How We Have Failed Since September 11, Redux

First posted here on September 10, 2014

How We Have Failed since September 11

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

Breaking bread in a mosque

The Friday Photo
January 27, 2016

photo from the internet

Heeding the observation a wise friend shared with me the day after last year’s election, I am making a concerted effort to desegregate what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the most segregated hour” in our country. In November I visited the church just a block down the street from my house, a congregation established by former slaves not too many years after the end of the Civil War.

Last Friday, along with my husband and a friend, I attended the monthly community dinner at the Islamic Center of Macon. All three of us were warmly greeted and welcomed for the evening. My friend and I joined the women on their side of the partitioned room, where younger children played and roamed freely from our side to the one where the men gathered. . There were prayers, a practice round for a children’s quiz competition, and wonderful food.

Environmental advocacy connected all of us during dinner conversations. Our concerns ranged from food resources, clean water, and ways that the women we shared a meal with could be active in stewardship. In turn, we were invited to participate and support an interfaith women’s organization in Macon, and of course, to return again to join them.

The mosque where we gathered was vandalized in December 2015. When funds are secured they will relocated to a larger facility better suited for their needs. For now, on the edge of a neighborhood in the early stages of gentrification, just blocks from larger affluent Christian churches, faithful and peace-loving Muslims gather every week to worship, and when visitors appear, they open their arms to hug them as most welcome guests.

How we have failed since September 11, 2001

Tonight President Obama will address the nation about ISIS and any actions that we may take in response to the horrific murders of Americans and innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

Tomorrow there will be an observance in my community, and many others, to honor the thousands of lives lost to hate and terrorism, and to support the families and friends who knew someone they loved would never return home again.

Since September 11, 2001 we as a country have talked a lot about being kinder to one another and being a better country. Yet 13 years later this is what consumes us as a country:

  • fighting about allowing two consenting adults of the same-sex to legally marry each
  • failing to take care of the thousands of veterans who have defended our country, many of whom returned with horrible wounds from the Middle East since September 2001
  • allowing private corporations to decided which forms of legal birth control they will cover for employees through company based health insurance because some corporations should have the same privileges as churches
  • granting corporations the same rights as citizens so businesses can pour money into elections and our representatives’ pockets
  • making it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote
  • subsidizing corporations with huge tax breaks while their employees working full-time never earn enough to break the poverty barrier
  • denying the hard facts of science because profits should come before cleaning up the mess we’ve made of the entire planet
  • deporting children
  • complaining about failing schools while slashing teacher pay and testing our children to death
  • sitting by silently while racism and sexism are displayed proudly
  • being sure we can take our assault rifles into the grocery store
  • we pay for and support violence on playing fields, in the movies we watch, video games we buy, music we listen to, and television shows we watch, but we react with horror when students are sprayed with bullets in their classrooms, women are drug from elevators by their hair, students are bullied, children and women are raped as well as being forced into prostitution
  • too many among us are convinced that their brand of faith should be followed above all others, and if necessary the rights of other citizens should be denied because they choose to worship differently, or not at all

We absolutely should remember and honor the victims of September 11th’s violence. I’m just not convinced we are a country that is a better reflection of the democratic values and freedoms which terrorists intended to destroy 13 years ago.

 

Dark days for Georgia’s women

The chase to Crossover Day in the Georgia General Assembly (when bills must be voted out of one side of the legislature or die) allows our elected officials to be seen at their worst and their best. Women and men across the state who value the ability of women, and their doctors, to make responsible decisions about their health care, have opposed HB 954 and SB 438.

SB 438, which passed yesterday, is stunning in its interference in the decision-making process for women’s health. The bill removes any state employee insurance coverage for a legal abortion unless the mother’s health is at serious risk. The AJC reports that the lead sponsor of SB 438, Sen Mike Crane, R-Newnan, drew gasps when refusing to add exceptions for rape and incest victims.

The 33-18 vote so angered Democratic women in the Senate that they linked arms and left the floor. Valenica Seay, D-Riverdale, said,  “This is not a good day for women in Georgia. “Come on, guys. We are not your property.”

  

The House has also been hard at work reducing health care options for women. HB 954 shortened the window of time for a legal abortion from 26 weeks to 20. Again, the question bears asking: Do state legislators in Georgia think their wives, daughters, aunts, nieces, granddaughters, friends, and doctors, are really incapable of making good decisions about abortions (which are still legal despite Conservative efforts).

Well, Rep Terry England, R-Auburn, seems to think that the women in our state can fairly be compared to cows, pigs, and chickens. England thinks that stillborn pigs and calves make for good comparisons when talking about the difficult decisions involving abortion. I don’t think I can give his comments from the House floor their due, but fortunately Bryan Long at Better Georgia posted video footage of England explaining his thoughts before voting on HB 945.

What is next Rep. England? Giving farm animals the right to vote? Or stripping away a woman’s right to do that too?

This is no time to sit on the sidelines

To my two adult daughters in their 20s-

I hope you know what is a stake with all this shouting about birth control and access to safe and legal abortion. It hasn’t really been that long since the pill was introduced in 1960 as a safe and effective means not only of planning for/avoiding pregnancy, but as a prescription treatment for certain cancers, endometriosis, acne, and cysts involving the ovaries.

Before 1965, married couples didn’t have legal and private access to birth control. Can you imagine anyone telling you, responsible adults, that? Listen to the Conservatives now. They aren’t just telling you, they are it.

The Comstock Act, a holdover from 1873, made it illegal to even mail information about birth control because it was “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious.” Ditto for actual birth control devices. Comstock hasn’t been wiped from the books, but the definition of obscene has changed (can you imagine television without Sex and the City or movies that even hint at sex?)

And please be aware that while your may think your parents are older than Methuselah, some of my friends remember when Roe v Wade made abortion safe and legal (1973 isn’t that long ago, really. We even had color television then.)

Which brings me to the tirades which have exploded over women’s reproductive rights since Susan G. Komen pulled its support of Planned Parenthood. That opened the door for more of us to see how threatened those rights are now. Access to safe and reliable birth control isn’t just for women. It is for their male partners/husbands/one night stand guys/boyfriends. It is for you, your sister, your nieces and nephews, your friends, and the children you have now or may want to have later.

Last Thursday Rep Darrell Issa (R-California) convened at panel of “experts” to discuss the mandated coverage of birth control. You may notice that all of the “experts” are men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This expert was shut out making comments before the panel.

Sandra Fluke is young, healthy, bright (a third year law student at Georgetown) and like you, has plans, dreams and ambitions for her career and personal life. She made her way to Congress last week to comment, but was shut out so that five men, five “experts,” none of whom will ever be pregnant, could tell Rep Issa’s panel what needs to be done about requiring access to birth control for all women.

Sandra Fluke left the Congressional hearing room with Democratic leaders last Thursday when they learned who Rep Issa deemed worthy of testifying. Yesterday she returned to testify to a room filled with people who value what women have to say about their health and access to care.

Rep Issa insists that his hearing was about health care reform and religious freedom. His hearing was certainly about freedom: it was about the freedom of women to choose the type of birth control they want so they can plan when and if they want to have children.

You don’t have to testify before a Congressional panel to make your thoughts known. But you have to speak up and you need to do it now. Call or email your Congressional Representative. Tell both of your Senators too. Stand side by side with the people who worked tooth and nail for birth control to be legal and available today. Too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines.