The new generation of leaders

The Friday Photo

Decatur High School, Decatur, GA

Students walked out or took a knee on Wednesday because #enoughisenough. I stood with them and for them.

Newton County woman too cowardly to claim her own words

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s coverage of yesterday’s public hearing in Covington, Georgia, about a building permit request for a new mosque in Newton County, brought out the worst in many local citizens, according to an article by Meris Lutz.

Lutz quotes a woman who said, “To say we wish to disallow this project based on religious discrimination … is ludicrous and hypocritical,… They are discriminating against us by calling us infidels who do not believe in their religion.”

Lutz includes that the woman did not give her name.

Think about that- an adult woman took time to go down to the county’s public hearing on a building permit, she said that Muslims discriminate against “us,” but she refused to tell the reporter what her name is.

In today’s America, and especially in the South, when people show up like this over anything to do with a mosque, I’m confident that the “us” she’s talking about are right-wing Conservative Christians. They qualify as one of America’s most paranoid groups.

What I find curious, is that if you aren’t willing to put your name on your convictions, then what are your beliefs and convictions worth anyway?

Henchmen in the Trump campaign

It isn’t hard to deconstruct the rantings of someone who uses the vocabulary of a third grade bully. Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has surrounded himself by people of the same mindset. A Tweet by King Robbo,  @realkingrobbo, who identifies himself as a lobbyist and “Donald’s General of Memetic Warfare” calls for bringing back one of the very worst elements of Jim Crow days, “disappearing” of black people.

Thank goodness for screen shots that capture the incredible amount of hate being spewed by Trump and his band of thugs. @realkingrobbo Tweeted this, but later deleted it:

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 10.33.42 AM

#BlackLivesMatter leader DeRay McKesson was arrested in Baton Rouge, LA Saturday night during a peaceful protest. The march was held in response to Alton Sterling’s death Tuesday night when Baton Rouge police officers shot him multiple times, after tackling him to the ground.

How does “Donald’s General of Memetic Warfare” respond to McKesson’s arrest? He calls for Baton Rouge police to, “Come on boys, be HEROES!” by hoping @deray gets “disappeared.”

If you’re wondering what kind of police state Donald Trump and his henchmen would try to impose on the United States, or at least on people of color and any other groups Trump hates, this is a stunning example.

This is not an election where Trump supporters each of us may know can be excused away for supporting this vile person. When it comes to hate and discrimination, there really isn’t any room for dividing up the pluses and minuses of a candidate. Votes cast for Trump are votes cast for “disappearing” black men under police custody.

 

Georgia doesn’t need to legislate hate

Rocco's Litte Chicago Pizza in Tucson, AZ
Rocco’s Litte Chicago Pizza in Tucson, AZ

Arizona’s Republican United States Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are joining the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and major corporations and calling for Gov Jan Brewer to reject SB 1062, a bill designed to allow discrimination against gay people (and who knows who else) based on the religion of the person who feels a need to discriminate. The uproar and pushback are so strong that four major companies are reconsidering decisions to bring thousands of jobs to the state. Arizona hobbled itself over establishing a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday years ago, and there is already plenty of talk about moving the 2015 Super Bowl out of the state if Brewer signs the bill.

Arizona’s bad idea is also a bad idea for Georgia, and there are two bills in the General Assembly that would hurt our state by legalizing discrimination based on the “preservation of religious freedom.” The House version of this hate bill masquerading as religious freedom is HB 1023. The Senate’s version is SB 377.

I was stunned to find Rep Mack Jackson’s name on the House version of this bill. Mack, a Democrat who serves District 128 where I live, is the minster of St. James Christian Fellowship in Tennille.

My first questions to him were, “Have you talked to Dr Lowery about this? Would Dr. King support you on this?”

I value religious freedom and the separation of church and state. But there’s a big difference between religious freedom and legalizing discrimination based on one’s personal faith.

What lies at the heart of this bill is legalizing discrimination against gay people. In addition to a business choosing to refuse service to gay people, they could also discriminate against Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, …….. How about overweight and obese people if your faith deplores people who are more than a healthy weight (that could reduce revenues for businesses in the South where we seem to have an epidemic of weight issues)?

It is stunning that in the state where Dr King is buried, and Civil Rights champions Dr Joseph Lowery and Rep John Lewis call home, any state legislator would put their name on a bill like HB 1023/SB 377.

Crossover Day in the General Assembly is Monday, March 3rd. That means you need to act now! You can sign this petition, contact your legislators, or do both.

As this morning has progressed Mack replied to my text message saying he took his name off the bill (it still appears in the online version). A couple of hours later he posted on Facebook that he didn’t sponsor this bill. Now, as I am posting here, he has texted me saying, “My name was on the bill but was taken off in the clerk’s office after it was brought to my attention the effect of this bill. It is never my intention to discriminate against anyone. I did not sponsor the bill.”

Thank you for stepping back Rep Jackson. You and others under the Gold Dome will better serve your constituents if you fully understand the impact legislation will have on individuals, families, businesses, and our state before filing bills. Our job is to hold you accountable.

REI, Ann Coulter, and one voice among millions

I count myself among the lucky who avoid the political venom of people like Ann Coulter. When the web burst into flames last week over Coulter’s use of the R word after the Presidential debate Tuesday night, (which wasn’t the first time she had used it), I couldn’t ignore the flash point.

As I began to put this post together, I decided to see who supports Coulter by advertising on her web site. I was aghast to see that Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) a co-op selling outdoor gear and clothing, which also promotes environmental stewardship, had not one, but two ads on Coulter’s site. I have been a member of REI since 1984.

REI ads on Ann Coulter’s web site

As readers of this blog may know, I am also a member of another co-op, Washington Electric Membership Co-op (WEMC), which had 15,268 metered accounts last year. Member engagement is not encouraged by the Board of Directors or senior staff at WEMC.  Co-op members, who are also the owners of WEMC, are barred from attending monthly board meetings, and we must fill out request forms for information. This continues to suit the needs of the Directors and Senior Staff just fine.

I like, no love, REI. The customer service is wonderful. The products are great. The staff is well-trained and helpful. They stand behind the products they sell. I love getting my yearly dividend check each year. I have given memberships to my daughters, my mother, and a friend as gifts.  Earlier this week Santa, via the Postal Service, delivered three Christmas gifts to my house, along with something for the elves.

But hate speech trumps that warm and fuzzy feeling when the dividend email arrives along with the 20 percent member discount in the spring.

Just 13 hours after a short phone call with Megan Behrbaum, REI’s Public Affairs manager, and a follow-up email with the screen shot of Coulter’s web site, I got a response. It included this,

“In addition to removing the ad, we are working with our internal teams to double-check that we have the proper parameters in place to ensure that a similar issue does not arise in the future.  These parameters will ensure that we are not purchasing any political websites moving forward.

REI is deeply committed to providing an inclusive workplace and shopping experience to our employees, members and customers. Per your request, this commitment is communicated on our website on the following pages http://www.rei.com/jobs/diversity-inclusion.html and http://www.rei.com/stewardship/report/2011/workplace/diversity-inclusion.html.

We sincerely apologize for the oversight and please know that we addressed the issue as quickly as possible.”

In 13 hours time, a co-op serving 4.7M active members via online and phone orders, operating 127 stores in 31 states, with 2011 revenues of $1.8B, heard the concerns of one member, and changed the guidelines for its advertising.

One voice among 4.7 Million.

Say no to hate speech and those who use it. Speak up and say it is wrong.

I could do no less.

 

Now this? Enough already!

There are lots of good people in North Carolina on both sides of the voting booth and the aisles in their churches. As if North Carolina didn’t get enough national media attention with passage of Amendment One by voters earlier this month, now Pastor Charles L. Worley and his followers at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden have shifted the spotlight back to rural North Carolina.

Pastor Worley preached that the “solution” for lesbians, queers, AND homosexuals (reduntant? Worley doesn’t care or even know) is to build huge fenced-in areas, put the women in one and the men in the other, air drop food to them, and just wait from them to die off because they can’t reproduce.

If it sounds unbelievable, see and hear it yourself:

When Anderson Cooper asked church member Stacey Pritchard about Worley’s sermon and the intent of Worley’s message, Prichard couldn’t explain her way through it. In fact, if she had had a shovel in her hands, she couldn’t have dug the hole she put herself in any faster or deeper (and she also seems to have a problem with understanding the facts of the Holocaust and current events).

Citizens in the area are organized and have planned a peaceful demonstration against the hate speech spewed by Worley and supported by his followers. This Sunday beginning at 11:00 people from across the country will be in Maiden to peacefully demonstrate opposition to the hate-filled message preached at Providence Road Baptist Church.

Want to go? Follow the Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate on Facebook for details. Would you like to support their grassroots work to stop hate speech in their community? You can donate to Catawba Valley Pride to help pay for flyers, office supplies, and all the other things that must be bought to make grassroots outreach successful.

You’ll be in good company if you get to Maiden because I know several of my friends (including one who is a minister) will be there. You should join them.

I can’t get to Maiden because I have to help aging parents this weekend. Unfortunately I am afraid there will be other opportunities to demonstrate against hate speech. What a shame.