Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 & beyond

From "The Empire Strikes Back: We thought women would break new ground in 2016. We were wrong," by Michelle Goldberg for Slate.

However freakishly contingent his triumph, it forecloses the future feminists imagined at least for a long while. We’re going be blown backward so far that this irredeemably shitty year may someday look like a lost feminist golden age. The very idea that women are equal citizens, that barriers to their full human flourishing should be identified and removed, is now up for grabs. A pastor warming up the crowd at a post-election Trump rally in Louisiana promised that with Trump in office, the White House would be a place “where men know who men are, women know who women are.” The massive power of the American state is about to be marshaled to put women in their place.

We might well lose Roe v. Wade in the next four years. Trump has said the issue would then go back to the states, but there’s no reason to think that Republicans would settle for anything less than a national ban. There is a particular insult at the thought of a sybarite like Trump, who still won’t say whether he’s ever paid for an abortion himself, imposing a regime of forced birth on American women. When and if Trump strips us of bodily autonomy, there won’t be any illusions that he’s doing it to protect life or the family or sexual morality. It will be because he has power, and women’s hopes and plans for their own lives don’t matter to him at all.

Controlling the course of our own lives is going to get harder in many different ways. We can say goodbye to Department of Education pressure on colleges to address campus rape. We can expect the end of federal aid for Planned Parenthood and of federal government action to promote equal pay and fight sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. The Women’s Bureau, the one department in the federal government tasked with responding to the needs of women in the workforce, will now fall under the aegis of former Carl’s Jr. honcho Andrew Puzder, whose company is known for commercials featuring near-naked women in orgasmic communion with sandwiches. “I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” he said. “I think it’s very American.” Like top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Puzder has also been accused of assaulting his now-ex wife.

Happy 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

love doesn’t always win

There’s a sign popping up around my neighborhood in various people’s yards. It’s produced by a group called Nasty Women Get Shit Done PDX (that link goes to their Facebook page). Proceeds from sales of the sign go to producing more signs for sale and to Lutheran Community Services NW Emergency Housing Fund, which provides financial assistance to incoming refugees. Here’s more information on where to buy the sign.

I think it’s great that these women have produced these signs, and I’m pleased to see them around town. The sign says:

The text:

In Our America
All People Are Equal
Love Wins
Black Lives Matter
Immigrants & Refugees Are Welcome
Disabilities Are Respected
Women Are In Charge of Their Bodies
People & Planet Are Valued Over Profit
Diversity is Celebrated

I don’t have the sign in my yard, and that has surprised some neighbors that know me.

Again: I'm pleased to see the sign - I like that people are taking such a strong, public stand. It's nice to know I'm surrounded by people that don't agree with the incoming Presidential administration. It gives me a great deal of comfort.

But I have three problems with the sign:

1) I really hate calling the USA “America.” The USA is a part of “America.” So is Canada and Mexico and all of Central America and South America. I get told off on this point every time I travel and meet people from these regions. It's an exhausting conversation.

2) The sign should say “Immigrants & Refugees Are Welcomed”, with a “d” at the end.

3) This is the really big one, the primary reason I don't have the sign in my yard: because of the part that says “Love Wins”. Because love doesn’t win. Unfortunately, very often, love loses. Very often, love doesn’t even come into play in the fight.

Love didn’t free the slaves in the USA - a war, a burning sense of social justice by many people (but not the majority of people), legislation and a minority of people with a lot of power did.

Love didn’t win World War II - the better militaries did.

Love didn’t prevent the Holocaust.

Love didn’t give women the vote in the USA.

And love didn’t win on November 8, 2016.

I have a huge amount of respect for those that are responding to the horror in the USA with a sense of love. That’s great. Good for you. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't have that value.

But I just cannot manage love in the face of evil. It would be hypocritical of me to put that sign in my front yard.

It will take something monumental to restore my faith in humanity, for me to believe that love wins, and, quite frankly, I think it’s impossible.

I haven't given up on life, or this world, or even this country. I’m going to keep fighting - non-violently, of course. I won’t repeat myself on how, I’ve said so quite plainly in earlier blog entries. But I confess that, for me, love has nothing to do with it. I fight because I value ethics, justice, humanism, equality and the planet. Not from a sense of love as much as a sense of righteousness.

Good luck out there, everybody.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

silence means approval

The day after the election, my family here in Oregon didn’t turn on the TV. We barely spoke. We stayed off of social media and news sites. Instead, we listened to music, watched some mindless movies, walked, and thought. We were shell shocked. And terrified.

On Nov. 12, I told my husband we had to have a talk. We talked about what our lives were going to be like over at least the next four years, our fears, if we were going to move to back to Europe much sooner than we planned, etc. It was a slow, quiet, sad conversation.

(For now, in case you are wondering, we’ve decided to stay in the USA, as job prospects in Europe aren’t bright and the darker forces right of the political aisle are poised to take over more European countries as well.)

And then I told him that I had thought very carefully over the last few days, for many, many hours, and that I had decided something that I needed to talk to him about. I said that he may or may not have noticed, but since 2011, I’d kept my offline, in-person political conversations very light. A lot of times, I wouldn’t say a word while people were joking about this or that politician, and I’d make some kind of excuse to leave if another guest at a gathering truly bothered me with political comments. I had avoided people that I found reprehensible politically, but I didn’t speak out, not for five years, when I found myself in the presence of such, because I wanted to keep the peace, not "cause problems", not cause a scene. In five years, there had been no confrontations, no pointed questions - I had had a policy of avoidance. But, as of this moment, that was changing, and I wanted him to know that, to be prepared. I would be getting rid of my secret Facebook account, where I raged freely about politics and other ridiculously with only my closest friend. I would now, instead, be using only the Facebook account with my real name, and that would become much more reflective of my beliefs - probably never as outrageous as my other account, but much more honest and less polite. I said that I was sorry, to a degree, for the pain and discomfort I would be causing him, specifically, but I couldn’t be polite and silent anymore. I wasn’t bent on making a scene, I wasn’t going to seek out a fight, but I was going to say what I thought if someone in my presence espoused anything that was even vaguely fascist, racist or apologetic regarding Trump supporters, or apologist for such. And if it was in my home, that person was OUT, no apologies. “I’m done” I said, through tears at long last. “I’m done, and I need you to understand that and be prepared for it. You can hope it won’t happen. I’ll hope it won’t happen. But I am DONE. Because I have been a part of the atmosphere that has allowed this election to happen. I’ve created safe spaces for these people by being quiet. I was too focused on being polite and accommodating and not making people uncomfortable. I’m not doing that anymore, especially not in my own home.”

I knew it was coming, and it is here, in force: an incredible pressure from so many, many people, and the media, to accommodate, to appease, the most vile ideas and proposals, to smile and stay silent, because that will help everyone be more comfortable and not have to face what's happening. The mantra: Be friends with everybody, no matter what, or YOU are the horrible person. These Trump supporters are really good people at heart, they just have different ideas. We can find lots of common ground. It’s not going to be so bad. It's not really going to affect you.

The strategy by so many that didn't vote for Trump is that the people that are bad, that are to be avoided, are NOT the people supporting a man that talks about Muslim registries, or talks lovingly about a murderous dictator, or promises to restrict a woman’s right to choose abortion and punish women who choose this option, or encourages followers to be violent, or courts white supremacists, or openly flaunting ethics rules, or refuses to talk to the US state department or the CIA, or promises to undo hard-fought, well-thought out international treaties, or appoints people to cabinet positions that want to dismantle the government programs they will oversee, or lies. No, the bad people are the "alarmists", those that remind you of what's happening, that remind you of the millions of people that will be hurt by his and his supporters' actions, and urge you to do something to counter what's happening. Those people are the intolerable ones, the ones to be avoided, the ones causing problems.

After saying it won’t be that bad, that the President and Congress won’t really do what they've said they would do, while thousands of people scream in delight, what comes next will be this: statements like “well, let’s just let them have this, and then they won’t do the rest of what they said they would” and then “it’s happening, true, but they’ve scaled back the plans, let’s be happy it won’t go quite as far as they said” and then "Well, yes, they are doing what they said they would do, but maybe it won't be that bad." And then "I'm just so busy, I've got my own things to deal with, I'm not watching the news these days, what he's doing is not really affecting me, I don't have time to think about this."

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived and traveled abroad so much. Or because I’m a history nerd. Or because I’ve both studied and seen first hand the consequences of racial supremacy propaganda, of demonization of minority groups, of marginalizing women. Or because I know people whove had a spouse or a parent or a child die in the wars of the two George Bushes, or women who faced horrific obstacles fueled by Reagan and Bush cronies regarding abortion services, or women forced to carry pregnancies to term as a result, or people who lost their savings in the savings and loan debacle of Reagan and the horrific financial practices supported by the second Bush, some of whom now live in tiny apartments or a room in a family member's home because they lost their own home. Maybe it’s because of how often I’ve thought of all the human rights fights in my country that I wasn’t in: the fight against slavery, the fight for women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, and on and on. I have sometimes imagined what I would have done in those historic human rights struggles, what role I would have taken. And then I remember that my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, were not involved in any of those struggles, at least not on the right side of history. They’d either sat those out or, sadly, participated in the oppression. I would have done better had I been there, right?

Whatever the reason, I am not able to pretend there isn’t something horrible happening, and about to happen, in the USA as a result of the 2016 election, or that what a President says and does don't have consequences for millions of people. I cannot excuse someone saying, “I voted for Trump, but I didn’t support all this anti-Muslim rhetoric” or “I didn’t support his children being put into positions of power”, etc. You knew who he was and what he represented, and you voted for him anyway. Take responsibility: without you, it wouldn’t have happened. Own it. Own it as much as I own my words and actions. Silence means approval - if you are silent about it, you approve it.

After being dressed down in my own home three weeks ago by someone that said I was being "alarmist" and "overly-dramatic" regarding Trump and his supporters, that it's not "that bad", that I should be more tolerant and caring regarding his supporters, some of whom are my neighbors, that they aren't "bad" people, that being polite and listening to them would be good for me, and who smirked when I tried to speak up for those that are at risk over the next four years, and feeling the silence of everyone else as they watched and listened, I understand the enormous pressure to stay silent.

However, I cannot be silent.

I have a friend who is a particularly sensible person, a very smart person, and a very privileged person in many ways. But her family has felt under threat for a long while by a neighbor, an avowed Trump supporter who, thankfully, is now in jail for threats against a certain religious group with which she is associated. Here's what she said recently on her own Facebook page:

I vow to not let a single step be taken toward authoritarianism without speaking up. I vow to actively fight against the retraction of rights for LGBTQ people. I vow to rage against the continuing systematic racism that makes life for nearly half our population almost impossible. I promise to NEVER let sexist actions or remarks or attitudes go unchallenged. I vow to never stop fighting for freedom of the press, and of speech and against an executive who is only working to gather power for his own interests and those like him. I vow to continue my dedication to public lands and environmental protections and my firm, unyielding devotion to science. And I vow to support YOU if you are targeted in this new administration or by those emboldened by it.

You fucked up, America. And while I certainly hope my worst fears don't come true, I also hope that you who believed he believed in your success aren't betrayed by his selfish policies and, if and when you are betrayed, can step out of your partisan stance and recognize it. I will do the same if this man who is to become our President surprises me.

I thanked her, I relished at not being alone, and I asked, “Is it really more important to be polite than to make people uncomfortable by pointing out, yet again, that a fascist is taking over the country? I don't want to be an asshole - but I can't keep quiet. I can’t.”

She responded:

I’m going to embrace my inner asshole and let it shine - bc what is happening is unbelievably dangerous. Let's be assholes together.

I hope we can be the most awesome pains in the ass ever. So glad to know I won't be alone.

I now listen to the news on NPR again, as I did before. Now, I also subscribe to the New York Times, and read it every day, before I read any social media. And sometimes, I watch the morning news on TV. But I'm not watching CNN or MSNBC and, of course, never Fox News. I want in-depth, well-researched news, or I don't want it at all. And I want news, not commentary.

I'll never go looking for a political fight. I'm happy to avoid talk of politics. I'm happy to sit down with a group and talk about non-political things, and eat, and laugh. But if you are going to say something political, or tell me how really sweet your neighbor is that voted for Trump, I'm going to respond. I won't be creating any more safe spaces for fascists - or apologists for such.

Also see:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What does it mean to be "white" in the USA?

Since American Neo Nazis and other racists (or, as they call themselves, the alt-right) really want me to be proud of being white and embrace my whiteness and blah blah blah - what in the heck does being white in the USA even mean?

There is no scientific nor internationally-agreed definition of white. None. Zilch. A white person is a person identified by society as white and a person that identifies that way himself or herself, however that person defines what white is.

I guess being white also means having most-recent ancestry from Western Europe (have to say “most-recent” because, ultimately, we’re all from Africa) and having an appearance that says so to most people who would look at the person in question.

For me, it also means living in a society where I’ve been in the majority race all my life, as have my parents, their parents, and on and on.

And most certainly, being white means privileges not enjoyed by other races, at least not to the same degree. And it's those privileges that define white people in the USA.

What privileges?:

  • No matter how poor a white person is in the USA, or how he or she has been brought up, if he or she can get into a college or university, and/or get a well-paying, even high-profile job, people in those spheres aren’t going to look twice at that person per skin color and ask “Should YOU really be here?” Even working overseas as an aid worker, no one looks twice at me in my work - unlike my African colleagues, who I've witnessed treated as somehow “less” by local people when we've worked together in the field, such as in Afghanistan. White privilege is global, truly. That doesn't mean you don't sometimes struggle professionally, as a white person - but it means that the perception by American society that you are white does not stand in your way as race does for other people in a variety of situations.

  • In the case of getting stopped by police here in the USA (and most other places), white people are far less likely to be arrested for the exact same offenses that send a non-white person to jail, and far less likely to get a prison sentence for the same offenses that would send a non-white person to prison. When we get pulled over, we do not have the same level of fear that a non-white person has. That's privilege.

  • Most of the police, firefighters, school teachers, elected officials and non-elected officials all around us in the USA look like us. We don't wonder what any of those people might be thinking based on our skin color when we are dealing with them, because they are "like us".

  • If you are a more recent arrival in the USA and you’re from Germany or England or France or Sweden or wherever else in Western Europe, and you are perceived as white, some American white person will say excitedly, “I’m German too”, or whatever, based on some distant relative that had a kind of German name or something. Regardless, you will get a warm welcome: I’m one of you and you’re one of us! - a reception far different than other immigrant groups. Not one person has ever asked my German husband if he's here legally. That's not a privilege shared by immigrants from Africa, Asia, etc., or people of African descent who have citizenship status in Western Europe.

  • It means you probably voted for Donald Trump. The overwhelming majority of white voters did. White voting men went 63 percent for Trump versus 31 percent for Clinton, and white voting women went 53-43 percent. Among college-educated whites, only 39 percent of voting men and 51 percent of voting women voted for Clinton. He received the strongest support from white voting women without college degrees: 62 percent. And if you are a white person and didn't vote for Trump, as I am, it means you probably live in a place where most of your white didn't vote for Trump, as I do, and you are stunned that he won, as I am - though I still have strong ties to the South and could see the passionate, widespread support for him there, expressed on social media.

  • Over the next four years, white people, even those that didn't vote for him, can sincerely say things like “What the President is doing really isn’t going to affect me” or “We’ll be fine” or “I don’t have time to worry about this” or "I'm going to take a break from political talk and I'm just not going to worry about this for a while." They can, and many will, stay silent while Hispanic students are told “hey, go back to Mexico” in their schools, while Muslim Americans are harassed, while women who are pregnant that seek an abortion are forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Those things have been accelerating over the last two years, fueled by state-level events, and now, they will all have a Presidential endorsement and drive - but even so, most white people in the USA aren't going to be affected by such. Most white people in the USA are Christian, or perceived as such, rather than Muslim. Like me, they don’t have to fear family members being deported, have health care that isn’t Obamacare, and don't rely on a government program for the family's welfare, like help with a child with disabilities. White middle class folks will be able to access abortion - they'll be able to take off work all the days necessary to drive to a clinic far away, once for the "official" pregnancy test and state-ordered anti-abortion speech and once for the actual procedure. Most white folks don’t have family members in the military - we put that yellow ribbon on our cars and "like" the Wounded Warriors Facebook page and, ta da, we support the troops! Most Americans, white or not, don’t travel overseas. Most white folks don't live next to a field that a large multi-national company wants to mine or use for oil transportation. Most of us don't live next to a body of water that is polluted by industrial waste, or in danger of being so. Most white people will be able to put together financing so white children can go to college. That's privilege. That's why white folks can say "We'll be fine" and "It isn't really that bad." Because for them, they will be fine, their neighbors will be fine, their colleagues will be fine, and it really isn't that bad. 

Most white people don't have a home, a car, and security handed to them on a silver platter. Most work hard, face obstacles, and struggle sometimes. Many are on the receiving end of injustice, not because of their race, but because of a range of other circumstances. A person isn't bad simply because he or she is privileged compared to other people. And what should white people do with that privilege? That's not the subject of this blog.

The subject of this blog is - what does it mean to be "white" in the USA? Past the aforementioned, I’m not sure how else to define being white in the USA. White people don’t all listen to the same music, don’t all watch the same TV shows, don’t all eat the same foods, don’t all have the same holiday traditions, don't have the same belief systems regarding religion and ethics, don't do the same things on the weekend, don't play the same sports, and on and on. And I don’t believe that being white makes me somehow superior, or inferior, physically or intellectually, to any other people, because of race. I don’t believe I have any particular abilities because of my race. I most definitely have prejudices and privileges, but my experience over half a century has never, ever confirmed racial superiority or inferiority of any group, and, in addition, science has proven racism is bullshit:

We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone. This is not a hippy ideal, it’s a fact. There are genetic characteristics that associate with certain populations, but none of these is exclusive, nor correspond uniquely with any one group that might fit a racial epithet. Regional adaptations are real, but these tend to express difference within so-called races, not between them. Sickle-cell anaemia affects people of all skin colours because it has evolved where malaria is common. Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude, rendering Chinese residents of Beijing more similar to Europeans than their superficially similar neighbours. Tay-Sachs disease, once thought to be a “Jewish disease”, is as common in French Canadians and Cajuns. And so it goes on. -- Adam Rutherford, former geneticist, now science writer and broadcaster in the UK; his most recent book, Creation (Viking 2013), concerns the origin of life, and genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

In other words, I don't think the American Neo Nazis and other racists (or, as they call themselves, the alt-right) want me in the white tribe, despite my oh-so-Western European pedigree confirmed a while back by (still disappointed there wasn't anything at all outside Europe in my DNA).

I am white, I am privileged, and I cannot turn away from the fact that organized racist groups of white people are rapturous at the Trump election, and he's done little to distance himself from them. Trump supporters don't cheer very loudly, or at all, when he talks about jobs or an improved economy or helping people living in poverty; they cheer the loudest when he talks about deporting immigrants from Central America, when he talks about registering Muslims that are in the USA and blocking anymore from coming, and when he talks about locking up opposition candidates. Trump voters vote from and live in a place of fear. They fear that having black and Hispanic and Asian and Arab neighbors, elected officials, police, firefighters and school teachers is somehow going to erode what they value and what they are. They fear that hearing people speaking something other than English in Wal-Mart somehow is going to make English disappear. White people that scream when Toni Morrison is added to a reading list of great American writers for school children to read often haven’t even read Faulkner or Steinbeck or Twain. They aren't at the Shakespeare festivals I enjoy, both because they aren't known for their love of great literature, even when it's written by a white guy, and because, heaven forbid, there's a black American guy playing Hamlet.

But oh, heavens, don't call them racists. Or privileged!

There are things associated with white people, particularly white people in the South, that I do, truly love: I love old-time country music, the more honky tonk the better. I grew up Baptist, for the most part, but church-hopped, and though I'm an atheist, I'm pretty much always down for a church potluck. I love fried chicken and mashed potatoes and grits (things that the white people around me here in Portlandia are not at ALL down with). I laugh at old episodes of Hee Haw. I listen to NPR and read The New York Times. I love Shakespeare. I love The Beatles. I love the standing stones of Northern France and Scotland. I love Celtic anything. I love men in kilts. Damn the term "cultural appropriation": I welcome anyone, no matter what race or culture with which they identify, to enjoy all those things with me, or not. Let's go listen to some old-time country music, let's eat grits and watch Hee Haw, let's go dance amid standing stones in a kilt to The Beatles, if any of that floats your boat - I don't care what your results say nor where you were born.

I'm fine with being white - but I'm not fine with being privileged. I'm ready to be lead by people that aren’t white, that aren't privileged. If you are going to lose your health insurance because of a repeal of Obamacare, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are an immigrant, or have family that are immigrants, and you fear for their safety or that they will be deported, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a Muslim living in the USA, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a woman that's been denied access to abortion, or that lost your job because of the time off you had to take to access abortion services, please tell me what you want me to do. If you are a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe or any tribal group here in the USA that are fighting for jobs, fighting for land rights, fighting against environmental degradation, please tell me what you want me to do. Point me in the direction of that nonprofit, that activist group, whatever, that ISN’T lead by white people and is trying to address social justice, environmental issues, public school education, women's rights and all the other things I care about. I’ll stuff envelopes for them, I’ll keep the web site updated, I’ll write social media messages, I’ll monitor the press, I’ll write press releases. And I’ll stand in the back, or off to the side, at organizational meetings and at public events, and let the non-white leaders stand in the spotlight, stand in the center of the video frame, and frame the message, and deliver the message. I'm ready to be lead. I'm ready to learn. And I'm ready to be an ally.

Also see:
Disclaimer: I’ve used the terms white and non-white. That’s offensive or, at least, inappropriate, to some people. But I reject the term Caucasian for race - it’s a racist term created by a German physiologist who believed that white people originated in the Caucasus region of southeastern Europe. And I don’t like the term people of color, as it implies I, as a white person, have no color. White is, indeed, a color. Vanilla is, indeed, a oh-so-delicious flavor. So I went with the word white.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A citizen of nowhere

The British prime minister, Theresa May, not a Brexiteer before the referendum, called members of international-minded elites ''citizens of nowhere.''...Trump deliberately tapped into the same animus against citizens who are not ''real people.'' He made offensive remarks about Muslims, immigrants, refugees and Mexicans. But the deepest hostility was directed against those elitist traitors within America who supposedly coddle minorities and despise the ''real people.'' The last ad of the Trump campaign attacked what Joseph Stalin used to call ''rootless cosmopolitans'' in a particularly insidious manner. Incendiary references to a ''global power structure'' that was robbing honest working people of their wealth were illustrated by pictures of George Soros, Janet Yellen and Lloyd Blankfein. Perhaps not every Trump supporter realized that all three are Jewish. But those who did cannot have missed the implications.

This is from a long, very-much-worth-your-time essay by Ian Buruma, a Dutch writer and historian who lives and works in the USA. He has been the Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College since 2003. The essay is in The New York Times, which I now subscribe to - online only, but it's the first newspaper I've subscribed to since the 1990s.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said today that the spring election in France will pit nationalists and patriots such as herself against supporters of globalization, the European Union and immigration. "You know, I don't believe in this left-right fracture. On the one side are nationalists, patriots. On the other, globalizationists, Europeanists and so, by definition, immigrationists," she told reporters, as quoted in an article also in The New York Times.

And I'm afraid.

When George Bush was sorta kinda elected President in 2000, I took heart in one thing: that he probably couldn't do damage in eight years that our country couldn't survive. I knew - most sane people knew - that the USA would re-invade Iraq soon after he was elected, and that would destabilize Iraq, kill at least several thousand Iraqis, and kill at least a few thousand American soldiers, and I mourned all that long before it happened, before even election day. Still, I had hope, telling myself: survive this, campaign all you can for a Democrat, put pressure on the Democrats not to move even farther to the right, and my country, and the world, will be okay ultimately. Plus, I lived in Europe and Afghanistan for all but two weeks of Bush's term, and it was wonderful to be a part of the world community in that time, rather than isolated in fear in the USA.

But I have no such hope for the time we'll have Donald Trump as President, be it four or eight years. And this piece explains why, better than anything I can say. Please take time and read it - all of it.

I pulled out that quote and put it at the start of this blog because I have no doubt that I am seen by many Trump supporters as an "international-minded elite," "citizen of nowhere", an "elitist traitor" who "coddles" minorities, including Muslims, and who despises "real people." An intellectual. Part of the intelligentsia. A multi-culturalist.

And I'm afraid.

I was raised in a household where public school teachers, college professors and scholars were derided, where feminists were regularly described as beyond contempt, where atheists were described as dangerous and even worse than feminists, and black Americans were called THAT word. Not all the time. Not every day. The rhetoric wasn't at all constant. But it was said, more than once.

My parents said teachers were "lazy" and only worked "a few hours a day and not at all in the summer," and I bristled every time, because my public school teachers were my sanctuary in the storm of a dysfunctional and, at times, dangerous family. Those teachers fed my oh-so-hungry brain and hopeless soul with books and thought and questions. I also read voraciously (I still do), often reading more books on the English teacher's recommended reading list than I had to for a class. When I scratched together the funds to go to a public university, I often forgot to take notes in classes, as I sat mesmerized by most of my professors, lapping up all they had to say - even when I disagreed with it. I LOVED getting stoned at parties and debating history, literature, current events, philosophy, ethics... now, I aspire to be a university professor myself, I consider my Master's Degree as one of the greatest achievements of my life, and I delight in how many of my friends became public school teachers. I've also delighted in people that are different than me, and seek out experiences that can shed some light on food, music, dance, and other cultural practices that are far, far, different than anything that could be found in my neighborhood in Kentucky.

I am so much of what my family found contemptible - loving old-time country music and Hee Haw and fried food hasn't been enough to redeem me.

But all these years, I've felt safe - just really uncomfortable at a lot of family get-togethers.

Add on to all this thatI've been to more than 35 countries, I'm studying Spanish, I speak about 10 words of Arabic, I've read the Koran, I've dined with Muslims and Sikhs and Jews and Buddhists and on and on, and I've worked for United Nations agencies. And I'm an atheist. And a feminist. So, not only am I let down for my family, I am everything all the other voters of Donald Trump hate.

And now, I'm afraid.

In the 1970s in Cambodia, under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, people were killed for being academics or even for merely wearing eyeglasses (because reading glasses suggests there's reading, and therefore, thinking, going on, and that was a no-no). During the Spanish Civil War and the following Fascist dictatorship, General Francisco Franco's forces killed an estimated 200,000 civilians, their own countrymen, heavily targeting writers, artists, teachers and professors. Vladimir Lenin derided the non-communist intelligentsia with the expression (roughly translated): 'We have completed no academies,' and the Russians/Soviets killed or deported writers, philosophers, scientists, and engineers who were branded "counter revolutionary." In the early stages of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, more than 2000 Armenian intellectuals were deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) and most were subsequently murdered by the Ottoman government.

And, of course, there is the German Nazi history with intellectuals, the frequent butts of Hitler's jokes. Nazis denounced rationalists and promoted "non-intellectual" virtues such as loyalty, patriotism, duty, emotion and cultural and ethnic purity and allegiance. Nazi propaganda said it was best to favor "sincere feeling" over thought, because "sincere" feelings, stemming from nature, are simple and direct - natural, unlike rational thought. In Mein Kampf, Hitler complained of biased over-education, brainwashing and a lack of instinct and will. Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls were overtly instructed to aim for character-building rather than education.

None of these movements, none of these human rights abuses, were done by one man, or a small group; populists movements of at least a few million in each country supported the deportations, imprisonments and murders. Many regular citizens not a part of the military were happy, even gleeful, to participate.

Yes, I'm afraid. Why shouldn't I be?

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Trump's presidency endangers American travelers abroad

This blog elsewhere talks about the increased danger aid workers from the USA will now face when working abroad, and many of these risks are the same for anyone traveling overseas. For instance, Trump has said he will reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture. This, coupled with his stated attitudes about Muslims, immigrants and refugees from Syria, has the potential to put people from the USA traveling overseas at risk, not just aid workers.

When I lived abroad from 2001 - 2009, and someone discovered where I was from, the European, Arab, Muslim, whomever I was talking to was almost always welcoming and warm. The vast majority of people did not judge me by the George Bush government nor my nationality. But that was a different time and circumstance: George Bush did not frequently threaten other countries with destruction and insult entire religions. He invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, which caused the deaths of many thousands of people, but there were also people in those countries that supported those invasions, and some neighboring countries that did as well. I worked in Afghanistan in 2007, and I made sure the Afghans I worked with knew my heart was in helping them, not bombing them - and everyone I encountered welcomed me (and many are still good friends).

By contrast to Bush, Donald Trump has been boisterous with his threats and insults and promises of human rights abuses and destruction. Therefore, if you are someone from the USA that is traveling abroad, that means you need to be even more cautious about to whom you reveal your nationality.

I did not wear anything that indicated that I was from the USA when I lived and abroad, and I did not volunteer my nationality unless I was asked directly. I strongly suggest you do the same.

If you are financially sound enough - privileged enough - to travel abroad, and people can tell you are from the USA by looking at you or hearing you, you can expect people to ask you about this election and how you voted. You have to decide how you are going to answer that. If you voted for Hillary Clinton, you will probably receive a warm reception; she is well liked and respected abroad in most (but not all) circumstances, and such a vote shows you do not support Donald Trump. If you did vote for Donald Trump, I strongly suggest you lie - except in Russia, where you will be embraced as a hero.

Distancing yourself on social media, including Facebook, from the policies and statements of Donald Trump could help you as you meet people from other countries, people deeply angered and further disempowered by Trump’s foreign policy. That doesn’t mean you post anti-Trump memes on Instagram or are ever obligated to say publicly whom you voted for. Rather, it could mean posting sometimes on social media of your support of and concern for Muslim Americans, Syrian refugees, people in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Occupied Palestinian territories, human rights for immigrants, etc., and your condemnation of waterboarding, torture and any violations of human rights.

Another consideration is how the Trump presidency puts women at greater risk for harassment, at home or abroad. Again, as this blog about aid and development work notes. the incoming USA President has, by his statements and behavior, made it acceptable for anyone, including politicians and other government representatives, to rate women by their looks and to insult women reporters, politicians, artists and celebrities with most vile statements about their character, appearance – even their sexuality. It will be hard to demand such comments stop when the head of the most powerful country on Earth is saying the same.

Be careful out there. Don't assume that just because things have gone well for days or weeks they won't suddenly, and violently, go wrong. Keep your eyes and ears open, and get out of any situation quickly if there is even a hint it could turn sour. And have the number of your nearest embassy on your person somewhere at ALL times.

Friday, November 25, 2016

What I'll Be Doing Over the Next Four Years

Here's what I'm doing in response to the Trump Presidency, and finding out that at least half of the citizens in my country:
  1. First and foremost, I'm thinking about people that will be most at risk for harm during the Trump Presidency and Republican domination of Congress. I've compiled a list of resources to help people who will be losing their health care insurance and lose access to Planned Parenthood services, to help those whose schools will be under renewed pressure to downplay science in public school classrooms (saying that climate change isn't real, for instance), to counter police targeting of Black Americans, to help LBGTQ people regarding fears for marriage, parental and adoption rights, etc. I'll be relying on this list as I seek ways to help others and to counter attempts at civil rights roll backs. I will be vigilant in seeking stories of people in harm's way, and I will both publicize them and respond to them within my abilities. I will continue to financially support Planned Parenthood and my local National Public Radio affiliate, and I will be adding a third organization: Media Matters.
  2. I live in a blue state. I've written my Congressional Representative and my two Senators, saying what I expect them to do over the next two-four years. They will be sorely tempted to water down stances, to appease. It's vital that every sensible person in blue states write their Congress members and re-affirm the reasons we elected them.
  3. I will become involved in local politics. I have been accepted on my city's citizens advisory committee, and I will attend at least 11 of the 12 meetings in 2017. I will attend at least half of the city council's monthly meetings, and I will actively promote what they say and do via social media - something they don't do. I will be on the lookout for attempts by citizens or representatives to reject science, to downplay climate change, to discount or ignore ethnic minorities, to brand all Muslims as terrorists, to deride LBGTQ people, and to ignore sexism or racism.
  4. I have signed up for the email list of every one of my national and state legislators, and follow them on every social media account they have (sadly, some have none). I will comment on what they are doing and saying, for better or worse. I will attend their local meetings with constituents and I will publicize them to like-minded people so that even more of us attend.
  5. I am looking for how my profession is responding to the election, because it does affect our work, and I am looking for ways to respond as a part of my profession. I don't have a union - if you do, you need to look at what leadership is saying, and start pressuring them regarding responding to demagoguery, misogyny, racism and nativism (which is BAD for labor and BAD for business and BAD for our country). If Gregg Popovich and others can do it using their NBA platform, so can I.
  6. I will not appease. I will not meet racists "half way". I will not comprimise with those who abuse and demean women. I will not put being polite and peaceful over speaking out about human rights, racism, freedom of the press, people's right to affordable health care, etc. I won't sit silently as some deplorable person says, "I'm not a racist. I don't hate women. I just wanted change." I will remind them that the policies that got the loudest, wildest cheers at Trump's rallies were never about jobs - they were about how fat or ugly a woman was, or that immigrants are terrorists or rapists or drug dealers. Every time Trump says yet another insulting thing about non-USA citizens or Muslims, every time he promotes another anti-science myth, like that vaccines cause autism, every time he and Congress work to eliminate someone's hard-fought rights or health care access, I will remind them that this is the man they voted for, this is who they stand with, and if they don't, then they have to say so, publicly, for me to believe them. And if I have to stand up and leave a meal or a meeting, if I have to ask someone to leave my house, if I have to end a relationship, so be it, because to stay silent or to stay in that person's company would mean, even just to me, that I am giving approval to racism, sexism, nativism or any other form of hate. No regrets.
  7. I will not patronize anyone or downplay the stark seriousness of this situation by saying that "we all need to pull together" or "everything will be fine" or "choose hope!" Those are such insulting things to say to anyone feeling the depth of this situation right now. Such comments come from a place of privilege, from people who are either in denial about what's coming or who won't be deeply affected by such. Such comments are hurtful rather than helpful.
  8. I will continue to financially support my local NPR affiliate and to listen to it and international outlets, like BBC News, the English language version of Deutsche Welle, and the English language version of Al Jazeera, as well as watching PBS News Hours, in order to continue to have access to complete news that is not beholden to advertisers. I will not watch CNN news nor CBS News, as I used to, as they have shown an incredible lack of backbone in asking hard questions and in noting clearly and quickly when Donald Trump lies.
  9. I will let local TV stations and newspapers, national TV and radio and newspapers and appropriate nonprofits know about incidents of discrimination, bigotry, violence, harm, censorship or misinformation that I think can be traced to the agenda of Trump supporters. I will also write them and their advertisers when they appease the Trump administration or Republican-dominated Congress, when they do not ask tough questions, when they ignore their actions that harm people.
  10. I will not listen to people who say, "Stop whining!" Anyone in this country has every right to complain. Politics isn't the same as a football game, where nothing really changes after the game except stats on the web and banners in a hall and who gets a trophy. It's particularly ironic that these calls to stop complaining and fall in line behind the incoming President are coming from the South, which still pretends it didn't lose the Civil War and that the war wasn't over slavery.
  11. I will not listen to people who mock my activism. They are beneath contempt. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nonprofits to Support to Counter the Trump Presidency & Republican Congress

I've already noted resources for people that are most at risk by the policies and promises of the Trump Presidency and the Republican Congress. I hope they are helpful, and welcome additional resources in the comments section on that blog.

What follows here in this blog that you are reading now is a list of nonprofits, both (c)(3) and (c)(4), that will actively fight against the new President and Congress's nativism, misogyny, racism and fascism.

Since the election, I've struggled with the question "What do I do now?" I'm hearing others struggle with it. This is my attempt to say, "Here are some of the many options out there. Pick at least one to support. And get busy."

These organizations will actively promote pro-science, pro-human rights, and/or pro-women agendas on all public policy levels and in the media. These organizations aren't about "coming together" or "uniting" or other forms of appeasement.

This is also not a comprehensive list of every organization out there fighting the good fight, and I realize its a reflection of my own policy priorities and, therefore, leaves many out, but it's a start for those looking for initiatives to support and ways to fight against policies that will marginalize women, Black Americans, Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and more, that will promote anti-scientific ideas like that climate change is a hoax or that vaccines cause autism, etc.

Sign up for the email newsletters and blog updates from a few of these organizations, the ones that speak to you most, and "like" their Facebook pages, follow them on Twitter, share their social media messages, go to their events, and if you can, donate your time or money to them. You cannot afford to give money to and volunteer for all of them, of course. And if you share everything from their social media, you will drive all your social media friends away. Be selective.

For donating and volunteering, I suggest you pick one or two organizations to support, give it a few months, then add on or switch to others, give those a few months, etc.

Don't expect for every organization to be well-organized and ready to get you involved right away; many of these organizations are struggling with funding and/or have never been trained in volunteer management. Don't get turned off by an unreturned phone call or unanswered email. Keep calling, keep emailing, keep trying.

Just please do something. Don't just post to Facebook. And do NOT be silent.

I hope this resource is helpful, and I welcome additional ideas, and your personal experiences volunteering or working with any of the following, in the comments section.

What you can do:

Media Responsibility & Ethics

Donate to Media Matters, and/or like their Facebook page and share their status updates, as appropriate. Unlike the Society of Professional Journalists, which promotes ethics in journalism but doesn't call out journalists for not adhering to those ethics, Media Matters actively, frequently calls out unethical and/or incompetent journalism. I put this organization first because this is, by far, the most important issue to me, as it affects absolutely everything else on this list.

iMediaEthics is a not-for-profit, non-partisan news site that publishes the latest media ethics news and investigations into ethical lapses. It seems more focused on the UK than the USA, but it's a great time to be focused globally, as what's happening in the USA is happening elsewhere.

The Center for Media and Information Literacy is based at the School of Media and Communication, Temple University. It is a hub for research, outreach, education, and professional development on issues involving media literacy and information literacy locally, nationally, and internationally. It has a Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers and is  a member of the Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media & Information Literacy (GAPMIL), launched during the conference in Nigeria to give greater impetus to fostering media and information literate citizenries in the governance and development agenda.

Women's Reproductive Freedom & Health

Donate to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, like their Facebook page and publicize what they are doing.

Donate to and/or volunteer for your nearest Planned Parenthood Clinic.

Bank & Finance Reform

Support Americans for Financial Reform, a nonpartisan and nonprofit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, consumer, labor, business, investor, faith-based, and civic and community groups. Formed in the wake of the 2008 crisis, the initiative is working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system – one that serves the economy and the nation as a whole. Among its many activities is advocating for and supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and advocating against predatory lenders, such as pay day lenders.

Science Education in Schools & Environmental Advocacy

Donate to Stand Up 4 Public Schools, an advocacy campaign for public schools to counter privatization efforts by National School Boards Association (NSBA).

Donate to the National Environmental Education Foundation, or at least like their Facebook page.

Sponsor a membership for a science teacher at a local high school in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest non-government general science membership organization and the executive publisher of Science, a leading scientific journal. Anyone can subscribe to the magazine, or like the AAAS Facebook page.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) mobilizes program and policy experts, volunteers, staff lobbyists, community organizers and communications specialists to inform and inspire the public and to influence decision makers to ensure that our national parks are well protected.

Subscribe to The Scientific American, or at least follow them on Facebook. It's not a nonprofit, but it is the oldest continuously published magazine in the US and the leading authoritative publication for science in the general media. It has an agenda to focus on scientific FACTS and assaults on scientific knowledge.

Sign up for updates from The Union of Concerned Scientists, like their Facebook page, and donate to them as well. They are a science-based, non-partisan non-profit that works with scientists and citizens to educate the public, media and policymakers about climate change.

Follow the Alliance for Climate Education on Facebook. The Alliance teaches young people how to fight climate change and take control of their future. ACE has an award-winning assembly that it's presented to more than 1.8 million students in thousands of schools. Students can sign up to be part of the Action Network or apply for a fellowship and anyone can Book an ACE Assembly.

Sign up for updates from Citizens Climate Lobby and follow them on Facebook. It is a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. They provide opportunities to engage at the local level with fellow volunteers and trainings on their Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal, building relationships with your elected representatives, writing letters to the editor and op-eds, facilitate presentations and events

Get involved with What We Know, which helps us understand the science behind the realities, risks and response to the climate challenge. It's an initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest non-government general science membership organization and the executive publisher of Science, a leading scientific journal.

Sign up for updates from The Climate Reality Project is bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public in conversation about how to solve it. They help citizens around the world reject the lies and take meaningful steps to bring about change.

Join The League of Conservation Voters works to turn environmental values into national, state, and local priorities. LCV, in collaboration with our state LCV partners, advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates who will champion our priority issues.

Join the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate science in public school science education.

Join the Natural Resources Defense Council combines the grassroots power of 1.4 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of nearly 500 lawyers, scientists and other professionals. You can find ways to get help their campaigns on their Action page.

Join the Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, we’ve made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy. In addition to working at the national level, they have local chapters.

Donate to and become involved with Voces Verdes is an independent non-partisan coalition of Latino business, public health, academic, community leaders and organizational partners who advocate for sound environmental policy to combat climate change and support clean, renewable energy. We recognize the importance of balancing economic growth, environmental protection & prosperity and are able to provide Latino data around climate change and health.

There is no "friends of the Bureau of Land Management" nonprofit group. Instead, there are dozens of locally-based groups all over the USA that support specific BLM-managed areas and advocate on their behalf that you can join, such as Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Friends of MNWR), in Oregon; Friends of Red Rock Canyon (FORRC); Trail Tenders, Inc., in Baker City, Oregon (National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center-Flagstaff Hill); Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners in Kanab, Utah (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument); Pompeys Pillar Historical Association in Billings, Montana (Pompeys Pillar National Monument); Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Ashland, Oregon (Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument); Anza Trail Coalition in Tubac, Arizona (Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail); Snake River Raptors in Boise, Idaho (Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area), and many others. Use Google to find the ones nearest your area, using the official names of public lands and the word "volunteers" or "friends".

Civil Rights

Support the NAACP Legal Defense Fund by liking them on Facebook, signing up for their updates, and donating to them. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.

Support the American Civil Liberties Union ACLU, which aggressively engages in litigation, communications, public education effort and legislative initiatives. They also have an excellent online training regarding what to do if you are stopped by police officers, immigration officials or the FBI.

Support the official Black Lives Matter Organization initiated by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza. #BlackLivesMatter is intended to build connections between Black people and their allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.

Look for organizations in your area that promote the civil rights of the incarcerated and that advocate for citizens watch dog groups over the police. Also, if your local police or sheriff's department offers a citizens academy, take it, along with other friends and associates that believe #BlackLivesMatter. Let the police know you are watching, force them to get to know you outside of their policing activities and ask the questions you think they should be answering.

Look for Latino and/or immigrant support groups, like Adelante Mujeres in Washington County, Oregon, or The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an advocacy and organizing group focusing on achieving human, civil, and labor rights for immigrants. Sign up for their newsletters, like them on Facebook, go to their events, and if you can, donate your time or money to them.

Support the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA), which is lead from by Native American people themselves. "We work in close cooperation with Native Americans and other organizations that have similar missions in determining which issues will be pursued and the amount of emphasis to be placed on each issue. The focus of AAIA's work is on areas that are vitally important but not adequately addressed by government or other organizations. AAIA is unique in that, in addition to providing assistance in the area of national policy, we also work on a grass roots level as well as being the oldest policy/advocacy Native non-profit in the country.

Join PFLAG, a national, very respected initiative committed to advancing equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), and uniting LGBTQ people with families, friends, and allies. PFLAG supports, educates and advocates.

Support the National LBGTQ Task Force. One of my dearest friends, a nationally-known Christian pastor (yes, I know, I'm an atheist - he still loves me) said that he loves it when people write him and ask which LGBTQ organization is most deserving of financial investment "and I am able to point, without a moment's hesitation, to the National LGBTQ Task Force, the nation's first, oldest and most progressive LGBTQ rights organization."

Report incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment to local law enforcement first. After reporting such an incident, submit a description of the incident to the Southern Poverty Law Center using this online form. This will help them in their work of monitoring incidents around the USA. The SPLC also is working to stop workplace exploitation and other human rights abuses of immigrants and all working people – filing strategic lawsuits, exposing civil rights violations, educating the public and the media, and pressing the federal government to act. The SPLC is also working in the courts to ensure that LGBT people achieve full equality under the law, including legal challenges to young people subjected to "conversion therapy", a disproven, tortuous form of therapy supported by the incoming vice-president.

Look at the web sites for all of the churches, temples and mosques in your city or county. Look for those that have inter-faith events and, if you are a believer in any of the religions involved, go to such events and help publicize them. If any of these communities of faith are involved in human rights advocacy, and/or inter-religious education and tolerance, consider finding out more and, if appropriate, get involved. If you are a member of an intolerant, anti-Gay congregation, such as the Methodists, "like" the Methodists in New Directions Facebook page, to learn how to change this policy within your church and at the church leadership level - or join an open and affirming congregation, such as United Church of Christ.

Regulating Gun Ownership & Advocating for Gun Safety

Support the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in its work to change laws, change the gun industry and change the culture regarding gun laws in the USA. They are not working to ban guns but, rather, to cut the epidemic of gun deaths in the USA.

Support Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark. "As gun owners and strong supporters of the Second Amendment, Gabby and Mark know we must protect the rights of Americans to own guns for collection, recreation, and protection. But they also agree with the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, that commonsense protections from gun violence can prevent shootings from shattering communities like Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. Even commonsense solutions to protect our communities from gun violence have been hard to achieve. Why? Because entrenched interests like the gun lobby have used big money and influence to stop Congress from acting. Until now, the gun lobby’s political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed the influence of average, law abiding citizens. No longer. With Americans for Responsible Solutions and likeminded friends engaging millions of people about ways to reduce gun violence and supporting lawmakers willing to take a stand for responsible policies, legislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby and their dangerously deep pockets.

World Affairs

Contact the International Rescue Committee to ask what groups in your area support refugees and then contact those organizations and ask how you can help.

Find and join your nearest chapter of the United Nations Association or the World Affairs Council, go to their events, sign up for their updates, like their Facebook pages, and become better-versed in world affairs and international policy and the consequences of more than 60 million people in the USA supporting Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress.

Not really an advocacy group regarding public policy, but if you are looking to donate a nonprofit fighting poverty in the developing world and helping the most vulnerable, I suggest CARE International.

Political Representatives

Write your Congressional Representative and Senators that are members of the Democratic Party and your state legislators that are members of such, if any, and tell them you expect them to not engage in appeasement and, instead, to stand strong against all policies that will marginalize women, Black Americans, Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and more, that will promote anti-scientific ideas like that climate change is a hoax or that vaccines cause autism, etc. Here's an example of such a letter.

Look at the web site for your city and county governments. Look for the names of the citizens advisory committees/commission. The planning commission will be one. Some cities have arts commissions. Some have public safety commissions. Try to join one. Keep trying to join one until you get on board. Look for ways to advance a progressive agenda, an anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-fascist agenda via that membership.

Final thoughts

Should you become involved in the local Democratic Party, or the League of Women Voters, or any other partisan or non-partisan group that works to educate and register voters? Sure. But focus your efforts as a part of those or any other organization on unregistered voters and young people; you cannot change the mind of a fascist, including someone who is in denial about such. I will make no more efforts to change the hearts and minds of those that vote for xenophobia and racial supremacy, who want to assault the civil liberties of others, whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact is celebrated in screams and memes that shame me to the core. Remember that, after WWII, the allies focused their education efforts on young people in Germany, on putting into place institutions and policies that would prevent a rise in fascism there. The fascists there didn't change - they just died off.

There are non-violent ways you can actively fight against the new President and Congress's nativism, misogyny, racism and fascism.  Pick at least one to support. And get busy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

No, it wasn't about the economy

I see post-election ecstasy of some, mostly via social media, and in that shared online glee, there are no statements about protecting nor creating jobs, reducing drug prices, improving financial ethics, improving health care coverage for all Americans, promoting economic prosperity for ALL Americans, or preventing another global financial meltdown. There’s no mention of these things at all. Instead, I see constant cheers for vicious myths about Muslims and Mexicans, for insults regarding confident, intelligent political women, for comments and memes that make fun of the looks and ethnicity of our current President and First Lady and for bombing foreign lands.

So, yeah, pardon me if I don’t join in the belief that this was a vote by marginalized, forgotten people - because their own words say otherwise.

November 22 update: someone just sent me the link to this opinion piece and it is RIGHT ON:

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: "Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America." Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit.

And in addition:

Hillary Clinton has received more votes for President of the USA than any white man in history:

1992 Bill Clinton 44,909,806
1996 Bill Clinton 47,401,185
2000 Al Gore 50,999,897
2004 George Bush 62,040,610
2016 Hillary Clinton 63,715,574 (and counting)

January 7, 2017 update:

The data keeps showing, again and again, that Trump voters were NOT voting for the economy - they were voting for racism and sexism." A new paper by political scientists Brian Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams, and Tatishe Nteta puts the blame back on the same factors people pointed to before the election: racism and sexism. And the research has a very telling chart to prove it, showing that voters’ measures of sexism and racism correlated much more closely with support for Trump than economic dissatisfaction... a bulk of support for Trump — perhaps what made him a contender to begin with — came from beliefs rooted in racism and sexism. Specifically, the researchers conclude that racism and sexism explain most of Trump’s enormous electoral advantage with non-college-educated white Americans, the group that arguably gave Trump the election." The paper is here. Shoutout to this Vox web site and this web site for bringing it to my attention.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Essential reading this week

Essential reading of the last two weeks:


What to Do About Trump? The Same Thing My Grandfather Did in 1930s Vienna.
From Tablet. An excerpt:
"Treat every poisoned word as a promise. When a bigoted blusterer tells you he intends to force members of a religious minority to register with the authorities—much like those friends and family of Siegfried’s who stayed behind were forced to do before their horizon grew darker—believe him. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t lean on political intricacies or legislative minutia or historical precedents for comfort. Don’t write it off as propaganda, or explain it away as just an empty proclamation meant simply to pave the path to power. Take the haters at their word, and assume the worst is imminent."


Phillip Howell, November 10 at 12:36pm, via Facebook:

Not all Trump supporters are racist, misogynist, xenophobes. All Trump supporters saw a racist, misogynist, xenophobe and said "this is an acceptable person to lead our country."

You may not have racist, misogynist, xenophobic intent, but you have had racist, misogynist, xenophobic impact. Impact > intent.

So when you get called racist, misogynist, and xenophobic -- understand that your actions have enabled racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in the highest halls of our federal government, regardless of why you voted for him.

You have to own this. You don't get to escape it because your feelings are hurt that people are calling you names. You may have felt like you had no other choice; you may have felt like he was genuinely the best choice for reasons that had nothing to do with hate. But you have to own what you have done: you have enabled racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Impact > intent. Always.


A Democratic Opposition
By George Packer, The New Yorker
An excerpt:
"President Donald Trump should be given every chance to break his campaign promise to govern as an autocrat. But, until now, no one had ever won the office by pledging to ignore the rule of law and to jail his opponent. Trump has the temperament of a leader who doesn’t distinguish between his private desires and demons and the public interest. If he’s true to his word, he’ll ignore the Constitution, by imposing a religious test on immigrants and citizens alike. He’ll go after his critics in the press, with or without the benefit of libel law. He’ll force those below him in the chain of command to violate the code of military justice, by torturing terrorist suspects and killing their next of kin. He’ll turn federal prosecutors, agents, even judges if he can, into personal tools of grievance and revenge."


A t-shirt I saw online:

"You thought I was a Nasty Woman before? Buckle up, Buttercup."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Live in a Blue State? Write your Reps NOW

For the entire tenure of President Obama, Congressional Republicans worked to block or undo every action he undertook. In response, instead of pushing back hard, President Obama and Congressional Democrats worked to compromise on every issue, watering down positions and bills to please the GOP.

If you still have a US Representative or Senator that's a member of the Democratic Party, it's time for you to write them and tell them what you expect them to do in the face of the coming onslaught of legislation and rollbacks.  

Here is the text of my November 13, 2016 letter now on its way via postal mail to the Honorable Jeff Merkley, the Honorable Ron Wyden, and the Honorable Suzanne Bonamici, my Congressional representatives as a voter and citizen of Washington County, Oregon. I encourage you to write a similar letter to your reps if you, too, live in a Blue State:

Representative Bonamici and Senators Merkley and Wyden,

I hope that, by now, you have realized that voters for Donald Trump were not voting for more jobs. They were not voting for more employment opportunities for people that pay fair, living wages. If you didn't already, I hope you realize these people were, in fact voting
  • for the elimination of civil rights gained by LGBTQ people over the last five years
  • in support of a ban the entry of Muslims into the USA and of aggressively surveilling any Muslim already here
  • to stop women from accessing abortion and birth control services and to punish women for accessing abortion services
  • to fully militarize and otherwise empower police to enforce “law and order” regarding Black and Latino Americans and other racial minorities
  • against science, including climate change, evolutionary biology and human reproductive health
  • to support anti-science myths about vaccine safety, such as that it causes autism
  • for the elimination of the Affordable Health Care act, which they believe will make insurance premiums cheaper
  • and against all foreign aid.
These are the policies that got the loudest, wildest cheers at Trump's rallies. These are the policies that got his voters out to the polls, despite the Trump campaign having such a pitifully, shockingly small grass roots/on-the-ground get-out-the-vote operation compared to the Clinton campaign or any campaign of the last 20 years. These are the policies that got Trump elected and the ones that a majority in Congress now feel emboldened to pursue.

A majority of Americans may support this man, but a majority of Oregonians do not. So long as you represent this majority in Oregon, you have an obligation and a mandate to stand against these policies. Oregonians, including myself, elected you for this role. We do not want you to “come together” or “unite” with people who openly support or try to downplay nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny and racism. We do not want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with deplorables nor with apologists for such. This is the time to stand tall and to stand firm, to say no to bigotry and the rolling back of hard-won civil rights gains. History is watching. We are watching. The members of Congress from blue states like Oregon are our country's only hope. Please don't let us down.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Helping the most vulnerable under year one of the Trump presidency

The new President and GOP-dominated Congress will move very quickly to dismantle key government programs millions of people rely on - including yourself, your family, your neighbors, etc. - and to create a very exclusionary, anti-intellectual climate in the USA, and there is no way, politically, to stop them for at least the next two years. They have the full support a militant right-wing voting majority in the USA for their actions. They have a mandate.

I'll leave discussions and recommendations for political organizing for future elections and leave fruitless suggestions and conversations about changing the hearts and minds of the rabid, angry, bigoted majority of American voters to others. I don't meet racists halfway. I don't meet people who abuse and demean women halfway. Instead, for now, I am focused on scrounging together some protections for people and the environment for at least the next two years. Because I care about my country and its people, and because looking out for each other is, truly, the American way.

In the coming weeks, those of us who care about our country and its diverse, multicultural population will need to look around at the most vulnerable people in our lives - family, work colleagues, neighbors - and assess what they are going to need urgently, as critical government programs are slashed, funding for critical services withdrawn, various initiatives eliminated, and the general climate becomes more openly hostile and dangerous for those in society that are not white, middle-class and Christian. Educate yourself about these safety net and civil liberty options so that you can access them, and so you can refer others to them.

Health care

If you have family or friends on Obamacare, urge them to make all preventative care and treatment appointments as soon as possible, and to get all of their prescriptions filled quickly. This health care coverage is going away and there will not be a replacement for most people on Obamacare, so everyone needs to use it while they have it. If you can, drive people that need transportation to appointments, offer to visit them in their homes after medical treatments that keep them somewhat immobilized, and keep them up-to-date about final dates of coverage as the GOP moves to eliminate their health insurance coverage. What options will be after Obamacare is eliminated and millions lose their health care coverage, I cannot say, as there has been no affordable option proposed to replace it. As the date gets closer, I'm hoping others will compile lists of safety net organizations and affordable emergency health care options. For now, let's try to get everyone who has Obamacare to use it fully, to get the health care they need immediately and to get all the preventative care they can now, while they have coverage, that could prevent health and financial disaster in the coming months/years.

Planned Parenthood will now be under siege like never before, and the militant right wing voting majority in the USA wants to see it gone and all women forced to carry every pregnancy to term, regardless of the circumstances of a pregnancy or the health of the woman. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their ONLY option for gynecological services, birth control, counseling regarding adoption, and, indeed, pregnancy abortion services. Find out where all of the Planned Parenthood clinics are in your state, so you know where the nearest one is to someone that you talk to that will need their services. Consider donating to the organization (you can donate locally rather than nationally, if that makes you more comfortable). And keep up-to-date regarding local efforts to change zoning or other regulations that will result in a clinic's closure - local outcry can keep local officials from buckling under the pressure of state legislators and Congress to close Planned Parenthood clinics.

Public schools / public education

Public schools, both K-12 and universities, are the heart of our democracy and our country's long-held, long-practiced principle of equal opportunity. In addition, healthy public k-12 schools prevent crime, because they keep kids busy and give them skills needed to handle a variety of situations, let alone become employed someday. Public schools have been severely defunded already - such defunding causes schools to fail, thereby allowing Republicans to point to school failings and assert that public education should be eliminated altogether. The new president and Congress will ramp up these defunding efforts even more, and quickly, far more quickly than you can mobilize politically to stop them. Remember: this assault on public schools is what the militant right wing voting majority in the USA wants - YOU are in the minority and, therefore, you cannot stop the cuts from coming at this point and for at least the next two years. What can you do? If you can, volunteer at at least one of your local public schools, and donate any funds you can in the next 12 months to help kids in your community have school supplies, educational materials, arts programs, outdoor programs, sports activities, etc. You can donate directly to the school’s foundation, or you can do so through Donors Choose.

In addition, there will be an even greater push to remove science from schools, to lie to children and tell them evolution is not a scientific theory but a mere belief, that there is as much "scientific" proof for Biblical timelines of the Earth and universe, that climate change isn't real or that, if it is, it won't adversely affect them, and that abstinence from sex is the only education they need about human sexuality and reproductive biology. Such lies about science hold our young people back in life and in the workplace, and will further hold our country back economically. You must be on the lookout for these anti-science efforts in schools. Find out how textbooks are chosen at your local public schools and ask to see them. Ask your children what they are learning in science class, and be ready to march into a school board meeting and speak up if you think science is under assault in your local school system.

Black Lives Matter

The new president's "law and order" rhetoric, and his overwhelming support by law enforcement officials, makes it sound like it's open-season on Black Americans, especially Black American Men. The GOP-dominated Congress will be only too happy to accommodate the new president's "law and order" dreams - remember, this is also the desire of the right wing voting majority in the USA, so they feel there is a mandate for this.

Enroll in your local police and sheriff department's next citizen academy, and encourage all of your Black colleagues and friends to do so as well. Attend every public police event with these colleagues and friends and make sure local police see your face and know your name - and so that you know theirs. Force them to deal with you in a very public, non-law enforcement capacity. Assert your right to meet them, to attend their events, to assemble and to fully participate in the community. Always be respectful and peaceful, always, but assert your rights to exist, to be seen, and to be respected yourself. White people: be allies for Black Americans.

Film anything in public that you see that might be a violation of someone's rights by the police, and pass on a copy of that film to the ACLU and to national press. Share it online as soon as possible, absolutely. If you feel your life would be in danger if you do this, however, don't do it.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) promotes the civil rights of people of color and works to eliminate race-based discrimination. Find your local chapter for ways to get involved. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through litigation, advocacy and education.


People who are easily identified by a casual observer as an immigrant or child of an immigrant, based on their skin color, clothes or accent, will be especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence in Trump's America - the loudest cheers at his rallies were his anti-immigrant comments.

Get to know your neighbors, and if you discover they are immigrants, or children of immigrants, let them know you are an ally. Look for immigrant support groups, like Adelante Mujeres in Washington County, Oregon, or The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an advocacy and organizing group focusing on achieving human, civil, and labor rights for immigrants. Sign up for their newsletters, go to ther events, and if you can, donate your time or money to them.

Contact the International Rescue Committee to ask what groups in your area support refugees and then contact those organizations and ask how you can help.

Gay rights

The new President and the GOP-dominated Congress are dedicated to eliminating all of the legal gains by people that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), including marriage rights - it's what the majority of voters in the USA have voted for, one of many anti-human rights, anti-equality issues that drove them to the polls in such numbers. Many people who are LGBTQ are terrified regarding their marriage status, their parental status, and their individual futures because of this election. PFLAG unites people who are LGBTQ with families, friends, and allies, to provide support, education and advocacy. Get on a mailing list for your local chapter or the national office at the very least; even better, join your nearest chapter for a meeting.

Other human rights concerns

Donald Trump is on the record as planning to create a militarized deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants from the USA, to ban the entry of Muslims into the USA and aggressively surveil any Muslim already here, to punish women for accessing abortion once he makes it illegal with the help of his Supreme Court appointees, to reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture, and to change our nation’s libel laws and to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The GOP-dominated Congress will support him in these endeavors, and the majority of American voters will cheer him on - it's what they want, it's what the voted for. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will do its best to challenge these actions in court, and if the ACLU can hold these actions off for two years in the courts, and a miracle can change the makeup of Congress, Trump could be stopped from these violations of human rights and cherished American beliefs. Sign up for their email newsletter at the very least, and donate if you can.

The Southern Poverty Law Center fights hate and bigotry and seeks justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality. They effectively fight hates groups, including all those alt right groups and traditional bigoted groups that proudly endorsed Donald Trump for President. Get on their mailing list at least; consider a donation as well.


Be on the lookout for bullying of, or by, your children. The new President's behavior gives children and teens in particular a green light for insulting others because of their ethnicity or religion, their physical appearance or their physical disabilities, and for insulting women, even assaulting women. Have frank, regular conversations with your children about what bullying is, what sexual assault is, what you will do to ensure they are safe, and what you will do if they engage in harassment or insulting, demeaning behavior of any kind regarding another person. And practice what you preach: if a family member, a work colleague, a neighbor, a store clerk, a bed and breakfast owner, anyone in your presence, engages in Trump-like insulting, demeaning behavior regarding another person because of their ethnicity or religion, their physical appearance or their physical disabilities, or because she's a woman, say, "I will not tolerate listening to such demeaning language." And then you leave, or you tell them to leave. Don't try to negotiate, don't try to argue, don't yell - just end the conversation and remove them, or yourself, from the situation.


Per their victory in being found not-guilty of any crimes in association with their armed, terroristic takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, militant right wing white men are planning for other armed takeovers of government-owned public lands. Federal agencies are training their staff on how to handle armed invasions and stay safe, but many nonprofits and state agencies are unprepared for such assaults. If you work or volunteer at such, ask about such preparations, and encourage a meeting with staff from federal parks, monuments, reserves and other sites to find out their plans and see how you might use such to formulate your own in the case of armed invasion by these right wing groups, now further emboldened by the militant right wing voting majority in the USA. If you are at a park of any kind and you see people with guns, call the police immediately and leave the area.

You will need to watch local city and county planning meetings and review all minutes intensely, as this will be a prime time for local officials to propose developments that threaten the environment, including clean water, and threaten public lands and tribal lands. These local officials, in partnership with mining companies, ranchers, oil companies and others, are counting on you to stay away from public meetings and to not read public meeting minutes.


USA money for international work will be severely cut in the coming months. This will create further humanitarian crises among women and children in particular. Even more people are going to die as a result. The organization that I think is most worth supporting with your dollars, if you can, to help with the refugee crisis abroad, as well as disaster relief as it arises, is CARE International.

In addition, you need to stay up-to-date on what is happening internationally. Just like all people on Earth, Americans from all walks of life are affected by the global economy and, directly or indirectly, dependent upon it. What the President and Congress do can help open markets to US businesses - or close them entirely. Watching USA-based news channels is not enough to know what's going on; listen to BBC world news on the radio or via the Internet at least twice a week. This will help you to be able to anticipate what is going to affect your employment or international travel. It will also help you to be able to talk reasonably and respectfully with immigrants, including refugees, in the USA.

I have a lot to say about new cautions for traveling and working abroad, but I'll save that for another blog.

Other resources

Jezebel has also published a list of organizations that help address women's safety and health, immigrants' rights and needs, and critical environmental issues, as well as organizations that fight against discrimination and bigotry. Bookmark these lists for future reference, and be prepared to call any of them if you think something is happening that is harming someone, even if you don't think what is happening is illegal.

The press

Let local TV stations and newspapers, national TV and radio and newspapers and appropriate nonprofits know about incidents of discrimination, bigotry, violence, harm, censorship or misinformation that you think can be traced to the agenda of Trump supporters. Document these incidents - date, time, place, and players. Write about them, blog about them. Film them whenever possible. Remember that it can take the press a long while to cover something, and they won't unless you bother them regularly to do so, and provide them with plenty of verifiable information. None of this will change the minds of Trump supporters, but it will make them think twice about abusing, demeaning or censoring others.

Hoard money

You need to save money like never before. It is now very likely that another global economic meltdown is coming, because of Trump's protectionist policies and his promise to undo important treaties and other international agreements. Your family needs at least enough money in liquid assets - CDs, savings accounts, etc. - to cover your expenses (mortgage or rent, health care insurance, car insurance, utilities, gas, pet expenses, for nine months to stay reasonably safe. Look for ways to downsize and to save. And absolutely dump Bank of America, Wells Fargo or any other big bank - switch to a credit union!

Final thoughts for this blog

I will not patronize you or downplay the stark seriousness of this situation by saying that "we all need to pull together" or "everything will be fine" or "choose hope!" Those are such insulting things to say to anyone feeling the depth of this situation right now. Such comments come from a place of privilege, from people who are either in denial about what's coming or who won't be deeply affected by such. Such comments are hurtful rather than helpful.

If you are not going to be affected by the severe funding cuts and protectionist trade policies, if your health care and family's safety and employment will all be just fine, if you won't be targeted for harassment because of your skin color or religion or sexual orientation, that's wonderful - enjoy the sense of peace. But millions are going to be at risk, millions who did not vote for the GOP. We are now in a profoundly dangerous situation, and now is the time to protect ourselves, our family, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbors that are most vulnerable. Unless and until American voters come to their senses - and I am quite certain that it's not going to happen in just two years, not even in four years - this is the new reality, not just for the coming months, but for many years.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic." We now have power without love, and it will be reckless and abusive. And "Oh, it's all going to be okay" comments are sentimental and anemic. Spare me.

I no longer believe in any innate wisdom of or goodness in humanity, let alone regarding the American people. That deeply held belief on my part, a faith I've had all my life, ended on November 9, 2016. I believe there are good people, but I am now skeptical that most people are good, and that a majority of my countrymen are sensible and, at their heart, compassionate and loving. That belief is now gone.

I will make no more efforts to change the hearts and minds of those that vote for xenophobia and racial supremacy, who want to assault the civil liberties of others, whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact is celebrated in screams and memes that shame me to the core. I do not compromise with racists nor with people that abuse and degrade women. I do not reach out to fascists. I do not seek reconciliation with people celebrating the end of civil liberties and health care access for millions. If there is anything this election taught me, other than that most humans are, in fact, not innately wise and good, is that deplorables cannot reached - not with reason, not with facts, not with appeals to humanity. You just have to hope they die off and are replaced by younger, more compassionate people.