Archive | August, 2016

Associated Press: An Apology For Hillary ?

29 Aug

clinton-foundationHow sad and disheartening that the Associated Press (AP) has devolved to the likes of Fox News, where one can “report” a series of lies and present it as news. What is even more profoundly disturbing is that when confronted with the fact that they the AP had no evidence of wrong doing and should offer a retraction, they took a very petulant “I got my hand caught in the cookie jar”defense. Is the AP trying to model itself off of the behavior of Trump?

For those not familiar with the story, some brief background. Last week the AP pitched a story that screamed “Half of the people Hillary Clinton met with as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation donors!!” The problem? They only looked at two years of her time as Secretary of State. They threw out every meeting she had with anyone they considered a “government official.” Left with 154 PRIVATE CITIZEN meetings (out of over 7000), it’s a wonder that only 85 turned out to be donors to a major philanthropic organization. When major news outlets — including professional Clinton basher the New York Times — called them out and asked for details, the AP refused.

Honestly, I was embarrassed for Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan of the AP. Their claims and allegations are not only unfounded but read as though it is a parody from The Onion: “Secretary of State Clinton talked to very important people and even took money for her foundation.” Really? Is it that far of a stretch to think that high profile people talk to other high profile people and ask them for money for a foundation–and by the way, The Clinton Foundation helps to provide medication for more than half of all adults and 75% of children impacted by HIV/AIDS world wide, not insignificant.

In fact, if you take the time to comb through Braun and Sullivan’s article, you will see they have zero evidence to corroborate any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton. Sadly, when faced with this subterfuge by Braun and Sullivan last Tuesday, they have offered no apology, no repair, and in fact have approached the debacle in a very Trumpian manner.  Perhaps, they are trying to build a wall around Hillary and they will force her grandson Aidan to pay for it? Journalism requires honesty and transparency. How sad that the AP instead opted for innuendo and smear tactics, picking “facts” to prove a flawed thesis.

What is of great concern is that the AP article reads like a bunch of anti-Hillary bumper stickers. There seems to be great intent on behalf of Braun and Sullivan to deliver talking points without any substance, an approach we have seen used by the likes of Fox News. Yes, I admit, it is a low blow to be compared to Fox, and that is where you are now AP (in my best, “but y’are Blanche, y’are!” voice). When did AP start to stand for Appalling Practices?

Racism and Why We Must Defeat Trump

8 Aug

RAcismListening to Trump’s divisiveness, fear mongering, and racist statements, in conjunction with having to read through too many woefully misinformed and many racist comments on my recent article about Hillary, I feel compelled to implore people who will be voting in the Presidential election to please ensure that Trump does not take office.

Let us start by trying to really understand what racism is and the impact of racism on our country. Sadly, Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Bigotry seem to be used a great deal as though they are interchangeable.  These words are not interchangeable — they are not all synonyms for Racism.  Racism has to contain an institutional and structural power dynamic.  Here in the United States that power dynamic is held primarily by white, heterosexual, cisgender, middle-aged, Christian, well-educated men; these are the people who establish norms in our society and have a great deal of unearned privilege because of the color of their skin.  This group, called the dominant culture, creates laws and policies — laws and policies that have an ugly history and were designed to help white folk while oppressing folks of color. Thus, Racism is: structural, institutional and systemic power that allows for discrimination and bigotry affecting someone’s health, well being, safety, and livelihood based on real or perceived racial or ethnic affiliation.

Perhaps a bit of a history lesson might be useful here.  Let us keep in mind the multi-generational impact of these laws both economically and emotionally.  1857 the Dred Scott Decision: The Supreme Court said that people of African dissent were not and could not be counted as citizens of the United States.  Let us jump to 1935 with the start of Social Security — a great act to be passed, but sadly it did not initially apply to anyone who was not white, a significant economic impact.  Now let us move to the 1945 GI Bill — great opportunity for soldiers returning from WWII. Sadly, this bill did not initially apply to any of the soldiers of color returning from WWII.  Here we see a HUGE economic impact for generations of whites with great advantage and thus a huge disadvantage for multi-generations of people of color.  The GI Bill allowed for white soldiers to buy their first home and get a college education; this would qualify as unearned privilege due to one’s skin color.

Let us jump to 1954 when we witness the Termination Act.  The Termination Act stripped ALL Native Americans from their identities as our government told all of these people: “Okay, you are white now, so you must live in the cities and turn over your lands to the U.S. government.”  The cultural and financial impact on Native Americans was and remains profound.

Even more recent and disgraceful is SB1070 adopted by Arizona in 2010 and then adopted by Alabama in 2011, which demands that ALL Latinos/Hispanics must have proof of citizenship on them at all times.  If someone with dark skin that is, or is perceived, to be Latino/Hispanic and cannot provide documentation of citizenship, they can be put in jail. Arizona modified the law with HB 2162, which does not do a lot to mitigate the impact of the very racist law of sB1070.

I approach the work of equity and marginalization as a gay man.  Working as an agent of change means I am also obligated to know about the start of Gay Liberation in 1969.  The LGBT community has a long history of being targeted and imprisoned.  Until 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, it was against the law to be gay in the United States.  Sadly, regardless of Lawrence v. Texas, it is still against the law in most states in the south.  In fact, the LGBT community have zero rights and protections in almost all of the South.  My personal call to action is to stand in solidarity with all those that are oppressed by the dominant culture and to honor their narratives–to understand how LGBT people of color are targeted and why.

This history is carried with all targeted people and passed down from generation to generation, much like if you are Jewish your family knows about the Holocaust because it affected your family for many generations.  Of course, the impact is more severe if one carries more than one of these identities.  For example, if you are a woman and a woman of color or if you are a man and a gay man of color, the impact is far worse. Thus the importance of understanding intersecting identities.

Sadly, I, and so many of us, have heard such nasty reactions to the Black Lives Matter initiative. I have even heard such absurd comments like: “Black Lives Matter is racist.” I know many of us grow tired of hearing: “All Lives Matter.” Yes, all lives matter, and can we focus on the black lives right now, given they are disproportionately impacted by violence? Most recently, the shooting of physical therapist, Charles Kinsey, who on his back waving his hands asking, “please don’t shoot me.” There have been over 130 unarmed black men that have been killed just this year, including Philando Castile who was only 32 and Alton Sterling who was shot to death by Baton Rouge police while pinned to the ground.

While I would love to see our country have many political parties, we currently have a two dominant party system. I will be voting for Hillary and we certainly cannot afford a Trump Presidency. I would also ask that you think about the future Supreme Court appointments. Trump’s treatment of Khizr Khan and his family has been nothing less than despicable and is a signature moment for Trump, showing his disdain for veterans and those currently serving in the military.

My hope in publishing this article is to encourage and invite people to engage in a meaningful dialogue around the issues of race, gender, power, and equity.  I hope many will contribute to this conversation in a respectful manner and also help me grow and share more effectively if I have committed any harm.

Dear Hillary: How Very Dare You!

1 Aug

HillaryLet me be as candid and transparent as possible: I was a very strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, and until the past four weeks, held out great hope that he would become our next President. Over the course of the past month, I have had to do a great deal of reflecting and ask myself where does this seemingly irrational antipathy for Hillary Clinton come from? Why have I participated in it? After doing some research and looking hard at systemic misogyny, I have had to confront myself with the truth that I bought into a narrative about Hillary Clinton that has been produced, packaged, and perpetuated by mostly the GOP with the help of many democrats and independents.

This narrative is a 30-year-old vilification of a woman who is bright, independent, wealthy, and powerful — a woman who asks for what she wants and needs. How very dare you, Ms. Clinton? How dare you have a mind of your own? How dare you be bright and powerful? How dare you ask for what you want and need? Don’t you know these rights are still exclusively for white, Christian, cisgender, able-bodied, heterosexual men?

My research indicates that the reality — the facts (I realize facts are immaterial when talking to many Trump supporters) — are that Hillary Clinton is one of the most honest politicians tracked by the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking project Politifact. I would also call upon Jill Abramson’s piece in the Guardian. Most of you probably know Abramson from the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Abramson writes:

As an editor I’ve launched investigations into her business dealings, her fundraising, her foundation and her marriage. As a reporter my stories stretch back to Whitewater. I’m not a favorite in Hillaryland. That makes what I want to say next surprising. Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.

Members of the press, in their misguided attempt to be “balanced”, love to point out that we face a presidential contest between the two least-popular candidates ever. What they fail to do is analyze their own complicity in blindly adhering to the cartoon version of Hillary Clinton. Trump is unpopular — even with many Republicans who weakly support him — because of his stated positions. Secretary Clinton is unpopular largely because of an aggressive campaign of fictions and slander. That campaign has succeeded largely because of systemic misogyny.

Journalist Michael Arnovitz points out in his article Thinking About Hillary–A Plea for Reason (I strongly recommend his piece) that propaganda around Hillary’s “dishonest” nature stems from the pablum written by conservative writer William (I can’t be concerned with facts or evidence) Safire. Safire wrote the 1996 article Blizzard of Lies in which he vilifies and demonizes Hillary as a “congenital liar” without any evidence to support his claims. (How’s that for irony?) What I find profoundly sad is how quickly and how easily I — and so many Americans — bought into this false and misogynistic narrative. This tragically illustrates  how systemic sexism/misogyny is: how it is in the water we drink, the air we breathe, in every fiber we wear.

In fact, most of the resistance to Hillary initially was about how “smug” she was in pushing that “Universal Health Care” agenda. How dare she want all people to have health insurance–why that means that health care is a community health problem–there she goes again, with a mind of her own! Furthermore, apparently she was not behaving as a First Lady should. What the hell is that? How should a First Lady behave? The intense misogyny is too overwhelming to ignore here, and sadly, we are all implicated in this system of oppression. Just this past June, Hillary was shredded by the media for the Armani jacket she wore. Really? The day she was announced as the Democratic Nominee for President, it was a picture of her husband that made the front page of the paper. This is some intense sexism at work. Did anyone ask what Bill Clinton was wearing and who designed it?

Sadly, any time there is a claim of sexism at play, people roll their eyes as though such a thing does not exist, because women, women of color, people of color, LGBT folk, all of the intersecting identities of all targeted communities are always under suspicion. We are disbelieved disproportionately for asking to be treated the same way our white, heterosexual, Christian, cisgender counterparts are treated. All of a sudden being treated equally becomes “special rights.” So say those within the dominant narrative and power structure.

While I have never been a fan of David Brooks, he actually was able to offer some reflection and repair work on Friday’s NPR commentary with  E.J. Dionne. Brooks made the claim that Hillary is too guarded (why wouldn’t she be?).  Kudos to E.J. Dionne for pointing out the double standard to Brooks, that he would not make the same claim about a male candidate for President. Brooks connected and agreed that this was a sexist statement.

What I find profoundly sad is the blatant double standard of how we individually and collectively punish women who seek power, as opposed to how we reward men for the same ambition. As Arnovitz notes in his article:

What I see is that the public view of Hillary Clinton does not seem to be correlated to “scandals” or issues of character or whether she murdered Vince Foster. No, the one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover…Even NBC news, looking back over decades of their own polls, stated that, “she’s struggled to stay popular when she’s on the campaign trail.” If this has nothing to do with gender, then wouldn’t the same thing happen to men when they campaign? But it doesn’t. Why not?

When I try to ask people for specific examples of why they “hate” Hillary, or how has she been dishonest, all I get is “everyone knows she is,” or “that’s just the way I feel.”  These two answers are problematic in so many ways. Regardless, this sentiment is testament to how effective the messaging/propaganda from Republicans has been over the past two decades. All I am asking is this: can we slow down and think critically and not accept without caution or question what is presented to us as the narrative of Hillary Clinton? Can we also allow for the fact that she has made mistakes and more importantly that she grows and learns from her mistakes.

I know I have gone from a true supporter of Bernie Sanders to an apathetic supporter of Hillary to now an excited and enthusiastic supporter of our first female President. It’s certainly true that she isn’t as progressive a candidate as I would like. Neither was Bernie and his stand on guns. Neither is absurd long-shot Jill Stein and her strange anti-science positions. That’s the reality of American politics in 2016.

I truly believe that Hillary and her platform are beneficial to targeted communities: people of color, people in poverty, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and all of the intersecting identities thereof. She is a hard-working, fundamentally honest person for whom — as she so nicely framed it — “the service part has always come easier than the public part.” I welcome people’s input here. All I ask is that you put in check any misogynistic comments and please have evidence to support your assertions.

Every election matters, but this one has even deeper resonance than most. Please remember to vote!

 

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