” blood makes you “colored.”

Mr. Plessy sued Louisiana in 1892 claiming in state court that the Separate Car Act violated the 13th (abolition of slavery) and 14th (equal protection) Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Judge John Howard Ferguson ruled against Plessy by declaring that the state could indeed regulate railroad companies operating within Louisiana.

Plessy appealed to the Louisiana state Supreme Court, which upheld Judge Ferguson’s decision. As his final recourse, Homer Plessy took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson, in what became a deep-seated stain on the cause for human and civil rights until it was reversed in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court, by a ruling of 7 – 1, upheld the lower court’s decision.

Writing in 1896 for the majority, Justice Henry Brown asserted:

“That [the Separate Car Act] does no conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery…is too clear for argument….A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races — a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races, and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color — has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races….The object of the [Fourteenth Amendment] was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either.”

The precedent set in this ruling came to be known as the “Separate but Equal” doctrine, which argued that separate facilities for black people and white people were constitutional if they were allegedly “equal” (though in actuality, where were not). This doctrine soon spread to other areas of public life including restrooms, restaurants, theaters, hospitals, and public schools.

It also extended the “Black Codes” — the so-called “Jim Crow” laws — throughout the South. These laws were passed following the enactment of the 13th Amendment to limit rights of newly-freed enslaved black people. “Jim Crow” statutes got their name from Jim Crow, a southern minstrel performer.

This now-metaphoric “colored” segregated train car recently pulled into a Michigan police station after a presumed white officer told others on the force that he is part African American.

Sergeant Cleon Brown, a respected veteran of 19 years in the Hastings police department, had been curious about his ethnic heritage:

“There’s always been questions reference to my dad. He had darker skin and black curly hair,” Brown said. “My oldest daughter was born with a medical issue and the specialist thought there was African heritage in our blood line.”

Genetic testing disclosed that Brown is of 18% African heritage. After relating the results to other officers, “They were real quiet to me and in police work, you have to communicate,” he said.

Sergeant Brown filed an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission discrimination complaint, though he contends that the situation only worsened. He found a black Santa Clause ornament with “18%” marked on it placed on a station’s Christmas tree. He also charged that the Hastings police chief called him “Kunta” after Kunta Kinte in the popular Alex Haley book and TV miniseries, “Roots.”

In Brown’s civil rights suit, he is asking for $500,000 in damages and a demand for Chief Jeff Pratt’s resignation. Brown, however, firmly maintains that the lawsuit is not about money.

“Absolutely not, from the beginning we said this was about them making a hostile work environment,” he said.

The attorney for the city of Hastings argues that Brown cannot sue for racial discrimination because he does not “appear” to be African American. This attorney’s diversionary tactics tap into societal myths that “race” represents objective, observable, and immutable biological characteristics rather than arising as socially-determined norms.

Looking back to the historical emergence of the concept of “race,” critical race theorists remind us that this concept arose concurrently with the advent of European exploration as a justification and rationale for conquest and domination of the globe beginning in the 15th century of the Common Era (CE) and reaching its apex in the early 20th century CE.

Meanwhile, geneticists tell us there is often more variability within a given so-called “race” of humans than between human “races,” and that there are no essential genetic markers linked specifically to “race.” They assert, therefore, that “race” is socially constructed — a historical, “scientific,” and biological myth. Thus, any of these socially-conceived physical “racial” markers are fictional and are not related with what is beyond or below the surface of the body.

Though biologists and social scientists have proven unequivocally that the concept of “race” is socially constructed, however, as Sefa Dei asserts, “the knowledge that race is an ideological, social/material construct does not take away the consequences when one is faced with actual racist incidents or practices.”

Sergeant Cleon Brown discovered what minoritized “races” have always understood: that racism is widespread in “law enforcement” agencies, and the racist railroad train travels on a regular schedule to towns and cities throughout the 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), 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

May 14th, 2017 at 1:59 pm

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Resuscitating Catholic Sexual & Gender History: Crucifixion or Resurrection?

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“…Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2357

So, if the Roman Catholic Church declares, as it does in its Catechism and from the pulpit, that “homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity,” and “are intrinsically disordered,” and therefore, “[u]nder no circumstances can they be approved,” then how will Church officials and laypeople alike counter the cognitive dissonance aroused by Jesuit priest, Father James Martin SJ based in New York City, who announced this past April on his Facebook page when referring to Catholic saints:

“Some of them were probably gay. A certain percentage of humanity is gay, and so were most likely some of the saints. You may be surprised when you get to heaven to be greeted by LGBT men and women.”

While others both inside and outside the Church have made similar claims in the past, what makes Fr. Martin’s assertion particularly notable is the fact that he currently serves as the Vatican’s officially-appointed consultant on LGBTQ issues, who has ignited a virtual fire (and brimstone) storm among the flock.

The Church can square the good Father’s statement in several ways. Since Fr. Martin does not maintain that these supposed “gay saints” engaged in “homosexual acts.”

According to Catechism 2359:

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

In this regard, Pope Francis wrote on the archdiocesan website, July 1, 2016:

“Those with predominant same-sex attractions are therefore called to struggle to live chastely for the kingdom of God. In this endeavor they have need of support, friendship and understanding if they fail. They should be counseled, like everyone else, to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, where they should be treated with gentleness and compassion.”

As written in Catechism 2358:

“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

How can one seriously reconcile the Church’s paradox, though, by labeling us as “objectively disordered” on one hand while calling for acceptance “with respect, compassion, and sensitivity”?

As historians know only too well, the times and cultures in which the saints lived severely condemned and criminalized same-sex sexuality with penalties ranging from social ostracism, to floggings, incarceration, and death. The Church itself also inflicted many of these penalties on the accused in addition to excommunications and defrockings.

Therefore, the sexual histories of people who lived before the modern era are sparse and incomplete at best. In addition, our lives, stories, and overall histories have been intentionally hidden by socially-dominant individuals, groups, and institutions through neglect, deletions, erasures, omissions, bans, censorship, distortions, alterations, trivializations, the changing of pronouns signifying gender, and by other means.

Not only have people speculated about the sexual activities of the saints, but also about the Popes as well, for example, the homosexual or bisexual expressions of Pope Paul II (1464-1471) and Pope Julius II (1503-1513), among others.

In his Facebook messages, Fr. James Martin also opined on the maltreatment of trans people:

“It saddens me that a #trans student cannot choose what bathrooms to use. A basic need. It’s an affront to their dignity as human beings.”

In this short and frank statement, Fr. Martin virtually challenges his Church’s longstanding history of oppression against gender nonconformity. The Catholic Church, as one religious institution, has wronged and at times murdered those who have advanced beliefs that ran contrary to Church “teachings.”

Joan of Arc, the teenager who helped defeat the English in her native France, became one of the greatest war heroes in French history. In spite of this, the Catholic Church tried Joan on the charge of heresy in rejecting Church authority in preference for direct inspiration from God, and most importantly, by donning men’s clothing. Joan died by burning at the stake.

The Vatican hierarchy recently fenced off Alex Salinas, a 21-year-old transman from Cadiz, Spain, by informing him that it had denied his request to become the godparent of his nephew because a transgender identity is incongruent with Catholic teaching.

According to the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its doctrine-enforcing agency:

Transgender status “reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality. Therefore, it is evident that this person does not possess the requirement of leading a life according to the faith and in the position of godfather and is therefore unable to be admitted to the position of godfather or godmother.”

The Church’s conflation of sexual identity with gender identity and expression in this statement betrays not only a prejudiced sentiment but also a clear misunderstanding of the realities of real human beings’ lived experiences.

Additionally, in his April 2016 letter focusing on marriage and the family titled Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis sternly warned against gender transition procedures when he stressed that “conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.”

