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“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

Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Oxymoronic Biblical Science

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Not knowing is bad. Not wishing to know is worse.”

Nigerian Proverb

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

Former Pennsylvania Senator and two-time presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, has joined Donald Trump’s newly formed Catholic Advisory Group to bring more Catholic voters to the campaign.

By now, most people are aware of Santorum’s position, so to speak, on marriage equality and absurd rambling statements on same-sex sexuality, which can be summarized in a quote he gave during an Associated Press interview:

“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality.”

Possibly less known and understood are Santorum’s views on climate change.

As a devoted practicing Catholic, recently he publicly sparred with the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who has been speaking out again what he acknowledges as the human role in climatic change that are currently plaguing our planet. The Vatican released Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, about which Francis stated to reporters:

“I don’t know if it is all [humanity’s fault] but the majority is, for the most part, it is man (sic) who continuously slaps down nature. We have in a sense taken over nature.”

During an interview with Fox news, Santorum asserted that the Pope should stay out of the global climate debate, and that he is more qualified than the Pope to raise the issue. Also, on a Philadelphia radio station earlier, Santorum proclaimed that the Pope should “leave science to the scientists” and concentrate his energies on “theology and morality” rather than climate change.

Actually, Pope Francis studied chemistry and worked as a chemist before joining the seminary, while Santorum graduated with a degree in political science. On Fox news, Santorum defended his criticism of the Pope while asserting his own political imperative to raise the issue of global climate change.

“Politicians, whether we like it or not, people in government have to make decisions with regard to public policy that affect American workers,” Santorum said, and he continued by adding that while “the Pope can talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” Santorum does not think Francis should use his moral influence to combat environmental and climatic fluctuations. “I’m saying, what should the Pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the Earth than climate change.”

So, Mr. Santorum, state on the record why the destruction of polar ice caps and the disastrous raising of sea levels do not warrant a high moral priority? Why doesn’t the clear cutting of ancient forests warrant a high moral priority? Why doesn’t human pollution of our waterways, our air, our soil, and our ground water, especially in areas where economically disadvantaged people live in high concentrations warrant a high moral priority?

Why doesn’t the human burning of fossil fuels, which 97.1% of environmental scientists assert stands as the leading cause of continually rising temperatures around the planet, warrant a high moral priority? Why don’t the following scientifically-verified consequences of human-impacted global warming warrant high moral priorities?

• Increasing species extinctions; • Reduction of coral reefs, mangrove forests, and tropical rain forests; • Threats to small island states in the Pacific as sea levels rise; • Increasing drought threats in Africa; • More severe flooding in densely populated river deltas in Asia; • More severe weather in hurricane prone zones

Mr. Santorum’s assault on the facts related to the human impact on climate change and anyone who defends these facts has been continuous. As a candidate in the presidential primaries in 2012, Santorum questioned President Barack Obama’s “theology” in an Ohio campaign stop, February 19, 2012 by asserting that Obama believes in “some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.”

When asked to explain his remarks on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” by moderator Bob Schieffer, Santorum responded that he was referring to “the radical environmentalists,” and by implication, placed Obama in this category. Santorum attacked the notion that “man is here to serve the Earth,” which he argued “is a phony ideal.”

While Santorum conceded “that man is here to use the resources and use them wisely, to care for the Earth, to be a steward of the Earth,” he was emphatic that “we’re not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective. I think a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside-down.”

In yet another ill-conceived and executed religious crusade, Santorum, with his publicly expressed literal biblical interpretation, conjures up such passages as Genesis 1:26, which states:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

And Genesis 1:28: “God blessed [humans] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’”

Unfortunately, Santorum is certainly not alone among his Republican colleagues and electorate. A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, in their study “A Deeper Partisan Divide over Global Warming,” found that while 58% of respondents who identified as Democrats and 50% of Independents believe that global warming is mostly caused by human activity, only 27% of Republicans believed this.

Among Democrats, those with higher educational levels, 75% with college degrees compared with 52% with less education, expressed the view that solid evidence has shown human activity largely as the cause of global warming. Opposed to the Democrats, however, educational levels of Republicans resulted in an inverse relationship in trusting the scientific evidence with only 19% of Republican college graduates compared with 31% with less education believing in the human connection to climate change.

How many more British Petroleum and Exxon Valdez oil spills, oil train disasters, burst and leaking pipes, fouling shale oil extractions, polluted and poisoned waterways and skies, dead lakes, clear cut forests, mine disasters, mutilated and scorched Earth, nuclear power plant accidents and meltdowns, toxic dumps and landfills, floods and droughts, trash littered landscapes, extinct animal and plant species, encroachments on land masses by increasingly raising oceans and seas, and how many more unprecedented global climatic fluctuations will it take for the anti-science Republican party and others to put the health of the planet and by extension the health of all Earth’s inhabitants on the front burner, if you will, of policy priorities over the unquenchable lust for political payoffs and profits by corporate executives?

Today, fully 56% of U.S. Congressional Republicans deny climate change, or deny human causation. Within the 114th Congress, at least 170 elected representatives have collected approximately $63.8 million from the fossil fuel industry.

For a party claiming to stand as “pro-family,” what kind of legacy and what kind or future are they really bequeathing to our youth? For a party that claims to promote political conservatism and “traditional values,” what is more traditional and value-laden than conserving and thus sustaining the Earth’s resources responsibly and equitably for ourselves and for future generations?

We have long since answered the question over whether humanity is responsible for climate change, and now we need to figure out how to fix the damage we have wrought. And for the remaining science deniers and those who have profited from a destruction of the Earth, consider a poignant proverb from the Cree nation:

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,

only after the last river has been poisoned,

only after the last fish has been caught,

only then will you learn that you cannot eat money.”

So what does this tell us about Donald Trump who now relies on Rick Santorum for advice, scientific and otherwise?  Actully, not much more than we already know about 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), co-author 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

September 23rd, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trump’s Health Report Incredibly Astoundingly Exceptionally Hugely Positive

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After waiting over 15 months since Donald J. Trump first announced his run for the presidency, the public finally has the opportunity to view and analyze Trump’s complete health records, rather than the one hastily written by his gastroenterologist released previously.

During an appearance on the Dr. Oz TV show this week, Trump handed over his new health report listing results from a check-up he underwent last week. Pulling back the curtain, Oz discovered the details.

According to the two-page letter written by his long-time narcissistologist, Dr. Shambert (“Sham”) Strawman, Donald Trump is in fabulously-stellar, incredibly astoundingly exceptionally hugely positive health. In fact, all of his tests came back “positive.”

First to his musculoskeletal system; since Trump gives them both a great amount of exercise by eating and talking, his jaw muscle (masseter) and bone (mandible) are the most highly developed and strongest in his entire body. In fact, Trump is able to lift his own poll number by simply placing the results in his mouth, chewing, and spitting them out again.

Though Dr. Strawman advised Trump to lose weight since he is heavier than preferred for a man of his size and weight, Trump argued with his doctor that he gets plenty of exercise traveling the campaign circuit and eating in only gourmet fast food establishments like KFC, McDonald’s, and The Greasy Spoon Café and Dog Food Emporium. He eats all of his food with the silver spoon he was born holding. Well, that should settle that!

Regarding his heart rate and blood pressure levels, like Trump himself, these are very active and fluctuate widely depending on whether someone is complementing or criticizing him. Though he appears, at least, to have a heart rate, unfortunately during the examination, neither his doctor nor the assistant were able to locate an actual heart.

Political pundits found this surprising since Dr. Strawman and the largest proportion of Trump’s supporters are white men who claim, at least, that he has a heart. Maybe it will turn up next time he undergoes a more thorough examination.

Trump’s doctor did, however, write about his other organs in the report. Since he has consistently refrained from drinking alcoholic beverages throughout his life, his liver still lavishly spews a bitter greenish-brown bile regularly, though quite often out his mouth.

Though his kidney functions seem normal in terms of removing waste products from his body, Mr. Trump, being the huge public figure that he is, holds excess toxins that he releases in his speeches whenever he mounts the stage.

Mr. Trump’s lungs, strong and sturdy, serve him as giant windbags powering his transparent hyperbole and viperous rhetoric, though as we all know because he told us, he “never lies.”

Trump’s senses of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching ramp up to extraordinary levels whenever he stands in front of a large head-to-toe mirror, especially in rooms that shine a spotlight onto him.

According to his doctor, though Mr. Trump does in fact have small hands, his penis is large enough to intercourse the entire nation, in fact, the “hole” world if he has such an intention to enter into these.

Donald Trump has for most of his adult life claimed that what we see atop his head is, in fact, his real hair, and not, as some claim, transplanted orange fuzz from a troll doll. Well, we finally have confirmation from Dr. Strawman that the Donald’s mane-sized mop is his own.

Since Trump performs his brand of business and politics chameleon-like by saying one thing to one audience and something completely different to another audience depending on what they wish to hear, Trump has genuine chameleon qualities. In fact, his hair and skin have turned the actual color of the tacky-gold accessories in Trump Tower. 

Responding to his doctor’s statement that “Mr. Trump’s personality and temperament are both on the very high end of measures for Social Pathology,” Trump enthusiastically embraced this finding saying, “I’m a winner. I like to win. I even win at being the highest ever in social pathology, and that’s a great thing!”  

Dr. Strawman did find a malignant and inoperable growth in Trump’s brain, which, claimed his doctor, “Seemed to have devoured his sympathy and empathy centers.” Strawman termed the growth “a large demagogic tumor,” which poses no threat to Trump himself, but can be life threatening to the United States if Trump is placed in a position of power. 

Concluded Dr. Strawman, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will have the largest ego and testosterone levels of any individual ever elected to the presidency. I confirm the assertion that he made during the Republican Nominating Convention recently held in Cleveland when he said ‘I alone can fix it,’ and he can.”

At the end of Dr. Oz’s program, Donald Trump announced that he will release his tax forms for the past 10 years “when Hell freezes over or when the sky falls into the sea, whichever comes first.”

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 15th, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Official GOP Meltdown Confirms Ignorance & Bias about Trans People

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided to withdraw all championship games from North Carolina for the 2016-17 academic season because of that state’s discriminatory anti-trans “bathroom bill,” HB2. The bill also gives legal cover to state officials who deny services to members of the LGBTQ community.

Leading Republican officials in North Carolina have suffered a meltdown over the NCAA’s decision. According to a written statement delivered by spokesperson, Kami Mueller, of the NCGOP:

“This is so absurd it’s almost comical. I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team? I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking–and instead focus their energies on making sure our nation’s collegiate athletes are safe, both on and off the field.”

If this tirade represents Republican officials, including state legislators of North Carolina, it betrays their total lack of awareness and understanding of the realities of trans people, their identities, or their lives. It also brings to light how they are exploiting fear, anxiety, and bigotry for their own political ends.

These Republicans have initiated the oldest deceit in the annals of political manipulation by attempting to marginalize and demonize a group of people for the purpose of maintaining and extending its power, privilege, and control.

A crucial point in the psychology of stereotyping and scapegoating is the representation of minoritized groups as sub-human life forms, as predators, as criminals, as those who are determined to harass, molest, and rape members of the dominant group, in particular its women and girls, though also its men and boys.

When looking over this history, we find many clear and stunning connections between historical representations of homosexuals, gender non-conformists, Jewish people, and African-heritage people, for example.

African-Heritage People

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and physician invented the modern system of scientific hierarchical classification. He has also been called the “Father of Scientific Racism.”

Comparing European-heritage, Asian-heritage, and African-heritage people, for example, he defined the “Europeanus” as “white, sanguine, brawny; with abundant, long hair; blue eyes; gentle, acute, inventive; covered with close vestments; and regulated by customs.”

The “Asiaticus” are “yellow, melancholic, stiff; black hair, dark eyes; severe, haughty, greedy; covered with lose clothing; and regulated by opinions.”

And the “Afer” or “Africanus” are “black, phlegmatic, relaxes; black frizzled hair; silky skin, flat nose, tumid lips; females without shame; mammary glands give milk abundantly; crafty, sly, careless; anoints himself with grease; and regulated by will.”

Voltaire, 18th century French Enlightenment philosopher was a polygenist (human “races” are from different origins—different Adams and Eves). He asserted: “The Negro race is a species of men different from ours as the breed of spaniels is from that of greyhounds.”

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), founder of the “Eugenics Movement” and also someone who profited greatly from the slave trade, stated:

“I do not join in the belief that the African is our equal in brain or in heart; I do not think that the average negro cares for his liberty as much as an Englishman, or as a self-born Russian; and I believe that if we can in any fair way, possess ourselves of his services, we have an equal right to utilize them to our advantages.”

The modern-day Eugenicist, William Shockley, asserted that black Americans suffered from “dysgenesis,” or “retrogression evolution.” He proposed eliminating the public welfare system to be replaced with a “Voluntary Sterilization Bonus Plan.”

The highly-charged racist stereotype of black men as oversexed and sexually-insatiable predators of white women and girls persists today, as does the myth that black men are more highly endowed genitally than their white counterparts.

Throughout the history of the United States, vicious white gangs have beat and lynched black men and boys on charges, bogus or not, of even looking at white women or girls. White vigilantes killed black residents and burned down the town of Rosewood, Florida on the false charge by a white woman that a black man had raped her. A band of white men in Mississippi viciously tortured and lynched Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teenager, for allegedly flirting with a white woman.

Jews

French diplomat and essayist, Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau, published in 1853 that the “Aryan” race descended from an “original tribe” that resided in the Himalayas, the “cradle of the Caucasion race,” and that Jews were not part of that tribe.

From this, French historian Ernst Renan (1823-1892) posited that the Jewish or “Semitic” mind is superficial, while the “Aryan” mind is natural and wise.

Charles Darwin believed that Jews have a “uniform appearance” independent of geographic location. So-called “Social Darwinists extended Charles Darwin’s theories to claim that Jews comprise much more than a separate religious, ethnic, or political group, but they, along with black African and homosexuals comprise a lower or earlier form of human species, and are, therefore, distinct “racial” types.

Jews, they posited, comprise a separate “race,” one that is a “mixed” of “bastardized race” that crossed “racial” barriers by interbreeding with black Africans during the Jewish diaspora. Galton claimed, therefore, that “The Jews are specialized for a parasitical existence upon other nations.”

The stream of Eugenics known as Phrenology was based on the belief that the size and shape of the skull indicates human mental facilities and moral character. There were those who asserted that a section of the Jewish skull and brain are “abnormally developed” indicating that Jews are highly concentrated with money and financial matters.

Jews were viewed as murderers of Christian children and seducers of Christian women.

In 1144 began the so-called “Blood Libel” in England when Christian leaders accused Jews of slaying William of Norwich, a Christian male child, to use his blood in the making of the sacred Jewish matzos.

Many Christians believed that Jews used the blood of Christian youth because it was virginal and innocent and, therefore, was the most potent medication to heal hemorrhoids, to relieve pain during circumcision, to increase fertility, and to cure the so-called “stink of the Jews.”

The charge of ritual murder continued into the 20th century C.E. Christian clergy have also accused Jews of inflicting circumcision on Christian infants as a means of inflicting involuntary conversion to Judaism (“recruitment”).

Homosexuals

Similarly, from the Eugenics movement some members of the scientific community viewed people attracted to their own sex as constituting a distinct biological or racial type — those who could be distinguished from “normal” people through anatomical markers.

For example, Dr. G. Frank Lydston, U. S. urologist, surgeon, and Professor from Chicago, in 1889 delivered a lecture in which he referred to homosexuals as “sexual perverts” who are “physically abnormal.”

The American medical doctor, Allan McLane Hamilton, wrote in 1896 that “The [female homosexual] is usually of a masculine type, or if she presented none of the ‘characteristics’ of the male, was a subject of pelvic disorder, with scanty menstruation, and was more or less hysterical and insane.”

Physician, Perry M. Lichtenstein, published in 1921 that: “A physical examination of [female homosexuals] will in practically every instance disclose an abnormally prominent clitoris.”

And in 1857 in France, Ambroise Tardieu wrote that: “This degeneracy is evidenced in men who engage in same-sex eroticism by their underdeveloped, tapered penis resembling that of a dog, and a naturally smooth anus lacking in radial folds.”

The Swiss physician, August Forel, wrote in 1905: “The [sexual] excesses of female inverts exceed those of the male,…and this is their one thought night and day, almost without interruption. [Male inverts] feel the need for passive submission…and occupy themselves with feminine pursuits. Nearly all [female and male] inverts are in a more or less marked degree psychopaths or neurotics.”

And Dr. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) concluded that “Women’s colleges are the great breeding ground of lesbianism….They learn the pleasure of direct contact…and after this, the normal sex act fails to satisfy them.”

Although, in the overwhelming majority of cases, close family members, primarily men who identity as heterosexual, abuse and molest youth, the cultural perception persists that primarily gay and bisexual men.

For example, Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian media ministry organization, asserted in published accounts that gay rights advocates are forcing their viewpoints (their so-called “gay agenda”) in schools in the guise of bullying prevention. Spokesperson, Candi Cushman, asserted that gay activists are the real schoolyard bullies while conservative Christians are the victims. According to Cushman,

“We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled.”

Lou Sheldon of the Family Values Coalition sent a fundraising letter to potential donors stating:  “Gays and lesbians live perverted, twisted lives that feed upon the unsuspecting and the innocent, like our children. They want your children.”

And former radio talk show host, Laura Schlessinger declared that: “A huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys.“

The extended injunction against allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members into the ranks of the U.S. military was predicated on the notion that if admitted, they would sexually molest others in bunks and shower rooms.

Systems of Oppression

Trans people have opened the boxes for all of us to ultimately obliterate the gender status quo of binary oppositions by demonstrating the visible ways, the options upon an enormous gender continuum, one that does not depend upon a sex assigned to us, a sex that is imposed and forced upon us by others. The trans community has shown us the essential fluidity of gender.

In reality, women’s equality, homosexual and bisexual equality, trans equality, and equality of people of color all challenge the hierarchical structure entrenched within patriarchal and white supremacist systems of domination because when people fight for and achieve the right to control their bodies, this in turn better guarantees them the freedom to control their own minds.

So let the so-called “Grand Old Party” in North Carolina and throughout the country squawk, twist, turn, erupt, and meltdown all it wants, for this merely signifies a backlash to a movement and to a truth whose time has arrived.

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 13th, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“No Child Left Behind” or “No Child Left Untested”

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this year compared 34 of the wealthiest nations’ overall educational rankings, and it placed the United States 17th in reading, 21st in science, and 26th in math. These rankings are even lower than similar OCED comparisons just three years ago.

As concerning as these findings appear, even more troubling are the ways U.S. educators, through national policies, determine student educational outcomes based on our ineffective, counterproductive, and motivation-killing obsession with standardized high stakes testing – policies often not employed, at least not to the same degree, in many of the other countries around the globe, including many of those ranked higher than the U.S.

What effects has our age of “No Child Left Behind,” “Race to the Top,” and “Common Core Curriculum,” an age of standardization, increased and rapid corporatization, privatization, globalization, and deregulation of the business, banking, and corporate sectors have on learning?

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” derives from two Latin roots: “e,” meaning “out of” or “from,” 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 I later learned from what the Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Reglus Neves Freire termed as “the banking system of education.”

For genuine learning to occur, for it to be transformational, it must be student centered — grounded on the shared experiences of the learners — and composed of at least two essential elements or domains: the “affective” (feelings) and the “cognitive” (informational).

I design and implement my classes on a dialogic approach within a social justice framework in which students and educators cooperate in the process, whereby all are simultaneously the teacher and the learner. Educational psychologist Lev Vygotsky referred to this process as Obuchenie.

Standardized curriculum and testing were initially intended to gauge students’ progress, but have, unfortunately, metastasized into benchmarks for student advancement through the levels of education, for teacher accountability, as well as criteria for school funding from the government.

The educational buzz word (or, rather, buzz acronym) is now STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). Actually, since the time of Sputnik forward, we hear from the White House, to the school house, to the houses of industry that for us to achieve and maintain personal and national security, we must emphasize and rigorously promote STEM education in our schools and jobs in our economy.

As we understand in plant biology that stems cannot take root and grow unless planted in a fertile nutrient-abundant soil, likewise STEM fields cannot take root and grow within our society unless planted in an enriched foundation of the social sciences, humanities, the arts, and all in the context and development of creativity and critical thinking skills.

According to the so-called “Allocation Theory” of education, schooling has turned into a status competition, which confers success on some and failure on others. Our schools have morphed into assembly-line factories transforming students into workers, and then sorting these workers into jobs commanded by industry and business.

In so doing, educational institutions legitimize and maintain the social order (read as the status quo). Schools arrange individuals to fill certain roles or positions in commerce, which are not always based on the individuals’ talents or interests.

A few back, I asked the students in my Educational Psychology class to answer the following question by raising their hand: “How many of you have a parent or guardian who wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, ‘I have a great job I love, and I’m looking forward to going to work?” Of the approximately 100 students in class that day, exactly seven raised their hands.

I usually still answer that question in the affirmative. I cannot think of any other profession where one reads and discusses ideas with others and (sort of) gets paid for it. I love the opportunities for learning and engagement that I have as a professor.

However, “education” as currently constituted contradicts its own initial methodologies and purposes by focusing primarily on testing and on grades in the service of the educational consumer landing a job, which ultimately benefits the corporate sector.

Of course, gaining the knowledge and skills to obtain a good job is important and valuable for the individual and for our society. However, somewhere along the way, we have diminished in many of our students the joy of learning for learning sake, the ability to think creatively and critically, and to learn for the sake of understanding themselves and the world around them.

Where has the love of learning for the sake of learning gone in many of our students? Oh, we see a brilliant flame of learning in young people, but typically by the age of seven, or eight, or nine, we notice that in many youth, this once dazzling blaze seems to have waned. By middle and then senior high, the fire often flickers. Often when students enter university, for some, time has since past for us to assist them in rekindling any remaining embers. For others, though, I believe it is never too late to reignite that spark that can ultimately shine brightly once again.

We need to emphasize pedagogical paradigms other than the standardized testing currently holding the attention of our policy makers, but certainly not that of our students. We need to assist students in maintaining and enhancing their readiness for learning rather than merely their readiness for testing.

We must emphasize collectivism over simple individualism, collaboration over separatism, cooperation over competition, intrinsic incentives over behavioral rewards and punishments, pedagogical practices meaningful for education and learning rather than education situated on gold stars, tokens, pretty stickers, grades, and test scores.

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).

 

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

September 12th, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Donald Trump’s “Basket of Deplorables” An Actuality?

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During a fundraising event in New York City, Hillary Clinton proposed that Donald Trump supporters fall into two types of baskets. She stated first that:

“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”

She added, “And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.”

The other half of Trump supporters Clinton claimed fit into a second basket of people who have “economic anxieties” and feel that Trump is most likely to improve their financial plight.

Clinton talked about this trend, this racist so-called “alt-Right” (more commonly known as “white nationalism”) earlier in the campaign during a talk in Reno, Nevada. “He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.”

Though Clinton walked back her remarks somewhat the following day after her New York City speech, claiming again that the number of “half” Trump’s followers being “racist” followers was, again, “grossly generalistic,” recent polls actually confirm her assertions.

For example, the new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that though not all Republicans are racist, racists tend more to be Republicans, and the most extremist among them are Donald Trump supporters.

According to the poll, Trump supporters are more likely to label African Americans as “criminal,” “unintelligent,” “lazy,” and “violent” than are Republicans who voted for other Republican candidates during the recent primaries or who support Hillary Clinton.

Of course not every Trump supporter expressed negative attitudes about black people in the survey. However, approximately 50% did rate black people adversely, relative to whites, on any of the six character traits in the poll.

Another research poll, the 2016 American National Election Study, conducted by Hamilton College political scientist Philip Klinkner, compared and contrasted feelings and attitudes toward Trump and Clinton. The study investigated how economic opinions, racial attitudes, and demographics affected participants’ feelings and opinions about these two presidential candidates.

Klinkner found that economic opinions or anxieties did not significantly determine individuals’ preferences for Trump, though racial attitudes did. Said Klinkner,

“My analysis indicates that economic status and attitudes do little to explain support for Trump. Those who express more resentment toward African Americans, those who think the word ‘violent’ describes Muslims well, and those who believe President Obama is a Muslim have much more positive views of Trump compared with Clinton.”

The candidacy of Donald J. Trump has moved the ultra-right-wing (“Alt Right”) of U.S.-American politics to the center. Trump made this shift complete by elevating former executive chair of Breitbart News, Steven Bannon, to serve as his chief campaign executive. Not only does Breitbart “News” flame fires of racism, but also anti-LGBT bigotry, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-Jewish sentiments, and xenophobia. Here are just a few of the offensive story Breitbart headlines:

“Bill Kristal: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew”; “World Health Organization Report: Trannies 49 Xs Higher HIV Rate”; “There’s No Hiring Bias against Women in Tech, They Just Suck in Interviews”; “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control’s Human Shield”; “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count under Cecile Richards Is Up to Half a Holocaust”; “Racist, Pro-Nazi Roots of Planned Parenthood Revealed”; “Would You Rather Your Daughter Have Feminism or Cancer?”

The gigantic cover banner headline, “CLOWN RUNS FOR PREZ,” appeared on the New York Daily News the morning following real estate mogul Donald Trump’s announced run for the office of the presidency. While apt in many ways, I would not represent Trump this way since clowns traditionally never speak. And as we know all too well, silence has never been a descriptor of Donald Trump. Such words I would use for Trump include adjectives like “narcissistic,” “egotistical, “xenophobic,” “sexist, and “racist.”

While some others in contention for the White House on the Republican side understood that their chances hinged on attracting a more diverse segment of the electorate in addition to older white people, Trump figuratively spit in the faces of minoritized “racial” groups, in particular Latinos and Latinas, during his off-scripted rambling announcement speech last summer:

“The US has become a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems,” he said. “[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”

Trump eventually enlarged his dehumanizing representations to include people throughout Latin America.

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.

Rather than characterizing immigration and migration issues as humanitarian concerns, the anti-immigration activists, and most primarily Donald Trump, connect the narratives representing immigrants and migrants to our borders to the language of disease, crime, drugs, alien and lower forms of culture and life, of invading hoards, of barbarians at the gates who if allowed to enter will destroy the glorious white European-heritage civilization we have established among the lesser nations of the Earth.

On a more basic and personal level, the rhetoric of invasion of our boarders taps into psychological fears, or more accurately, of terrors of infection: our country, our workplaces, and more basically, our private places in which “aliens” forcefully penetrate our personal spaces around our bodies, into our orifices, and down to the smallest cellular level.

Today, the Republican Party stands as a large white identity organization with little demographic diversity. If it does not alter its messaging and become the “big tent” it unrealistically purports to be, it will collapse under the strong winds of time.

So while Hillary Clinton stepped back from her initial characterization of Trump’s supporters by saying, “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half.’ That was wrong,” was this actually as “wrong” or inaccurate as she acknowledged?

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 10th, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Colin Kaepernick Stands Up for Patriotism by Remaining Seated

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“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” Albert Eisenstein

San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, joined by a growing chorus of other athletes, chooses to speak up and stand up to systemic racism by remaining seated or down on one knee during the presentation of the Star-Spangled Banner, the U.S. national anthem, at professional football games and other sporting events.

Recently at an after-game interview, Kaepernick asserted: “The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, that aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about.”

He emphasized that he is not anti-American and that he loves his country, and, “I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better.”

Kaepernick plans to continue his protests during the regular season and to donate $1 million “to different organizations to help these communities and help these people.”

Though Kaepernick and the movement within the sports world has garnered increasing support, an often visible and intense backlash has developed among those who accuse Kaepernick of disrespecting the flag and the country it represents. They also accuse him of misusing his celebrity.

Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, wrote his “Defense of Fort McHenry,” the lyrics to what would become the “Star-Spangled Banner,” after beholding British ships of the Royal Navy striking Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. The large American flag, the Star-Spangled Banner, raised exaltedly above the fort during the U.S. victory gave Key his inspiration.

Ironically, the poem was set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a popular British drinking and womanizing song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society. The practice of playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events began during the 1918 U.S. baseball World Series during World War I at the first game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.

According to the New York Times, September 6, 1918,

“As the crowd of 10,274 spectators — the smallest that has witnessed the diamond classic in many years — stood up to take their afternoon yawn [7th inning stretch]…the band broke forth to the strains of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ The yawn was checked and heads were bared as the ball players turned quickly about and faced the music….First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day’s enthusiasm.”

The idea quickly caught on and spread, even though the “Star-Spangled Banner” was not officially proclaimed, through a congressional resolution, as the U.S. National Anthem until March 4, 1931.

Today, the song’s first two verses kick off numerous events in addition to sports. Usually omitted, though, is the third verse, which some interpret as racist.

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, that the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion a home and a country shall leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, and the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave…” here has been interpreted as a not-so-vailed threat against mercenaries and Africans who were enslaved in the United States who joined the British after promises of freedom by the British if they fought with them.

By refusing to stand, place one’s hand over one’s heart, remove hats and other apparel from the head (an inherently Christian tradition going against the covering of the head by many other religious communities), and sing proudly the words and tune of this Star-Spangled Banner, Colin Kaepernick and the movement he has spawned has raised important questions concerning what it means to be patriotic and an active participant in our democratic process. In addition, it raises question about the proper place for the playing of our national anthem.

The 50 stars and 13 strips on our flag of red, white, and blue represent our collective image of the United States of America. In this regard, we can define “patriotism” as: “a love for or devotion to one’s country,” and “nationalism” as: “loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”

How many of these people who exaltedly display the flag actually take the time to vote in local and national elections? How many of them volunteer to remove litter from parks or serve meals at soup kitchens?

How many of them write letters to the editors of local and national media, and stay current on issues, laws, and policies affecting their communities and their nation? How many of these people have actually read and truly comprehend the United States Constitution?

How many of them truly understand the histories, the peoples, the governmental and economic systems, the traditions, the languages – for that matter, the actual locations – of many other countries across the planet in contexts other than having to learn about these nations when international tensions arise?

While the United States is a beautiful nation founded on a noble concept, a vibrant idea, and a vital and enduring vision, as a country, it remains still a work in process progressing toward but not yet attaining and not yet reaching that concept, that idea, and that vision.

This is possibly what separates the patriot from the nationalist, for the patriot understands and witnesses the divide and the gap between the reality and the promise of their country and its people. The nationalist, though, is often not aware that a gap even exists between the potential and the reality.

A true patriot is a person who, indeed, loves their country (though not necessarily viewing it as “exceptional”), but also one who sees the way things are, and one who attempts to make change for the better. A patriot also views other countries with respect and admiration, as valued members of an interconnected and interdependent world community.

A large number of U.S. residents proudly display American flags flying and rippling in our strong winds on poles or porches in front yards. But patriotism and true commitment to our democracy takes more, much more; for it demands of us all the needed time, effort, and commitment to critically investigate all aspects of the great gift we have been given in our representative form of government. Anything less would be to waste our enfranchisement, to silence our voices, and to slap the faces of all who have gone before to envision and protect our form of government.

Reading of the intensive backlash against Colin Kaepernick exercising his constitutionally-protected right to protest brought back painful memories of witnessing the racial strife erupting like a volcano covering Boston and its suburbs with its flowing lava of bigotry during its history of mandatory bussing from 1974 – 1988 to achieve public school racial integration.

One photograph in particular captured the depth of racial prejudice in our city. In horrifyingly stark terms, a white man, enraged expression covering his face, gripped a long pole carrying the American flag as if he were wielding a sharp spear lunged toward a black man who was seized and held by another white man.

Symbolically, many people have grabbed and flung the flag as a weapon of intimidation to silence Kaepernick from reminding us of the racism that still continues to saturate our environment as the legacy of the original sin on which this country was founded.

Colin Kaepernich stands as a true patriot by remaining seated because he sees things the way they are and attempts in his fashion to make them better. Colin embraces John F. Kennedy’s challenge by asking not what their country can do for them, but rather asking what they can do for their country, and reflecting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. words that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

September 3rd, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

UnErasing LGBTQ History in Schools

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A nation begins in the classroom.

History UnErased (HUE)

Pop Quiz:

Okay, are you ready to take a history pop quiz? Well, ready or not, here goes:

  1. The name of the creator and year in which the term “homosexual” was coined:  a. Queen Victoria, 1886; b. Walt Whitman, 1860; c. Karl Maria Kertbeny, 1869; d. Jonathan P. Homo, 1852.
  2. What was “Paragraph 175”? a. Section of the U.S. Constitution eliminating the penalty for same-sex sexuality; b. Section of the German Penal Code criminalizing same-sex sexuality between males; c. Section of the Bible in Genesis condemning same-sex sexuality; d. Colonial Massachusetts law criminalizing sodomy.
  3. In what year did Great Britain eliminate the death penalty for same-sex sexuality between males? a. 1385; b. 1596;  c. 1861;  d. 1967.
  4. Who was Sarah Emma Edmonds, and for what was Sarah famous? a. One of about 400 people assigned “female” at birth who joined the Union and Confederate armies as “men” during the U.S. Civil War; b. First person in the British Colonies in North America to be convicted of lesbian sexuality; c. Author of the first “Lesbian Pulp” novel who created an entirely new literary genre; d. The actual name of the historical figure “Joan of Arc” whom the Catholic Church burned at the stake for wearing traditionally male clothing.
  5. What was the name and year of the first known LGBTQ college or university group in the U.S.? a. Homosexual Students, University of Wyoming, 1940; b. Gay Students’ Association, University of Notre Dame, 1969; c. Queers at San Francisco State University, 1971; d. Student Homophile League, Columbia, University, 1967.

Alright, how do you think you did? You can find the answers to this Pop Quiz at the end of this article!

LGBTQ History:

No matter what your score, I wanted to make the point that for the most part, students are not given the opportunity to discuss important issues, concepts, and personalities related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) issues in the required curriculum in the K-12 classrooms of the United States.

Therefore, LGBTQ people, as is still often the case for many other minoritized communities, grow up in a society without an historical context in which to project their lives. They are weaned on the notion that they have no culture and no history.

And the result has been vast and devastating. In the famous words of African American social activist Marcus Garvey: “A people without an understanding of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

October each year we celebrate LGBTQ History Month. It originated when, in 1994, Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher in Missouri, had the idea that a month was needed dedicated to commemorate and teach this history since it has been perennially excluded in the schools. He worked with other teachers and community leaders, and they chose October since public schools are in session, and National Coming Out Day already fell on October 11 each year.

Though this may have been a good beginning, I see this as only a meager supplementary or additive measure of history that belongs to everyone regardless of sexual and gender identities and expressions. It comprises a historical cannon that must transform and infuse the curriculum, which needs to be taught and studied all year, every year, age-appropriately across the academic and non-academic disciplines pre-kindergarten through university graduate studies, from history to literature, from mathematics to natural sciences, from agriculture to consumer sciences, from the arts and humanities to engineering.

History UnErased:

I was given the privilege and honor of presenting an overview of the vast enormity of LGBTQ history at a three-day training workshop for educators, schools administrators, social workers, and guidance counselors. The program was organized by two veteran classroom teachers and progressive social change agents sponsored by their truly groundbreaking organization, History UnErased (HUE) — a project whose mission includes correcting “[t]he omission of LGBTQ history in our elementary, middle, and high school classrooms [which] has been a silent and stifling vein in our nation…by linking the process of education with the process of social justice and equity.”

During the three-day training program, HUE trainers introduced participants to historical content areas and suggested pedagogical strategies of critical inquiry for engaging students and educators alike around the material from multiple perspectives and points of view.

What I experienced over these magical three days, as a presenter and then more importantly as a participant, was truly more than what one can merely read on founders Debra Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern’s vast resumes. I felt a core commitment to education, a passionate and unshakable dedication from these phenomenal women in resurrecting the lives, the stories, the histories that have long been intentionally hidden from students, from us all, by socially dominant individuals and groups through the draconian measures of neglect, deletion, erasure, omission, banning, censorship, distortion, alteration, trivialization, and other unauthorized means.

The impetus in creating the History UnErased project grew out of Debra and Miriam’s conversations and awareness that professionally, they had both reached a point where they wanted to move beyond the classroom and where, according to Miriam, “the latest mandates about testing, evaluations, and training were stifling our passion for teaching.”

Debra added: “Tantamount to this was the ‘punch in the gut’ understanding of the silent, stifling vein and violent nature that the omission of LGBTQ history and content has perpetuated in our society. I have never felt such a profound sense of purpose as the mission of HUE; therefore, leaving the classroom was necessary. This work requires relentless energy and commitment.”

“Miriam and I know, at our core,” Debra continued, “that real and valid equality can only be achieved when students learn about LGBTQ history and content beyond the realms of victimization, health ‘issues,’ and stand-alone lessons. This needs to be woven into the curriculum and provided to all students (and educators) with the understanding that LGBTQ history IS history – a part of the development of our nation, national identity, and complex global community.”

Miriam added: “We realized our strength was pedagogy, and our belief in staking the middle ground, recognizing that K-12 is different than college, and that parents are concerned and involved. And we both love teachers and believe that respect for teachers and the educational process is tantamount to our mission.”

I asked Debra and Miriam the questions, “Why now?” According to Debra,

“On June 26th, 2016, like a lightning bolt, the benchmark for equality shifted from marriage equality to education. Our students are ready for this. They are hungry for this and asking for it. Our students are surrounded by LGBTQ topics in pop-culture, social media, new legislation, and the news, but with nothing in their classroom curricula to help make connections and encourage a more sophisticated understanding and contribution to our increasingly complex global community. It is critical that LGBTQ topics are included in our nation’s classrooms or the myths will persist.”

The HUE project has received numerous endorsements from a list of organizations, including Harvard University’s Kennedy School, CARR Center, ONE Archives Foundation at USC Libraries, Lowell National Historical Park, GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), the National Park Service LGBT Initiatives Plan, Rainbow Heritage Network. Debra and Miriam are currently negotiating contracts and relationships with the Westford Massachusetts Public Schools, the Shady Hill Teacher Preparation Program, the Massachusetts PTA, and other groups. They are looking to branch out to other states across the United States.

To assist in the education response, HUE offers a number of services for individual educators and entire school systems, including workshop sessions, on-site training at schools, sustained mentorship, and visual history exhibits. Each of these formats includes explorations of the complexities of introducing LGBTQ history with expert historians, archivists, Library of Congress primary and secondary sources, HUE visual history exhibits, and support from psychosocial and behavioral specialists.

Unique to History UnErased is its F2M inquiry model, which creates relevancy for historical content and introduces teachers and students to LGBTQ history. HUE received a grant from the Library of Congress to teach inquiry methods and LGBTQ inclusive curricula using primary sources from the Library of Congress.

[Not a] Conclusion:

Many minoritized people relate to the poignant words of poet and essayist Adrienne Rich when she writes:

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

Debra Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern have taken this moment in history to help break that “psychic disequilibrium” and bring about reflections in the schoolhouse mirror by reconstructing social history and social reality with the History UnErased project.

The California legislature set precedent when it passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in 2011, SB48, the first in the nation statute requiring the state Board of Education and local school districts to adopt textbooks and other educational materials in social studies courses that include contributions of LGBT people.

For LGBTQ, questioning youth, and allies, this information can underscore the fact that their feelings and desires are in no way unique, and that others like themselves lead happy and productive lives. This in turn can spare them years of needless alienation, denial, and suffering. For heterosexual students, this can provide the basis for appreciation of human diversity and help to interrupt the chain of bullying and harassment toward LGBTQ people. For all students, this content area has the potential to further engage students in the learning process from multiple perspectives.

To contact History UnErased, click here.

Pop Quiz Answers:

  1. c; 2. b: 3. c; 4. a; 5. d.

For Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld’s extensive LGBTIQ History PowerPoint Presentations in two parts, click here for Part One, and Part Two.

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

August 30th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trans People Forced Outside the Defined Norm and Lack Prior Claim

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In her pioneer book, Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, Suzanne Pharr describes a series of elements she finds common to the multiple forms of oppression. Such elements include what she refers to as a “defined norm” and a “lack of prior claim,” among many others.

Pharr explains a “defined norm” as “…a standard of rightness and often of righteousness wherein all others are judged in relation to it. This norm must be backed up with institutional power, economic power, and both institutional and individual violence.”

Another way “the defined norm manages to maintain its power and control…” and kept exclusive is by what Pharr refers to as the element or system of “lack of prior claim.”

This, according to Pharr, “…means that if you weren’t there when the original document (the Constitution, for example) was written, or when the organization was first created, then you have no right to inclusion….Those who seek their rights, who seek inclusion, who seek to control their own lives instead of having their lives controlled are the people who fall outside the norm….They are the Other.”

In the original and unamended version of the U.S. Constitution, for example, since only European-heritage male land owners had the right to vote, all Others, including women and people of color (those outside the defined norm and who lacked prior claim) had to fight long and difficult battles against strong forces to gain access to the voting booth, often under the threat of and actual violence inflicted against them.

Some who oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples claim that this would undermine the sanctity of marriage, and possibly lead to the destruction of society, often using religious sanctions as their justification.

For example, responding to Vermont’s Civil Unions legislation in 2000, Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law reflected the opinion of a number of New England Cardinals and Bishops:

“The Legislature of the State of Vermont, by passing the Civil Unions Bill [countering the defined norm and lack of prior claim], has attacked centuries of cultural and religious esteem for marriage between a man and a woman and has prepared the way for an attack on the well-being of society itself [by these Others].”

Similarly, Robert Lewis Dabney, Professor of Theology at Union Seminary in Virginia, warned: “What then, in the next place, will be the effect of this fundamental change [countering a lack of prior claim] when it shall be established? The obvious answer is, that it will destroy Christianity and civilization in America [by these Others who are outside the defined norm].”

Cardinal Law and Professor Dabney engaged in similar dire predictions, but, and here is the key, they are referring to two different events – the Cardinal referred to marriage for same-sex couples, Dabney, who lived from 1820-1898, referred to women’s suffrage — but they forewarned similar consequences: the destruction of the family and civilization as we know it.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides an example on the institutional level. LDS President, Brigham Young, instituted a policy on February 13, 1849, emanating from “divine revelation” and continuing until as recently as 1978 forbidding ordination of black men of African descent [outside the defined norm] from the ranks of LDS priesthood.

In addition, this policy prohibited black men and women of African descent from participating in the temple Endowment and sealings [lacking in prior claim], which the Church dictates as essential for the highest degree of salvation. The policy likewise restricted black people from attending or participating in temple marriages.

Young attributed this restriction to the so-called sin of Cain, Adam and Eve’s eldest son, who killed his brother Abel: “What chance is there for the redemption of the Negro? [lack of prior claim],” stated Young in 1849 following declaration of his restrictive policy. “The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with blackness and prohibited them [the Others] from the Priesthood.”

While making a speech to the Utah Territorial Legislature in 1852, Young further asserted: “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain]…in him cannot hold the Priesthood, and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before, I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it.”

Since the power structure of the United States has excluded trans and intersex people from the category of “defined norms” by viewing trans and intersex people as the Other, and the founding national and institutional policy documents have likewise excluded trans and intersex peoples’ civil and human rights from a prior claim, a spate of state legislatures have either passed or have considered passing laws prohibiting trans (and by implication, intersex) people from entering public restroom facilities that conforms to their gender identities and expressions, but may differ from the sex assigned to them on their birth certificates.

North Carolina’s HB 2, for example, its Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, also goes by its extended title, “An Act to Provide for Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations.”

Recently, Republican Delegate Mark Cole of the Virginia House of Delegates proposed House Bill 663 that would require all people in public buildings, including schools, to use restrooms corresponding to their “correct anatomical sex.”

This bill, if passed, would have the effect of prohibiting trans and intersex people from going into the restroom facility matching their gender identities. The bill defines “anatomical sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s anatomy.” Referring to schools, the measure states:

“Local school boards shall develop and implement policies that require every school restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by a specific gender to solely be used by individuals whose anatomical sex matches such gender designation.” Violation carries a $50 penalty.

How would such a law be enforced? Civil rights advocate Tim Peacock argues:

“[A]dults would be required to inspect children’s genitals before they use the bathroom. This is what the conservative movement has devolved into: forcing children to allow adults to examine their genitals out of misplaced fear that transgender kids and adults might commit a hypothetical never-before-seen act of violence or sexual aggression (that would still be against the law with or without transgender protections).”

In Texas, a proposed bill, HR 2801, includes a provision that would offer students $2,000 for reporting and claiming “mental anguish” for having to share restroom facilities with students of another assigned sex.

Members of the trans community often suffer the consequences of so many Others. 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.

So the draconian measures undertaken by state and local governments and by individuals against trans people and their civil and human rights directly and intricately connect with elements of oppression suffered by Others outside the defined norm who lack prior claim.

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

August 23rd, 2016 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Michele Bachmann Joins Trump’s Clown Car of Advisors

without comments

Following directly on the heels of ultra-right-wing (“Alt Right”) former executive chair of Breitbart News, Steven Bannon, joining the Donald Trump campaign team, now former Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann has announced that Trump has tapped her to advise his campaign on foreign policy issues.

Bachmann is notorious for her uninformed and bigoted pronouncements on LGBT people and Muslims. Her accumulated playlist of wacked out drivel and lies is unending, though I have my favorites.

Though entirely untrue, she vomited:

“The president of the United States [Obama] will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.”

And who can ever forget her U.S. history lesson:

“What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.”

And on her vehement opposition to the Affordable Care Act:

“This cannot pass. What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.”

When asked by Jane Schmidt, student coordinator of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Waverly High School in Waverly, Iowa on November 30, 2011 “Why can’t same-sex couples get married [throughout the United States]?,” as then a Republican Presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann responded that gay and lesbian people should have “no special rights” to marry people of the same sex, insisting that “the laws are you marry a person of the opposite sex.”

She added: “They can get married, but they abide by the same law as everyone else. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.”

Bachmann has represented same-sex attractions and sexuality as a “disorder” and as “sexual dysfunction” that encourages child abuse and “enslavement.” Her husband, Marcus, has been roundly criticized for his so-called “conversion therapy” (“praying away the gay”) practices at his Minnesota counseling center.

Michele’s Iowa presidential primary co-chair, Tamara Scott, was recorded as asserting that the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples would ultimately lead to people marrying turtles and inanimate objects, like the Eiffel Tower.

At the Circus:

The very first thing that caught my eye as I entered the grounds of the Iowa Republican Party Presidential Straw Poll on August 13, 2011 were three young children, I would guess between the ages of 4 -7, wearing day-glow orange baseball caps with “NRA” scrawled atop, and round stickers on announcing “GUNS SAVE LIVES” on their small T-shirts.

The Straw Poll was held a mere three blocks from my home in Ames, Iowa and upon the campus of Iowa State University where I taught between 2004 – 2013.

I saw Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee grinning shoulder-to-shoulder for the line of press cameras.

Inside Herman Cain’s tent, the candidate led a religious-style revival meeting proclaiming “Just like we do in the Southern Baptist church, say ‘Amen!’ Everybody shout ‘Amen.’ Now again, shout ‘Amen.’ And again, shout ‘Amen.’ That’s how it’s done!”

A singer on stage in front of Ron Paul’s tent sang the Bob Dylan classic “The Times They Are A Changin’,” and literally changed the lyric to “…Come senators, congressmen, Please heed the call, Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block Ron Paul….”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley took the stage in the “Soapbox” tent and talked how the Tea Party speaks for a new and exciting grassroots movement that is taking back the government for the people. So is Grassley from the grassroots too?

Singers on the Tea Party stage crooned themes of small government and, in particular, issues of liberty and freedom in front of their enormous and imposing red, white, and blue sign “Guns, God, and the Constitution.”

And tables representing every imaginable conservative organization from the Heritage Foundation to the Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed information, food, soft drinks, and plenty of political memorabilia.

As I walked through the extensive crowd, this virtual sea of white faces — old, young, and in between — and as I saw the staffs of a relatively large group of presidential hopefuls lobbying my Iowa neighbors for their votes, I was conscious of a unanimity of message, a virtual lock-step of thought and expression of ideas.

Then I saw Marcus Bachmann, husband of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Before he had a chance to read my tee-shirt, (“It’s OK With Me” written beneath a picture of two men, a man and woman, and two women), I asked him if I could have my picture taken with him by my friend and out gay man who was also running for presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

I then asked Marcus about his controversial recorded statements in reference to LGBT people as “barbarians who needed to be educated’ and ‘disciplined’,” but most importantly about his so-called “psychotherapeutic” practices when “treating” LGBT people at his Minnesota counseling center. He then looked down at my tee-shirt.

First, he proclaimed, “I like homosexuals, and I never called homosexuals ‘barbarians.” Though this is what he clearly called LGBT people in a recorded interview on a radio station, I asked him “to please refer to us as ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ ‘bisexual,’ and ‘transgender’ people rather than ‘homosexuals.’”

He replied: “‘Homosexual’ is my word, and that is the word I will use.”

I then told him that I do not appreciate that his wife, Michele, promoted her political career by stepping on the bodies of LGBT people when she proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives a Constitutional amendment requiring the institution of legal marriage to include only one man and one woman. Is this, I asked Marcus, “liking homosexuals” as he had previously claimed?

At that point, he simply accused me of being misinformed, and his political handler led him away.

The political and theocratic Right has very skillfully manipulated the language and the discourse in its concentration of so-called “social issues” and, thereby, the demonization of those who favor women’s reproductive freedoms, LGBT rights, stem cell research, those who warn of the human component in global climate change, those who advocate for gun control, for universal health care, for police to be more responsible to the people in the communities in which they serve, and those who support comprehensive immigration reform, among many other issues.

So what does this tell us about Donald Trump who now relies on Michele Bachmann for advice on foreign policy? Actually, not much more than we already know about 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), 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

August 22nd, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized