Tag Archives: Canada

Treason and the Embracing of Fascism

30 Jul

I have spent many weeks working on this particular article, as it has been eating at me and has been the cause of great consternation. While I typically do not reach out to 45’s base supporters, I am reaching out now, as I am exceedingly nonplussed. My observations are that continued support of 45 in the wake of his behavior in the last two years provides overwhelming evidence of a disturbing embracing of fascism and a complete lack of understanding of how a democracy operates, not to mention the overwhelming evidence of how racism unites a huge portion of the population in the United States.

In the past two years we have witnessed such sociopathic behavior from 45 and the entire GOP and what we have witnessed can’t be undone–it cannot be taken back. We now have to look at how do we repair the monumental damage done by this administration and all of you who colluded with this nefarious behavior. Here is just a minuscule list of the damaging and unacceptable behavior that is moving to deteriorate and dismantle our democracy: 45 endorsed and campaigned for Roy Moore who raped countless women and girls–how on earth do you move forward after that? How is that acceptable behavior? While campaigning, 45 mocked a reporter with disabilities–for me, I was certain this would have been the end of his campaign, but the American people sadly proved me wrong and said it was okay to mock people with disabilities. His base further disappointed me by saying it is acceptable for men to grab women by their genitals. I don’t know how any of you readers were raised, but I was raised with respect for human decency and all of 45’s behavior and the collusion and support by the entire GOP fly in the face of human decency.

Another breaking point was the separating of children from their families and placing children in cages in camps. When we learned that one particular child with Down syndrome was separated from his family, FOX correspondent Corey Lewandowski mocked the child and family with his pathetic “womp, womp.” Honestly, how does one bounce back from this behavior? Have you no decency Mr. Lewandowski? Have you no empathy? I grow fearful and exhausted by 45’s base who shout: “if you break the law, you get separated from your family.” Sadly, you all don’t seem to understand how the law works and how applying for asylum works, or what due process means. One has to be on American soil to fill out the paper work to apply for asylum and should not be separated from one’s family and then is entitled to due process.

Now let us talk about treason.  While 45 works to alienate our allies and insults Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, demonstrates unbelievably boorish behavior to the Queen of England, and then praises oppressive dictators like Kim Jung Un seems like a dystopian piece of fiction, but sadly it is our reality. His private meeting with Puppet Master Vlad Putin is more than just problematic, it is in fact treason. 45 said: “It is U.S. foolishness and stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in US relations with Russia,” all of this in the face of the evidence that Russia was involved in disrupting our democratic process. Then to make matters worse, 45 has now invited the Puppet Master to come to DC for another private meeting. Why are we not collectively freaking out over this? Why have charges of treason not been filed?

Moving on to more examples of behavior that you can’t take back–behavior that painfully demonstrates that 45 and the entire GOP display the very worst of humanity. 45 and his administration are currently trying to purge all current soldiers who are impacted by HIV.  Even more disgusting is that 45 is diverting Ryan White funds that are designated to help those impacted by HIV to separate children from families. The very unstable 45 has now also threatened Iran with war.  Is this who we are as a nation? The sad answer is YES–this is who we have devolved to as a nation. It is not a small wonder that we have lost any respect from our allies around the globe.

In my 51 years of living, never did I imagine I would witness the nation embracing Fascism, but alas here we are. Fascism is the embracing and subscription to an authoritarian government that does not allow for opposing views; it vilifies the free press and demonizes opposing voices as “enemies of the state.” There is a strong push towards nationalism and great disdain for economic equality, rampant misogyny, and disdain for the arts and intellectuals — disdain for human rights. All decision making is from a unilateral voice without a system of check and balances, and fraudulent elections.

Call to action: I worry that those of you who remain in 45’s seemingly implacable base, your legacy is one of hate, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and fear. Please prove me wrong. I implore all of us to reflect and show ourselves and the world we are better than this. I want America to weep no more. For all of us in the Resistance, please practice self-care. For me, I am watching Netflix and Kim’s Convenience.

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Hero of the Week Award, August 9: Judge Harvey Brownstone

9 Aug

HarveyI need to thank my friend Bruce for inspiring me to celebrate Judge Harvey Brownstone as this week’s HWA.  Brownstone, the first openly gay judge in Canada, had the great pleasure and honor of officiating the wedding of Thea Spyer and Edith Windsor.  You might recall that it was Windsor who was the plaintiff in the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — which restricted federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex married couples — as a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Thank goodness we finally saw the death of DOMA.

Our Brownstone takes Tikkun olam  (Repair the World) quite seriously.  As a gay Reform Jew, Brownstone recounts:

I came from a Jewish community devoted to inclusiveness, helping one another, and fighting injustice—or, at least that’s what I thought growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.

Our Jewish community was filled with Eastern European immigrants and Holocaust survivors, and my father, a social worker who directed the Jewish Community Center, would bring affluent community members together to assist the newcomers with housing, furniture, clothing, and jobs.

While I do not subscribe to any religion, I have to admit that I wish more humans behaved in this inclusive manner and navigated the world through a lens of social justice.

It is important to note that Brownstone’s start was a difficult and painful one.  Coming from this social justice Jewish background, one would think his parents would have embraced their only child when coming out of the closet.  Sadly, this was not the case:

I decided to tell my parents that I was gay. We had always been close—I was an only child—and I anticipated that my father’s social work background, coupled with my parents’ strong Jewish values of “supporting your children no matter what,” would govern their reaction.

I could not have been more wrong. My parents exploded. They felt shame (“What did we do to cause this?”) and embarrassment (“What will people say when they find out?”). One of the most painful things my mother said to me was, “I survived the Holocaust for this?”

It was immensely painful to know that I had caused my parents such anguish and turmoil simply by revealing the truth about myself. To me, being gay was no different than being right-handed or having brown eyes. I believed—and still do—that we’re born this way. But to my parents, being gay was a choice, a “lifestyle.” I had been taught that what Jewish parents want most of all is for their children to be happy. But I quickly realized that my parents’ definition of “happy” was what counted, not mine.

Fortunately, Brownstone and his parents had a great reconciliation and he was celebrated for the mensch he is:

I invited my parents to my law school graduation, and they proudly attended. That was the beginning of a rapprochement that, over the next five years, would result in a full reconciliation…

In the early ’80s the Jewish community didn’t get that we were all Jews. If the Holocaust had taught us one thing, it was that to the Nazis it didn’t matter if you were gay or straight, Reform or Orthodox—you would share the same fate. But in my experience, this startling reality was overlooked when it came to accepting Jews who were different than the norm.

Eventually I became Chutzpah’s president. And in 1985, I persuaded the board to engage as gays and lesbians with the mainstream Toronto Jewish community.

Again, I am not a religious human, albeit I am spiritual, I do love how Brownstone concludes his interview with ReformJudaism.org:

Put simply—and no one should understand this better than we Jews—civil rights are not just about the law, and they’re not just about rights; they’re about human dignity. We were all made in God’s image. When we discriminate against and hurt each other, we hurt God. And that is why—whether we’re gay, straight, or plaid—this issue needs to matter to us all.

Millennial Generation: Interview with James Queale

26 Jun

Many of you may recognize James’ name as a contributor to TSM.  He is a passionate advocate for social justice and he is a Millennial.

James grew up in New Brunswick, Canada in a conservative home with a Nazarene Preacher for a father.  James currently lives in  Philipsburg, Pennsylvania with his partner Tom. James is 21 years old and born during the Bush Sr. administration. Here is a chance to get to know James better.

On Coming Out: 

I came out when I was 14 and my friend asked if I was gay—which scared me and so I said I was bisexual, but then a week later I told her no, I’m just gay.  By the time I was 16 I was out to everyone except my family.  Even my teachers knew and really I did not experience any discrimination at school. I did face serious homophobia at home however.  I was watching an MTV show and my brother and I were watching a show with a gay kid who said he was gay and a Christian and then my brother and dad started the gay bashing.  I went downstairs and called my friend and I was very upset and it turned out that my dad and brother heard what I was saying. The next day my dad asked if I was struggling with homosexuality—I said I wouldn’t exactly call it a struggle and I was very scared.  But then he started crying and was talking about Jesus.  Then we got to the school and when I got out of the car I felt strangely free.  We went for two weeks without saying anything about it and then after two weeks my parents sat me down and asked what I meant when I said I was gay.  After a minute of silence I said, I like guys.  It kind of felt like they were trying to “cure” me from being gay.  Fortunately I was 16, so they could not legally force me into some type of “repairative therapy.”  From their point of view they now accept me, but from my perspective there is still room for growth.

On Politics:

I tend not to label myself when it comes to politics and religion. Labels come with baggage–baggage you may not realize is there. From a Canadian point of view, I have never chosen a party to follow. Honestly, other than knowing about our political system, I don’t pay attention too often. We have numerous parties to choose from which is nice, because I really feel that Americans are at a disadvantage because there are only two choices. Well, occasionally three, if an independent is running. Canadian politics are far less interesting than American. From an American point of view, I find myself most often relating to the Democrat side of things.

Historical Point of Reference:

9/11 was the biggest thing—by default for my generation this was a defining moment.  I think this is why immigration has become more difficult.  Now people are treated like criminals regardless. As a Canadian, I kept hearing that the terrorists came through Canada, but that did not make any sense.  I was in science class and a classmate said ‘oh the towers got hit.’ Of course, I was only 11, so it was difficult to make sense of it all.

LGBT Issues:

I was fortunate enough to have my rights as a gay Canadian by the time I was 15. Because of this I never knew what it was like to fight for rights until meeting my American partner when I was 18. Little did I know at the time that America was very behind on the equal rights front. I knew many things about America, but I had never REALLY paid attention until meeting Tom.

And this is when the predicament began. How were we going to be together with the law in our way? Well, we still have not figured this out. I can’t be here as his partner because of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), so we are no more than “friends.” Which is something I always tell the border guards so that I am not discriminated against or “turned away” by a homophobe. I am stuck as being a visitor because:

1. To be a student is expensive. American universities cost a lot more per year than Canadian universities. Plus, your sponsor has to have $20,000+ in the bank aside from the money I would have to have in my own bank account. And finally, you can only work on campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

2. I have no family in the US to sponsor me.

3. I do not have a “special” skill to get a company to sponsor me and hire me.

Why don’t we move to Canada? Yes, that would be cheaper and a little less tedious, but my partner has medical issues which has him reliant on his Disability. Most countries want someone who can contribute and since I am not exactly rich, I can’t sponsor him up with me.

Even if DOMA is repealed, it does not mean successful immigration. The American immigration system is broken, difficult, and expensive. I have heard numerous stories of heterosexual couples in Bi-national relationships and they have to move to their partner’s homeland instead. Like I said, that is not an option for me. So what does a young man in love do? Wait and hope.

Biggest Anxiety:

That I will not get to be with the one I love.

Biggest Dream:

1. That one day I will have a permanent home with the one I love.

2. I am an aspiring novelist and hope one day to write something good enough to get published and end up on the NYT bestsellers list. Unfortunately, I am very critical of myself and every time I start a manuscript, I throw it out and start again another time. Also, I suffer from what I call “creative ADD” so it is difficult for me to stick with one idea.

3. I hope one day to see everyone around the world treated equally and have the same rights.

Jamie, thank you for doing this interview and thank you for working so hard for social justice.

Women’s History Month 2012: The Famous Five

24 Mar

The Famous Five

Today we have a special treat for TSM readers.  James Queale a social justice activist and friend of mine is becoming a contributor to TSM.  James is an expat from Canada and lives happily with his partner Tom, also a social justice activist.  Thank you James for joining TSM and sharing your passion and talents.

In the fight for human rights, the objective is to be considered a person. This word holds an extreme amount of weight because it identifies that you or I have worth.
Today I am honoured to celebrate “The Famous Five” (also known as “The Valiant Five”). This group included Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby. They are famous for launching the “Persons Case.” This case had the objective of getting women considered “qualified persons” eligible to sit in the Senate. In 1927 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against women. They were able to appeal and went to  the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council and the case was won on October.18th,1929.
This case set a huge precedent and reminds us today that we should never let anyone tell us that we have no worth.

Women’s History Moment: Elizabeth Bagshaw

18 Oct

Pioneer in Women's Health

Happy Birthday,  Elizabeth Bagshaw.  Bagshaw was a pioneer for women’s rights and health in Canada. Bagshaw was the Director of the very first birth control clinic in Canada.  She ran the clinic from 1932-1966. Yes, much of that time it was illegal for women in the United States to use many different forms of birth control and it was illegal to have an abortion.  This disparity in health care between the Unites States and Canada points not only to our care for women, but specifically the issue of class.  In the U.S., women with resources could purchase birth control or have a safe abortion in Canada, whereas women with few or no resources had no access to birth control and no access to safe abortions.

Fortunately, at least for today, women have the legal right to an abortion and to birth control–I know this vexes many men that cannot control the reproductive organs of women, as well as right wing women who have internalized deep rooted misogyny. It is also very fortunate that Canada maintains the Elizabeth Bagshaw Women’s Clinic:

The Elizabeth Bagshaw Women’s Clinic is a registered non-profit, accredited medical facility committed to providing reproductive and abortion services with full counseling, in a safe and confidential atmosphere.

We have much to learn from our neighbors to the north regarding standard of health, human dignity, and gender parity in health care.

Hero of the Week Award: July 28, Margaret Atwood

29 Jul

Hero of the Week

Margaret Atwood has been a personal hero of mine for at least 25 years.  Her outspoken feminist belief that women should be treated equally and their reproductive rights be respected earned her a permanent place in my heart. Now Atwood has taken up the torch to save libraries in Toronto, thus earning her this week’s HWA.

Much to the disdain of Councillor Doug Ford, (idiot at large) Atwood has waged an on-line campaign to save Toronto’s libraries from budget cuts. Her outreach to her Twitter followers was so successful that the respsonse briefly overloaded web servers. The hypocritical and quite foolish Ford said in response to Atwood’s efforts:

Well, good luck to Margaret Atwood, I don’t even know her. If she could walk by me I wouldn’t even have a clue who she is…But she’s not down here, she’s not dealing with the problems, and if she did, tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected and we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.

Sorry Ford, but you are a raging idiot.  You are an elected official. You work for Atwood and the rest of your constituents.  Your job is to listen to the people.  If I did not know better, I would say he is one of the many misogynistic character’s in an Atwood novel. Click here to see the full article.

Brava, Margaret Atwood. You are a treasure for Canada and much beloved here in the States.

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