So, I restate my initial question: How will Church officials and laypeople alike counter the cognitive dissonance aroused by Father James Martin’s Facebook claims?

Some options specifically for the Church include, but are not limited to: ignore the Father’s statements, dismiss them as unsubstantiated and unproveable, dismiss Fr. Martin from his role as Church consultant on LGBTQ issues, defrock him on charges of heresy.

On the other hand, the Church can conduct further historical investigations into the content of Fr. Martin’s assertions (though historians most assuredly have sufficient documentation to generally substantiate his claims). Or, the Church can state unequivocally that the Father’s statements ring true.

What, though, would be the consequences of the Church “coming out” and setting their doctrine not-so-straight? What would be the consequences of the Church altering its dogma related to human sexuality and gender? Basically, the house of cards on which Church teaching rests would fall crashing down.

First, since the Catechism defines homosexual expression as “intrinsically disordered,” and if the Church concedes that some saints did, in fact, engage in same-sex sexuality, does this mean that they too were intrinsically disordered? If so, what does this say about the divine sanctity of the saints? Is not at least a segment of the foundation on which the qualifications for determining the saints undermined?

And what does this say to other religions, since there is often a synergistic relationship between religions, and especially between denominations within similar religious traditions.

If the Catholic Church wavers on its past condemnations related to the expression of same-sex sexuality and/or gender identity, might this call into question, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention’s conclusion that “Homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered and sinful,” or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ determination that “Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, [and] is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality…”

In addition, would other cards in the house of the Roman Catholic Church fall from its patriarchal rafters if it finally reevaluates its oppressive gender hierarchy by denying ordination and full equality to women?

And what about its conclusion that no man supposedly had anything to do with the conception of the historical figure of Jesus according to its own teachings? How can the Church continue to justify its patriarchal tyranny, which it has done all these many centuries?

Father Martin evokes so many intrinsically ordered questions within his stunning message to his Facebook friends. Stay tuned for the transpiring dialogue.

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

May 12th, 2017 at 6:48 pm

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Business Titans & Donald Trump: A Cautionary Tale

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“Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” George Santayana

Numerous reasons help to explain why, in general, business leaders, even the most titanic, often make failed politicians.

Though over the years government has imposed certain regulations on our “free market” economic system of Capitalism, and while business executives commonly must answer to their Boards, shareholders, and sometimes to the courts, the worlds they inhabit impose far fewer restrains on their virtual autocratic decision making and management styles.

The framers of our great Constitution, though, in their wisdom, devised a system of checks and balances between the three major branches of government – Executive, Legislative, Judicial — so that no single branch could grab excessive powers over the others. They certainly had good reason not to replicate in their newly established country what they had experienced as a tyrannical British monarchy.

They also established the concept of a free and open public press in the First Amendment (supplemented and expanded by legislative actions and judicial decisions) acting as a “Fourth Estate” of sorts to ensure additional checks on potentially unfettered misinformation campaigns by powerful leaders to circumvent constitutional constraints.

Attempting to transfer business experience as the basis for entering the political arena poses great challenges at the very least. The metaphoric houses of business executives give them far more shelter by restricting the outside investigatory gaze compared with politicians’ houses of clear and largely unobstructed glass.

Take Donald Trump as an example of our cautionary tale. Trump, who inherited the mantle of business titan as if a divine right of kings, appears temperamentally incapable of governing within a constitutional democracy.

Even setting aside his multiple disqualifying traits, including his erratic temperament, countless character flaws, in addition to his questionable mental stability, this self-imposed autocratic titan of business collided full speed into the intractable iceberg of politics. Now with a massive breach in his ship of state, he and his administration find themselves quickly taking on water and slowly, but most assuredly, sinking to the bottom.

