Trump and the Blood Libel

Detail of “The Martyrdom of Simon of Trent in Accordance with Jewish Ritual Murder, Giovanni Gasparo” (2020)

I have said before that Trump has intentionally evoked thinly veiled white supremacist rhetoric. I’ll cover a few instances of this before noting what I found most disturbing in his speech from Tulsa.

One example that might easily be missed without context is his comment about the ‘good bloodlines,’ of Henry Ford: “good bloodlines, good bloodlines — if you believe in that stuff, you got good blood.” On the surface, this seems like an odd way to praise someone. But to anyone familiar with the history of white supremacy and anti-Semitism, this is an ominous observation, and when made about Ford, an outright endorsement of white supremacy.

Ford was a notorious anti-Semite, whose views were sufficiently virulent to earn him a by-name mention in Mein Kampf; the only American to earn such a dubious honor. Furthermore, Ford bankrolled the US publication of an anti-Semitic screed known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. While it may sound like the latest Dan Brown fantasy, it is a treatise on racism. Allegedly a medieval manuscript ‘discovered’ in the late 1800s, it purports to reveal the secret plans of a Jewish banking cabal to gain world dominion. Not surprisingly, it was proved to be a fake in 1921, but to Jew-hating whites on both sides to the Atlantic, it was a gospel of the racist. Ford distributed roughly 500,000 copies of the book throughout the 1920s, despite it having been revealed as a forgery in 1921. That is the man Trump is praising, but the use of the term ‘bloodlines’ may still be puzzling.

One group to enthusiastically embrace the fraudulent text of Protocols was a subset of Christianity known in Europe as British Israelism among other names, and which came to the US (thanks in part to Ford’s efforts) and became known as Christian Identity. The core principle of both is that Adam, and his bloodline, tracing down to Jesus, was white. The twelve tribes were white, and the progenitors of the Anglo-Celtic peoples. Whites are the true ‘chosen people’ of god, and other races are not just inferior, but, according to Christian Identity doctrine, the offspring of Eve and the serpent. You could be forgiven for wondering if I had not gotten my history confused with some lurid novel at this point, but I have linked sources below. Most important is that CI is still active today, and has more than a few religious organizations promoting its theology.

That is the meaning of Trump’s bloodline comment about Henry Ford, the man who was instrumental in helping these ideologies to gain a foothold in the US. I can assure you, while his remark may have seemed odd to most of us, there is not a neo-Nazi in this country that did not understand with perfect clarity that Trump was endorsing their views along with one of their fathers in hate, Ford.

However, that is far from Trump’s only dog whistle to an overtly white supremacist ideology. The recent release of a t-shirt by his campaign has been widely criticized for bearing a disturbing resemblance to the Nazi’s Imperial Eagle. He’s also used a red inverted triangle, used by Nazis used to designate political dissidents in concentration camps, leading Facebook to remove ads using the symbol. I won’t belabor those here, but there are references in the links sections below. And of course, his infamous comment in the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, claiming there are ‘good people on both sides.’

But his Tulsa speech laid another brick in his foundation of embracing white supremacy. He claimed Biden specifically supported ‘after birth execution,’ referring to the lurid distortion of later-term abortion. But that luridness in Trump’s speech is not new. Adherents at his rallies, in both 2016 and 2020 have repeated that they believe Democrats are not just killing babies. I’ll quote journalist Jeff Sharlet:

“…the first time I heard it at one of these rallies was someone saying, ‘You know what the Democrats are really up to.’ And I had heard all the conspiracy theories. The Pizzagate conspiracy theories about human trafficking, child trafficking. This took it to another level. They said, ‘They’re actually cannibals. They eat children.’ I said, this person must be mentally ill. This person must be fringe. But then I kept encountering that idea again and again. And now that’s moved the whole range of possibilities. So when Trump says plain out Biden supports post-birth execution, he is signaling to that audience that is ready to receive the message that your darkest fears, your most twisted fantasies of what your political enemies are up to, it’s all real.”

“It’s one o’clock in the morning and a very tough, I’ve used the word on occasion, a very tough hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away as a traveling salesman or whatever he may do.”

In other words, Trump, as he did in 2016 with his comments about Mexican rapists, is conjuring a villain, and making him the other, a dark-skinned, less than human savage prowling around looking to rape white women. This part has disturbing echoes of the rhetoric of the black man raping a white woman that accounted for too many lynchings in the American south, which continues to this day.

This and his ‘killing babies’ remarks, and the implicit nod to all of his followers’ darkest fantasies, are warped by any metric. Trump has cast out crumbs for his followers along these lines before, as Sharlet mentioned. But oddly for Sharlet, a scholar of religious extremism in the US, he doesn’t note the part that I found most striking, particularly given the examples I’ve listed above. This rhetoric of ‘coming for your women’ and ’killing babies’ evokes another canard of the anti-semitic white supremacist canon: the blood libel.

If you’re not up on your medieval history, the blood libel can be traced back to the 12th C, and became a common trope in the rhetoric that sparked pogroms, or murderous attacks on Jewish communities, down through the centuries. The story was that Jews murder and eat Christian children in a ritual sacrifice; a warped understanding of the Passover seder. Some scholars have theorized there is a displacement at work here, which projects the psychological conflict engendered by a belief in literally eating the flesh of that chubby-cheeked child on Mary’s lap, but I digress. In any case, the blood libel persisted through the Renaissance, and right on into the modern era; though it is a point of history, it is also a point of current events.

A blood libel occurred in New York in the 1920s (right around the time Ford was passing around his copies of Protocols, and the newly reinvigorated KKK was gaining popularity). It is estimated roughly 1,000 pogroms occurred in Russia and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1931. German newspapers reported on blood libels into the 1930s. Pogroms continued against Jews in Europe into the 1950s, and blood libels have been recorded in places like Russia, Algeria, Syria, and Poland, to name a few even the 21st C. In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League had to pressure Facebook to remove pages dedicated to Jewish Ritual Murder. In 2020, renowned Italian artist Giovanni Gaspar unveiled a painting entitled The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento in accordance with Jewish ritual murder. (That’s the image at the top of this essay, and it is disturbing.)

Our history is also our present. While it seems outlandish to the point of tin-foil hattery to most of us, this rhetoric is still very much alive in the white supremacist circles, and those circles are far wider than you might think. These people are our neighbors, co-workers, relatives. And they believe these things, or as Trump put it, in an unmistakable wink. wink, nudge, nudge, “if you believe in that stuff…” They do believe in ‘that stuff,’ and Trump knows it.

Just a few years ago, I took a pair of (unapproved, of course) flyers down from a UofL bulletin board, both emblazoned with a swastika and calling on white women to reject the ‘race mixing’ advances of black men and maintain their retail purity. A related thread of rhetoric in the incel community, populated almost exclusively by white men, revolves around shaming (and threatening) white women who date non-whites. This brings us back around to bloodlines. Trump has spoken dozens of times about his DNA, his genes, how proud he is of his German ancestry. All of these cues, quirky, uninformed, or innocuous as they may seem to us, speak very clearly to those who know to listen for them. Now we need to listen, too, and understand what the man running for a second term in the highest office in the land, is really saying.





Christian Identity: (Warning, this is a primary source, straight from a currently active CI group in the US)

British Israelism:


Tulsa Rally & other statements:

Blood libel:

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Who Made Whom? The Legacy of Fingerpointing in the Era of Trump

Someone posted this as pushback to the fear and bewilderment at Trump and his ilk, and the rise of fascistic ideology springing up worldwide. I felt the need to reply.

“How did this happen you ask? You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.”

– No, we did not ‘attack’ your freedom of speech. We asked you not to denigrate your fellow Americans, and to treat others with kindness, even if they are different from you. We also pointed out that freedom of speech does not mean that others cannot critique what you say.

“You created “us” when you attacked our right to bear arms.”

– No guns have been taken, gun ownership has not been banned or restricted. But gun violence is still rising, and we need to make sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands. Unless you ARE the wrong hands, you should be in support of this.

“You created “us” when you attacked our Christian beliefs.”

-Your beliefs were not attacked, and you are still an incredibly visible majority. Your ability to force others to live according to your beliefs has been limited, as is appropriate for a democracy that celebrates religious freedom. And growing numbers of individuals are rejecting your dogma. Perhaps you should be asking yourself why instead of screaming that you are being attacked.

“You created “us” when you constantly referred to us as racists.”

– Our culture carries deeply embedded institutional racism. We need to face it and admit it. Trump’s campaign was rife with racial prejudice and divisiveness which only reinforced that racism. If you embrace that, or choose to overlook it, you are helping that racism to flourish. What else can we call it when your views are the same as those held by racists?

“You created “us” when you constantly called us xenophobic.”

– Our culture carries deeply embedded institutional hate, fear, and mistrust of foreigners and of global engagement. We need to face it and admit it. Trump’s campaign was rife with prejudice and derision of immigrants of other nations, which only reinforced that mistrust. The global society is the reality, other nations will not go away if we hide our heads under a flag, and American diversity is not going to stop. What else can we call it when you continually blame, fear, and denigrate those from other nations?

You created “us” when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.

– Yes, we did. As above, the forces of diversity and globalization are not going away. LGBT people are not going to retreat back into the closet. Non-religion will continue to grow. America will never be a white Christian county. You DO need to get on board, or at least stop fighting the inevitable. Keep your views if you must, but stop trying to force the nation to your will.

You created “us” when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.

– Health care needs a radical overhaul. Americans spend more per capita on health care than almost any other nation and yet get the least actual care for our dollar than any developed nation. You would never have allowed universal health care, so this was the best solution YOU allowed us to put in place.

“You created “us” when you lied and said we could keep our insurance plans and our doctors.”

– Talk to the insurance industry, and to your republican state legislature. They stood in the way of the ACA’s success.

“You created “us” when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.”

– Liberals didn’t do this. Your union-busting did. Your defense of corporate power did. Your demand for ever cheaper, ever more plentiful junk from Walmart did. And advances in robotics didn’t make those jobs leave, but they made them obsolete. Face it, was are not a manufacturing economy anymore, and we won’t be again.

“You created “us” when you attacked our flag.”

– If you mean the American flag, the right to burn a flag in protest is enshrined in the same freedom of speech you claim has been attacked. If you mean the Confederate flag, that is not your flag. That is the flag of a seditious, slavery-defending, illegitimate rebellion. It is both funny and sad that you fail to see the irony in your defending the right to continue to wave that flag in spite of that rebellion’s defeat 140 years ago, even as you excoriate us for protesting something in the present.

“You created “us” when you took God out of our schools.”

– God has not been taken from schools, nor has prayer been banned. But public schools serve all Americans, regardless of their choice of faith, so schools cannot offer or lead prayers. Individuals can pray all they want. No faith has the right to force students to be indoctrinated. If you want your God formally represented in schools, you need to allow Allah, Shiva, and all other gods in, too.

“You created “us” when you confused women’s rights with feminism.”

– No, you are the only one confused on this point. Women’s rights ARE feminism.

You created “us” when you began to immasculate [sic] men.

– Perhaps if your ‘masculinity’ was not rooted in oppressing and denigrating women, you would not feel threatened when women push back. Feminists are fighting against the ways that sexism and patriarchy hurt you, too. (And by the way, it’s ‘emasculate.’)

“You created “us” when you decided to make our children soft.”

– We oppose physical abuse, bullying, hate speech, and violence in schools. We decry the arranged marriage of early teens. We fight for all children to be treated with respect and kindness. Why don’t you?

“You created “us” when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.”

– America was founded on progressive ideals, and on the notion that laws and governance need to change with the people whom they serve. Progressive literally means we make progress, and try to improve how we serve all people. Why are you so deeply afraid of progress?

“You created “us” when you attacked our way of life.”

– What part of your ‘way of life’ was attacked? The part where you beat up gays? That part where you force others to live by your beliefs? The part where you continue to regard women and people of color as inferior beings? The part where you allow industry to destroy our water, air, and future? Perhaps if you dislike being criticized for your way of life, you need to progress into a less destructive, oppressive, provincial, and hateful way of life.

“You created “us” when you decided to let our government get out of control.”

– In what way is the government ‘out of control?’ When it tells you that you need to do your part to protect our world and halt climate change (and no, that one is not a matter of opinion, it’s science. Period. ‘Questioning it’ isn’t skepticism, it’s scientific illiteracy)? When it tells you that science is science, and no, your mythology is not just as legitimate in science classrooms or in serious decisions on policy that will impact the world? When it tells you that no, you can’t force others to live by your religion? When it tells you you cannot discriminate against people whose skin color or sexual orientation you don’t like? When it sets minimum standards that education must reach, to keep our kids competitive in a world that is leaving us in the dust? When it demands that banks and corporations be held responsible for the safety and ethicality of their products and business practices? It’s telling that by ‘out of control’ you mean ‘holding you accountable.’

“You” created “us” the silent majority.

– Silent? FoxNews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Pat Robertson, birtherism, the Confederate flag, Donald Trump. How is it you are ‘silent’ exactly? And let me remind you, your candidate did not win the majority vote. Your majority is coming to an end, and that is exactly what so frightens you that you seek to blame others for your loss of primacy in today’s America.

You created “us” when you began murdering innocent law enforcement officers.

– How did Liberals begin murdering officers? Do you mean when we denounced overreach and abuse by police? When we called for accountability when unarmed civilians are gunned down or beaten to death? Or do you mean when we suggested that the senseless war on drugs has created a police state that is as dangerous for officers as for civilians, all for no good reason?

You created “us” when you took a knee, or stayed seated, or didn’t remove your hat during our National Anthem.

– Remember that freedom of speech you said WE threatened? This would be that. Take a long, hard look at who is trying to suppress whose free speech, and why.

“And we became fed up and we pushed back and spoke up. And we did it with ballots, not bullets.”

– With the help of a deeply gerrymandered system (made so by your representatives), widespread voter suppression and disenfranchisement (of blacks especially, another reason we tend to mention racism), and an outdated electoral college that is violating the actual will of the majority of voters. And now, emboldened by the completely unqualified leader you have maneuvered into this position, some of you are acting out on your prejudices and hatred, lashing out at fellow Americans. You have little of which to be proud. We did not create you. You have let your fears, biases, and insecurities define you. YOU made you.

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America’s Abusive Boyfriend: Why Melania Matters

I know we are all reeling from the constant barrage of outrages coming from the White House and the fully GOP congress. And, like many of you, I have been wrestling with trying to understand the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of Trump’s actions. While certainly the similarities to Hitler’s rise and eventual remodeling of the Reich into his own fascist sandbox are clear and chilling, I think it is a mistake to assume Trump has that much savvy. It may not make much difference in the final analysis, of course, but I think that there is something very different happening in Washington now than in Germany then.

They key to what I think is happening is Melania. Not for herself, of course, she has so little presence as an individual as to almost be a cardboard cutout. But that, is of course, part of what I mean. Laurie Penny’s excellent piece, ‘We should be kind to America’s First Victim — Melania Trump’ though penned in December, makes some incredibly apt points about what we can read about Trump and his character from the interactions between him and his wife.

We already know Trump holds a dim and objectifying view of women. Melania almost never speaks, and the smile that never reaches her eyes is the same one we turn on someone we loathe, but fear to anger even more (you know the one I mean; it’s the smile you give your friend who gets rough and aggressive when he drinks, or the guy who catcalls you on a lonely street). She responds to him as she is expected to, and her visage shifts the moment he looks away. She holds herself stiffly and distantly, with that plastic smile never slipping. He, in turn, behaves as though she is an accessory: time and time again we have seen it. He doesn’t care how she gets from the car to the steps, as long as she shows up and looks perfect. He doesn’t even seem to care that she is there, merely that if she were not it would reflect poorly on him. He thinks no more of her than of his cufflinks.
We all know this couple. He is controlling, domineering, very full of himself, but deeply insecure. She, for whatever reason, is attracted by his seeming strength, protectiveness, and power. At first, he seems like a hero to her, and by the time she realizes who he really is, she’s in too deep. He’s already cut her off from her friends and her support system, already convinced her that she will fail without his help. And when he strikes out at her, with words or fists or draconian limits to her individuality, she rationalizes it: he’s worried about me, he wants to protect me, he knows what’s best. She knows, deep down, that he is an abuser, but she can’t summon the courage to walk away, for a whole host of reasons that he manipulates every chance he gets. You’ve been picturing someone you know as you’ve been reading, haven’t you?
The thing is, abusers never think they are abusers. The believe they are strong, They think that’s how proper, strong men keep their women in line. When they see a more ‘equal’ couple, or a woman with strong opinions, they consider him weak, and her out of line.
What does this have to do with Trump? Everything. We are too busy assuming he has an agenda, that he is founding a fascist dictatorship in flagrant contempt for the rule of law, democracy, and the constitution. We assume he has some sinister vision for the nation, and every move is a step on the way to realizing that vision. But Trump is neither that subtle nor that clever. He is a buffoon, a mobster dressed up because he can, not because he cares (ever notice how poorly his suits fit? He wears them like he wears powers; awkwardly, brashly, like a street thug suddenly rich).
He isn’t suppressing the press and science and communication because he’s a fascist, or because he has thought far enough ahead to consider why he needs them silenced. He’s doing it because he thinks that’s how a president, a ‘real’ president, is supposed to act. He believes ‘they should show him respect?’ He sounds like a damn Corleone. He isn’t defying the law and democracy and the constitution because he has a vision of a new world he wants to found. He is simply, in his mind, being a strong leader. This is why he thinks Obama was weak, and Putin is admirable. Obama couldn’t keep his country in line, but Trump will show this unruly woman, er, nation, who’s boss. Every bit of his language on the campaign trail and since his election have echoed that of an abuser. Don’t take my word for it, look at the resources listed below.
I find it telling that one of the first things Trump did was defund domestic violence programs. It struck me immediately as an odd thing for him to have focused on so quickly. It was never a talking point, unlike so many other things he has denounced, and it has never been a top of mind issue even for the worst of the budget hawks. But I suspect, consciously or not, the existence of programs to help victims of domestic violence triggers him. For abusers, there is no such thing as abuse. If a man abuses, the woman pushed him to it.
While considering matters from this perspective does not offer any comfort in light of the draconian policies he’s enacted, understanding that Trump is simply being Trump may make it easier to remove him, and easier to survive him. We, as a nation, need to find the will to dump our new and abusive boyfriend. Acknowledging that he is, indeed, abusive, may be the critical first step.
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Chiropractic is not Medicine

Because I am sick to death of having this argument and having to find these sources over and over, I’ve assembled them in one place. Bottom line is, sure, you can spend your money however you like, but do NOT, even for a moment, pretend that going to a chiropractor for anything other than back pain (and even then it’s a long shot) is even remotely scientifically valid. It’s not. It’s hooey, hogwash, bunkum, bullshit, quackery, snake oil. It’s right up there with anti-vaxxers, homeopathy, or crystal healing. It’s pure woo, and worse, it’s woo that bilks the gullible out of their money, poses significant risk of letting actual illnesses going undiagnosed and/or untreated, and carries its own risks of damage and injury.

“There is no evidence that chiropractic can deal with anything other than back problems, however, any even then scant controlled clinical evidence is available for that.” – ScienceBase

“When [chiropractors] do “chiropractic adjustments” to correct a “subluxation” for other conditions, especially for non-musculoskeletal conditions or “health maintenance,” they are employing a non-scientific belief system that is no longer viable.” – Science Based Medicine

“Many chiropractors claim that correcting these misalignments (“subluxations”) can restore health and that regular spinal adjustments are essential to maintain it. Neither logic nor scientific evidence supports such a belief. Although spinal manipulation can relieve certain types of back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal symptoms, there is no scientific evidence that it can restore or maintain health.” – Pain
(also offers an exhaustively referenced summation of the controversy surrounding chiropractic)

“Most chiropractors do not share the view of health and disease held by health scientists worldwide. Most dispute the idea that germs are the primary cause of infectious diseases, disparage conventional medical practices–particularly drug therapy and surgery—and oppose various scientifically-based public health measures. In short, chiropractic has been anti-science in its philosophy and approach to health care.” – National Council Against Health Fraud, Position Paper on Chiropractic


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Welcome to the Racist Left

Why Bernie Sanders and his Bernie Bros have become as toxic as Trump.

I recently encounterea disturbingly entitled, condescending, privilege-blinded argument for why so-called ‘progressives*’ are doing everything possible to undermine Hilary’s campaign, even if it means Trump wins. (Warning, this is a bit of a rant.)

In a discussion of the election, I called out a white man (I didn’t go there; he was the one to say “And for the record, I’m a white male, I’ll be just fine under Drumpf”) for being blinded by privilege to the actual consequences to more vulnerable Americans: LGBT, people of color, people of other faiths, women, the poor, etc.. In other words I said that just because *he* could weather that, didn’t mean it wouldn’t have serious, actual harms to others, and forgetting or ignoring that was selfish and entitled. In response, after he mansplained to me that I *really* only support HRC because she’s female, this fellow actually said that “Women and minorities did that to themselves when they voted for a candidate who doesn’t care about their needs and who likely can’t win the general election.” In other words, if women and minorities are too dumb to pick the *right* candidate, as decreed by the straight white male, they deserve to be punished. When I said that was the most outrageously entitled thing I’d ever heard, the reply was “Apparently they aren’t smart enough to pick a candidate. Again, they chose corruption. So really, it’s on them. Has nothing to do with me. I tried to help them. They voted against their own interest. Not me.”

I am stunned, though I suppose I shouldn’t be. I have heard a lot of entitled, privileged crap from the Bernie Bros, but that absolutely takes the cake. It sums up perfectly where the leftist political purists have gone so unbelieveable (and yet, so predictably) worng. Screw the more vulnerable people if they are too dumb to do things my way. *I* will undermine the Democratic candidate in any way I can to teach the poor, ignorant slobs a lesson. I mean, wow. Who needs the GOP when the left can produce something like this? As much as I appreciated so of Sander’s ideas, I am seeing pretty clearly that he has done for the left what Trump has done for the right: created a blinkered hoard of evidence proof, selfish, entitled (and frankly, racist and sexist), fanatics who will set the world on fine and to blazes with anyone else. By allowing this toxic rhetoric to fester all along, by not conceding after California, and by dragging this crap out to the convention for no bloody reason, Bernie has completely thrown under the bus the people he claimed to want to help. And if he does try to launch a coup at the convention, get used to hearing ‘President Trump.’

* I say ‘so-called progressive’ because while I get that being a progressive means seeking change, even radical change, it doesn’t mean privileged white guys claiming moral and intellectual superiority over minorities in the name of being progressive. Progressives, I have to believe, are not willing to sacrifice OTHERS to get what they want. These ideologues aren’t the ones whose livelihoods, marriages, health care, civil rights, and possibly lives are at stake, and they don’t give a damn about the people who will actually take the risk. That’s not progressive. That’s just self-serving.

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When ‘Women Against Feminism’ Goes Rape Apologist…it isn’t pretty.

*cue the frothing rage*

Below, I have linked (using a ‘do not link’ format)to a horrible piece entitled “Feminists want us to define these ugly sexual encounters as rape. Don’t let them” Penned by libertarian Cathy Young, a supporter of Women Against Feminism and frequent critic of campus anti-rape programs, this article is….the most egregiously dismissive and patronizing pieces of garbage I have ever read, though not surprising given the source.

The author says with contempt that “Today, [feminism] not only embraces an absolutist version of ‘no means no,’ in which any hint of reluctance must halt further attempts at sexual intimacy; the movement also insists that only a clear (and sober) ‘yes’ means yes.” That’s right, that is exactly what is demanded, and it’s long overdue. But she thinks this is the problem????

Hell, no lady, the fact that you don’t think consent has to be explicit is the problem. The fact that you dismiss psychological coercion as ‘bad behavior’ is a problem (‘boys will be boys’ much?). The fact that you are OK with ‘no means try harder’ is the problem. But, oh, no, the author moans, “This isn’t just feminist theory; it’s having an impact in the real world. Consent-education programs on college campuses…are increasingly adopting the ‘yes means yes’ approach.” See? she says, the demand for positive consent is *gasp* becoming the norm! What will all those poor men do if they aren’t allowed to override a woman’s denial by coercion, guilt-tripping, and psychological force!!!

She also, disturbingly, describes instances where she used the same coercion, and laughingly dismisses the notion that she herself perpetrated sexual violence on a male partner. Behold:

“There was the man who told me it was too soon for us to get involved and said, more than once, ‘We shouldn’t be doing this’ the evening we first went to bed. If I were to claim victimhood, I would either have to admit to being a perpetrator as well or fall back on a blatantly sexist double standard.”

News flash, Ms. Young, you ARE a perpetrator. What you describe IS an act of sexual violence. Perhaps it need not be punished in the same degree as an overtly violent rape, but it is NOT OK. It should NOT be enshrined by our culture as OK. The author here relies upon a false sense of extremes – it’s rape, or it’s OK. It’s specifically violent rape, or it’s just bad judgment. No. There is a world of sexual violence that lies between outright assault and consensual sex. Our laws, happily, are just barely beginning to recognize this, a fact which the author laments. (Perhaps she wonders what *she* will do if no longer allowed to override a man’s denial by coercion, guilt-tripping, and psychological force?)

This is a woman who has no idea what consent means, who has allowed (and defends) the violation of her own consent, and who has doubled down on her own violation of another’s consent. Her argument then, seems little more than a justification of her own callousness, with a heavy dollop of ‘boys will be boys-‘style kowtowing to the patriarchy. We have along way to go…..

Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than this editorial is (unsurprisingly) the comments….men weighing in on the flaws and deception of women, the failure of women to uphold the family unit, the unfairness of women having ALL the control over sex…. THIS friends, is why we need feminism, and the more ground feminism gains, the more outrageous it’s critics look. Case in point.

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The Mindset of the GOP & What it Means for the Future.

A recent public opinion poll (released Feb 24, 2015) showed a couple of very scary points. There is a lot about favored presidential contenders (though none had yet announced), and some not very surprising assessments of public opinion regarding other figures such as Netanhayu and GWBush.

However, a few items caught my eye in particular:

Q15 (Republicans) Do you believe in global warming or not?

Believe in global warming: 25%
Do not believe in global warming; 66%
Not sure: 10%

Q16 (Republicans) Do you believe in evolution or not?

Believe in evolution: 37%
Do not believe in evolution: 49%
Not sure: 13%

These are not surprising, but they are worrying. These numbers show an almost suicidal rejection of the realities of climate change, and an almost equally dogmatic rejection of science generally. Students brought up to hold these views will not be competitive in the job market here, and certainly not globally. Those who hold such views are at a significant disadvantage in terms of their core scientific literacy, or their understanding of the role of science in our lives, or as a tool for describing physical reality.

The thing is, science is not actually up for debate of this nature. Of course, science is constantly testing itself, challenging itself, and correcting itself where the evidence shows something we didn’t see before. But that’s something different, though it is a process the Right has exploited to make it seem as though science is, in fact, negotiable, subject to majority consensus, or something on which to vote. But carbon is simply carbon, no matter who likes it or who doesn’t. Hydrogen will have one proton, even if Congress or the Vatican or an Imamm or anyone else decide differently.  Gravity has no respect for politics.

And at their core, the theories of evolution and climate change are just as fundamental. Ocean salinity doesn’t change based upon political declarations, and glaciers do not reappear when a talking head declares, with uneducated certainty, that global warming isn’t real. Both of these theories, in addition to being unalterable by mere decree, are vital to our survival. Yes, both. Entire fields like genetics, immune theory, even medicine generally, rely upon the understanding that organisms evolve in conjunction with their environments. But more salient perhaps, is the significance climate change has for our future. There is no dissent or disagreement or uncertainty among scientists; climate change is real, and we are causing it. Period. Full stop. Until we admit this fact, we won’t (and really, can’t) stop causing it. There are no bigger stakes attached to any issue in our times. And only 25% of republicans think this is real. The rest have stuck their fingers in their ears, and accepted the assurances of self-proclaimed “not a scientist” politicians that climate change isn’t real.

The response to the next question in the poll is perhaps even more alarming, because it’s not about rejecting physical reality, it’s about enshrining the right to not only reject physical reality, but the right to suppress anyone who does not also reject physical reality. In fact, it rejects pretty much anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with the entire, anti-science, largely misogynistic, Randian, egocentric, ethnocentric worldview of today’s GOP. That question?

Q17 (Republicans) Would you support or oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion?

Support establishing Christianity as the national religion:  57%
Oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion:  30%
Not sure: 13%

Let that sink in a moment. Not even one third of Republicans, as polled nationally, think imposing a state religion is a bad idea. A few more aren’t sure if it’s a bad idea. This isn’t a question of the virtues or vices of Christianity; that’s a discussion for elsewhere. It’s a question of one simple phrase: “national religion.” In ANY nation, given ANY religion, this is simply a bad idea. Period. The founding fathers knew this, and saw the havoc state religion wreaked in Europe. We see the havoc it wreaks in the Middle East today.

Hypothetically, how might such a thing work, exactly? What would instituting a national religion mean in concrete terms? Would those of other faiths or no faith need permits, exemptions, badges? Would they be subject to a higher tax rate, as Islam dictates of Jews and Christians? Whose version of Christianity would the GOP like to establish as the national religion? Acrimony between the hundreds of denominations is often just as bitter as that between fully different faiths. What of science, of history, of cold hard fact; where those counter the claims of religion, would they be outlawed, as they are in parts of the Muslim world? Would the United States try to outlaw reality?

We have come close already. The House recently passed a bill that “forbids scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work.” In other words, climate scientists are banned from consulting on legislation dealing with climate science. Several states have enacted bans on the use of the words “climate change.” Yet, oddly, the weather patterns in those states remain abnormal. In the same way, removal of factual sex ed, shockingly, doesn’t remove the sex drive from teenagers. Abstinence-only states have the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancy. Anti-vaxx communities have the highest rates of previously controlled disease outbreaks. States that are the most aggressive in shutting down women’s health care are showing higher rates of HIV infection, breast cancer, and other maladies once prevented by Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. It seems banning facts doesn’t change them. Sticking our heads in the sand only invites us to get our asses kicked.

We are (and have long celebrated the fact), a diverse, pluralistic, and mixed society, strongly founded in science and reason. Yet a growing percentage of our population wish to reject all of that. The GOP has shown increasingly racist overtones, has supported and even enacted legislation allowing and protecting discrimination, marginalization of minorities and women. It has actively undermined public education, and pushed the poor further into poverty. All this in direct contradiction to the factual evidence that shows these are bad ideas that don’t work. And the general push among the GOP is overwhelmingly towards the demolition of the wall between church and state, and the incorporation of religion into government. It is not outrageous to consider that an empowered GOP, with a republican president, could in fact move in this direction.

Consider then, the shape of a such nation, arrayed under a state religion, which rejects, by fiat, the realities of the psychical world. Science and history along with other disciplines are shaped by what agrees with the creed of the state religion, and the facts are lost. Not only will we lose out technological capabilities, our medical knowledge, but we will lose our past. “Who controls the past,” Orwell famously wrote, “controls the future.” How would such a nation face the increasingly technologically based challenges of that future? Having destroyed our ecosystems, depleted or poisoned our water, weakened our population by increasingly favoring the whims of the ultra-rich over the wellbeing of the poor, and rendered the next generation scientifically and culturally illiterate, what will that future look like?  Is it a future we want? Is this a future we want to leave our children?

Find the Poll here:

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Why Religion in Education Matters: Basic Science Literacy

I posted about this photo below a while back. (Larger photos at the album linked below.)  The web is oddly ambivalent about whether this is really part of a science textbook; even Snopes won’t come down and confirm it. ( So I held my nose and ordered a (used) copy. What I got was actually the ‘Home Teacher’s Edition.’ I am very sorry to report that this image IS an actual page in the “Science 4 for Christian Schools” textbook. 

The Teacher’s Edition (TE) shows an image of the same page above the suggested guidelines for how parents are to teach the unit on electricity (Pg. 51 of the Teacher’s Edition). The question given to start the unit reads: 1. Can you see electricity? (no) Where does electricity come from? (No one knows for sure.) The answers are given in italics, in case the parents aren’t sure of the proper response. (See the second photo; larger version at the album linked at the bottom of the article.)

From there, the unit progresses in a relatively accurate discussion of atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. Now, I must admit, the last time I sat in a science class was a while ago, but this seems to accord with what I recall.

However, the discussion concludes with the teacher asking the students what makes atoms stay together. The teacher is instructed to tell them that “scientists have many ideas but we do not know for sure because nobody has ever been inside an atom.” The teacher is then to direct students to read a Bible verse, Colossians 1:16-17. I will quote the text that follows, but it’s in the third photo below (go to the album if you can’t read the text in the thumbnail here).

“Everything is held together by the power of Christ Jesus. Without His preserving power, the universe would fly apart. While those who are unsaved struggle to find out why atoms stay together, we as Christians know that God does it. (Bible Promise: I. God as Master)”

This is a somewhat surprising move, even among the more extreme curricula I have seen. After all, there is no inherently religious reason to call into question the nature of electricity. Electricity is essentially ideologically neutral, and inserting “God did it” into this discussion seems an awkward fit. But that last bit after the paragraph holds the key. These “Biblical Promises” are a series of core doctrinal statements that serve to define God, his nature, and his supposed role in creation.

The entire book, and from all evidence (though I don’t have other books in the series in hand), the whole series is geared around ‘demonstrating’ or proving this list of “Biblical Promises.” But as anyone even basically familiar with logic can likely see, this is begging the question. By definition, begging the question, or circular reasoning, refers to an argument in support of a claim that relies upon the truth of the claim itself in order to prove the claim is true. By setting out this list of ‘promises,’ and then making sure that the text always fits those promises, they are begging the question. The entire enterprise then becomes an exercise in proving a claim made at the beginning. The goal is not teaching science (which this text seems to be in little danger of doing), but rather supporting a religious ideology, distorting or changing facts as they see fit. However, since the core aim of the curriculum is ideology, not science, every piece of it must be crafted to point back to the ideology. Scientific accuracy or even accuracy about the very nature of reality is simply a casualty along the way.

Furthermore, this kind of ideologically based education does have consequences in the world. How many other seemingly innocuous facts of not only science are being re-tooled in this way? For example, this book’s entire first chapter discusses the Moon as emblematic of ideology, dismissing commonly held cosmological theories with confidence because the Bible tells us God spoke and the Moon was created. There is an entire lesson (Ch.1, Lesson 4), devoted the the “purpose” of the moon, which, of course, is to glorify God. And in the future, this science lesson teaches, the purpose of the moon will be to warn people of the end of the world. (Pg. 15, Discussion question 7.)

Science is not alone in being subject to this kind of treatment. We know history has fallen victim to such revisionism as well. Consider Oklahoma’s recent efforts to do away with the “unpatriotic” AP History course. As Orwell famously said, “who controls the past controls the future.” Losing the facts of history unmoors us from basic truths about the world in which we live, and the loss, therefore, of factual history is indeed dangerous. But the loss of scientific literacy may be even more so. What place does an adult thus trained have in the 21st Century? I am tempted to resort to sarcasm, and say “Congress” but that answer is neither as far-fetched or as funny as we might prefer. Clearly this curriculum is not producing scientists (or historians). Given the nature of such disciplines, we must assume it is also not producing engineers, doctors, likely not even innovators—how can one innovate when one lacks a fundamental understanding of how the world works? One hopes that mathematics at least, is free of ideology, but one wonders. What sort of population would we have fashioned, were these curricula to become mainstream?

The book quoted and shown in this piece is “Science 4 for Christain Schools Textbook; Home Teacher’s Edition”  ©Bob Jones University Press

Larger photos of the actual book:

Page 52

Page 51

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The American Dream: A cultural theory perspective

I recently got chatting with someone I met in on a political forum, and found myself in a (surprisingly and pleasantly civil) political discussion. The other person and I tend to come from rather different views, but our discourse has been rewarding. He asked me to put forth some comments on the following question, and thought it was something worth sharing:

“What does the term ‘American Dream’ mean to you? And is it still possible for everyone to achieve it?”

My background is in interdisciplinary Humanities and cultural studies, so I approach these kinds of things from a lot of odd places. In this case, I’d have to say that I see this concept though the lens of Marx, Horkheimer & Adorno, Foucault, and Baudrillard. In a nutshell, the work of these thinkers culminates in the assertion that cultural values, particularly those related to material goods, are created entirely by the interests of industry.

For Marx, it’s the Superstructure; for Horkheimer and Adorno, it’s the Culture Industry ; for Foucault it’s Discourse; for Baudrillard, Simulacra. Essentially, the thesis is that the “Culture Industry,” which refers to not only the ‘oligarchy’ that holds power, but to all industry which produces media, art, and entertainment as well as material culture (everything we buy), cannot survive unless it is ‘powered’ by something. That ‘something,’ of course is we consumers. We MUST be kept not only quietly playing our part in the production of culture (both conceptual and material, remember), but we MUST keep consuming it.

This is, after all, the premise of The Matrix (which was based explicitly on Baudrillard’s Simulation and Simulacra). The ‘machine’ can’t run without an energy source, or ‘batteries,’ in the film’s vernacular. Our day-to-day lives are the distraction, and the rat-race the hamster wheel that keep us happily (or at least busily) producing and consuming. There is a reason that our culture reifies the nobility of sacrifice, and of struggling to get by until the big break comes along, and perpetuates the notion that “hard work and a little pluck can get you anywhere.” It is imperative that the majority of people have no real awareness of how the system works, lest they discover they are, in fact, only slaves to the machine. Though this has been done so well for so long, that most people, even if confronted with the reality, choose to shrug their shoulders and return to their hamster wheel. Like Cypher, we prefer to live in the dream, and believe that we are free, independent, and in control of our choices.

THAT is the “American Dream.” It has always been a prescription for consumerism. Get the job, buy the house, have the kids, furnish the house just so, buy a nice car, keep your lawn looking perfect, your family well-dressed, and so on. The American Dream pushed the marketplace into every corner of our lives, until there is no place left where we can be citizens and not consumers (see Naomi Klein’s superb documentary No Logo on this idea). The American Dream drove us out of cities into suburbs, fueled our obsession with keeping up with the Joneses. and gave us a goal just clear enough to inform our consumption while just vague enough to keep us always doubting whether we had ‘made it,’ or if we needed a bigger house, or a newer car before we could consider ourselves successful.

The American Dream kept generations of Americans complacent and complicit in their own imprisonment as cogs in the machine. Our grandparents fought viciously (and many Americans, particularly older ones, still do), to protect the rights of CEOs, tycoons, and the super-rich to not only stay that way, but to get richer on our backs because the American Dream promised them they would be numbered among those super-rich someday. They have been so fleeced by the American Dream that they resist taxing the rich, because they really believe that will be them someday. We see voters in the poorest areas voting squarely against their own best interests time and again.

The American Dream insists that America is the greatest nation in the world. But that certainty only prevents us from realizing that we are anything but, and thereby makes it impossible to change for the better. Any ideology that questions that notion, or the virtue of consumerism, or suggests that we the people are not free, that we are a commodity, a resource employed to fuel the agendas of industry, is condemned as ‘heretical,’ or, in current parlance, ‘socialist.’

By now I am sure you don’t need to ask if I think the ‘American Dream’ is still attainable; it never was. The pursuit of it has kept us occupied, like a carrot on a stick, rather than offering us a reachable future. We have to radically revise our ideas of what it means to be successful adults, human beings, and members of society before we will have a goal that we can reach. And it can’t be the ‘me first,’ ‘look out for number one’ consumerist dream. It can’t let corporate America make the rules. We have to reject the mall, the superstore, the supersize, the ‘lifestyle brands.’ We must be willing to stop filling our lives and our homes with the latest plastic crap, made in third world countries by little better than slave labor, from toxic compounds that load our air and water with pollutants, and which, once abandoned (as they must be if the machine is to produce and sell still more), will linger in our landfills and our oceans for centuries. We have to be willing to look at windmills in our yards, to walk a few blocks, to embrace public transport that works, to recognize that civic infrastructure HAS to be a priority, as does the health and wellbeing of ALL our citizens. We should be past fearing the consequences of getting sick, past copper wire internet, past fossil fuels, and past going into lifelong debt for education. We should be past arguing about women’s health care, or gay marriage, or whether science is actually a thing.

Other countries are past these things, and they are leaving us in the dust. Our conservative pundits call them godless and socialist and communist, and flog the masses into a frenzy of fear, telling us they are coming for our American Dream. And those other nations laugh at us, as well they should.

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Why #NotAllMen is not women’s problem

In conversation with someone I respect today about the #YesAllWomen issue, I mentioned the “M&M” analogy (imagine a bowl of M&Ms. Only 10% are poisoned. Grab a big handful. No? What’s the problem? Not all the M&Ms are poisoned….) as a counter to the “NotAllMen” response to #YesAllWomen. I was informed that viewing every male I encounter as a possible threat, as potentially hostile, and as a potential rapist/attacker/abuser/harasser was “not a productive way to establish relationships,” and a “poor way to move in the world.”

No kidding, ya think? Tell me something I don’t know!

While this person is someone I respect tremendously both in terms of intellect, reasoning, ethics, and all around decency, to get this response from him(yes, he), was painful and disappointing. He was, however well-intentioned, speaking from inside male privilege.

It is true he was not in my life when any number of relationships went bad, and I feared for my safety, feared getting hit, was hit, was stalked, was verbally abused either in the relationship or for ending it; but he has heard all these stories.

He was also not in my life when I needed to have my car towed 135 miles through the middle of nowhere. The tow truck driver, with whom I was riding, since my car was hitched up on his truck, spent most of that time telling me in graphic detail what he could do to a woman (and most definitely wanted to do to me), with the hand from which he’d lost the outer two fingers. How does one respond in that situation? I had no escape had he decided to demonstrate without my consent. I reported it of course, and was assured that man would never drive for AAA again. Ha!

That friend was with me three years later, though, when I next needed a tow in Chicago and the same man showed up, easily recognized by that hand. I consider myself a brave person, but I quite literally ran and hid. Seeing that man from my nightmares walking around free, still working for AAA, and still having access to women in potentially vulnerable situations told me just how cheaply my experience was valued. Although, come to think of it, my friend told me then he’d never really believed me until he saw the man himself. Surely, he had thought, I was exaggerating, I took it the wrong way, I blew it out of proportion. And anyway, not all men are like that!

He was, however, in my life when I was almost driven out of my Master’s degree following rumors of impropriety between myself and a male professor with whom I had dared be friends. He was in my life when I woke up in the middle of the night to find a stranger with a knife and a flashlight standing over my bed trying to pull the covers off of me.* I never knew who that intruder was; and I never felt comfortable in that neighborhood again; I moved two days later. That man had obliterated not only my sense of security, but my financial security by forcing me to move.

That friend was also in my life when my elderly and disabled mother was traded by her roommate to a drug dealer to rape in order to pay off a $50 drug debt.

So it was a shock to me that he could still protest, almost 20 years into our friendship, that approaching every male I meet as potential threat was a problem *I* had, a flawed approach on MY part, failure of MY reasoning skills, and yes, unfair to men. As enlightened as I otherwise find this person, he pounced on MY approach to men as a problem; because Not All Men. *sigh*

Yes, of course I know that this dynamic is a poor way to begin relationships, be they personal, professional, of transitory. EVERY woman knows this. But, as #YesAllWomen has so poignantly shown, we also know the price for rejecting this approach. We are told as young girls to be careful of every man we meet. We are told not to do a thousand things that will put us at risk. And I’m not talking about sex without a condom or skydiving, here. I’m talking about all the things large and small that women calculate all the time.

Don’t talk to strangers. If a guy at a bar asks for your number, give him a fake one, because it’s dangerous to just refuse outright. If you leave work (or anywhere) late, find someone to walk you to your car. Be sure to let a friend know when you leave somewhere, where you’re going, and then call them when you have arrived safe and didn’t get raped going home a few blocks at night. Give a friend the name and number of your date, and a time you will call to check in, so they can give police the info if you never come home from that date. Pay attention to how you walk if you’re alone at night; remember, don’t walk like a victim. Don’t wear a ponytail because it makes a convenient handhold for an attacker. Keep your keys between your fingers so you have a weapon at the ready. Yell ‘fire’ if you are attacked, because you have a better chance of actually getting help than if you yell ‘rape.’ This is a woman’s reality, every day. We all know this drill.

And let’s not even start talking about the professional world. I have never, in any of the jobs or careers I have had, been assured of fair treatment as a woman. I have been harassed, marginalized, underpaid, “gal-Friday’ed,” propositioned, threatened; the usual litany. All women have experienced some kind of misogyny or discrimination. That’s what #YesAllWomen means!

That is the reality that men cannot ever truly grasp; no more than I, however much I may care and want to make it better, can ever really grasp what it is to be a person of color. It’s just not my reality, and the best I can do is accept that it is a reality in which I will never participate, and accept that I do not deserve to be above suspicion in terms of my behavior on race until and unless I demonstrate that I’m not racist. I don’t have the right to co-opt the discussion of race by defending my not-racism. And I sure as HELL don’t have the right to tell a person of color that viewing all white people with caution is a “poor way to move in the world.”

Not that I haven’t done just that. I have “but not all white people’d” with the worst of them, with the best intentions. I have been guilty of this as surely as I have been guilty of racism, in ways I could have understood had I been paying attention, and in ways I probably could never understand because I live inside white privilege. But that’s just it. If you live inside a privilege, you don’t get to tell those who don’t share that privilege that their fear, caution, or misgivings are a “poor approach.” Very few people wear signs identifying them as racists. No one wears a sign identifying them as a rapist, an abuser, or a misogynist. And like racism, sadly for both, misogyny can be dangerous, even fatal. So yes, women do—and at present, have to—assume that because 10% of the M&Ms are poison, this M&M could, in fact, be poison.

And no, that doesn’t mean I hate men, or view them all badly. Is it unfair to men? Hell yes, it is. Misogyny hurts men, too, I don’t think anyone is arguing that. But it hurts men differently. And I’m not going to bet my life and safety to assuage the butthurt of a man who is offended because I regard any male I don’t know as a possible threat. Don’t like it, my male interlocutor? Be the change.

There was a kerfluffle a few years back about a police department that had lost the trust of the community because they had not acted swiftly and decisively to remove corrupt officers. I think this is much the same situation. Nobody WANTS to live in a world where they can’t trust the police, and of course, no one thinks every police officer is corrupt. But as long as you know that some are, you just can’t know. As long as some are, this one *might* be. And as long as people who report corrupt officers are ignored or disbelieved, do you really feel comfortable trusting any random officer with your life? Now replace ‘officer’ and ‘the police’ with ‘man/men,’ and ‘corrupt’ with ‘a rapist….’ Now do you get it?

But remember, only 10% of the M&Ms are poisoned. Eat up!

* Just to be clear, while this was a terrifying incident that stayed with me for years, I was not physically harmed. I woke up, and with all the good temper I usually show when awakened in the middle of the night, began cussing the guy out and demanding the get the &*^% #$@! our of my house right the hell &*^%$ now. Not the response we are taught to have, I know, but in this case, it clearly derailed his power fantasy, and after backhanding me across the face, he fled into the night, letting out my four cats in the bargain. And it does not escape me that had I followed the advice women are given for how to handle such circumstances, which is “don’t fight back, just survive.” I would very likely have been raped….

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