The campaign of hatred directed against LGBTQ people – posted 11/27/2022

November 27, 2022 1 comment

The Club Q shootings in Colorado Springs that left 5 dead and 17 injured were horrifying but not that surprising. For the last few years, there has been a campaign of hatred directed against LGBTQ people. In 2016 when the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando happened that was genuinely unexpected. Q Club felt more in the category of a likely event.

The best take I have seen on the Q Club shootings comes from the writer Jay Kuo. He said the Q Club attack was an “extremely foreseeable and statistically predictable result of hateful and dangerous rhetoric spewed by politicians and right wing pundits against the LGBTQ community”. Kuo used a term “stochastic terrorism”. He defined it as:

“..the public démonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.”

The Q Club shootings did not come from nowhere. They precisely fit the category of stochastic terrorism. There has been an escalation in the campaign to dehumanize LGBTQ people. Particularly over the last year, an organized effort of far right influencers have pushed the idea that LGBTQ people are “groomers” and pedophiles. A connection is asserted between queer and trans people and the exploitation of children.

I would describe what is a QAnon-type conspiracy logic. QAnon says Democrats are pedophiles and blood drinkers. There is no proof ever presented. An unsupported charge is repeated over and over. In spite of an absolute paucity of evidence, some people are won over to the QAnon world view by the repetition of the allegation. A similar dynamic is at play in the anti-gay, anti-trans campaign.

Just the use of the term “groomer” is an incitement against LGBTQ people. A groomer is a term for someone who attempts to sexually abuse children. Grooming is a set of manipulative behaviors sexual predators use to gain access to potential victims to coerce them to agree to the abuse and to reduce the risk of getting caught. Since there is no evidence of grooming, I would suggest that the goal of the far right is to intimidate and to erase any queer or trans presence from schools, libraries and public places.

The far right is objecting to the existence of LGBTQ people.

Many Republican candidates in the last election cycle ran on a platform that characterized queer and transgender people as groomers and many of their candidates won. Prominent politicians like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov Greg Abbott have played to these prejudices as have notable influencers like FOX host Tucker Carlson. The accumulated prejudiced comments and actions of these bigots lead crazies to act.

2021 was the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Also, nationally, the number of legislative bills targeting LGBTQ people is at an all time high. You see nutty things going on like Boston Children’s Hospital facing bomb scares for its work with transgender youth. None of this is an accident.

The stochastic terrorism directed against LGBTQ people is not that different from the racist hate attacks on Asian-Americans or the antisemitic attacks on Jewish Americans. Xenophobia produced the massacre at the Young’s Asian Massage spa outside Atlanta. Antisemitism produced the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Repetition of homophobic, xenophobic and antisemitic memes and tropes on social media embolden the unhinged to act. It has been well-demonstrated that there is no shortage of mentally unstable individuals who are armed with AR-15-type semi-automatic rifles out there. Some are working on their manifestos and are ready to pull the trigger.

I place responsibility for the increase in hate crimes on the MAGA Republican movement. There is a causal link between their dehumanizing rhetoric and the rise in hate crimes. At this point, the MAGA movement should be recognized as the fascist movement it is. Fascism always creates an “us” and a “them”. MAGA divides the world into the good white Christians and “the other”, comprising minorities, immigrants, non-Christians and LGBTQ people.

Fascist politics are a politics of hierarchy. Making America Great Again is about restoring the power of white Christian men. Any progress by a minority, women, or LGBTQ people stokes feelings of victimhood among the MAGA faithful.

Sexual anxiety plays a big role in the MAGA fascist movement. There is much concern about declining white birthrates and the need for more white babies. Fascism thrives on the fantasy of a mythic past where everyone was assigned a place in the hierarchy. Men remain in charge and women are subordinate, tasked with the job of procreation Gender equity and women’s rights are taboo as they threaten patriarchal dominance.

LGBTQ people fall outside the stereotyped roles. Their existence poses a theological challenge to the MAGA evangelical Christian base.

Ironically, MAGA worships a leader who faces multiple allegations of sexual wrongdoing. If anyone was serious about an evidence-based view of sexual abuse and domestic violence, the largest group of perpetrators are clearly heterosexual men.

Behind the campaign of hatred directed against LGBTQ people is the most cynical calculation by Republican politicians. In the pursuit of absolute power, they will go very low. They made a coordinated decision to vilify a group despised by at least part of their evangelical base.

Dark money is financing much of the anti-LGBTQ advocacy. Christian Right billionaires with close links to MAGA have fueled the hate campaign. This dark money story has been very inadequately explored.

The historian of fascism, Ruth Ben-Ghiat has written that “the persecution of LGBTQ individuals is a constant of authoritarian governments around the world”. The fascist narrative in America is anything but “live and let live”. Positive values like tolerance and empathy have been replaced by a theology of hate.

All who support democracy and oppose autocracy must stand against the disgusting and dangerous campaign of hate MAGA Republicans have unleashed..

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The Supreme Court and the threat to American Indian sovereignty – posted 11/20/2022

November 20, 2022 2 comments

With Roe v Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, it would be easy to think the centerpiece of the conservative legal agenda has been realized and that what happens next will be less consequential. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The Court, with its conservative super-majority, is just getting started reversing precedent now that it has the numbers.

One of the most important cases getting decided this term is Haaland v Brackeen, a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act, also known as ICWA. That law was enacted in 1978 to halt the forced removal of Native children from their families.

The story of Indian child removal has gotten some attention in the last couple years because of the mass graves of Indian children found at boarding schools in Canada and the United States. As with so much of Native American history, much has been obscured.

Before ICWA, 25 to 35 per cent of Native American and Native Alaskan children were removed from their homes and placed in non-Native homes or in residential boarding schools. This taking was an effort to disintegrate Native identity and to destroy tribal nations. There is no future without children and the scale of the taking was dramatic.

The aim of ICWA was to halt this cultural genocide. In the current litigation, ICWA is supported by 497 federally recognized tribes and 23 states as a law that is foundational to tribal rights and the preservation of indigenous families.

ICWA grants Native children the right to foster care placements that favor Native communities. If a state court determines a Native child must be removed from their home, Native family or tribal members must be given priority placement. ICWA only applies in child welfare and adoption proceedings.

Sarah Kastelic, the Executive Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, has broadly presented what she calls the recipe for colonization “consistently followed by colonizers to colonize Indigenous people”. Kastelic says there are five ingredients:

“ 1. Take the land.
2. Control the natural resources, especially water.
3. Usurp, replace indigenous governance to delegitimize Indigenous thought.
4. Undermine Native worldview, values, traditions, beliefs and
5. Sever Native children from their source of identity, from their culture, from their sense of belonging, from that sense of connectedness to something.”

The plaintiffs in Brackeen claim ICWA is unconstitutional on its face. The plaintiffs are non-Indian families who wish to adopt American Indian children (as well as the state of Texas). They argue that ICWA discriminates on the basis of race by treating Native children differently than non-Native children. Essentially they argue reverse discrimination, citing violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

They also argue ICWA provisions exceed the plenary power granted to Congress to regulate tribal relations with states and the national government.

What is shocking about the Plaintiffs’ case is their erasure of the history of racism faced by Native Americans and Native tribes. They brush over the long history of Indian child removal and minimize that experience. Even with ICWA, Native children are still removed at a rate two to three times that of white children. It seems like the plaintiffs want to pretend racism is over.

The plaintiffs’ argument that they are victims of reverse discrimination is particularly insidious. Many Americans think of American Indians as a racial group – not a political one. The distinction is critical.

Under federal Indian law, American Indian tribes are nations. During the first 90 plus years of its existence, the United States entered into and ratified more than 370 treaties with indigenous people who lived in what became the lower 48 states. Each treaty ratification represented a formal recognition by the federal government that the other parties to the treaties were fully sovereign nations. This is true under customary international law and by provision of the U.S. Constitution.

The United States defaulted on its responsibilities under every single treaty obligation with the Native tribes. In fact, there is even a 1903 Supreme Court case, Lone Wolf v Hitchcock that holds Congress may unilaterally break its treaty obligations to Indians under its plenary power. I would argue that where Native tribes are concerned, the law has long been broken although controversies in the legal forum must continue to be contested.

ICWA does not apply to all people of Native descent. It only applies to children who are “a member of an Indian tribe” or who are “eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and are the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe”. ICWA is not a race-based law.

Many Indian tribes remain extremely worried about how the Supreme Court will resolve Brakeen. Given the conservative super-majority and their demonstrated record of reversing precedent, tribal sovereignty and nationhood are on the line.

There is a history of the federal government using a variety of methods to end its nation-to-nation relationship with tribes. The 1950’s is referred to as a “termination era” since there was an aggressive effort then to break up tribal nations. Among other things, the federal government terminated recognition of 109 tribes, it removed 1.3 million acres of land from trust status and it attacked tribal criminal jurisdiction over crimes involving non-natives on tribal lands.

In 1952, the government’s Urban Indian Relocation program encouraged Native people to leave reservations with the lure of good jobs, housing and education. These promises never materialized.

In her brilliant podcast, This Land, Rebecca Nagle, a citizen of Cherokee Nation, dives deep into the Haaland v Brakeen case. She shows how the Brakeen case raises challenges that go far beyond child welfare. Right wing lawyers have targeted tribal sovereignty and conservative dark money, particularly the Bradley Foundation, has financed the litigation. More is going on in this case than meets the eye.

Nagle describes what she calls a combination of greed and charity. The law firm Gibson Dunn who represent the Brakeen plaintiffs also represent oil and gas industries and two of the largest casinos in the world. In a January 2022 federal court filing on behalf of a casino, Gibson Dunn argue that tribal gaming is unconstitutional using the same equal protection argument they use in Brakeen. There are no coincidences here.

While no one knows how the Supreme Court will rule in Brakeen, it is hard to be optimistic. Justice Neil Gorsuch has had a history of siding with Native Americans but that only makes the likely line-up 5-4 with the majority still siding with the conservatives.

At the oral argument held earlier this month, some of the conservative justices seemed clueless about Native sovereignty and how ICWA actually works. The three liberal justices and Justice Gorsuch expressed skepticism toward the plaintiffs’ arguments.

ICWA has now faced more challenges than the Affordable Care Act. If the Court finds ICWA unconstitutional, the entire edifice of American Indian law could potentially tumble. All kinds of statutes like those impacting health care, land, water and gaming rights could be adversely affected. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected in June.

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On the Phillies improbable run and what it meant – posted 11/12/2022

November 12, 2022 1 comment

It is funny being from New England. I am surrounded by Red Sox fans. My own son Josh is a Red Sox fan. My work friends are mostly Red Sox fans. But, as someone who grew up in the Philadelphia area, I am a lifelong Phillies fan. My Phillies love has deep roots.

My parents were both diehard Phillies fans. They took me to many games starting out at Connie Mack Stadium, moving on to the Vet and then Citizens Bank Park. Later in their lives, my parents watched every Phillies game on TV.

They did live to see the 2008 Phillies team of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino win the World Series. My mom had previously said that the Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was “a moron”. After the World Series, she revised her view. She said, “Charlie Manuel is a genius”.

When I was around ten, my dad took me and my friend Hank to spring training in Clearwater, Florida. Seeing the players up close I was star struck. I got autographs from Phillies stars Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons. To a little kid, the players were like gods.

I was the kind of kid who memorized batting averages and pitchers’ ERAs. In my yard playing wiffleball and later playing on the Merion Stars little league team, I grew to love the sport.

My dad took me to Connie Mack Stadium to see the Phillies play the San Francisco Giants. Late in the game, the Giants Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey hit a towering homer over the light tower in right field to beat the Phils. I recall crying.

The Phillies were the first team in the majors to lose 10,000 games. That happened back in 2007. If you are a Phillies fan, losing is not unfamiliar. Founded in 1883, the Phillies are the oldest continuous same-name, same city franchise in American professional sports. There have been many, many losing seasons.

In 1964, the Phils were up 6 1/2 games with 10 to play, an almost insurmountable lead. This was the team of rookie of the year Dick Allen, Jim Bunning, and Johnny Callison. They had a west coast swing. Late at night, under the covers, I listened to the Phillies-Dodgers game on my transistor radio. With earphones plugged in, I listened to the play by play. My parents assumed I was asleep. The Phillies proceeded to have an epic meltdown. The Phils did the impossible, dropping out of contention as the season ended.

My parents and I went to a June 2003 game at the Vet between the Phillies and the Red Sox. Pedro Martinez was on the mound for the Sox. We got tickets late and the only tickets available were high up in the 700 section in right field. The 700 section had a well-earned reputation and that day didn’t disappoint. Many fans were drinking and fights were breaking out. My mom turned to me and said, “You’re with your people”. Philadelphia fans are famous.

The game was fantastic. It went into extra innings. Nomar Garciaparra went six for six that day. The Phils won 6-5 when pinch hitter Todd Pratt hit a two run homer in the bottom of the 13th. Jim Thome hit two homers and Bobby Abreu had one. The Sox wasted a great effort by Pedro.

Part of the enchantment of the Phillies 2022 run to the World Series is their history of losing. In Philadelphia, there is an expectation of failure. This year the Phillies who were total underdogs smashed that. They had been counted out by all the experts.

Just to recall, they were 22-29 in early June when they fired their manager Joe Girardi and hired bench coach Rob Thomson to be manager. On June 25, their star, Bryce Harper, broke his thumb when he was hit by a pitch. At that point, most Phillies fans thought the season was over but amazingly the team started winning.

Harper did not return until August 26 but the Phillies went 32-20 without him. That gift from the Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber, ended up hitting 46 home runs, leading the National League. The Phillies barely got into a playoff spot.

Their playoff run was pure Cinderella. They won series against the Cardinals, the Braves and the Padres to make it to the World Series. The moment that floored me was when the Phils scored six runs in the top of the ninth against the National League central hchampion Cardinals. The Phillies seemed dead before that.

Even though they ended up losing the World Series, what the Phillies did was to mesmerize the whole city of Philadelphia. To say they lifted spirits doesn’t describe the positive vibrations generated. Walking around the city, the number of people wearing Phillies paraphernalia was staggering. It was eleven years since the Phillies were even in a playoff game. As Jason Kelce once said about the Eagles, “Hungry dogs run faster”. The Phillies were hungry dogs.

Life in 2022 has so many stresses. In the last year, I have seen four friends die. Over a million died from COVID. The world has largely failed to respond to climate change. The UN chief Antonio Gutteres says humanity is on a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”. Nuclear war emerges again as a distinct possibility.

I am thankful to baseball for taking us away from all that, if only for a short time. The pleasure of watching great games was a gift. It was hard not to marvel at Bryce Harper’s super clutch homer in game five that took out the Padres. The sheer drama kept me glued to the TV. What was particularly cool was underdogs winning. It doesn’t happen enough in life. I wished my parents, my sister, and my Phillies/Eagles fan friend Harold could have still been alive to see it.

Although it can sometimes seem unbearably slow, baseball is one of those things that keep us sane. It helps us get through and sends a message that hope springs eternal. Spring training is right around the corner.

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Violence is the road to the destruction of our democracy – posted 11/6/2022

November 6, 2022 1 comment

The violent assault on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stands out as a watershed event. It highlights the seriousness of the threat of far right domestic terrorism. Speaker Pelosi is the highest ranking government official to be victimized. Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent, such violent assaults on any political leader are unacceptable in a democracy.

The reports from the San Fransisco police and the FBI show that the goal of the attacker was to kidnap the House Speaker. He told the police after his arrest that he planned to interrogate and torture the Speaker. If she did not tell him the truth as he saw it, he was going to break her kneecaps. By breaking her kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, The attacker believed this would show others in Congress that there were consequences for their actions.

In his police interview, the attacker said that he considered Pelosi the “leader of the pack” of lies told by Democrats. The Washington Post has reported that the attacker, David DePape, had a “voluminous blog” that was “filled with deeply racist and antisemitic writings – as well as pro-Trump and anti-Democratic posts”.

The attacker did fracture the skull of an 82 year old man with a hammer. Politics aside, this was a vicious assault on an elderly man but instead of any thoughtfulness or self-reflection, the response of many Republicans was to spin baseless conspiracy theories to deflect blame. This is in keeping with the Republicans not owning the hate they have been spewing against opponents. It leads deranged people to act.

It should not be surprising that the MAGA movement produces David DePapes. The movement has been propelled by hate and fear of its enemies. Its enemies are not simply people with whom they disagree. MAGA turns its enemies into ridiculous dehumanized caricatures: satanic pedophiles, blood drinkers and groomers.

In assessing how our media has dealt with the Pelosi event, I do not think the context has been appropriately defined. Over the last seven years, former President Trump has stoked political violence and he has used his political rallies to train his followers to see violence in a positive light. He has been helping to create a mass psychology that sees violence as acceptable.

The Pelosi attack must be seen inside the context of Trump’s continuous vilification of his political enemies. Trump called Pelosi “crazy Nancy”, “sick woman” and he has said “she’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems”. On November 7, Trump called Pelosi “an animal”. I think Trump particularly has demonized Pelosi because she has frequently called him out and clearly has gotten under his skin.

Among January 6 defendants, over ten voiced death threats against Pelosi. Greg Reffitt, a far right extremist who has been convicted of multiple January 6-related felonies, threatened to forcibly remove Congress members. He said:

“I don’t care if Pelosi’s head is hitting every step while I drag her by the ankles – she’s coming out.”

When Paul Pelosi’s attacker asked “Where is Nancy?” It evoked the creepy crowd chants from January 6 when rioters roamed Congress and in a bloodthirsty way, sought her.

From the early days of when Trump started campaigning in 2015, he has been all about political violence. Remember when he told his rally crowds to beat up protesters and he offered to pay the legal bills of his supporters who inflicted violence. Trump said things like “punch them in the face” and “knock the crap out of them”.

Cruelty has been his defining brand whether it was putting children in cages or telling border guards to shoot migrants in the leg. On January 6, Trump said “if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country any more”.

Many prominent Republicans have either remained silent or they have followed Trump’s lead on the violence. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has said,

“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it but I will bang it down.”

There are so many examples of the over-the-top violent rhetoric from Republicans. Marjorie Taylor Greene has said Pelosi is guilty of treason, a crime punishable by death. Steve Bannon talks about putting the heads of liberals on pikes at the corners of the White House as a warning. Paul Gosar posted an anime video where he attacked and killed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword.

And it is not all talk. In 2018, Trump superfan Cesar Sayoc mailed pipe bombs to Democratic leaders before that mid-term election. In 2020, there was the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. In October, a Pennsylvania man pled guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Eric Swalwell. Threats against members of Congress are more than ten times as high as just five years ago.

Invariably, Republicans will bring up the attack on Rep. Steve Scalise and the threat to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There is no comparability. Democrats immediately condemned the violence in both situations. Republicans remain motivated toward violence by Trump’s demagoguery and the FOX echo chamber.

The Pelosi attack shows the MAGA Republican pattern. First downplay the attack. Then deny the harm done. Then offer disinformation and conspiracy theories. Republican Party leadership is complicit in the violence because of their inaction and failure to speak out against it.

Democracy requires an appreciation of pluralism and tolerance. For democracy to work, opposing sides must accept the results of elections. That means accepting losing sometimes. Republican election denialism is incompatible with a functioning democracy.

Benito Mussolini once said. “Blood alone moves the wheels of history”. But violence is neither moral nor patriotic. Violence is the road to the destruction of our democracy.

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Pauli Murray, America’s most pivotal unknown civil rights leader – posted 10/29/2022

October 29, 2022 5 comments

The conventional tale of American history leaves out so much. We learn about the Founding Fathers, presidents and generals. We are less likely to learn about civil rights leaders, no matter how outstanding. Pauli Murray falls into that category of unknowns. Born in 1910, she may be the hero who most has escaped attention, recognition and appreciation.

Murray was a leader in the struggle against race and sex discrimination, a lawyer, a poet, an author, and an Episcopal priest. She was a pathbreaker almost before there was a path. Even though she was a pivotal figure, she is barely known.

In her new book, Lady Justice, the legal writer, Dahlia Lithwick, gives Murray the prominence she deserves. There is also a very good documentary about her titled My Name is Pauli Murray that is available on Prime.

Her story is remarkable for the adversities she overcame. She was an orphan. Her mother died when she was 3 and her father was committed to a psychiatric institution where he died after being beaten by a racist guard. She went to live with her Aunt Pauline in Durham, North Carolina.

Murray, as a young African American girl, grew up in a world defined by racism. In that time, the Klan was powerful and 50-60 people were lynched yearly in the South. Danger was omnipresent. Murray went to segregated schools. Her aunt taught school and she accompanied her aunt to classes and learned to read at age 5, She remained a voracious reader and writer her whole life.

In 1938, she applied to the University of North Carolina and received a rejection letter which stated “members of your race are not admitted to UNC”. Later, after going to Hunter College and Howard University Law School, where she graduated first in her class, Harvard Law School would not accept her for graduate study even though accepting the number one graduate had been a Howard tradition. The reason for her rejection was being a woman.

When in Howard Law, she was the only woman in her class her first two years. One professor told her he didn’t know why women went to law school. Murray said she experienced Jane Crow – not just Jim Crow.

From an early age, she was gender non-conforming. She called herself Pauli rather than her birth name Anna Pauline. She believed she was a man trapped in a woman’s body. Her Aunt Pauline, who doted on her and gave her unconditional love, called Pauli my “boy/girl”. She tried unsuccessfully to get hormone treatment. It would appear she was transgender before that word existed. Her gender issues were a source of enormous distress and turmoil throughout her life.

Murray opposed segregation from an early age. She walked everywhere and refused to ride segregated streetcars. In 1940, 15 years before Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, Murray and a friend, Adelene McBean, refused to move to the back of a bus when it crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. She and McBean were jailed in Virginia for this racial heresy.

Undaunted, Murray contacted the NAACP. She wanted to challenge segregation. In the process she met Thurgood Marshall who then worked for the NAACP. Although that case did not go forward because the judge reduced charges to disturbing the peace. Murray became enthralled by lawyering. She saw it as a way to fight back. She started being an adviser to the NAACP.

At the time Murray started practicing law in the mid-1940’s, there were only about 100 African American women lawyers in the United States. Legal jobs were hard to get, especially for minorities and women but the Methodist Church hired Murray to write an explanation of segregation laws in America as the church wanted to understand its legal obligations.

Murray produced a 746 page book, State Laws on Race and Color.. Marshall called it “the Bible” for civil rights litigation. A creative thinker, Murray pioneered new legal theories for fighting race and sex discrimination.

She argued the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment should be used to overturn Plessy v Ferguson, the Supreme Court case that had upheld “separate but equal”. She believed state segregation laws should be challenged as unconstitutional rather than trying to prove the inequalities of “separate but equal”. She foresaw the end of Plessy long before others in the legal world did. In 1944 she wrote her senior law school paper about it.

She also pioneered the use of the 14th Amendment to attack gender discrimination. Ruth Bader Ginsberg put Murray’s name on the Supreme Court brief she wrote in the landmark sex discrimination case, Reed v Reed, because of Murray’s theoretical contribution. Ginsberg relied on a law review article co-wriiten by Murray.

Behind the scenes, Murray was showing how equal protection applied to women. That was a novel position then. For both Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Murray was a powerful influence.

Murray herself co-counselled a successful case in Alabama that held that women had an equal right to serve on juries.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor developed a close relationship with Murray. Mrs Roosevelt became almost a surrogate mother. Murray had written both Roosevelts complaining about the failure to enforce civil rights law. She and Mrs Roosevelt corresponded regularly and became confidantes.

Her legal career had many different incarnations. After a stint as a Deputy Attorney General in California and also as a corporate lawyer in New York City, she moved to Africa and taught law in Ghana, She later became a professor at Brandeis. Along the way, she, along with Betty Friedan, co-founded the National Organization of Women. She served on the national board of the ACLU from 1965-1974.

In the last phase of her life, Murray shocked many by resigning her tenured job at Brandeis to become an Episcopal priest. She was a deeply religious person and the first African American woman to be ordained in the Episcopal church. She said, “What I say very often is that I’ve lived to see my lost causes found”. Murray died in 1985.

Her poem Dark Testament contains two lines which capture her:

“I speak for my race and my people
The human race and just people.”

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Anti-semitism has a home among MAGA Republicans – posted 10/22/2022h

October 22, 2022 4 comments

When I was growing up, my family belonged to Main Line Reform Temple, a reform Jewish congregation in the Philadelphia suburbs. I was bar mitzvahed and confirmed there. For about ten years, I regularly attended Hebrew School at the temple. During that time, I do not ever recall seeing a police guard or any kind of security at or around the temple.

My grandchild now goes to a daycare located in a Jewish school connected to a synagogue, also in the Philadelphia suburbs. When there recently, the first thing I noticed was the security guard at the only open door. Many temples and Jewish institutions have been forced to take security much more seriously.

Welcome to 2022! It is like Pandora’s box has opened and more virulent anti-semites have jumped out. Neo-nazis and white supremacists have long been an isolated fringe but they are no longer so fringe. Now they have a home in the Republican Party.

For a party that has talked about “draining the swamp”, the Republicans have let the swamp in. You hear no voices in the Republican Party saying they need to purge anti-semites or racists from the party. Winning is everything even if that means accepting those who promote anti-semitism and racism.

If anyone bothered to look at who participated in the January 6 insurrection, the MAGA movement included a hefty component of neo-nazis and white supremacists. The Camp Auschwitz tee-shirts grabbed me along with the Proud Boy 6MWE shirts which stands for “Six Million Wasn’t Enough”.

NPR reported on the case of Timothy Hale-Cusanelli of New Jersey who was just convicted of five criminal counts for his role on January 6. Hale-Cusanelli served in the U.S. Army Reserves and he also worked as a security guard at a naval base.

Naval investigators talked to 44 people at the Navy base where Hale-Cusanelli worked and 34 described Hale-Cusanelli “as having extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities and women”. He asked new colleagues if they were Jewish. He told a Naval Petty Officer “Hitler should have finished the job”.

He avidly supported former President Trump and he texted a friend that Democrats might steal the 2020 election through “n*****rigging”. He told his roommate that “Jewish interests” controlled the Democrats.

A long time family friend, Cynthia Hughes, has been advocating for Hale-Cusanelli and other January 6 defendants as “political prisoners”. Hughes appeared at a Trump rally on September 3 in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania complaining about Hale-Cusanelli’s treatment.

Hughes created a non-profit called Patriot Freedom Project which has raised more than a million dollars. It has been supported by Steve Bannon and Dinesh D’Souza. No Republicans have expressed any concerns about support for a Nazi sympathizer. The Republican Big Tent includes neo-nazis.

In Arizona, the Arizona Republic, a prominent paper in the state, has run seven op-eds since August on the issue of anti-semitism and Republican candidates.

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar and State Rep. Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for Arizona Secretary of State, have touted their endorsement from the social media site, Gab, run by Andrew Torba, a self-identified Christian nationalist. Torba has said Jews are not welcome on his site. Gab was the site utilized by the shooter who killed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.

On September 14, Finchem, who is an Oath Keeper, tweeted that Arizona Democratic politicians are “liars and deceivers” whose “loyalty is to George Soros and Mike Bloomberg”. This is straight-up anti-semitism linking Democrats to Jewish billionaires. It is no different than earlier generations tying Rothschild bankers to nefarious deeds. A loose association makes the anti-semitic connection. George Soros is the current Jewish go-to guy for anti-semites.

In Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano participated in the January 6 insurrection. He has attacked his Jewish opponent, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, for sending his children to a Jewish day school. Mastriano is also a Christian nationalist who has posted that abortion is “so much” worse than the Holocaust. He has paid Gab thousands of dollars to recruit campaign supporters.

Former President Trump also got into the anti-semitic act again tweeting on his platform Truth Social that “U.S. Jews have to get their act together” and show him some gratitude “before it is too late”. Trump contrasted U.S. Jews negatively to evangelicals who love him more. He didn’t explain what he meant by “before it is too late”.

Then, of course, there was Trump ally and influencer, Kanye West, saying he was “going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE” who he said try to “black ball anyone who opposes your agenda”.

There are many other examples. I would suggest that Trump has licensed his followers that it is okay to express bigotry. In the Republican Party, there is no consequence for expressing antisemitic or racist views.

This is how hate gets normalized and accepted. Repetition of anti-semitic tropes and memes lead to people becoming anesthetized to the hate. The anti-semitism is often coded or couched as humor on far right sites. Inevitably, hate crimes follow.

Instead of having a political platform, the Republicans now run against “the other”, like immigrants, minorities, Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people and women.

In the Jewish world, we have seen the movie “Blame the Jews for Everything” replay for 2,000 years. Admittedly, it is not there yet in the U.S. but it is not reassuring when neo-nazis and white supremacists are not only tolerated, they are recruited. The fascist movie always features anti-semitism. If there are any Republicans of conscience left in that party, they need to speak up. A fascist foothold in a major political party can only lead to worse.

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Calling out the racism – posted 10/16/2022

October 16, 2022 2 comments

Over the last year or two, I admit I have been puzzled by the Republican attacks on critical race theory or, as it is called, CRT. Why the focus on such an obscure academic theory? The opponents of CRT have made a big deal about ideas barely discussed or known about by the American public.

My thinking is that the anti-CRT effort is not what it appears.The opponents say they are against CRT but it is clear what they really oppose is an honest discussion of America’s history of slavery and racial oppression. CRT is a misleading front for what is really opposed.

Those who think otherwise might take a look at Pew Research Center’s 2021 report about Americans’ views of our nation’s racial history. It shows wide disparities in American opinions about how we have addressed racial inequality as well as how much farther we need to go. Among white adults, fewer than half, 46%, say greater attention to the history of slavery and racism in the U.S. is good for society, One-third say it is bad.

According to Pew Research, among Republicans, 47% think only a little needs to be done to ensure equal rights for all Americans while 30% think nothing more needs to be done. That is a profound state of denial about American history and the harm done by racism. The truth is supposed to set us free but it seems like many millions of us prefer a false narrative.

Naming CRT as the target is suspect because the vast majority do not know what that even is. Why would anyone care about a sidelined theory from the academy?

In his book, America Made Me a Black Man, the Somali-American writer, Boyah J. Farah, gets closer to capturing truer feelings about racial realities. He writes:

“American color prejudice, unseen and unexamined, I find much more painful. Intangible and disembodied, it begins as if it were a nothing, a silent killer, but slowly it seeps into my bloodstream, breathes into my lungs, stabs at my heart and morphs into this endless nightmare.”

In his book, Farah provides the most terrifying description of what it is like for a black man to experience a vehicle stop by a racist cop.

During this campaign season, racism has been on full display. You don’t have to look too hard to find it. I would cite Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s comments at former President Trump’s recent rally in Minden, Nevada. Tuberville argued Democrats were soft on crime, saying:

“They want crime. They want crime, because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that. Bullshit! They are not owed that.”

Clearly, Tuberville suggests that the descendants of Black slaves are criminals. He takes a serious subject, reparations, and smears it with a crime association. He is making a direct racist connection between crime and Black people. No Republicans denounced Tuberville’s comment.

And then there was former President Trump’s remarks about his former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After McConnell voted with the Democrats on a stop-gap funding bill, Trump posted a derogatory comment on his platform Truth Social calling Chao “his China-loving wife, Coco Chao”. This was not only a cheap shot it was a racist slur. Not surprising from someone who talked about the Kung Fu Flu.

At least four Republican Senate candidates have promoted the white supremacist Great Replacement Theory that argues Democrats are trying to flood the nation with millions of illegal immigrants to change the demographics of our country to marginalize white people. Arizona’s Blake Masters, Missouri’s Eric Schmitt, Ohio’s J.D. Vance and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson have all been campaigning on it. Up until a short time ago, Great Replacement Theory was only pushed by neo-nazis.

Racism is not just stupid, prejudiced words. It is institutionalized. In Florida, the state’s Republican legislature had drawn congressional maps that kept districts intact, leaving the GOP with only a modest electoral advantage. Gov. Ron DeSantis blew that up. Throwing out the legislature’s redistricting, he devised a very aggressive gerrymander to minimize Black-dominated congressional districts.

This was done even though Florida’s constitution was amended in 2010 to prohibit partisan-driven redistricting. Such gerrymandering to curtail Black voting power is going on in many states. Diluting Black voting power and voter suppression is a critical aspect of the face of racism in 2022. It is reminiscent of what happened in the South in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Racism remains slippery. Invariably it is denied. In the legal world, the idea that we need to be colorblind is a clever evasion. There is a real aversion to facing our racial history. To quote Stanley Cavell :”History will not go away except through our perfect acknowledgement of it.”

While there has been some progress around race, no way should that be overstated. The racial wealth gap, residential segregation, maternal health for black women, greater food insecurity and erosion of voting rights are all part of the American picture. So that we do not end up in another backward period like happened after Reconstruction, racism must always be called out and opposed.

It is only when the races come together that they both gain. This is true whether in a union drive or whether in fighting for political objectives. Too many white people are buying into the idea that there is a limited pie and any gain by minorities is at their expense. We need a rediscovery of the common good.

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Republicans are not a law and order party – posted 10/9/2022

October 9, 2022 3 comments

Going as far back as the Richard Nixon presidency, the Republican Party has played the law and order card, arguing they are the party that will keep Americans safe from crime and disorder. Of course, Nixon was ultimately driven out of the White House because of his reckless pattern of committing crimes.

The classic example is probably the 1988 Willie Horton ad when Republicans tied presidential candidate Mike Dukakis to a black man who committed a rape on a weekend furlough in a prison release program. The ad linked together Dukakis, blackness, and criminal depravity. The Republicans did not disclose the fact that in the mid to late 1980’s all 50 states and the federal government had such furlough programs.

The Horton ad proved effective and a winning message for George Bush Sr. The strategy was to paint Democrats as soft on crime.

Donald Trump has tried to carry that same tradition forward with his American carnage shtick. Using homicide rates in large cities and assorted misinformation, Trump has tarred Democrats and has tried to present Republicans as the law and order saviors. But facts do not support Trump. The six states with the highest per capita murder rates all voted for the former President, as did 8 of the top 10 states. Murder is not a blue state phenomenon. It is a national problem.

It is impossible to take the Republican law and order proclamations seriously because the hypocrisy runs too deep. The behavior of Republican leaders is in sharp conflict with any law and order message. Their lawlessness and nihilism shock the conscience.

We must begin with that most prominent Republican, former President Trump, still the GOP leader. In his four years in the White House, Trump took corruption to a new level. He used the presidency to enrich Trump organization businesses. He constantly patronized his own golf courses and used his properties for fundraising events and meetings with foreign groups and heads of state.

This grift, which certainly raised emolument clause questions, made a fortune. Open Secrets, an organization that tracks money in American politics, has tracked payments to Trump properties from Trump-related entities and from special interests. Tens of millions were raised. Holding a Trump fundraiser at a Trump property was a golden way to curry favor.

This was a departure from previous presidents who had severed ties to companies that posed or presented the appearance of a conflict of interest. Trump turned the Republican Party into a business opportunity so that he could personally profit from public service. Whether this violated any laws like the emoluments clause, Trump’s actions demonstrated a disinterest in any ethical standards of behavior.

But really it was the end of Trump’s administration that showed the almost schizophrenic take on law and order. Posturing fidelity to law and order co-existed with brazen lawlessness.

How many criminal investigations are ongoing? There is January 6, the Georgia voting investigation, the New York real estate and tax fraud investigations, E. Jean Carroll’s sexual assault/defamation case, and the stolen documents taken to Mar-a Lago. Trump needs his scam fundraising slush fund millions just to pay endless attorney fees. The slush fund itself was a fraud where he raised millions based on the lie of a stolen election.

Where white collar crime is concerned, Republicans have a soft spot. Wealthy and powerful white defendants do not fit their model of what a criminal is. They may well belong to the same social clubs or golf courses as the lawyers and judges handling their cases. Misstating the value of properties for tax advantage is a staggering fraud but MAGA Republicans prefer to associate crime with poor Black men – not white executives.

Probably no recent experience brought out Republican hypocrisy more than January 6. When police officers were attacked by the mob, where were the cries for law and order? Interestingly, 21 House Republicans voted against bestowing Congressional Gold Medals on the police officers who confronted the insurrectionists. And then there were the many House and Senate Republicans who refused to accept the election even after federal courts repeatedly found no election fraud.

Law and order includes following election law, not violating it when your candidate loses. Since the Mar-a-Lago search, Trump branded the FBI and the Department of Justice “political monsters”. In Florida, Federal Judge Bruce Reinhart who had approved the FBI search warrant received death threats after his name was publicized. One Trump supporter, Ricky Shiffer, attacked an FBI office in Cincinnati and was later killed by the police after he fled.

Republicans attack Democrats for wanting to defund the police but it is Republicans who are loudly calling for the FBI and the DOJ to be defunded.

Michael Bromwich, former Justice Department inspector general commented :
“I have been dealing with law enforcement and the criminal justice system for close to 40 years. I have never seen the type of virulence of attacks being made everyday against the FBI, DOJ lawyers and judges.”

When your party is running senate candidates like Herschel Walker in Georgia, you might think it is a stretch to go after Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman as “dangerously liberal on crime”. Walker has previously held a gun to his ex-wife’s head several times, a knife to her throat and he tried to choke her. It should not have to be said but such domestic violence should be disqualifying for any candidate.

Whether the Republicans can still successfully use law and order as they have in the past remains to be seen. Contradictions abound and voters would have to overlook so much to buy into the Republican law and order mantra now.

Still, it is curious how white collar crime committed by rich people is not recognized and prosecuted in a way commensurate with the gravity of the actual offenses committed. The Republican success in using law and order as an issue is directly tied to our national inability to see and take seriously white collar crime. If Americans did that, Republicans would not make it to first base in using crime to swing elections.

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Minimizing and missing the fascist threat – posted 10/2/2022

October 2, 2022 1 comment

Around seven years ago, I started raising the question of whether Donald Trump and the MAGA movement he led were fascist. Numerous academics and mainstream journalists pooh-poohed that characterization as imprecise and unfounded. Trump, they argued, was a buffoon, an authoritarian, a xenophobe, a kleptocrat or a con man, but not a threat to democracy.

It seems they operated off of some kind of checklist of fascist characteristics. Trump did not manifest the qualities on their lists. It should be clear by now how wrong they have been.

Not just in America but in numerous countries around the world, democracy is facing a fascist threat. This goes way beyond Donald Trump.

The world is facing a veritable Fascist International where extreme right parties have either come to power or they have contended seriously for power. I would cite Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and now Italy as countries where the extreme right has gained considerable state power. In other countries like Brazil, Sweden, and France, the extreme right is contending aggressively for power.

When a neo-fascist, Glorgia Meloni, recently won the Italian election to become prime minister, the positive reaction on the American Right was extremely revealing. They widely cheered the election of someone on record as praising Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and Hitler’s collaborator. I have to say as a Jewish person I find that response to fascism sickening.

It is extremely dangerous not to see the fascist threat. It is reminiscent of the 1930’s when many in the West failed to recognize the danger represented by the German and Italian fascists. Fascism does not remain static. It evolves depending on local conditions and has some national flavors.

In America, the MAGA Republican movement has evolved in some unexpected directions. Always open to conspiracy theories, their cult leader, Donald Trump, has more openly identified with QAnon.

On his social media site, Truth Social, Trump has been more openly than ever identifying with QAnon, posting images of himself holding a Q playing card along with other Q images. At his rally on September 17 in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump played a song identified with QAnon. He said MAGA is “standing up against sick, sinister and evil people from within our own country”.

Here I think we get close to the demagoguery and grievance-mongering which is central to MAGA. The MAGA movement is fueled by a powerful need to point the finger of blame at others. Opponents are seen as blood-drinking pedophiles, not just another political party on the opposite side of a disagreement.

The need to demonize Democrats is part of the MAGA world view. It is not enough to politically defeat the Democrats. Being so allegedly evil, they must be punished. So Hillary Clinton must be jailed. Or as Ginni Tomas texted Mark Meadows in whack-a-doodle fashion, “the Biden crime family” needed to be put on barges off GITMO to face military tribunals.

To insure victory in what is seen as a war, MAGA Republicans put people in positions to certify elections so they cannot lose. If elections are not in their favor as they still believe about the 2020 presidential race, then their mission is about insuring victory by any means necessary.

Those who insist the MAGA Republican movement is not fascist are not paying close attention. Their playbook is no secret and internationally all the extreme right parties are following a similar script. There is a reason Victor Orban’s regime is held up because it’s the best example of the new model of “illiberal democracy”. It is worth delineating the features.

The extreme right everywhere runs against immigrants who they denigrate as in conflict with their goal of racial purity. They hate black people, brown people and Muslims. As happened when Jews were denied entry into the U.S. and other countries in the 1930’s many countries have made immigration rules much stricter. Asylum seekers and refugees face a wall of opposition. The great replacement theory promoted by Tucker Carlson is invoked as is the spectre of George Soros.

Contrary to mythology, it must be acknowledged that there is much capacity for the United States to accept many more asylum seekers but the political will to allow it is not present in either political party. Our ruling class finds it convenient to scapegoat immigrants. Almost nothing has been learned from the experience when Jews were denied entry to the U.S..

This is history repeating itself. The repression is not on the level of the Nazis but the harm to the immigrants is real. Many die in the desert or drown trying to cross rivers in an effort to get to the U.S. Employers complain they cannot find workers but immigrant workers of color we don’t want and we do not allow them in, at a cost to the economy.

Of course, immigrants are not the only scapegoats of the extreme right. LGBTQ people, particularly trans people, are also in the crosshairs. We see this in Hungary, Italy, and Brazil as well as the other countries where the extreme right is making a push for power. They want to ban abortion, gay marriage, and gay adoption. A little understood minority, trans people, is seen as some kind of menace. The absurd language about groomers and pedophiles is part of their blame game.

In the aftermath of Giorgia Meloni’s victory in Italy, the historian Jason Stanley summarized:

“Fascism is a harshly anti-feminist ideology demanding a world in which women’s choices about their bodies are restricted and patriarchy determines their primary roles – rearing racially pure children and home-making. What better way to sanitize the ideology, to mask its threat to women and its use of violence , then presenting it via a female leader.”

Since January 6, 2021, the embrace of violence by the extreme right has been more clearly demonstrated. To quote Roger Stone two days before the 2020 election “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence”. When you are unhappy with the results, hand it over to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. History shows that once fascist movements gain power, they often quickly resort to the use of violence against all perceived enemies.

The earlier fascist incarnation in Germany took the violence to another level both internally and in trying to achieve world domination. One major difference now is that modern-day fascists have not yet showed this mad aspiration.

Most mainstream journalism remains wedded to the both sides perspective that has been the norm in the past. In their view, political parties may differ in their views but they are essentially the same. I would suggest that time is now past. Today’s fascists are an existential threat to democracy everywhere.

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Reading dangerously – posted 9/24/2022

September 25, 2022 9 comments

I was watching the Ken Burns documentary about America and the Holocaust and there was a deeply unsettling moment when the filmmakers showed the Nazi book burning in 1933. With Joseph Goebbels presiding, many Nazi students threw thousands of books deemed subversive, decadent or corrupt into a massive burning pyre. This was part of the effort to purify German literature from Jewish influence.

The scene made me think of a favorite quote of mine from the writer, Edwidge Danticot:

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer.”

Danticot is like the opposite of the Nazi vision. Nazi anti-intellectualism is not compatible with intellectual freedom and any spirit of independent critical thinking and reading. Fascists and authoritarians ban books to erase history and the lived experience of people outside their control.

My love of reading started as a teen. I don’t associate it with any school. My school made us read classics and I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities and Silas Marner and enjoying them but I got turned on to reading outside school. At summer camp, I remember lying in my bunk, being mesmerized by The Caine Mutiny.

This led to my love affair with books and bookstores. It was long before Amazon and the closure of so many independent bookstores. Hanging out at bookstores was a favorite pastime. I was an inveterate bookstore browser.

Growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia, Lower Merion, my sister Lisa and I used to take the train, the Paoli Local, into downtown Philadelphia on Saturdays. We lived easy walking distance from the town train stop and it was a quick ride into Suburban Station in the city.

I don’t remember exactly how we found it but one of our regular destinations was Robin’s Bookstore, which was located close to City Hall. The store closed over 10 years ago. The owner, Larry Robin, had eclectic tastes with literature, political books and periodicals you could not find elsewhere. The store was a counterculture institution.

The poetry section had the collected poems of Kenneth Patchen and Kenneth Rexroth, two poets I came to love but whose work has now disappeared. Patchen is truly unique. He did these bizarre, cosmic drawings as part of his work. They were always interesting to contemplate and try to interpret. Patchen offered sayings like:

“No man’s life is beautiful except in hurtless work.”
“Law and order embrace on hate’s border.”
“In the love of a man and a woman is the look of God looking.”

Rexroth was an anarchist and a father of the San Francisco beat movement that included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. I would mention Rexroth’s poem “For Eli Jacobson” which gives a good feel for who he was.

Unusual back then, Robin’s had a large African-American history section including works by the historians Herbert Aptheker and Philip Foner. I especially remember Aptheker’s book American Negro Slave Revolts. This was history not taught in school.

In my 20’s I moved to the Boston area and discovered the Red Bookstore, which was then located near Central Square in Cambridge. That bookstore also had progressive books that were almost impossible to find in other venues. Two books I found in that store I treasure: a novel, Daughter of Earth, by Agnes Smedley and an autobiography, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, by Victor Serge. Both are beautifully written.

Daughter of Earth is a feminist classic. I recall the words near the start of the book:

“What I have written is not a work of beauty created that someone may spend an hour pleasantly; not a symphony to lift up the spirit, to release it from the dreariness of reality. It is the story of a life, written in desperation, in unhappiness.
I write of the earth on which we all, by some strange circumstance, happen to be living. I write of the joys and sorrows of the lowly. Of loneliness. Of pain. And of love.”

Little known in the United States , Victor Serge is a giant among working class writers in the twentieth century. A libertarian socialist, Serge always remained committed to the values of democracy and free expression. He fought capitalism and Stalinism. If very lucky, you might find some of his books in used bookstores.

Used bookstores have a special place in my heart. One great one is Brattleboro Books in Brattleboro, Vermont. I also would give a shout out to Tidal Wave Books in Anchorage Alaska. Tidal Wave is a huge store. There I found and bought The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht. His poem, To Posterity, is a favorite of mine.

As for other bookstores in my life, I would be remiss if I did not mention our own Gibson’s in Concord, City Lights in San Francisco, and Powell’s in Portland Oregon. All have been nourishing as far as discovering books I never would have seen or read otherwise. Larry Robin said this before his bookstore closed:

“With the internet, you can find exactly what you’re looking for. But what’s most important is to find what you weren’t looking for.”

Like other tastes in life, my book preferences are personal and idiosyncratic and I think it is the same for all who love books and reading. No syllabus or institution ever directed my reading. Reading is a passion to follow. As I have gotten older, I think I am more impatient about reading only what I find compelling. If I am not grabbed, I’ll put it aside.

What is strange and peculiar about our time is all the censors and busybodies who think they know better and want to direct the reading of others. Hiding behind criticizing wokeness, they want to protect young people from critical race theory or LGBTQ books.

PEN America just released a new report that shows that 1,600 book titles across 32 states were banned from public schools during the 2021-2022 school year. Most ban requests came from right wing groups with a racist or anti-gay agenda. They may not be Nazis but their role is equivalent to the Nazi book burners. If the opportunity presented itself, they probably would torch books.

Intellectual freedom is about reading books others say you can’t read. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you can and can’t read. Find your own way with reading. Read whatever strikes your fancy and tell censors to go to hell.

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