Sunday, June 30, 2013

DOMA is Gone! Now What?

commons.wikimedia.org


It's been a few days since the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Since then I have been trying to take it all in and enjoy the victory. I have been watching gay rights supporters enthusiastically celebrate this momentous occasion. I have seen gay couples in a committed relationship, but separated by country borders, like me,  revel at the fact that they now can live together in the US. I have also seen members of the religious right and Republican Conservatives join in bigoted and hateful unity to declare absolute chaos and the end of society. They have vowed to ignore the ruling, presumably that means they won't be entering into a same sex union any time soon.

For years I have listened to the bullshit from these so called Christians and Republican hate mongers. Also for years I have seen many of these hypocritical politicians and preachers be caught in the very same homosexual acts that they condemned as defying the laws of God. I have seen my own church demonize me and other gay people, while at the same time, allowing child sex abuse by the clergy to go unpunished in the church. I have seen my church tell me and my friends that we are useless and are sinners, while at the same time the church becomes richer and richer, while the poor still suffer. I have heard people quote the Bible, after they spent hours trying to find a passage that they think condemns gays, but at the same time they ignore other passages that condemns married heterosexuals, men who have their hair cut, women and just about every single person who has ever lived. I have seen those idiots from the Tea Party, who on one hand scream for less government in our lives, and on the other hand scream for the government to regulate who can love and who can't and who can get married and who can't. Now they can't do anything about it. Let them rant and rave and hate and accuse and wither away in their ignorance and bigotry. One question I have is that many of these people prayed to God for DOMA to be upheld and many gay rights supporters prayed to the same God so that DOMA would be struck down. This same God sided with those calling for equal rights against the messengers of hate. What happened Bible thumpers? Maybe it's not gays who God hates, but you. I am sure you will have a ridiculous explanation.

Soon, many people like myself, will sponsor their partners and move back to the US, the country they were born in, but for a long time forced them to live in exile. Finally, as far as the Federal government is concerned, gays will be treated as equals. Unfortunately ignorance, stupidity, hatred and racism is still alive in well in the Southern states and in the Republican party. Let's hope that some day ALL people will be treated  equally in this country and in every country.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The GOP Can Now Breathe a Little Easier

In the last presidential election the Republicans lost the election because they received so few Black and Hispanic votes. Well their fellow Conservatives on the Supreme Court just struck down a major part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, which calls for changes in voting laws in certain parts of the country to be approved by the federal government or a federal court.  The court said things have changed, meaning in the South, and this was no longer necessary.

This is good news for the GOP who have been trying to suppress the  Black and minority voters in the South, more and more, in recent elections. Now they can successfully try to prevent Blacks in the South from voting and they have the backing of the Supreme Court AND have a chance at winning an election. What a great bunch of people, our GOP!

Photo courtesy en.m.wikipedia.org
If the GOP has its way the above photo, symbolizing a momentous occasion in our history and which meant so much to American Blacks, will no longer have any meaning at all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Talking With The Taliban


Photo courtesy commons.wikimedia.org


It appears as though there may be face to face talks with the terrorist organization, the Taliban. Apparently the US and Afghanistan have contacted the Taliban to initiate face to face talks, to settle arguments between the Afghanistan government and to finalize the end of foreign involvement in the country. Just as I was about to write this post I saw on the news that Afghanistan has pulled out of the talks in protest of the US taking the lead in formulating the content of the talks.

Why on earth now would the Taliban want to have peace talks? All they have to do is wait a little longer and they will most likely be back in power. The participation of the US and its NATO allies is drawing to an end and security of the country will be the sole responsibility of the Afghan government. I have no doubts that days after foreign troops leave, Karzai and his corrupt government will fall. Petty tribal conflicts will intensify and the Taliban will soon be back in charge.

The Taliban has set up an office in Doha under the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the official name of the former Afghan Taliban government. This act does not leave much doubt that they aim to take power back and return to their former style of governing.  Karzai and the US want the Taliban to promise to uphold the new current constitution, which insures more human rights, especially for woman.  They also have to lay down their weapons, restrict their activities to Afghanistan and abide by the laws and constitution of the new government.

Even on the very day the Taliban opened its first office the, Taliban took credit for a suicide attack in Afghanistan which killed 4 American soldiers and a member of the Afghan Peace Council. According to the Taliban officials at the opening ceremony in Doha, the reason for opening the office was to gain respect from the international community. I don't think killing 4 Americans and their own countrymen will do much for gaining respectability from the international community.

The Taliban has said that they want to play a political role in the future of their country and are not interested in exporting their beliefs to other countries. So what are they doing in Pakistan? The history of the Taliban in Pakistan has been one of savagery, murder and brutality, almost always directed at women, little girls and educational and social institutions serving females. They have also murdered anyone who has tried to help with medical or social concerns of the poor. Anyone who disagrees with them or shows any interest in Western or modern ways are dealt with severely with torture or murder.

The US, UK and other NATO members have given the lives of their young men and women to the war in Afghanistan in an effort to bring human rights to all Afghans, especially women. We have all seen what the Taliban has done to its own countrymen, in their numerous car bombings and suicide attacks, in order to force their medieval beliefs and lifestyles on the entire population. Can we now believe that they will sit down and discuss matters of interest to the Afghan people and ways to stop the killings and violence?

Maybe an agreement will be made to give the Taliban a few provinces in the country where they can impose their medieval way of life on the residents of those provinces. I highly doubt though that they would be satisfied to live in such a manner, without trying to influence the rest of the country. No doubt that once foreign troops have left the country, they will try to dismantle the gains the country has made since their downfall. The mess called Afghanistan will definitely continue and all human rights gained will be lost. We should consider this a lesson learned and not make the mistake of going back in to rescue any one's human rights. Let them live as they choose, no matter how deplorable it may seem to us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 11th, Forty Years Ago.


                                          1973 America
Photo courtesy of www.usnews.com
On June 11, 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that laws banning interracial marriages was unconstitutional. The landmark case, Loving vs Virginia, struck down the laws of Virginia and 16 other states that banned interracial marriages. It's really hard to believe that it was not that long ago racial bigotry, especially in the South was so strong. Just think, we now have a president whose mother was White and father was Black! But alas the bigotry and hatred is still here.

I can remember the loud opposition from the religious conservatives in the South. People saying that if the races were able to marry the next step would be people allowing to marry monkeys, an obvious racial statement from the time. Voices from the Bible Belt condemned interracial marriages as being against the Bible and the  laws of God. Bob Jones University, the Christian college in South Carolina, which bases its teachings on the Bible, in 1998 stated
"Although there is no verse in the Bible that dogmatically says that races should not intermarry, the whole plan of God as he has dealt with races down through the ages indicates that interracial marriage is not best for man." I was so nice for the university to speak for God! Even today this bastion of Southern Christianity remains strongly opposed to interracial marriage as well as dating. People back then and even today say "god wants to keep the races pure". Why in the world would God create so many races and then want to keep them pure and separate? Why didn't he create just one race?

The truth of the matter is that the word "race" is not even mentioned in the Bible. In the Bible there were tribes, which probably referred to racial or ethnic groups, and there were warnings about marrying out of your tribe, but these were tribal or man made rules. Today some cultures and religions frown upon marrying someone of a different nationality, ethnicity or religion. The key word is "different". Back then marriages were not a bond of love, but a means of gaining power or property and had nothing to do with religion.

The arguments against interracial marriage were nothing more than a bunch of racists and bigots, under the guise of religion, cherry picking the Bible to find passages they could twist and turn and manipulate into the supposed word of God. They remind me of people who look to the prophecies of Nostradamus and prove that he was correct - well after an even had occurred and the prophecies were manipulated. What I find to be really strange is that these Bible thumpers  don't realize that the Bible has gone through numerous translations and lost much of its original meaning. Most of our right wing Christian morons actually think the Bible was written in English, and American English at that.

Okay now 40 years later the world has not come to an end as a result of the legalization of interracial marriages and the religious nuts of the South has risen again to fight anew, this time against the legalization of same sex marriages. Sure some of these Christian bigots, say that the comparison cannot be made. But it's the same arguments, the same ignorance, the same Bible, the same hatred, the same racism and the same bigotry. I am sick and tired of these ignorant, narrow minded, intolerant, bigoted poor excuses for human beings thinking that they speak for God or Jesus Christ and using their religion to justify their hatred and shortcomings.  Any day now the Supreme Court will announce their decision on DOMA and same sex marriages. Forty years ago SCOTUS made a historical decision in striking down bigotry and racism in interracial marriages. Let's hope the will make a similar decision in support of same sex marriages. For more information please refer o my earlier post called Marriage Equality and SCOTUS.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?


I am sure now that everyone has heard about the National Security Agency (NSA) listening in on the phone calls of Verizon customers and gaining access to emails, chats and other internet activity through the country's largest internet service providers. The knowledge of this is came to light when a whistle blower at NSA provided the information to a UK newspaper, The Guardian. Today that whistle blower outed himself in that same newspaper. He is identified as 29 year old Edward Snowden.

When this story was first reported, my initial reaction, as a liberal Democrat was outrage. A few days on I have calmed down and become more practical, should I say. First of all this kind of domestic spying has been going on for many years and not just after 9/11. The Patriot Act was initiated by the Bush administration after 9/11, but I am sure these kinds of activities have been going on long before that. The US knew of Bin-Laden's activities at this time with intelligence gathered at home and abroad,but did nothing at that time. Because of the Patriot Act I am sure things have intensified dramatically. I believe that this kind of intelligence gathering has prevented other serious attacks since 9/11.

Many of my fellow liberals I am sure adamantly disagree with me, but that is their prerogative.  I do not like that our government is spying on American citizens, but the Ft. Hood terrorist and the Boston bombers were American citizens. I think it is naive to think that we do not need to monitor phone calls and internet usage because we would not gather any useful information. Since 9/11
Al Qaeda has become more sophisticated in the use of modern technology, especially the internet. The United States is not the only country using such information gathering techniques. Britain, France, Germany and other countries have the same need to stay one step ahead of terrorists as we do. It's just that they haven't been caught yet.

The question now is whether or not the whistle blower, Snowden is a patriot or a traitor. He did violate his security clearance, but did he endanger the lives of any Americans by aiding terrorists or anyone who may wish to harm the country? Only time will tell. I would like that this country would not have the need to spy on any of our citizens, but lets face it, is not an ideal world. I also would favor complete nuclear disarmament, but governments are run by human beings and as we all know, human beings cannot inherently be trusted, and thus someone would hold back some weapons.

Many people are now outraged at these activities, but this is not the first time such an atrocity has been carried out by our government in time of war or conflict. Do you remember the internment of thousands of American citizens of Japanese heritage during WWII? That was a hell of a lot worse than what is going on now, but it wasn't addressed (and not satisfactorily) until recently. During WWII we knew who the enemy was, but in this war on terror, in the technology age, we do not. He could be our neighbor or even a relative. Until we come up with a better idea on how to gather information, weed out the terrorists and prevent future terrorist attacks, we may have to get used to having our freedoms trampled upon on occasion. As long as I have done nothing wrong I have nothing to be afraid of - I think.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Remember Tiananmen Square

 Photo taken on June 5, 1989, by Jeff Widener (The Associated Press).


This week, particularly June 4th and June 5th, is the 24th anniversary of The Tiananmen Square Massacre which took place in Beijing, China in 1989. Thousand of students and ordinary Chinese citizens demonstrated for democratic reforms. They were met by armed soldiers and tanks sent by hard-line Communist party officials. Then the unthinkable happened. The tanks and troops opened fire on the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators, killing and injuring perhaps thousands of people. We will never know just how many demonstrators died that day, as China suppressed all information and kept this incident from its own people, and continues to do so today. Young people in China do not even know that their fellow students and countrymen gave their lives, so that others could enjoy the freedoms of democracy.

There were, however, numerous remembrances in Hong Kong, which even though an autonomous region of China, does enjoy some freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Memorials and even the mention of the event is strictly forbidden in
China. As far as China is concerned this brutal incident never happened. Some human rights activists in the US called for the US government to adopt a stronger stance on the issues of human rights in China. The US has called upon China to come clean with the massacre, to divulge the number of those killed and injured and stop the harassment of those who took part in the demonstrations and survived. Naturally, as it always does, China called this an interference in its internal affairs. Chinaspeak for "we have the right to torture and kill as many people as we wish in order to keep the Communist Party in control".

This is a tragedy that could very well be repeated it China's Communist party feels threatened again in the future. With China's new found wealth and growing economic power, we can rest assure that the US and the Western powers will say as little as they can. Money trumps democracy and human rights, regardless of what we and our European allies may say for local news consumption.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

American Immigration and Civil Rights

Over the past few months Americans and our pathetic government have been fighting, arguing and negotiating whether or not certain Americans and immigrants should be given any kind of immigration rights. At the same time the Supreme Court has been mulling over whether or not gay Americans should have the same rights as straight Americans, when it comes to marriage or the granting of federal benefits to people involved in a same sex relationship.

I began thinking back into American history when other groups had fought for their civil and human rights. I grew up during the period of time when the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. After hundreds of years of being treated as second class citizens and suffering blatant discrimination and violence against them, Blacks were finally recognized as deserving of civil and human rights. Congress ultimately did the right thing and passed the Civil Rights Bill. Lyndon Johnson pushed the bill through Congress, as Southerners, both Republicans and Democrats tried to kill every aspect of the bill, as they are doing now, in the fight against immigration reform and anything that would  grant gay people any kind of rights.

Many years ago women fought for the right to vote, as they were relegated to second class citizens. Finally they were given the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1920. It was a shame that the country actually had to vote on a basic civil right. It is more of a shame that some Southern Republicans are trying to pass amendments that would not grant a civil right, but deny a civil right, in the case of same sex marriages. In our past the American government has taken it upon itself to vote one way or the other to grant or deny civil and human rights.

One group of people that have always been left out is the only group of people who actually are the only ones who should have all of the basic civil and human rights because of the nature of their birth. These are the indigenous peoples of America, our Native Americans. Native Americans are the only people who should be dealing with immigration rights, not a bunch of old white Europeans who do not belong here in the first place.

White Europeans came to this country and forced their culture, their languages and their religion on the indigenous people. If they didn't accept this new way of life they were then slaughtered. The newcomers came to steal their land, pollute their rivers and streams, kill their game, poison their air and cut down their forests. The White Europeans then took  the Native Americans away from their homes where they had been living since the beginning of time, and put them on reservations, forcing Christianity down their throats. Women and children were raped and abused by missionaries, while the men were either enslaved or killed.

We were brought up on a culture of movies and television shows where Native Americans, known to us then as Indians, were demonized and killed off to the enjoyment of the white only audiences. The once thriving cultures and peoples of the many varied Native American tribes were decimated in one the worst acts of genocide in the Western hemisphere since the Europeans destroyed the native peoples of South and Central America. Yet the descendants of these uninvited European immigrants sit in judgement of others and decide who is allowed into this country and who is not and who deserves rights and who does not. They actually think they can be trusted to do the right thing using their own moral judgement.

Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota Nation summed up how our Congress can be trusted, when many years ago he said, "the white man promised us many things, more than I can recall. But he only kept one promise. He promised to take our land, and he took it". We should all stop a moment and think about this when we seek to be given our own civil rights.

commons.wikimedia.org

Ablog about liberal politics andsocial issues