Tag Archives: Civil rights

Not my President

John Lewis (far right) with Martin Luther King, Selma

John Lewis (far right) with Martin Luther King, Selma

Congressman John Lewis is a civil rights icon, famously known for marching in Selma with Martin Luther King, for being beaten and arrested, for having never stopped fighting for equal rights before the law for every person in America.

Congressman Lewis was asked in recent days what he thought about the imminent inauguration of the man who would be President.

Congressman Lewis declared that this man is no legitimate president, and he would not attend his “Inauguration.”

Nor shall I.

Nor will I watch or listen to a word of what this man from the golden tower on Fifth Avenue has to say at his so-called Inauguration.

But I’ll be in Washington the very next day afterwards.

I will join women from across the nation who shall protest this man’s legitimacy as President and how he hopes to mislead a nation from this nation’s promise of equal rights for all and the constitutional obligation to promote the general welfare. Continue reading

When is a wage rate a moral offense?

minimumWageDelegate Dave LaRock, from Loudoun County, one of the wealthiest Counties in America, opposes setting any minimum wage rate to pay employees, and, more than that, he also wants to compromise an employee’s right to work for more pay and benefits by reducing even further any effective way to bargain with his employer.

Delegate LaRock’s recent op-ed begs the question what measly rate of pay is too low a rate for the Delegate – so that we are not endorsing some variant of the old South’s peculiar institution?

We have resisted past predatory practices by employers – forcing children to work in sweat shops, and working employees for so many hours they dropped from exhaustion.

We’ve also had to regulate employers too willing to short change workers, to take advantage of their desperation, increase their profits while causing the workers’ misery, by denying them a decent wage.

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII admonished employers that “workers are not to be treated as slaves.” He decried how it was “shameful and inhumane … to use men as things for gain and to put no more value on them than what they are worth in muscle and energy.”

Pope Leo said, “the rich and employers must remember that no laws, either human or divine, permit them for their own profit to oppress the needy and the wretched or to seek gain from another’s want.” Continue reading

Law and disorder

lawDisorder

We have law and disorder in Loudoun County because of our Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney and our Sheriff.

Our county slogan is, “We byde our time.”  Well, we’re finished “byding” our time.

A popular long-running criminal justice show, “Law and Order,” begins every episode, saying, that: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate and equally important groups, the police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders,” and then the intro concludes, “these are their stories.”

Well, we’ve got a sad story to tell in Loudoun County.

Our Commonwealth Attorney, Jim Plowman, prosecuted a black man for felonies when three Deputy Sheriffs violated the Ashburn resident’s constitutional right to be left alone.

More than that, this crack law enforcement duo, of Jim and Sheriff Mike Chapman, still can’t figure out, after 1 ½ years, who and how one or more Deputies allegedly embezzled more than $200,000 from the Sheriff’s Office.  At the least, that was awkward!

Only days ago, the Commonwealth Attorney, Jim Plowman, dissed his law enforcement “partner,” Sheriff Mike Chapman. Continue reading

This week in anti-gay temper tantrums

We-dont-discriminate-stickerFirst up: Oral arguments in Bostic v. Schaefer before the Fourth District Court of Appeals are scheduled for May 13. The court will be hearing the appeal of Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s anti-marriage Marshall-Newman amendment.

The Virginia “Family” (not yours) Foundation, in anticipation, is holding a 40 day “fast.” Don’t be alarmed, though. They won’t starve, or even lose any weight. The word “fast,” according to the clarification that appears on their website, and contrary to its common meaning, “does not translate” to “hunger strike.” It only means temporarily giving up something you kind of enjoy, like Diet Coke. Yes, Diet Coke is actually the example they cite. This word salad, apparently intended to explain the aforementioned desperate action, also appears:

Our state and nation are mired in a morass of confusion and post-modern thinking that does not believe in absolutes nor that any truth can even be known..

Huh? A bizarre statement, until you realize that it perfectly describes their own post-modern thinking. Martyrdom is just not what it used to be.

Next, from the Magnolia State: As you might imagine, Mississippi, like Virginia, has no civil rights provisions protecting LGBTI people from discrimination. Unlike, for example, in New Mexico, it is perfectly legal for the proprietor of a Mississippi business or public accommodation to refuse service to someone on the basis of their actual or perceived gender presentation or sexual orientation. It’s also perfectly legal to fire someone, deny them housing, deny them a bank loan, or any other form of discrimination that would be prohibited if it were on the basis of race, nationality, or religion.

That wasn’t enough for those in the state who see imaginary violations of their constitutionally protected religious freedom in every shadow, however. Earlier this month, the state legislature passed a bill, similar to the one famously vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, that reiterates the “right” to discriminate that anti-gay bigots in Mississippi already enjoy, and effectively expands their “right” to discriminate against anyone else they dislike as long as they claim the discrimination is motivated by a “sincerely held religious belief.”

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Are you being persecuted?

‘Tis the time of year when well-fed privileged people of a certain majority religious persuasion traditionally appear before our local government bodies to complain of “persecution” by “storm troopers,” or deface property, or snarl at innocent strangers who are merely trying to wish them well.

Rachel Held Evans, who is awesome, has provided a helpful chart for determining whether or not you are in fact a victim of religious persecution. Please consult it before inadvertently being offensive to those who actually know what that means.

Coming next: Is that a terrorist?

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Morality call – say no to the Values Voter Summit

The SPLC is asking elected officials to stop courting the anti-GLBT hate groups that sponsor the so-called Values Voter conference.

It’s a simple ask.

“If you are elected to represent *all* people, you can’t treat some people as sub-human.”

Morality call, no human is sub-human. If a “values voter” considers a fertilized egg to be fully human,  how can he or she treat a living breathing person as a sub-human?

Here is the SPLC email. Continue reading

Truth Decay

John Flannery and Former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean

On 9-11, I was rounding the Lincoln Memorial and had a clear view across the Potomac to the Virginia side where I saw a mushroom cloud that rose to the sky composed of dirt and debris.

I worked in the Cannon House Office Building at the time and called my staff to discover that the twin towers in New York had been attacked by terrorists, as had the Pentagon in Virginia – and the plane that crashed into the Pentagon was that great dirt cloud I watched rise up high into the air.

By October, a bi-partisan U.S. Congress approved the so-called USA Patriot Act.  It was a bitter event because we missed an opportunity to do better.  The House Judiciary Committee had cobbled together a unanimous bi-partisan compromise under Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner but at the 11th hour, just before the floor vote, then Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert replaced Sensenbrenner’s Judiciary Committee compromise bill on the House floor with a wide-ranging wrong-headed substitute.

You really should read the bill as most members of Congress never did; there were only two copies of the bill available at the time of the vote. Continue reading

The Promised Land

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Reverend Martin Luther King compared himself to Moses who led his people out of slavery, saw the Promised Land, but never got there himself.

In April of 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis, Tennessee supporting a garbage workers’ strike.

On the evening of April 3rd, King told the congregation, “I don’t know what will happen now.”  He said he’d “been to the mountain top”   and “seen the Promised Land” but “I may not get there with you.”

His promise, however, was that “we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Toward evening, that next day, April 4th, King stepped out on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

A rifleman shot a .30-06 caliber bullet that broke Dr. King’s jaw, cut through his neck and spinal cord, and the slug lay spent in his shoulder blade.  King died.

Robert Kennedy said in Indianapolis to a crowd that had not yet heard of King’s death that we must “tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.”

King couldn’t have agreed more and his prescription to reach the Promised Land was to challenge “the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism.”

We know today that the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott, deciding that a man was property, was wrong.

But we don’t’ seem to appreciate that a Supreme Court that compromises voting rights is also wrong. Continue reading

A good example of false equivalency

I misunderstood a comment by the author of the letter to which I respond below. His letter was originally published almost exactly one year ago (publication dates don’t include the year), which means that it was the author’s reposting of the year-old link that was actually inspired by our online conversation. I think it’s fair to say that my reading of it as pre-meditated exploitation of a conversation that he initiated, and in which I was participating in good faith, led me to respond more harshly than I otherwise would have. For that I apologize to Mr. Dickinson. He obviously did not, as I suggested in my response, write this to deflect negative attention generated by the Grand Jury report, or the censure, or any other Delgaudio-related drama of the past year.

On the other hand, his point in posting the link to that thread was to say that he more strongly than ever endorses the idea that the reporting of hate group activity is the moral equivalent of the very hate group activity being reported, even openly warning that I, personally, could be responsible for “fomenting a hate attack” because I discuss the hate group activities of the Sterling supervisor. The veiled suggestion that I had best not continue reporting on his active campaign to incite fear and hatred of people like me is offensive.

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Other crimes against humanity we shouldn’t be talking about

As noted in the first comment on the Uganda post below, we were admonished by a frequently irritated visitor to this blog for talking about the crimes against humanity unfolding in Uganda. Apparently – and I don’t know how else to interpret these words – because we are “highly educated” and fortunate to live in the rural end of the most affluent county in “the most free country in the world,” our concern about what’s going on in Uganda at the alleged direction of a US-based hate group leader is “over the top.”

I take the position that if you’re a human rights advocate, you should be concerned about crimes against humanity anywhere, not just where you live. And you should be especially concerned when the crimes are the outcome of collusion with a U.S. hate group leader, who is running the operation from within your own country precisely because it is free.

The situation in Uganda began with propaganda that defamed and dehumanized LGBTI people with claims that we sexually assault children. All human rights catastrophes started somewhere, and studying them is how we learn to do better. Do I think that what’s happening in Uganda could happen here, just because Scott Lively is the leader of a hate group, and Eugene Delgaudio is also the leader of a hate group? No – but pretending so is a lazy, simpleminded way to attack Eugene’s critics, isn’t it?

Anti-gay hate groups don’t have much of a future here. It’s more likely that when Nervous Eugene‘s cash cow runs its course in the U.S. he’ll move on to something or somewhere else. And if that new enterprise involves human rights abuses of LGBTI people in some other country we’ll have a responsibility to help them, too.

So this happened in 1935, as human rights advocates were warning of the deteriorating climate for certain disfavored groups in Germany: Continue reading