Cory Gardner: NRA’s Bitch

On June 12, 2016, a man walked into the Pulse Bar in Orlando Florida and opened fire on patrons there just to enjoy  life.  Some of the folks were members of the LGBTQ community and some were not.  Yet, what they had in common was an expectation to wake up late Sunday morning ready to enjoy life.

We know how this ended. Just as we know how it ended in San Bernadino, Sandy  Hook and our own theater in Aurora and Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is all too familiar with mass shootings; just mentioning Columbine triggers horrific memories of two boys gunning down students and teachers –  classmates, who, twenty four hours earlier, had eaten in the cafeteria where bodies now lay in contorted positions beside overturn tables and chairs.

All of America mourned with us after Columbine, then again after Aurora and following Colorado Springs.  And we grieved with the parent of Noah & Dylan and the families of the twenty other first graders from Connecticut.

This ritual of death is performed more times then I care to remember.  And yet, we do nothing to stem the tide of guns in the US.  Indeed two Colorado politicians were ousted from the State House for the temerity of challenging the NRA and Coloradogun owners.  It is as if the wrath of Cain fell upon them.

Two days ago, Senator Cory Gardner voted no on a bill that would have removed guns from the hands of folks on the terrorist watch list.  That’s right, he voted against a bill which would have blocked suspected terrorists from purchasing a Glock  9 mm, an AR15 or the Sig Sauer semi automatic used in the Orlando Massacre.

Why?  Why would Cory Gardner refuse to support closing loopholes on gunchecks and gun sales to suspected terrorists?

Gardner received over $ 3.8 million dollars from the NRA.  He is one of the leading Republican depositories of the mega gun lobby.  He is owned, lock stock and barrel, by LaPierre.  Thus, Gardner’s votes against bills which would have put a few more teeth in gun regulation is not surprising.   

Gardner and the gun lobby in Colorado believe the 2nd Amendment functions as no other amendment within the Bill of Rights.  They hold the mistaken belief that any regulation is tantamount to obliteration of the right. Nothing could be further from the truth; and unless Gardner was asleep in his Constitutional Law class, he knows this too.  

No right is absolute.  Not a one.  The right to free speech has its limits-as to time, place and manner; thus, the famous admonition, “You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater.”  Even freedom of religion can hit a wall, although that wall is cracking in Mississippi & North Carolina.  There are a plethora of cases where parents have withheld medical attention, needed drugs or used only prayer in relation to their child’s illness.  Courts have restricted such parental choice, even where religious conscience or freedom is alleged.  The U.S.  has libel and defamation laws which curb unfettered discretion in relation to free speech.

So why should Corey Gardner, the NRA and their acolytes think the 2nd Amendment trumps the most fundamental of rights-life and bodily integrity?  

Because there is a payoff for each part of this Triangle of Death.  Gardner gets the money, the NRA gets the power and the acolytes get the guns-regardless of whether shooting skeet or shooting to kill.

It’s true what they say-political whoring has its price; Cory Gardner is the NRA’s bitch.  

And Coloradans?   Perpetual victims of the gun lobby.  

Orlando

I try to understand.    I cannot.

I try to find peace.     I cannot

I try to find love.         I must

I try to find forgiveness.  In whose name? 

There are so many

Names of murdered

children

theater goers

students 

Mothers, 

Fathers

Sisters, 

Brothers

Husbands, 

Wives

Black, 

White, 

Latina

Latino

Asian

Indian

Christian

Jew

Muslim

Atheist

Agnostic

Gay

Lesbian

Bi

Transgender

Intersex

Straight.

I try 

To find 

My voice

To find

Forgiveness
I try.

And weep.

Donald Trump is Clueless…About the LGBTI Community

Since the Orlando massacre, the Donald’s statements are breathtaking, and not in a good way. Trump claims he is the better ally for our community.  Really!  Did I hear that correctly? Have I suddenly been transported to a parallel planet?

First, who does Donald think makes up the LGBTI community?  Does he not know we are Muslims and Mexicans, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Jewish, Irish and all shades of black, brown, red, white and yellow?  Does the Donald believe that we-a vulnerable minority -shall be lulled into acquiescence by cheap compliments or crocodile tears.  Does he not know, we shall not sign onto his campaign; a campaign riddled with invective, punctuated by assaults upon the human dignity of Muslim, Mexican, immigrants and women.

It is clear that Donald is clueless about oppression, especially oppression against the LGBTI community.  We are cautious when it comes to Republicans.  Very circumspect, indeed.  We remember Reagan and his silence as AIDS killed thousands.  We remember the hate speech of candidates whose last names are Santorum, Huckabee, Cruz.  We have taken note of hate legislation rammed through the legislatures of Texas, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas by Republicans.  Such speech and legislation direct attacks upon our dignity.  

So Donald, when you align with a political party that characterizes our marriages as the source for the demise of Western Civilisation or stigmatizes our families by labeling them as fertile ground for pedophilia, you do not deserve either approbation or support. 

You have mastered well the Republican ideology.

Thus, our message to you is:

You will not exploit the pain of June 12, 2016.  You will not appropriate our deaths or our names for political expediency or gain
Not now-Not ever.

12 June 2016

When Harvey Milk and George Mascone were murdered, there was a candle light march through the streets of San Francisco. A young man was standing along the route as the mourners silently walked past. This young man cried out “Where is your rage! Where is your rage!”

I thought of that moment and this question, whilst watching the vigils which stretched across the US and the world.  


Where is our rage?  

It is transformed into a fierce love; of ourselves, our significant others, our children and our LGBTI community and community of allies.  


Where is our rage?  

It is channeled into political action that will hold to account the purveyors of hate, whether cleric, politician, city clerk or members of Westboro or the Faith in Word Baptist Church.


Where is our rage? It shaped the work we do, the solidarity that defines us and the love we hold deeply in our hearts.


Where is our rage?


It is here

it is now, 

and tomorrow, 

and the tomorrow after that.  


We are the rage. 

 We are the rage that has become radical love and amazement.


And our rage? It shall not be defeated.

We Stand With Our LGBTI Sisters & Brothers

Another massacre.  Another man enters a Pub and, taking aim, unleashes a fusillade of hatred, each bullet at time.  Fifty dead; fifty-three wounded.

The hatred espoused by right wing fundamentalist Christians, incubated and nurtured this violence.  It is not about Islam; rather it is part and parcel of all Abrahamic religious traditions.  The moral paucity of the teachings extolled  by fundamentalist  Christians, Jews and Islamists, is the cannon fodder that contributes to explosions of this kind.

My fear is that the rhetoric of hate will escalate.  Indeed Trump has already begun social media tweets with a rather Byzantine message. It won’t be long before the anti-Muslim sentiment will crescendo into a fever pitch.  With Trump leading the troops.

This was however the type of hatred marked by the lexicon of the right-here in the States.  And this hatred is disguised as an expression of conscience or religious liberty.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Queer bashing, murder, beatings are overt symbols of violence v the LGBTI community.  Yet, refusal of service, denial of public accommodation and the most recent anti-trans laws are a subtle form of violence which denies gay men, lesbians and transgender people human dignity and respect.  And this contempt is fertile ground where such hatred grows.   

It is time to reject and confront ALL those who hold contempt against our community.  It is time to call out the Mateens as well as the Trumps, McConnells, Cruzs, and the sponsors of hate legislation in Texas and North Carolina.   As Hillel said, “…if not now ? When?”  Let never again mean-never again!

It Takes a Woman

Cruz, Rubio, Walker, Rand, Kasich, Huckabee and Santorum couldn’t do it.  None of the men running against The  Donald could bring him down.  Quite the opposite, Donald threw each one-like a piece of cheap wood – onto the political pyre.  And burn they did.

It wasn’t until Hillary Clinton wielded humor and adroit political commentary like a dagger that blood was finally drawn. A river of blood as she slashed through Donald’s racist rhetoric and shredded  his “I am the greatest,” platitudes; laying bare a hull with neither substance nor form.  

Yet, it was Elizabeth Warren who delivered the final blow; driving a stake in the heart of a political misanthrope, the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.  The genius of the Warren critique was her connection of Trump to the Republican leadership and its hit job upon the Judiciary.    Warren’s  speech clearly articulated that the Republican Senators ravaged the federal bench by blocking every federal court nominee from the Obama White House; their strategy culminated in obstructing Senate consideration of  Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court. 

Warren entoned a litany of invective used by the Right to impune the reputation of nominees to the federal district, circuit and Supreme Court.  The Republican Right not only disfavors but disdains an independent judiciary- one that will not bend the law to accommodate the greed of a bloated economic aristocracy.  Indeed, the Republican attack is waged against judicial nominee as well as upon the integrity of the Court, integral to preservation of our Constitutional  Republic.  

Trump is an extension of this cabal and strategy.  He is neither an accident nor a mistaken coincidence, rather he is a direct consequence of the politics of intimidation perfected  by the Republican Right.   Thus, Trump’s racist rant about the objectivity and judicial temperament of Judge Curiel flows from the invective and ad hominem attacks engaged in by McConnell, Cruz, Sessions et al.  This acorn did not fall far from the tree. 

It took two women to pull back the curtain and reveal that Trump is merely a marionette, dancing to the tune of the GOP.  Warren and Clinton made an important connection between the reprehensible conduct of the Republican nominee and the Party he represents. McConnell et al cannot claim shock or surprise at Trump’s words, conduct or subsequent rise to power.  They scripted, nurtured, and incubated this organism that devolved into Donald Trump-Republican Candidate for President. 

History In The Making?

Will a woman finally break the glass ceiling in politics?  Hopefully, after tonight, HRC will most likely clear the bar after the CA, NJ voters go to the primary polls.  Tonight could be historical.  Finally a woman may be en route to the White House.  

As for the claim from the BS camp.  None of the delegates, super or “regular” has cast a ballot. They are pledged to cast their vote for either Bernie or Hillary, as a regular delegate or super delegate.  Consequently, claiming a contested convention is not only dishonest but subterfuge and Bernie is better than this. 

 I wonder if Jeff Weaver, brother in law to Karl  Rove, may have channeled Rove during this campaign because some of the tactics employed are truly below the belt and truly crass.   It’s so easy to get into the mud, so much more difficult to rise above the gutter.  And hopefully Bernie knows this and will end his campaign honorably and graciously and celebrate with US this historic moment.

Failure is impossible!!

Micro-Aggressions: Useful Characterisation or Unproductive Tag-Line?

These days it appears that speech is on precarious terrain.  The words offensive and aggressive come to mind; but are these characterizations a consequence of experience or cultural micro-aggression? 

I have a long list of what offends and how to offend.  For example, I am offended when a friend says, “Just a minute,” and that phrase morphes into a fond memory as time slips away.  My time is worth at least 82 cents in relation to the guy next to me, but pennies on the dollar are something.

And I can offend as well.  My staccato speech and frequent references to a sex act, offends folks from Nebraska or anyone west of the Hudson.  My speech isn’t crafted to offend, it just is what it is.

So when I read about “micro-aggressions” and  cultural “triggers,” I am somewhat unnerved.  Triggers in NYC, the land of my birth and my home,  occur at least every 60 seconds especially if you’re stuck on the F train.  As a law school professor, I am invited into the world of the law student where everything is at once insulting, offensive and disconcerting.  Indeed, asking a student to comment on how he or she feels about a specific case can cause apoplexy if not down-right heart seizures.  Such a request is treated as if one invaded a micro force field which shields from having to interact with other humans during the course of a day.

Yet, the current state of sensitivity on campus is marked by minefields that are not always recognised or seen through cultural lenses.  Indeed, one can wander into such a minefield unaware of the damage which can result to both speaker and listener.  Yet, sensitivity or cultural offence is at best a two way street if not a six lane highway.

Let me share a personal experience.

A few years ago we were in the market for a new Dean.  The faculty hallway is a repository for opinions, lobbying and general kvetching.  

One day a group of young professors gathered to swap stories about our latest victim in the roulette game that is Deanship candidacies in American Law Schools.  He was a Jew from THE City, and for the uninitiated I am referring to NYC.  He had spent the last five years deaning in a state to the extreme mid-west of the Hudson River.  

Whilst discussing this fellow,the conversation overheated.  Apparently, at the law school where he currently was Dean, he noticed how the black students congregated on one side of the hallway whilst the white students positioned themselves directly opposite with no group members interacting or engaging with members of the other group.  Each was a self contained and isolated entity.

Upon viewing this scene, the Dean Candidate, commented, “What is this a ghetto?”  
One of my colleagues claimed his comment demonstrated “cultural insensitivity and inexcusable ignorance” because he failed to account for African-American students’ cultural  understanding of the term ghetto” and what it telegraphs or conveys.  

What she failed to understand however was the term “ghetto,” has more than one meaning and once unpacked is grounded in differing cultural experiences. 

In New York City, the word ” ghetto ” is synonymous with “neighborhood.”  Indeed my parents referred to where they grew up, 187 Street & Belmont Avenue, as the Italian Ghetto, whilst the Grand Concourse in the Bronx or Williamsburg Brooklyn were tagged as the Jewish and the Hassidic Ghetto, respectively.  

For Jews, however, the word holds additional memories.  It is a reminder of Warsaw and Lodtz during the Holocaust and the Ghettos of Christian anti-Semitic Europe.  The word holds dual meaning –a cultural preserve that conjures up remembrances of Nonna, Nanna, cannoli and kugel.  Yet it also brings up memories of segregated genocidal killing fields marked by the bones of murdered relatives and friends.  It is the nexus of these two experiences or memories that framed the Candidate’s response to what he observed. 

When reminded that speech is grounded in experience, another young colleague remarked, “Oh he’s just a 60’s liberal,” dismissing the political struggles that now allowed us to stand in this hallway as tenured professors  at a law school.  The doors of law schools, medical schools, police and military academies were no longer blocked by racial, sexual, or homophobic barriers because of not in spite of  the work by the Candidate and his comrades.

My question?  Was his comment a micro aggression and were the comments of my colleagues cut from the same cloth?  I think not.  As to the Dean Candidate; insensitive and offensive  to African-American students? Yes indeed!  My colleagues statements; were they offensive-consequences of limited experience and myopic political experience and knowledge? Absolutely!  But a micro-aggression?

As Patricia Williams reminds, we are the sum of our parts.  And those parts are constituted by myriad experiences. Recognition of and understanding difference is not a consequence of silencing speech and marginalisation of experience; rather it is a consequence of debate & discourse. 

Being kind, respectful and gracious are important; censoring speech that violates these values is dangerous however.  And while freedom of speech is essential, it requires accountability.  Censorship however produces a self imposed silence that inhibits individual and collective growth and, in an academic environment, it stunts the ability to think critically and to act compassionately. 

What are your thoughts?

It’s Time To Lower The Bern

Bernie’s contribution to the election process has been incalculable.  He has infused a class analysis into the political campaign, more than shaken up the Establishment and provided a much needed voice to the traditionally voiceless in American Politics.

And he has been a mensch & role model to so many.  

But the writing is on the wall, the water is under the bridge, over the dam and through the woods.  It is time for Bernie to bring himself and his followers into the center of the nominating process and support HRC in Philadelphia; support that reveals a strength of spirit and commitment to the People and the common good.  

Bernie’s support of the presumptive nominee can materialise into a political platform that contests and confronts income, racial, gender ID, and sexual inequality.  A Democratic Platform that has a Sanders imprint can and will shift the discussion to policies that improve the quality of life for all Anericans whilst reaffirming our commitment to inclusive democracy.

This election is perhaps the most critical in decades.  Its importance cannot be  overstated.  The Supreme Court is at issue and its composition will determine for generations, whether the rights and lives of the poor, people of color, women-regardless of ethnicity, the LGBTI community, immigrants- documented & undocumented, shall be protected or abrogated.   A Trump Presidency will be the death knell for U.S. credibility in the world community and make tenuous democracy at home and abroad, and such a Presidency places its imprimatur on the worst in and of US.   

ALL persons who believe in human dignity, Liberty and Equality must coalesce around and collaborate in the election of  HRC.     

As Hillel reminds, “if I am not for myself who am I; if I am only for myself, what am I ; if not now-when?”

The time is now!