The good news in this National Traumatic Stress Disorder — inevitable National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – is that our democratic experiment will survive, and might even gain momentum and advance. This will come about, though, only if our leaders and our collective national consciousness incorporate and retain our history. Otherwise, to invoke George Santayana once again:

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat 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), 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

May 11th, 2017 at 3:27 pm

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The Fake Interview with Kellyanne Conway, White House Spokes-Spinner

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…and welcome back from our commercial break for Puppy PeeDoo, the safe, effective, and refreshing pads to train your puppy indoors before it dumps outdoors.

This is the Genuine Fake News Network (GFNN), formerly the Fox News Network before it imploded by paying out millions upon millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment and racism lawsuits. We got the station for a song, dum diddly do, diddly dee.

I am your host, Al M. Moannie, for our show “Incredulity.”

We continue our coverage already in progress of CNN’s (and some gay men’s and straight women’s eye candy), Anderson Cooper, who is interviewing Kellyanne Conway, White House Spoke-Spinner for the Trump so-called “administration.”

Anderson Cooper: So if I understand the White House press release correctly, you are saying that your boss, President Donald J. Trump, through his Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, fired FBI Director, James Comey, because he botched the investigation into the use of a private email server by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by politicizing the probe and damaging Ms. Clinton’s chances to become the next President of the United States? Are you saying that Comey was not fired because he is looking into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians to effect the outcome of the election in Mr. Trump’s favor?

Kellyanne Conway: That’s exactly right Anderson. We wanted to win the election fair and square, but Comey’s actions placed doubt in the process by calling into question Ms. Clinton’s motives.

Cooper: But at the time of Mr. Comey’s actions last summer and just a few days before the election, Mr. Trump was ecstatic, and praised Comey for intervening the way he did.

Conway: You totally misread Donald Trump’s intentions and his body language. Because he always admired and respected Hillary, he believed that Comey betrayed her. Mr. Trump felt really really bad for her.

Cooper: So bad that he called her “crooked Hillary”?

Conway: Anderson, “crooked” referred to Hillary’s path to the Oval Office: first she was an effective advocate for children, then she served as First Lady of Arkansas, then First Lady of the United States, then U.S. Senator, then runner-up as the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee, then as the Party’s standard bearer. “Crooked” means that she took a circuitous route.

Cooper: That’s really hard to believe, especially when throughout the entire election cycle, he yelled to “lock her up.”

Conway: Of course, Anderson. He was asking all of his potential voters, rather than voting for him, to vote instead for Hillary so she could “lock up” the electoral college majority and become the next President, the first woman ever to hold the office. Mr. Trump has always been magnanimous, never thinking about himself.

Cooper: (eyes rolling around in his head) What?! Are you serious? Mr. Trump never puts his own self-interests first? He really wanted Ms. Clinton to win?

Conway: Of course. Mr. Trump is a generous man, and he is especially very respectful of women. He has always attempted, literally and figuratively, to stand behind the women in his personal and business life.

Cooper: Yes, and to grab them as we all discovered in the Access Hollywood tape.

Conway: Most certainly, for as we all know, many women love to keep cats as pets, and Mr. Trump, being the animal lover that he is, frequently grabs pussy cats and gives them a deep and firm rubbing.

Cooper: Kellyanne, do you really expect the American people to buy that explanation?

Conway: Of course I do. In fact, you remember that many Democrats called Bill Clinton the “first Black president” because he championed programs and policies to make the lives of Black people in our country better.

Cooper: Yes, I’ve heard that.

Conway: Well, likewise, many Republicans are already calling Donald Trump the “first woman president” because he has been so good to and for women throughout our great country. Who else would have promoted his daughter, Ivanka, to such a high prestigious position with her own private office in the West Wing? Who else would have nominated Betsy DeVos, someone with such a passion for learning to lead the Department of Education?

Cooper: But neither of these women has any actual background experience for the powerful positions they hold.

Conway: And that is precisely the point. Donald Trump cares so much about women that he provides them great opportunities for on-the-job training. No other President has done that. Others have all selected people who are fully qualified and vetted for the jobs. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, was elected by the majority of voters to “drain the swamp” of how things are normally done in Washington.

Cooper: You do understand that your boss didn’t actually win the majority of the popular vote? Hillary did.

Conway: And that is exactly the reason why this President, directly after taking office, decided not to fire Mr. Comey right away. The FBI Director’s intervention in politicizing the election assured Ms. Clinton the popular vote, thereby saving her from possible embarrassment.

Cooper: But since the election, the new President continually argues that the almost three-million more votes that went to Hillary were all acquired fraudulently: by “illegal aliens,” by dead people, by individuals voting multiple times.

Conway: Oh Anderson, what you are saying is a clear example of how the lamestream press misinterprets and misunderstands the meanings behind the President’s words. You all take him so literally. You seem not to understand meaning, intent, and nuance. You don’t know the President like I do.

Cooper: (turning red with exasperation, smoke emanating from his ears)

Conway: Anderson, are you alright? You don’t look so good?

Cooper: (gasping for air) Kellyanne, please look for the meaning behind, in front of, underneath, and above my words: How can you and Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, maintain your sense of integrity and remain at your jobs telling all these lies? At the end of the day, you are diminished and demeaned, and you do a great disservice to the office of the presidency and to our democracy.

(looking into the camera) I can’t do this anymore, so now back to the studio. I’m going back to wash rescued elephants in a Myanmar animal sanctuary. Elephants don’t lie.

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

May 10th, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trump and the Tuesday Massacre

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During the height of the investigations into the criminal break-in on the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC on June 17, 1972, feeling under attack, President Richard M. Nixon had the Special Prosecutor in charge of conducting the probe fired on October 20, 1973.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee requested the Justice Department secure a Special Prosecutor, and during his confirmation hearings as Attorney General, Elliot Richardson committed to fill this position.

The instigating event triggering Nixon’s fateful reaction to fire Cox was the Special Prosecutor’s issuance of a subpoena requiring the President to hand over taped conversations in the Oval Office, which he initially refused to do. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous 8 – 0 decision (Rehnquist did not vote), ordered Nixon to present the tapes to the investigating committees in the House, which he eventually did. The tapes included the now infamous 18-minute gap.

Nixon first demanded that Richardson fire Cox. Rather than follow the order, Richardson maintained his integrity by resigning in protest as did Deputy Attorney General, William Ruckelshaus. Solicitor General and acting head of the Justice Department, Robert Bork, eventually composed the letter dismissing Cox, thereby initiating the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Cox’s termination signaled the ultimate and inevitable end of Nixon’s presidency.

The framers of our great Constitution, in their wisdom, devised a system of checks and balances between the three major branches of government – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – so that no single branch could grab excessive powers over the others. They certainly had good reason not to replicate in their newly established country what they had experienced as a tyrannical British monarchy.

Possibly because Donald Trump shows little interest and knowledge in the study of history and in learning the mistakes of past presidents, and he demonstrates a real lack of understanding how our brilliantly-constructed system of checks and balances operates, this president has stepped into and is now up to his neck in the muck dumped onto the political landscape by Nixon.

While officially praising and even gloating over FBI Director, James Comey, during and following the last presidential campaign in publicly acknowledging and discussing the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term, Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, May 9 on the charge that his actions during the election jeopardized public confidence in the agency.

In his letter firing the Director, Trump wrote in part:

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

Trump’s action and reasoning defies credibility. As Archibald Cox entered deeper into the criminal attack on Democratic National Committee offices and the White House’s cover up, Comey has publicly stated his commitment to investigate Russia’s interference in our 2016 presidential election process. He announced that he is looking into whether any political operative in the Trump campaign, and most notably Trump’s chief aid and National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, colluded in the cyber-theft of Democratic Party documents.

A major question Comey was investigating at the time of his firing was why Trump decided to continue Flynn’s involvement in very sensitive security meetings a full 18 days following acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, informing Presidential Counsel, Donald McGahn, of Flynn’s possible ties to the Kremlin, which might compromise him to a foreign power.

Comey was also investigating the actual reason Trump chose to fire Yates (on the charge of refusing to enforce his refugee and immigrant ban) a few short days after notifying the White House of Flynn’s actions rather than terminating Flynn. Trump reluctantly let Flynn go following leaks by the Washington Post.

So, we are now at an historic juncture with an 18-day delay following a 1973 18-second gap.

We arrived at this point possibly because Trump still operates from the mindset of a corporate CEO, a virtual monarch whose dictates all must follow. In Trump’s former world, no checks and balances intervened to circumvent his will. Except for those in his family nepotism fast track, all must abide by his rules, or “You’re fired!”

Though he tried to “fire” Gonzalo Curiel, the judge overseeing the fraud case involved with Trump University, who Trump attacked for being biased for his Mexican heritage (though born in Indiana), Trump eventually settled the case by shelling out $25 million.

Donald Trump has made it his life’s mission to vanquish his “many enemies” — real and imagined. At this point in his life entering his eighth decade, he has amassed an inexhaustible array of enemies including anyone and everyone who has ever made a disparaging remark against him, anyone and everyone who has failed to admire and publicly praise him, anyone and everyone who has withheld their heartfelt support in his personal, business, and political “affairs.”

In this regard, Trump behaves more Nixonian than Richard Nixon himself.

If Trump continues down Nixon’s path, with his insatiable narcissistic craving for attention and admiration, coupled with his intense and all-consuming need to control and subjugate, ultimately, the only person Trump will vanquish will be himself, Donald John Trump.

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

May 9th, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Republicans “Pro-Life Only Until Birth” Party

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“The Republican Party must continue to uphold the principle that every human being, born and unborn, young and old, healthy and disabled, has a fundamental, individual right to life.” Republican National Committee for Life

Rather than standing under their banner of “Right to life!,” in reality they march in lockstep to the charge of “Right to life until birth. After that, you’re on your own!”

Contrary to having concern for “every human being,” their interest stops at “every unborn human being.” This reality was clearly apparent as the details of the newest iteration of their draconian so-called “American Health Care Act” has come to light.

The bill eliminates the public mandate, grants states and insurance companies federal waivers to charge people with pre-existing medical conditions much higher rates than other customers, substantially increases prices for older people, and disregards the mandate to cover specified services like pregnancy care. It cuts Medicaid programs for low-income people, while allowing states to enact work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Oh, and let us not forget that the bill eliminates tax increases on the rich and super-rich as well as on the health industry.

Just hours after House Republicans passed the bill, meeting publicly in New York City with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump praised Australia for having a “better health care than we do.”

Well, Donald, you might want to take note that Australia initiated a successful government-sponsored single-payer health care system, which your party’s philosophy of “that government is best that governs least [and preferably not at all]” will never accept. But why not?

Reported by the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the U.S. ranks last in terms of life expectancy and first related to disease burden compared with other so-called “developed” countries, including Australia. We spend about $8,745 per capita on health care, compared with Australia’s $3,997 per person. If the Senate succumbs and actually passes the House version, these tragic statistics will only worsen.

I felt physically disgusted watching House Republicans standing with Trump and Pence smiling smugly in the White House Rose Garden lining up taking a figurative victory lap immediately after passing the bill. The irony was stark, glaring, and utterly cynical.

On my TV screen I watched what I imagined as white, middle-aged, rich, and primarily male former frat boys trying to relive their salad days high-fiving above kegs of freely-flowing beer and wearing togas while trying to bed the hot sorority girls, all as they, in all likelihood, are attempting to take away health care insurance from what the Congressional Budget Office estimates as 24 million people by 2026 in the first version of the bill. This second version portends even more dire consequences.

Hey, but originally you wrote into the bill that Congress members are exempt from its provisions, but you ultimately deleted that measure owing to your obvious hypocrisy. But never mind. Party on, party on. We will see you at the voting booths in 2018.

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

May 6th, 2017 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized