My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/29/left-jews-labour-antisemitism-jewish-identity

The row over Ken Livingstone and Labour antisemitism has exposed people who think they’re anti-racist – but make a curious exception for Jews


Friday 29 April 2016

Let’s imagine for just a moment that a small but vocal section of the left was consumed with hatred for one faraway country: barely an hour could pass without them condemning it, not just for this or for that policy, but for its very existence, for the manner of its birth, for what it represented. And now let’s imagine that this country was the only place in the world where the majority of the population, and most of the government, were black.

You’d expect the racist right to hate such a country. But imagine it was that noisy segment of the left that insisted it would be better if this one black country had never been created, that it was the source of most of the conflict in its region, if not the world. That its creation was a great historical crime and the only solution was to dismantle it and the people who lived there should either go back to where they – or rather, their grandparents or great-grandparents – had come from; or stay where they were and, either way, return to living as a minority once more. Sure, living as a minority had over the centuries exposed them to periodic persecution and slaughter. But living as a majority, in charge of their own destiny – well, black people didn’t deserve that right.

And now imagine that the people who said all these things insisted they had nothing against black people. On the contrary, they were passionately against all forms of racism. In fact it was their very anti-racism that made them hate this one black country. Their objection was only to this country, its conduct and its existence, not to black people themselves. You surely were only inventing this horrible accusation of racism to divert attention from the wicked black country and its multiple crimes.

Most on the left would give such a view short shrift. They would be suspicious of this insistence that loathing of the world’s only black country was separate from attitudes to black people in general, especially because most black people had a strong affinity with this country, seeing it as a constitutive part of their own identity. The left would not be swayed by the fact these critics could point to a handful of black activists who shared their loathing of this country and wished it gone. They would want to listen to the mainstream black community and be guided by them.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Jews have watched the events of recent days with a weariness that might surprise many, given how shocking they must seem: the sight of Ken Livingstone suspended by the Labour party over antisemitism, along with the Bradford West MP, Naz Shah. Weary because they have known of these attitudes, indeed warned that they had found a warm space to incubate on the left, for many, many years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/29/left-jews-labour-antisemitism-jewish-identity

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority

I’m Proof Bathroom Bills Are Not Just a Transgender Issue

From Time Magazine:  http://time.com/4322953/north-carolina-mississippi-bathroom-bills/

I’m a lesbian and I fear public restroom confrontations

Sally Kohn
May 9, 2016

I hate using public restrooms. Airports and rest stops are my least favorite. I avoid locker rooms whenever possible. But really every restroom is bad. In fact, it happened to me just the other day in my fancy office building in New York City. I was at the sink, washing my hands, when a woman walked into the restroom and did a double take, first looking at me and then looking back at the sign on the still-open door of the restroom. Was she in the wrong place? Or, implicitly, was I?

I am a biological female who identifies as a woman. I am not, for any intents or purposes, transgender. But as a non-gender conforming butch lesbian, I have my own tiny window into our nation’s current political debate about bathrooms—the always looming fear that easily slips into shame, and the occasional outright harassment, all because I have to pee. And that’s from using the bathrooms that I “should” be using according to vicious anti-transgender bills sweeping the nation.

The first time I was actually yelled at in a bathroom, at least that I can remember, I was 19 years old. I was, and still am, 6’1″, but back then I had straight shoulder-length hair that dangled as awkwardly around my chin as everything else about me at that age. I was openly gay but still otherwise finding myself. I still wore dresses sometimes. Also awkwardly. I was a study abroad student in England on vacation in Bath. I don’t remember much of anything from the entire semester, but I remember going into some lavish hotel along the beach to use the bathroom and, while I was washing my hands at the sink, getting yelled at by a group of women.

One of them, standing next to me at the sink, yelled to her friends in the stalls: “There’s a boy in here!”

As the others came out, they loomed at me and shouted things like: “What are you doing in here?” and “You’re in the wrong place!”

And in a sense, they were right. It turns out the women were all part of a bridal shower, wearing those most conventionally feminine pastel dresses to participate in that most quintessentially heteronormative of traditions. They belonged—in that bathroom and in society more broadly—and I most certainly didn’t. And still don’t.

Whatever you might have heard to the contrary, the “bathroom bills” that have passed in North Carolina and Mississippi and are now pending in other states have nothing to do with public safety. The simple fact is that under existing laws, it is already a crime to dress up as a man or woman in order to falsely gain entry to any public restroom to harass or harm anyone. That is a crime in states with transgender legal protections and a crime in states without such laws. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace noted that such crimes have not taken place in communities that have transgender rights laws.

Continue reading at:  http://time.com/4322953/north-carolina-mississippi-bathroom-bills/

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on I’m Proof Bathroom Bills Are Not Just a Transgender Issue

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals

From The Department of Justice:  https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-loretta-e-lynch-delivers-remarks-press-conference-announcing-complaint

Washington, DC

United States

~

Monday, May 9, 2016

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here.  Today, I’m joined by [Vanita] Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.  We are here to announce a significant law enforcement action regarding North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, also known as House Bill 2.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 in special session on March 23 of this year.  The bill sought to strike down an anti-discrimination provision in a recently-passed Charlotte, North Carolina, ordinance, as well as to require transgender people in public agencies to use the bathrooms consistent with their sex as noted at birth, rather than the bathrooms that fit their gender identity.  The bill was signed into law that same day.  In so doing, the legislature and the governor placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity.  More to the point, they created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security – a right taken for granted by most of us.

Last week, our Civil Rights Division notified state officials that House Bill 2 violates federal civil rights laws.  We asked that they certify by the end of the day today that they would not comply with or implement House Bill 2’s restriction on restroom access.  An extension was requested by North Carolina and was under active consideration.  But instead of replying to our offer or providing a certification, this morning, the state of North Carolina and its governor chose to respond by suing the Department of Justice.  As a result of their decisions, we are now moving forward.

Today, we are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.  We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement.  While the lawsuit currently seeks declaratory relief, I want to note that we retain the option of curtailing federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina as this case proceeds.

This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms.  This is about the dignity and respect we accord our fellow citizens and the laws that we, as a people and as a country, have enacted to protect them – indeed, to protect all of us.  And it’s about the founding ideals that have led this country – haltingly but inexorably – in the direction of fairness, inclusion and equality for all Americans.

This is not the first time that we have seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress for our nation.  We saw it in the Jim Crow laws that followed the Emancipation Proclamation.  We saw it in fierce and widespread resistance to Brown v. Board of Education.  And we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian Americans might one day be afforded the right to marry.  That right, of course, is now recognized as a guarantee embedded in our Constitution, and in the wake of that historic triumph, we have seen bill after bill in state after state taking aim at the LGBT community.  Some of these responses reflect a recognizably human fear of the unknown, and a discomfort with the uncertainty of change.  But this is not a time to act out of fear.  This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness.  What we must not do – what we must never do – is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.  This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.

Let me speak now to the people of the great state, the beautiful state, my state of North Carolina.  You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm – but that just is not the case.  Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share.  This law provides no benefit to society – all it does is harm innocent Americans.

Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past.  Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight.  It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference.  We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward.  Let us write a different story this time.  Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity and regard for all that make our country great.

Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself.  Some of you have lived freely for decades.  Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead.  But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that  we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.  Please know that history is on your side.  This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time.  It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.

I want to thank my colleagues in the Civil Rights Division who have devoted many hours to this case so far, and who will devote many more to seeing it through.  At this time, I’d like to turn things over to Vanita Gupta, whose determined leadership on this and so many other issues has been essential to the Justice Department’s work.

Topic:
Civil Rights
Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals