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Letter Writing Sunday – Support the No Religious Registry Act (H.R. 6382)

Posted in Editorials on November 27th, 2016
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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene issued the following press release on November 21:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) introduced the No Religious Registry Act (H.R. 6382) to ensure individuals of all faiths are protected from the establishment of a national religious registry.

“President-elect Donald Trump is breaking his promise to be a President for all Americans by supporting the creation of a Muslim registry. This kind of xenophobic and hateful rhetoric has no place in our government,” DelBene said. “We cannot allow our country to disregard the civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution. My bill would prohibit the administration from violating the constitutional rights of Americans because everyone should be treated equally under our laws.”

DelBene’s bill would prohibit the Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security and any United States government official from establishing or utilizing a registry for the purposes of classifying individuals on the basis of religious affiliation. The legislation would cover U.S. nationals, U.S. visa applicants and aliens lawfully present in the United States.

Reps. John Conyers, John Lewis, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Doris Matsui, Steve Cohen, Keith Ellison, Andre Carson and Judy Chu are original cosponsors of the bill.

As Donald Trump’s surrogates and members of his transition team continue to say he will start a Muslim registry, it is important to act on this right now. Even if Donald Trump does not create a Muslim registry, this is a good law to have on the books for posterity.

I’m sending the following letter to my member of Congress:

Please support the No Religious Registry Act (H.R. 6382). No one should have to fear religious persecution in the United States of America.

Next, even though there’s no bill in the Senate yet, I’m going to send this to both of my Senators:

You may have heard of the No Religious Registry Act (H.R. 6382). I urge you to support this bill if and when it comes to the senate and to consider introducing a Senate version of this bill.

How to find your Member of Congress’ contact information.

How to find your Senator’s contact information.

Questions For The Anonymous Millennial Nurse Who Voted For Trump

Posted in Editorials on November 25th, 2016
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Let’s just assume this is real. I have some questions.

I’m also a women’s health nurse practitioner and I’ve cared for women of many different religions, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

Do you agree that we should repeal the Affordable Care Act? How would this affect your patients?

Should abortion be illegal? If you do, how would that affect your patients?

The Affordable Care Act has resulted in many women getting IUDs. This may soon be over. Will this be good or bad for women’s health?

I don’t claim to speak for all urban white women who voted for Trump. But I’m sure I’m not alone in my astonishment at the allegations thrown around the social media echo chamber, accusing us of being racist, self-hating misogynists.

How do you think Donald Trump would respond if an employee of his made a substantiated report of being groped by a supervisor?

If you had a daughter and you noticed she was reading an article or watching a news story about Donald Trump admitting to barging in to the Miss Teen USA pageant dressing room to see the girls when they were naked, would you say anything to her about it?

Many of my left-leaning friends don’t see how other people could have valid rational reasons for opposing gay marriage, abortion, or open-border immigration policies, and still be good people. This is not tolerance

What are your valid rational reasons for opposing gay marriage?

I remember feeling I was doing my civic duty just by changing my Facebook profile picture to a Planned Parenthood emblem or the Pride Flag. I was supporting policies I believed were for the greater good—but was able to do this without making any personal sacrifice. I could pat myself on the back and march off to spread awareness, a crusader for social justice and humanism out to convert the infidels. I never asked myself whether the policies I promoted might make some people’s lives quite difficult.

Do you no longer support Planned Parenthood? If not, why?

What is wrong with Gay Pride flags?

How do Planned Parenthood and Gay Pride parades make some peoples lives quite difficult?

Do you think liberals only engage in the kinds of slacktivism you describe?

How would your argument change if you were talking to someone who put a lot more of their time, energy or even safety on the line for their beliefs?

It worries me when social justice warriors swirl their $15 glasses of wine in swanky urban restaurants and talk condescendingly about the backward hatred of rural, working America.

Did you know that Hillary Clinton won all voters making 50K or less and Donald Trump won voters making more than 50K?

Let people say what they will. Shame them publicly for cruel, offensive statements that are inconsistent with American values.

So, we can shame people who make cruel offensive statements that are inconsistent with American values, but we can’t shame people who voted for a man who made cruel and offensive statements that are inconsistent with American values?

Hear No Evil – Trump isn’t really suddenly an Environmentalist

Posted in Editorials on November 23rd, 2016
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Have you heard the news?! Donald Trump said he might do something about climate change!

From The New York Times:

On climate change, Mr. Trump refused to repeat his promise to abandon the international climate accord reached last year in Paris, saying, “I’m looking at it very closely.” Despite the recent appointment to his transition team of a fierce critic of the Paris accords, Mr. Trump said that “I have an open mind to it” and that clean air and “crystal clear water” were vitally important.

Not so fast.

Remember that personnel is policy and Donald Trump has appointed Myron Ebell, a climate change denier to oversee the EPA transition team. If he really cared about the environment, he would have appointed someone who actually has a good record on environmental issues. I can think of several Republicans who might be up for the task: Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Christie Todd Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, even Michael Bloomberg would be a good pick.

Over the weeks and months ahead, all kinds of random things are going to come out for Donald Trump’s mouth. Some of them might even sound really good. But before you breathe a sigh of relief, think about whatever he said for two seconds, and ask yourself “How does this measure up against what he has done?” This is so important because most media outlets will not fact check adequately. The original New York Times headline for this story was “Donald Trump says he has ‘An Open Mind’ on Climate Change Accord” and did not mention Ebell’s record of climate change denial, even though it’s incredibly relevant to his statement.

Image Credit: Melanie’s Crafting Spot Cliparts.co

Why I Gave My Son My Husband’s Last Name

Posted in Editorials, Personal Essays, Pregnancy And Motherhood Thinkpieces on November 21st, 2016
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Push the button?

Six years ago, when my husband and I got married, I did not change my last name. I’ve written about the subject and discussed it on my podcast, twice. I didn’t see a good reason to change my name – it was a lot of work for no perceived benefit and historically a sexist custom. I did ask my husband if he would like for both of us to hyphenate but he declined, considering the effort that would take. So neither of us changed our names.

“But what about the children?!” people have asked me. I did consider giving our child a hyphenated or double barrelled last name. And if either my husband or I had done that I would have done so in a second. I am fond of saying that in Latin America many people have two last names and no one bats an eyelash. It’s a great custom which preserves both halves of a child’s heritage and I have no aesthetic qualms about it. Unfortunately in the United States many of the people I know with hyphenated last names face a bureaucratic nightmare that neither my husband nor I were willing to face. As we rejected the paperwork and red tape of having two last names in a country where this is seen as an odd choice, I hesitated to give my child a hassle I didn’t want for myself.

There was the option of giving my son my last name as his middle name, a custom I also like. But I preferred to give my son the middle name of my great uncle who was a wonderful man – charming, kind, generous and who maintained his sense of humor and his appetite for candy and scotch sours until the last days of his 95 years.

And so it seems I was giving my son only one last name. It could have been mine. But I chose to give him my husband’s last name alone for several reasons. I think parents who choose to give their children their mother’s last name are doing the hard work of defying a patriarchal custom. And as I will explain, it is work.

There is no logical reason why in the United States and other Western countries we give children only one last name and it’s always their fathers. The reason is our cultural taboo about paternity. We name children after their fathers as a way of signaling paternity. Not counting astronomically rare hospital mix-ups, as a fact of human biology, mothers are certain which children are theirs. And although we could easily replace last names with the paternity tests of modern medicine, they’re just not as salient as a last name.

Imagine two birth announcements:

Ms Mary Smith and Mr John Jones announce the birth of their son, Michael Jones, born October 1, at 12 noon, 8lb 20in

or

Ms Mary Smith and Mr John Jones announce the birth of their son, Michael Smith, born October 1, at 12 noon, 8lb 20in. A paternity test confirmed that John Jones is Michael’s father.

Doesn’t have quite the ring, eh?

The feminist argument that if a woman carries a child for ~40 weeks and then goes through childbirth and recovery she should name them after herself as a tribute to the work of pregnancy is a very good one.

But it ignores the cultural context in which we live and asks women to push the large red button labeled “PATERNITY TABOO.” People will quickly assume that a child named after their mother was named thusly because their father was absent at the time of birth, or that her current partner is not the biological father. They may even go on to assume that the child was the product of infidelity.

I was more than willing to take any ignorant or sexist comments for not changing my name when I got married. But I’m unwilling to take an action in the name of my feminist ideals which may cause people – however uninformed, or malicious – to reflect poorly on a child who cannot consent to my political action. And I do believe that under the current political climate, giving a child their mother’s last name is a political act. I would also prefer not to be put on the defensive about my fidelity to my husband for the rest of my life. I appreciate that some families are willing to take this on, but I do not want to take on the burden of signifying my resistance to patriarchy in this way. My choice is not feminist. Just angst savingly expedient.

Letter Writing Sunday – Stop Jeff Sessions

Posted in Editorials on November 20th, 2016
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You may have heard that the man who may become our next Attorney General was nominated to a Federal Judgeship before but was rejected because of his racist remarks. From Fortune:

During that hearing, Sessions was criticized for joking in the presence of a Civil Rights Division attorney that the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned they smoked marijuana. He was also said to have called a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “un-American” and “communist-inspired.”

This happened in 1986, when I was a toddler. When I heard that Jeff Sessions may become AG, I cringed because I remembered something much more recent. In 2009 when President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the questions Jeff Sessions asked her during her confirmation hearings were racist, absurd and illogical. He was obsessed with his own misinterpretation of her famous “wise Latina” quotation:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,””

And he battered her about it for a long time. Here’s just a sample of the back and forth:

SOTOMAYOR: I think if my speech is heard outside of the minute and a half that YouTube presents and its full context examined, that it is very clear that I was talking about the policy ramifications of precedent and never talking about appellate judges or courts making the policy that Congress makes.

SESSIONS: Judge, I would just say, I don’t think it’s that clear. I looked at that on tape several times, and I think a person could reasonably believe it meant more than that. But yesterday you spoke about your approach to rendering opinions and said, quote, “I seek to strengthen both the rule of law and faith in the impartiality of the justice system,” and I would agree. But you have previously said this: “I am willing to accept that we who judge must not deny differences resulting from experiences and heritage, but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.” So first, I’d like to know, do you think there’s any circumstance in which a judge should allow their prejudices to impact their decision-making?

SOTOMAYOR: Never their prejudices. I was talking about the very important goal of the justice system is to ensure that the personal biases and prejudices of a judge do not influence the outcome of a case. What I was talking about was the obligation of judges to examine what they’re feeling as they’re adjudicating a case and to ensure that that’s not influencing the outcome. Life experiences have to influence you. We’re not robots to listen to evidence and don’t have feelings. We have to recognize those feelings and put them aside. That’s what my speech was saying…

SESSIONS: Well, Judge …

SOTOMAYOR: … because that’s our job.

SESSIONS: But the statement was, “I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage, but continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.” That’s exactly opposite of what you’re saying, is it not?

SOTOMAYOR: I don’t believe so, Senator, because all I was saying is, because we have feelings and different experiences, we can be led to believe that our experiences are appropriate. We have to be open- minded to accept that they may not be, and that we have to judge always that we’re not letting those things determine the outcome. But there are situations in which some experiences are important in the process of judging, because the law asks us to use those experiences.

SESSIONS: Well, I understand that, but let me just follow up that you say in your statement that you want to do what you can to increase the faith and the impartiality of our system, but isn’t it true this statement suggests that you accept that there may be sympathies, prejudices and opinions that legitimately can influence a judge’s decision? And how can that further faith in the impartiality of the system?

SOTOMAYOR: I think the system is strengthened when judges don’t assume they’re impartial, but when judges test themselves to identify when their emotions are driving a result, or their experience are driving a result and the law is not.

SESSIONS: I agree with that.

But he didn’t really because it went on for another eight pages. [You can read the whole thing here. Start on page 12.] What Senator Sessions was getting at is that Latina women have a race and a gender, but white men do not. That (straight) white (christian) men are the default and do not have a sexuality or a religion that can influence their worldview – but everyone else does.

So what I would like to see from my Senator, Chuck Schumer, the new Senate Minority Leader and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is that he and other Democrats take each of his outrageously racist statements and make him spend an hour or more defending them. If he could question Justice Sotomayor for simply stating that people of different genders and ethnicities have different viewpoints, let’s see what we can do with “The KKK was ok until I heard they get stoned” and “The NAACP is un-American.*” Seriously. Beat the dead horse until it putrefies. Make him sit there for eleven fucking hours like we spent on Benghazi.

And then don’t vote for him.

Here’s the letter I’m sending to Senator Schumer. You should contact your representatives too, especially if you have a senator on the Judiciary Committee.

Dear Senator Schumer,

I am writing to ask you to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States. His racist remarks make him unfit for office.

I would also appreciate it if you pressed him to explain what he meant by those remarks during the confirmation hearings.

Thank you,

*The state of Alabama actually banned the NAACP in 1956. Perhaps Senator Sessions would like to defend that action?

“Fighting For What’s Right Is Worth It”

Posted in Editorials on November 17th, 2016
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I do not know what the future holds. But I feel like my personality is coming back to me. My optimism, however muted must still be in my heart somewhere. I have not capitulated to nihilism. Not yet. And I know this because of the email exchange I had with a family member last night.


Elizabeth,

The election has thrown me, as I’m sure you understand.
During the Bush administration, I just kind of stuck my head in the sand.
I know things will suck too much if I do that, so I want to do something to try to help.
I wrote the NRDC to see if they have anything I can volunteer to help with. If they don’t, I’ll donate, but look at other organizations as well.

In thinking about it, it’s seeming pointless. With morons controlling every level, what good is giving to causes that they don’t care about. How can a lobbyist for a cause they don’t care about, change their mind. Short of an organization telling Trump that they will give him a trillion dollars, and make him the first trillionaire, I don’t think anything will stop him from advancing his own business interests.

Am I wrong about that? While sitting and doing nothing is pointless, will donating/volunteering actually get anything done?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

-DL

Dear DL,

This election has thrown most people who voted. Always remember – Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. We are in the majority.

It’s a real and serious loss. People are grieving the future we thought we were going to have. And to make things worse, most of us were certain Hillary Clinton was going to win. It’s not like 2004 when everyone was uncertain. When you prime the brain for reward and get punishment, it really screws your brain chemistry. So there’s a physiological reason that this hurts so bad.

You asked “will donating/volunteering actually get anything done?”

And the answer is of course YES. Hillary Clinton said it herself in her concession speech, “This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

I don’t know what’s going to happen to our country. Donald Trump is somewhere between Michael Bloomberg and Hitler, and looking at his transition team, and the appointments he’s making, he’s certainly not a third way centrist like Bloomberg.

But I was raised by to always try and do good no matter what. I’m going to focus a lot on abortion funds because I still believe they are the best way to help people in need immediately. But there are plenty of other things to do.

The NRDC is a good start. If you are interested in Environmental issues I would also recommend the Sierra Club – they are having a fundraising drive and gearing up for legal battles to come. They also have many local chapters you can get involved with. Also check out 350.org which is explicitly focused on climate change.

The federal government may be lost for a while but that is a reason to focus on state and local government. A good sign that America will not fall to fascism is that dozens of mayors and governors have released statements saying that they will still be sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants and will not waiver on their anti-discrimination policies for racial, ethnic, religious and LGBT minorities. Maybe you know your Congressional Representative and Senators, but what is going on in your town? Do you read your local paper? Now would be a good time to subscribe. Who runs the local government – both at the city and state level? You have a state assembly member and a state senator [Unless you live in Nebraska, then you just have one]. Find out who these people are and write to them frequently.

If you want to know how one person can make a difference, I will spare you the quotes you see on inspirational posters and share with you a true story which I’m stealing from wikipedia:

Chiune Sugihara was the Japanese ambassador to Lithuania during WWII. As the Soviet Union occupied sovereign Lithuania in 1940, many Jewish refugees from Poland as well as Lithuanian Jews tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas, it was dangerous to travel, yet it was impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan.

At the time, the Japanese government required that visas be issued only to those who had gone through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds. Most of the refugees did not fulfill these criteria. Sugihara dutifully contacted the Japanese Foreign Ministry three times for instructions. Each time, the Ministry responded that anybody granted a visa should have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, with no exceptions. From 18 July to 28 August 1940, aware that applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara decided to grant visas on his own. He ignored the requirements and issued ten-day visas to Jews for transit through Japan, in violation of his orders. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an unusual act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway at five times the standard ticket price.

Sugihara continued to hand-write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month’s worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train’s window even as the train pulled out. In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, “Please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.”

When he bowed deeply to the people before him, someone exclaimed, “Sugihara. We’ll never forget you. I’ll surely see you again!” Sugihara himself wondered about official reaction to the thousands of visas he issued. Many years later, he recalled, “No one ever said anything about it. I remember thinking that they probably didn’t realize how many I actually issued.” The total number of Jews saved by Sugihara is in dispute, estimating about 6,000; family visas—which allowed several people to travel on one visa—were also issued, which would account for the much higher figure. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has estimated that Chiune Sugihara issued transit visas for about 6,000 Jews and that around 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees are alive today because of his actions.

Things really suck right now, and I can’t tell you if or when they will get better. But anything that you do to help other people or your country in this dark time will help, will make a difference and will be worth it.

Love,
Elizabeth

Dear America, Stop Gaslighting Me

Posted in Editorials, Personal Essays on November 12th, 2016
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Dear America,

Well here we are at the end of the second election during my 33 years and the fourth in our 240 years where one person (ooh I get to say “person” now and not “man”) has won the popular vote for the presidency but lost the electoral college. God, our system is arcane and incomprehensible.

I’m sad and I’m angry and I will probably be OK. Probably. As long as we get one thing straight. Stop gaslighting me. Stop telling me Donald Trump didn’t say the things that he said, that I didn’t hear him with my own ears, or worse that he didn’t mean them. Despite being a mixed ethnicity liberal woman in New York City I have a very simple approach to interpersonal relations: listen to what people say. “Listen, don’t just wait to talk” is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received. And I try to live by it every day.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” -Maya Angelou

So believe me when I say I was listening to Donald Trump. And I heard him. Loud and clear.

Hell, now that he’s issuing policy papers I don’t even have to suffer his terrible oratory. I can read what he has to say and we can look at it together America. Right there in plain English.

If you have managed to convince yourself that his whole campaign was some big fucking joke, that he didn’t really mean it, that he would never actually, could never do those things – STOP. You can’t know that. Telling yourself you somehow have an alternate way of knowing how another person will act aside from their previous words and actions may comfort you, but in the end you are hurting yourself by believing in a delusion that will not come true.

“You think you know someone. But mostly you just know what you want to know.” -Joe Hill

And you are HURTING ME. Every time someone tells me “it’s going to be ok.” “Everything is going to be fine.” “The Republicans will stop him.” You are causing me pain. You are telling me that I did not see the things I saw or hear the things I heard. You are telling Mexicans that he didn’t call them rapists. You are telling Muslims that he didn’t say he would ban them from entering the United States. You are telling women he didn’t brag about grabbing by them by the pussy. You are telling girls that he didn’t walk into their dressing rooms unannounced to leer at their naked bodies.

I really don’t like 1984 analogies because I think they are trite and I thought we were more headed towards Huxley’s Brave New World, but when you say Trump didn’t say those things you are holding up four fingers and telling me there are five. When you tell me he didn’t mean the things you said you are Gul Madred showing Captain Picard four lights and torturing him until he says he there are five. When you tell me “everything is going to be ok” you are Petruchio insisting Katarina say that the sun is really the moon. Please stop doing this. You are hurting me. You are making me doubt my sanity and it’s not fun. And you are hurting other people – who don’t have the resources to escape what this administration will unleash – much worse.

And finally, a word about the people who voted for Donald Trump. Jay Smooth said we should focus on “that racist thing you said/did” rather than “you are a racist.” I can’t know what’s in the hearts of 60 million Americans. I know what the Trump supporters I know personally have said (lots of racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic comments, climate change denialism…) and I know what the person they voted for said. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that voting for Donald Trump is a racist act. And it doesn’t matter what’s in their hearts.

If you voted for a racist sexual predator because he said he would repeal NAFTA, YOU STILL VOTED FOR A RACIST SEXUAL PREDATOR.

If you voted for an Islamophobic fascist because you wanted a tax cut, YOU STILL VOTED FOR AN ISLAMOPHOBIC FASCIST.

And just to pre-empt the comments: I voted for Hillary Clinton because I wanted to repeal the Hyde Amendement, raise the minimum wage, get paid maternity leave, slow climate change, and rebuild our infrastructure. BUT I STILL VOTED FOR SOMEONE WHO HELPED START THE IRAQ WAR, RACE BAITED ABOUT SUPER PREDATORS AND RAN A SHITTY RACIST CAMPAIGN AGAINST BARACK OBAMA IN 2008. I own my shit, and I expect Trump voters to do the same. Fair is fair.

So please America. I’m not stupid. I know what I saw. I know what I heard. Stop telling me to doubt my own memories and perceptions to ease your own conscience about what you did, or soothe your anxieties that we have elected a president who is a fascist. No one knows what will happen next. But I certainly know what happened in this campaign over the past two years, I will not deny it and you cannot take my knowledge away from me.

Happy Holidays!

Elizabeth

Why I Bowled For Abortion Access While I Was (Trying To Get) Pregnant

Posted in Editorials, Personal Essays, Pregnancy And Motherhood Thinkpieces on September 28th, 2016
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Note: This piece has been corrected. See below.

I’ve taken part in the New York Abortion Access Fund Bowl-a-thon for four years. In 2015 I bowled while I was trying to get pregnant. And this year I was in the middle of my second trimester. I even wore a shirt like this one to the event.

In 2015, no one knew I was trying to get pregnant, but this year many of my friends and family knew that I was pregnant while I made facebook and blog posts, and tweeted asking for money to pay for other women’s abortions. When I had just started to show, I organized a comedy show at my (Unitarian Universalist) church to raise money for the cause. This is probably something few others can say they’ve done!

I dreaded someone calling me out for a perceived hypocrisy or heartlessness. I see my fundraising activities as wholly compatible with my desire to be a mother and my compassion for other people. Reproductive justice means that everyone should be free to make the decision to parent or not. And my decision to become a mother does not mean that others must or should make the same choice. My freedom is bound to everyone else’s, and so raising money for abortion funds fits with that belief.

Being pregnant for this year’s NYAAF event was especially hard because their email list was somehow leaked or hacked [SEE UPDATE BELOW] to antichoice extremists who took the opportunity to harass those fundraising. I was sent disturbing bloody fetus pictures (which FYI are often photoshopped or pictures of miscarriages, not abortions) and a picture of a sonogram with a though bubble saying “I hope I can grow up and go bowling one day mommy.” Was I upset because I suddenly realized abortion was wrong? Not in the least. As I progressed into my second trimester, this kind of rhetoric did not reassure me that people were looking out for the “life” within me. Rather, when I heard people going on about late term abortions, what I heard was “If something goes wrong with your pregnancy at this point, you deserve to die.

That is exactly the mindset of Catholic hospitals which turn away women with life threatening complications from miscarriages. Antichoice extremism hurts women, and in cases like Savita Halappanavar‘s, it kills them. In fact, we know that defunding Planned Parenthood clinics in the United States has led to an increase in maternal mortality.

I did many things to give my baby the safest and healthiest pregnancy I possibly could. And raising money for abortion funds was something I did to both protect my own life, and to create a world where everyone is free to make the best decisions for themselves and their own families.

UPDATE: See the following message from Heather K. Sager, Volunteer Coordinator – New York Abortion Access Fund

In the piece you mention that our email list was “somehow leaked or hacked.” I want to take this opportunity to clarify that in fact, it was not NYAAF’s email list, but rather the entire fundraising website for NNAF that was hacked. This was the work of a malicious attack on the larger web server, which ultimately meant that email addresses were accessed, rather than internally or purposefully leaked.

I know that immediately after the attack we were able to share information on the security steps NNAF took in order to ensure that this is prevented and that everyone’s security is protected going forward. This included immediately hiring a security specialist, providing Q&A sessions on cyber security for those whose accounts were affected, and ensuring that additional resources were and continue to be available. I am more than happy to discuss these with you should you have any questions on this.

On behalf of NYAAF, we would also greatly appreciate it if you could correct the language in the article, so that it does not imply that anyone at NYAAF or NNAF was complicit in the attacks. The piece is really great, but I do want to be clear that no one in either organization had a part in the server being hacked.

About those “jokes” comparing Hillary Clinton to Dolores Umbridge or Winn Adami…or Tracy Flick

Posted in Editorials on June 14th, 2016
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People I know and respect along with a ton of people I don’t know have latched on to the meme that Hillary Clinton is Dolores Umbridge, the sickeningly sweet teacher at Hogwarts who tortures Harry, is useless as a Defense Against The Dark Arts Teacher (though weren’t they all) and has a generally fascistic worldview.

I mean, I guess? Clinton voted for the USA Patriot Act and she views Edward Snowden as a criminal more than a whistleblower. That’s kinda fascist. But she’s also solidly against torture, said that we should screen and accept Syrian refugees and is making one of the themes of her campaign “Love Trumps Hate.” So, maybe?

What bothers me the most about this comparison though is how things end for Umbridge. Did you forget that part? I’m almost positive most people have, especially when making this comparison. She’s raped by centaurs. And it’s supposed to be funny. When she comes back to Hogwarts, she’s in shock, and our heroes know what happened. Ron makes clopping hoof noises to scare her (trigger her?) and Hermione and Ginny crack up. Granted, they’re teenagers, and they have bad judgement. But no one in authority tells them “Hey buzz off, that’s not funny.”

Similarly, though even more geeky and less widespread I see Trekkies making “Hillary Clinton is Winn Adami” jokes. On Deep Space Nine, Winn Adami, played by the amazingly badass Louise Fletcher, was one of the best villans in the history of Star Trek. She’s a religious cleric with both fascistic and theocratic tendencies (although on her home planet of Bajor it’s pretty accepted that the religious leadership shares power with the elected government). She’s a master at manipulating people’s fears to get what she wants no matter the consequences. Like Umbridge, she’s uses sickeningly sweet faux coquettishness to mask her true intentions. Unlike Umbridge, as the writers reveal the complexity of her character, we are meant to empathize with her as a person while still despising her actions. Her crisis of faith is relatable to so many people who have searched for truth.

Is Hillary Clinton like Winn Adami? They’re both blonde and religious and ambitious. I suppose you could draw it out further by bringing up Clinton’s connections to The Family. But that’s still a bit of a stretch.

And yet, like Umbridge, in the end Winn Adami is also raped. Deep Space Nine draws out a more complex story than Order of the Phoenix. Winn is seduced and deceived by her greatest enemy and she is sexually, emotionally and spiritually exploited. The storyline is fascinating one, with an unsettling trainwreck quality that still viscerally disturbs me.

I know that most people making the “Hillary is Umbridge” or “Hillary is Winn” jokes don’t really mean that they think Hillary Clinton should be raped by centaurs or a sociopath in disguise as punishment for her more imperialistic tendencies. I’m not immune to this myself. I love Tom Perrotta novels and when I saw people comparing Hillary Clinton to Tracy Flick I saw it as a backhanded compliment. Tracy Flick kicks ass. She’s super smart and accomplished and wins in the end.

Then I remembered that most of the plot of “Election” is driven by the fact that Tracy is seduced (statutorily raped) by her Math teacher, Dave. Tracy is smarter than most of her peers but she is far behind them in terms of social skills. She has no real friends. This makes her an exceptionally easy target to be groomed and taken advantage of by a much older authority figure. Dave’s actions set off a chain of events which Tracy’s teacher Jim blames her for on some level. In a moment of frustration Jim threatens to ruin Tracy’s reputation by telling the whole student body what happened to her. Tracy takes this in stride because she has a very thick skin, but it’s hard to watch her be manipulated and then blamed and threatened for it.

So perhaps this isn’t the best comparison either.

This is one of those things that once seen, cannot be unseen. So keep that in mind. If you keep making those clever memes, I’m going to keep rolling my eyes and thinking “Ugh. Raped by Centaurs. Really?”

On Having Conditional White Privilege During The Trump Campaign

Posted in Editorials on June 13th, 2016
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Last week Ralph Nader said in an interview about the popularity of Donald Trump:

There were Negro-joke books, Jewish-joke books, Polish-joke books, Italian-joke books. They used ethnic jokes to reduce tension in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s. And they’d laugh at each other’s jokes and hurl another one. But it still flows through ethnic America, you know. There are hundreds of things that people would like to say. So here’s this guy — he doubles down on them, he blows their minds. So that’s the first way he got their attention.

And I wanted to ask him, “Don’t you know white privilege is conditional?” Nader is Lebanese and in the United States many people would not consider him white if they knew that.

I have personal experience with this, I have discussed my mixed ethnicity on this blog. Many people who have conditional white privilege – Jews, light skinned Latinos, Arabs and other POC who pass as white – will have a moment in a conversation with a white person where some detail about their heritage is made known and something shifts in the white person’s tone or body language and you know they’ve just recategorized you in their head. I know Ralph Nader has had this moment, and it’s why I find his statement inexcusable.

Recently I got called out for something I did with my white privilege. In my post about why there is no progressive case for Donald Trump, I said:

For Latinos, Muslims, and many other Americans, Donald Trump is that bear trap and the vote for Hillary Clinton is the gnawing off of one’s leg.

Nezua and I had the following exchange:

I think it’s true that white people should not speak over or for people of color. There is a fine line between being an ally and taking up space that should be reserved for someone else. I also think that if you have privilege you should call out oppression and hatred where you see it, not to talk over or for other people but because it’s the morally right thing to do.

I don’t expect Nezua to intuit my heritage, and even if he knew that my father is a Colombian immigrant, his point would still stand as I do benefit from white privilege and I am not Mexican.

The reasons that I feel the need to call out Trump’s racism are both moral and personal.

I believe strongly that I should consider how my vote impacts everyone, not just myself.

I think that Trump’s comments, while specifically anti-Mexican encourage hatred against all Latinos including my family and possibly myself.

Finally, there is an ugly strain of “they’re coming for our women” underlying Trump’s remarks. Through a series of inadvisable clicks I spent a good portion of a recent afternoon reading through an infamous misogynist blog which has become a pro-Trump White Nationalist hellhole. And I read a lot of comments. Many Trump supporters are insecure men obsessed with their fear white women having sex with and bearing children with men of color. As the daughter of a white American mother and a Latino immigrant father, it was deeply unsettling to read these comments. I am a person who, in their mind should not exist. I am a mistake, an abomination, the worst outcome their fevered imaginations can muster. I am “White Genocide.” My mother is a ruined woman and my father is pure evil depravity. These are the people who filled the rallies for Donald Trump, the people who voted for him in Republican primaries, and who will vote for him in November. This is what they think of me.

I do not ever want to speak over or for groups I do not belong to. I only want to speak for myself. In my words and actions, believe I am morally obligated to consider how I impact other people from other groups.