Category: Politics

Why I Didn’t March Today

Today, January 21, 2017, the day after the installation of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, tens of thousands of women, and many men, marched on Washington, D.C., as well as in cities across the country.

When I first heard about the march, I got excited. Two of my sisters immediately made plans to go to Washington with their daughters. One flew in from California, and one took the train from New York.

However, I had a previous, unbreakable commitment and was therefore unable to go to Washington. I could have participated in the satellite march held in Stamford, Connecticut. But, I didn’t.

I didn’t march for a number of reasons. Chief among them was that I wasn’t sure that I supported all of the causes that precipitated the march. Of course I’m for equal rights for women. Of course I don’t like the idea that our president has treated women like sexual objects. I also want Obamacare to continue to exist because my family bought a health-insurance policy that exists only because of the Affordable Care Act. And I especially don’t want the repeal of HARP (the Home Affordable Refinance Program, the government program instituted by President Obama,) which has saved the homes of many Americans. And finally, I believe in the accuracy of the statement chanted by thousands of marchers and emblazoned on their signs, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.”

But what does “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” really mean to women in the U.S.? We women still have glass ceilings to crack in business, salaries that need to be equal to those of men doing the same jobs, not to mention housework and childcare that need to be more equitably split between partners but, all things considered, women in the United States have it pretty easy compared to women who live in countries that routinely disfigure their genitals, stone them, refuse to educate them, or keep them hidden from society.

After much thought, I’ve come to the uneasy conclusion that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” is code for “Save Our Right to Legal Abortions and Impeach President Trump.”

“Not true,” you say. “We’re marching to ensure that all women in this country have equal rights—no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation, or income bracket.”

And here’s my problem with that argument: The demand for “equal rights” loses its power for change when the expression is used like an umbrella to cover every eventuality, even one such as not liking who is president.

It is no secret that the catalysts for this march were the election of President Trump and the subsequent precarious position of the “Roe v. Wade”decision. Abortion rights have long divided our country and our political parties, and now that the anti-abortion candidate is our leader, those who champion the right of every woman to be able to choose birth or abortion are very nervous.

So, I understand why many people felt the need to make their voices heard. As U.S. citizens, we have that right. However, every demonstration needs a clear goal. What do the marchers want to accomplish, besides the impossible? President Trump is not going to step down, no matter how many women and men express their anger at his election.

I am not happy about the outcome of this election. I didn’t vote for President Trump, but as a citizen of the United States, I will support him. It was drilled into our heads during the presidential debates that, “the peaceful transition [or transfer] of power” is a key element of our democracy. The concept has existed since the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800.

That contest made this race look like a picnic. Elections were far more complicated then, with two men running for president from each party (Federalist and Republican). By the time Thomas Jefferson had become president, there had been bitter name-calling and character assassinations, threats of secession, possible backroom dealings, rumors of a mob breaching an arsenal in Philadelphia, destroyed correspondence, and a deadlock between Jefferson and Aaron Burr (the Republican candidates), after the Federalist candidates (John Adams and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney) were eliminated. The election resulted in a bitter divide between the Republicans and the Federalists, and between people within each party. However, Jefferson’s election didn’t result in the overturn of our republic or the overturn of his election. Federalists didn’t like it, nor did some Republicans, but they dealt with it.*

And we have to deal with the election of Donald J. Trump. If you’re unhappy with the results of this election (and/or with the results of the George W. Bush v. Al Gore race in 2000), identify the cause of your wrath—the existence of the Electoral College, which is able to negate the true wishes of the electorate—and protest that.

There’s a march I would support. If anyone wants to organize a march on Washington to repeal the Electoral College, I’ll be there. Secretary Clinton, let me know if you need a ride.

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Look Before You Leap To Judgment

niqab-1621517_960_720Anti-Muslim sentiment is rampant in the Western world, ever since the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and thousands of lives were destroyed by radical young Islamic men on September 11, 2001. These hate-filled madmen have continued to propagate murder and destruction under the banner of Allah. But, they’re not representing your average, God-fearing Muslim, or the Islamic religion.

These brainwashed, blood-thirsty, jealous ideologues hate the West and all that we stand for because we have it better than they do. And they’re willing to die in order to destroy us. As a result, many fear all Muslims now. And when people are afraid, they either strike out or run and hide. However, when many people are afraid, they don’t need to hide because there is safety in numbers and a mob mentality takes over. Mobs act in ways that the individuals, who make up the mob, would never act alone. And, make no mistake, there are mobs of Americans who are anti-Muslim, a sentiment born of fear and anger.

The U.S. isn’t alone in its Islamophobia. Cities in France have banned the wearing of burkinis, which are whole-body swimsuits worn by Muslim women. The reason given by officials is that the burkinis go against their law of secularism, i.e., separation of church and state. Other officials say that the ban is permitted if the wearing of burkinis could cause a disturbance.

Everybody needs to just stop and breathe. First and foremost, those of us who aren’t Muslim need to learn what Islam teaches. Those radical Islamists do not represent most Muslims. Muslim extremists are buoyed by the support of those who feel hopeless and helpless. This is not an excuse for their behavior. They must be stopped by more reasonable thinkers. But more reasonable thinkers also need to do some research before castigating an entire religion.

I came across a blog, Dazzling move,  written by a young European woman who was raised as an atheist and voluntarily moved to Egypt, converted to Islam, and chose to wear a niqab, that is, (according to merriam-webster.com/dictionary/niqab), “a veil for covering the hair and face except for the eyes that is worn by some Muslim women.” She also covers her entire body with robes.

I started reading about why she chose to wear the niqab and was enthralled by her story. I continued reading her blog and was astounded when she wrote that Muslims believe that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. Here is what she said in her post titled, Moses’s Life: “All religions – judaism, christianity and islam says the Same story, the Same point. Some people says that Islam is another religion but in fact Islam teach us that these 3 religions are from the same God and the same message and leadership for people. Judaism is the oldest one and Islam is the youngest one and it completes the religion of the previous ones.” So at the end ALL IS ONE MESSAGE FROM ONE TRUE GOD TO ALL HUMANKIND SINCE THE EARTH WAS MADE.

This specific post went on to tell the story of Moses’s life and the story came straight from the Quran.

This was an eye-opener. I think we should all invest a little time in browsing the Quran before we paint all Muslims with a broad brush.

The terrorists are not practicing Islam. They’re practicing terror, plain and simple. We need to make a distinction. And we need to take the radical Islamists—not all Muslims— down.

 

 

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

Oh, Senator Sanders. Sit on your hands. Right now. Compared to Hillary Clinton in Thursday’s Democratic Presidential Debate, you looked unhinged. You aren’t unhinged, though. You have progressive, humane ideas and great vision. You have political experience. You have life experience. You’re intelligent. But you wave your hands around too much. Presidents don’t do that. Someone told me that that is your “shtick.” Presidents don’t have shticks. Comedians do.

Presidents also have patience. When Secretary Clinton said something you disagreed with, you interjected and wagged your finger. You looked like you were about to explode. Presidents don’t regularly blow gaskets, at least not on national television.

Calm down, Senator Sanders. Control your hands. Wait your turn. Breathe. You have what it takes. You just need to present it in a dignified fashion.

Bernie and the Ninety-Nine Percenters

I like Bernie Sanders. I do not dismiss his democratic socialism out of hand. The more I learn what it means, the more I learn how it is not the same as socialism. Capitalism, our core economic principle, would remain under a Bernie Sanders presidency. So would the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. What would change is that loopholes will be closed for corporations who have avoided paying taxes, and the very wealthy would be taxed more to pay for social programs like universal health care and free state-college tuition. These are goals, however, and probably not even ones that can be accomplished in the near future, if ever. (There’s still the House and Senate to contend with, as well as state governments.)

As I tried to familiarize myself with the concept of democratic socialism, I did some reading and learned that it already exists in our society to a large degree, and not only in government-assistance programs, like Medicare and Medicaid; you’ll see democratic socialism at work in our national highway system, our free public school system, our libraries, our post offices, our municipal trash pick-ups, municipal snow removal, state road resurfacing, bridge building, etc. These things are all possible because democratically elected officials voted for these projects and institutions, for the good of all.

So, I’m rethinking my political philosophy, which is mostly center, or a little left of center, but occasionally veers to the right. I will always support a free, capitalist society. I also support Senator Sanders’ contention that medical care and higher education should be available to all. These two things are not mutually exclusive if some major adjustments are made. After all, you can make a cake with many different recipes, but you’ll still wind up with a cake.