Monday, January 27, 2020
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Will You Denounce This, Mr. President-Elect?

This piece, written over the weekend, has run in newspapers in my conservative congressional district (VA-06). In a note after the column, I will...

Why America Must Hand Trumpism a Landslide Defeat

In an article titled, “The Next Trump,” on, Isaac Chotiner writes about what he calls, “the really scary thing.” It is worth considering,...

Unleashing the Demons of Hate

It was two or three weeks ago -- near the time of Trump's attacks on the judge for his Mexican heritage -- that this...

Did the Spirit of Donald Trump Help Assassinate Jo Cox in...

The assignment of responsibility for terrible events can be viewed simplistically, or it can be viewed in a way that takes into account the...


Our country was founded on religious freedom giving each of us the basic right to choose to be a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox Jew, a Muslim, a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Southern Baptist, a Methodist, and equally protected-the right to choose to not believe at all.  With that right comes the requirement of separation of church and state.  Without that separation between religious beliefs and our government, Jews can't be allowed to worship freely, nor Catholics, nor Southern Baptists, nor agnostics and atheists to not attend church at all.  

It is not the right of believers to force their personal religious views on the masses in this country, but we see it time and time again in our society.  Through our country's history, we have had to fight for the civil rights of segments of our society...women, immigrants, African Americans.  Now we find ourselves embroiled in whether we should allow another group of our citizens to hold full citizenship in our communities and nation.  Those who would deny the civil rights of the LGBT community do so based on their religious beliefs.  

Substitute “Synagogue” or “Church” for “Mosque,” How Does That Sound?

According to Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, who is actually doing quite well by the way, American communities "have the right to [ban a mosque]" if they want to. In Cain's view, "That's not discriminating based upon their particular religion. There is an aspect of them building that mosque that doesn't get talked about. And the people in the community know what it is and they're talking about it."

Uh huh. Now, substitute the word "synagogue" or "church" in there, and see how it sounds. Let's try it: "American communities have the right to ban a synagogue...people in the community know what it is and they're talking about it." Or, "American communities have the right to ban a church...people in the community know what it is and they're talking about it."

Not cool, huh? In the first case, it's blatant anti-Jewish bigotry. In the second case, it's blatant anti-Christian bigotry. So, what's the difference when Cain talks about mosques? Or how about when two Republican presidential candidates, including one front runner, sign a pledge calling for "Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control." Of course, as educated people know, there's no such think as "Sharia Islam," but there is such a thing as "Sharia," "the code of conduct or religious law of Islam." That's just like the Talmud and/or Torah for Jews; or possibly Canon Law for Roman Catholics ("a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation."), etc. So, per Herman Cain, should we ban "Talmudic Law" or "Canonical Law," while we're at it?

Look, it's fine for Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum if they want to be bigots. It's even fine, in this country, for them to spout those bigoted views every chance they get. What I do NOT think is fine is for a significant percentage of Republicans to support one or more of those candidates for President of the United States. That is deeply, deeply disturbing, as it's the antithesis of everything it means to be an American. WTF, did these people all skip K-12?  

A Sad September

This morning, my Jewish husband reminded me that tomorrow is Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the start of the High Holy Days. Even though I am a Christian, I always go with him to Rosh Hashanah  and Kol Nidre services on the eve of the Day of Repentence, Yom Kipper. His reminder came right after I had listened to the news that Gen. David Petraus, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, had  remarked on the dangers of the proposed action by the so-called "Dove World Christian Center" in Florida to burn Korans, the holy book of Muslims, on September 11.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Gen. Petraeus said.

Petraus' deputy, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, spoke on CNN, saying, "We very much feel that this [action] can jeopardize the safety of our men and women that are serving over here in the country,"  Caldwell is the head of NATO efforts to train Afghan security forces.

I suddenly had a flashback to what I had read about Nazi Germany, where desecration of the Torah, holy book of the Jews, was encouraged and practiced with great energy. Also, to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which I taught for many years to my students, a novel about a time and place where books have become subversive and must be kept from the sheep-like populace.

It was Heinrich Heine who said, "Where one burns books, one will, in the end, burn people." Is that what my country has come to, in the name of free speech by a hate-filled, bigoted "church"?  

In My Heart, I’m There (with Former Marine Bacidore)

It hasn't been that long since the so-called "Rev" Fred Phelps's clan members gave Blacksburg an unwelcome visit.  Westboro visited town to tell us we "deserved" the horible events previously unleashed upon our town and to hurl cruel statements about the recently deceased VT student, Morgan Herrington, who was murdered in Charlottesville.  About 500 townspeople and students encircled Morgan Harrington's father, who was present at the counter-demonstration, and greeted Phelps's family members with messages of "stop hate" and other assorted greetings.

But the clan is also notorious for its protests outside of fallen soldiers' funerals. Now a former marine isn't going to take it anymore.  According to a Marine Corps Times article, now a former marine has taken up the cause of giving the so-called minister of hate Fred Phelps of Westboro "Baptist Church" a taste of his own medicine, albeit with much less hatred. He's serving up a counter-protest of his own right where we all should--outside of Phelps' so-called church.

Former Marine and Iraq veteran Jerry Bacidore, along with about 15 supporters, recently traveled nine hours from LaSalle, Ill., to attend a service at the Topeka, Kan., church and stage a silent protest.