Archive

June 20th, 2016

Arab sympathy over the Orlando massacre may seem hypocritical, but it's a start

    Shortly after Sunday's Orlando nightclub massacre which left 49 people dead and many injured, the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Araby, issued a statement condemning the attack. Al-Azhar, the world's leading Sunni institution of Islamic scholarship, also issued a statement to this effect, and emphasized that the unlawful killing of any human being is strictly forbidden in Islamic scripture. Both peak bodies called for international cooperation to fight terrorism, and Al-Azhar expressed concerns for the incendiary use of the massacre to further malign Muslims living in the West. The Arab League and Al-Azhar were joined, with similar reprisals, by Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey among others.

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A Week for All Time

    They will remember, a century from now, who stood up to the tyrant Donald Trump and who found it expedient to throw out the most basic American values — the “Vichy Republicans,” as historian Ken Burns called them in his Stanford commencement speech.

    The shrug from Mitch McConnell, the twisted explanation of Paul Ryan, who said Trump is a racist and a xenophobe, but he’s ours — party before country. As well, the duck-and-hide Republicans, so quick to whip out their pocket copy of the Constitution, now nowhere to be seen when the foundation of that same document is under assault by the man carrying their banner.

    They will remember, in classrooms and seminars, those who wrote Trump off as entertainment, a freak show and ratings spike, before he tried to muzzle a free press, and came for you — using a page from another tyrant, Vladimir Putin, admired by the homegrown monster.

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What happens when a gay person grows up in an anti-gay home

    Imagine growing up hearing from those you love and trust that certain groups of people are evil. In fact, these people are so bad, so wrong, that God himself will punish them. Imagine absorbing this hatred deep into your bones. Imagine that you then discover, at some point in your adolescence, that you are one of these people.

    They are the hated. You are the hated.

    We don't know the details of Omar Mateen's sexuality. Perhaps he did not fully understand. But according to some, Mateen expressed romantic interest in men. A classmate from his 2006 police academy class told the Palm Beach Post that Mateen had asked him out. Sometimes, after class, Mateen would go with friends to gay nightclubs, the classmate said.

    And we know that in a video made after the shooting, Mateen's father said, "God himself will give punishment to homosexuality." It's conceivable that this is a sentiment Mateen heard more than once.

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Trump and the GOP's Jurassic Park

    The American people know extremism when they see it.

    This is very unfortunate for Donald Trump. And it is a nightmare for Republican leaders who see more clearly every day how his candidacy has become a trap: They desperately want to free themselves from the moral wreckage Trump leaves behind but are stuck with a nominee who speaks for a majority of their rank-and-file.

    Those who lack confidence in the public's ability to make rational judgments often argue that horrendous acts -- of terrorism, for example -- will shake the majority from its commitment to civil liberties, pluralism and tolerance. This view reflects a profound mistrust of the good sense and ethical discernment of the average citizen.

     The paradox is that Trump, who claims to speak for the people, shares this very low opinion of who Americans are. In responding to the Orlando massacre, he broadened his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, suggested that American Muslims are holding back information about potential terrorists, and darkly implied that President Obama has secret motives when it comes to Islam.

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Repeal Islam's scarlet-letter sex laws

    The massacre of partygoers at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, took me back to the late summer of 2005, when an African American woman, wearing a tight headscarf over her staff uniform, stormed out of the kitchen and into a conference room at an Atlanta Holiday Inn, shouting: "You're all going to burn in hell!"

    I froze. Around me were about 50 brave souls from Al-Fatiha, a gay American Muslim organization, many of them young men secretly at the organization's annual conference while their parents attended a meeting of the conservative Islamic Society of North America. That weekend, I prayed shoulder to shoulder with them - a gay man leading us in prayer, a transgender Muslim beside me.

    I'm a straight Muslim feminist, but, like my friends at Al-Fatiha, I'm a criminal, too, in the view of many Islamic clerics today. My crime under conservative sharia law: giving birth to a baby boy 13 years ago while single.

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Republicans cower as Trump burns down the party

    Smoke is rising from the Capitol dome and the first responders are missing in action. Instead of running into the building to save it from their presumptive nominee, Republicans are running away. Watch them scurry at the approach of a reporter wielding nothing more than a notebook or a mike asking about the latest outburst from Donald Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's press briefings have been designated Trump-free zones. His No. 2, Senator John Cornyn, announced he won't take any Trump questions until after the November election.

    Profiles in courage, one and all. Hiding is not working and the situation is now dire. How could party leaders entrust the nuclear codes to the hands, big or small, of President Trump? In the last week alone, the Donald has accused President Barack Obama of treason. He says he is happy to talk to North Korea, without preconditions, and get it to put down its nuclear weapons, but he won't accredit The Washington Post to follow his campaign.

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Obama urges changing our workplaces as Target employees show us how it's done

    This week, President Barack Obama, in a rousing and vibrant speech to a packed house of optimistic game-changers, leaders and determined visionaries, encouraged us to support companies that are truly creating workplace policies to work for everyone. "It would help if more women were in Congress and in the C- suite, including the Oval Office," he grinned as he spoke at the United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C.

    "Right now we continue to be boxed in by stereotyping. It has consequences for all of us. We need to keep changing the attitude that got us here. It is why we are encouraging and highlighting women trailblazers - because it is hard to be what you cannot see."

    With his words, Obama urged us to be more intentional about how we get to a place of supporting companies that do the right thing. So how do we do this in real-time? How do we support the shift? As we see culture changing - not only on paper but also in practice - how do we cast our vote and show our appreciation for those getting it right, or at least making it better?

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How many more have to die?

    What a relief. After the shocking death toll in Orlando, we don't have to worry about mass shootings, any more. Speaker Paul Ryan has fixed that problem: He led the House of Representatives in a moment of silence in memory of the 49 victims killed in last weekend's slaughter.

    For Ryan and House Republicans, that's all the carnage in Orlando -- the worst mass shooting in American history -- deserved: a quick moment of silence, and then it was on to more important issues, like cutting food stamps. Their cavalier attitude toward one mass murder after another is enough to make you want to puncture that moment of silence with screams of outrage.

    Which is what House Democrats did this week. After respectfully observing the silent tribute, they filled the chamber with chants of "Where's the bill? Where's the bill?" But, of course, despite filibuster efforts by Democratic senators, led by Chris Murphy of Connecticut, it appears that no legislation will be forthcoming after the gun violence in Orlando, no more than there was after Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, Charleston, South Carolina, or San Bernardino, California.

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Don't let Mississippi establish anti-gay religion

    The first wave of state legislative reactions to the Supreme Court's 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage typically involved state versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The motive might have been anti-gay, but the form was hard to criticize legally, since other states and federal law already provided the same religious-liberty protection.

    Not so for Mississippi's new law, which gives opponents of gay marriage special protection. Now facing its first challenge in federal court, it should be held unconstitutional because it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment by singling out one set of religious beliefs for positive treatment.

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Again! And Again! And Again!

    As if you didn't know, I am referring to the continuing mass shootings in this nation. How many do we endure before we do something about this proliferation of guns, most assuredly the automatic ones.

    If the killing of all those children at Sandy Hook four years ago did not produce action it should surprise no one that the killings have continued.  Yes, the killer was a mentally ill person.  While they have rights and the degree of seriousness of their threat to society cannot always be discerned we can take some steps to reduce the threat. 

    In that case the mother has to be considered as part of the problem.  I have had some experience with a loved one with mental disability and appreciate how much that mother wanted to help her son; however, giving him a weapon, no matter his interest, joy, or whatever with them is not excusable.   Family members, no matter how frantic they are to find a solution, must understand the limits of their ability to control the uncontrolled impulses of the ill member. 

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