A Redneck Reflection on the Past Week

From A Wandering Minister:  http://awanderingminister2.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-redneck-reflection-on-past-week.html

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ever since the civil rights movement, groups like SNCC and the Black Panthers have been telling white people to look to and take care of their own communities. And, consistently, white, mostly middle class, liberals have marched in the streets, presented themselves as allies of black communities, and signed people up to vote. They are quick to denounce open displays of white supremacy and quick to denounce poor white communities as gun toting, bigoted racists. But they have never been quick to do what they were asked to do: take care of and do the hard work of working in white communities.

I am a redneck. I grew up target shooting with shotguns and rifles, grew up in a majority white rural community—and I grew up reading white power materials and using racial slurs, alongside listening to sermons that said we were all created equal.

I now work very close to where I grew up, as pastor to a very poor, heavily criminalized, majority white community. A lot of the young people I work with have been recruited into white power gangs: everything from the KKK to the Skinheads and Peckerwoods to the newish Thor’s Hammer. They are not the face of the alt-right; most of the folks who gather in places like Charlottesville are middle class armchair racists turned activists who join neo-Nazi, Patriot, and White Nationalist groups for ideological reasons. My kids join white gangs that run drugs, provide protection in prison and on the streets, and give them somewhere to belong.

Because no one answered the call 100 years ago, and again 50 years ago, to organize in white communities, my kids have few alternatives to white power gangs. The left has abandoned white poor communities, time and again, to deepening poverty, to heavy criminalization, to hunger, to police violence—and to the Skinheads.

Young white kids join white power gangs for similar reasons that black and brown kids join black and Latino gangs: for protection, for belonging, for economic survival. Of course, they have an added, deadly commitment to white supremacy. It is especially easy for young people who have grown up in rural, white communities to join white supremacists: the racist structure of our society insure that many of them have not had much contact with people of color. At least, until they are incarcerated.

Kellan Howell interviewed several former neo-Nazis about how to confront the recent public rise of white power protests. They said, in part:

When it comes to engaging with far-right extremists, Meeink and Angela said it’s all about making them feel human again.

“Maybe, a simple kind word, a simple act of compassion, and that is not an easy thing to do,” King said, adding that her own transformation came after a Jamaican woman in prison asked her to play a game of cribbage…

…Both Meeink and King say that a rough childhood and feelings of isolation and emptiness led them to seek solace with white power groups, but they say people who have had similar experiences can help show those who are currently struggling that they don’t have to turn to hatred to find purpose.

My work centers in part around this work. While our ministry reaches a number of native kids who are frequently the target of racial violence (including a young kid who was just killed in a racially motivated vehicular homicide), the majority of people we work with are white. Many of them are, or have been, members of white power gangs. We focus on “making them feel human again.” None of them are, first and foremost, white supremacists. They are young people who have been beaten time and again by the police, who have been jailed from the time they were around 13, who got their first felonies as teenagers and who have never had a stable life since, who run drugs because there is no other economy in town, who have experienced extreme violence and abuse, who have lost their parents and their children to a system that offers them no first chance, much less a second. They are tired. They are brave. They are angry. In jail, they have native friends and Latino friends who have experienced the same thing and sometimes they have each other’s backs.

But they have never had the opportunity to see that, perhaps, they have more in common with poor communities of color than they have with the wealthy and powerful leaders of organizations like the KKK, the Patriots, and other alt-right groups. The white supremacist plan to divide and conquer the poor has worked. Sometimes, anyway.

Continue reading at:  http://awanderingminister2.blogspot.com/2017/08/a-redneck-reflection-on-past-week.html

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Trump’s transgender memo ’embrace of hate:’ Vets group

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/trumps-transgender-memo-embrace-of-hate-vets-group/


24 Aug 2017

President Donald Trump’s White House has drawn up a two-page memo for Secretary of Defense James Mattis outlining its ban on transgender service members.

It is a move that some veterans groups say underscores Trump’s “embrace of hate” because neither the military nor public called for it.

The memo says the military should consider a service member’s “deployability” when considering to hire them or keep them on and directs the defense department to stop spending money on medical treatment, such as hormone therapy, or hiring trans service members.

If they are not able to serve in a war zone, live for months on a ship, or undertake training exercises, servicemen and women can be ejected from the military, U.S. officials familiar with the content of the memo told The Wall Street Journal. A U.S. official confirmed the content of the memo to Reuters.

Trump announced the policy on July 26 on Twitter in a move that caught the Pentagon by surprise. The government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” he tweeted.

Three U.S. defense officials told CNN in July that the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and its chairman General Joseph Dunford weren’t aware of Trump’s decision to make the change.

Transgendered people have been allowed to openly serve in the military since June 2016. A Rand Corporation study estimates there are between 1,320 and 6,000 transgender troops serving in the U.S. military. These service members stand to lose their jobs under Trump’s policy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/trumps-transgender-memo-embrace-of-hate-vets-group/

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Liberal elite, it’s time to strike a deal with the working class

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/liberal-elite-its-time-to-strike-a-deal-with-the-working-class

Coalitions need compromise. But it’s coalitions that win, writes Joan C Williams, the author of White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America


Wednesday 23 August 2017

Abortion rights are central to my identity. As an ambitious teenager, I wanted to have both a vital career and a vibrant intellectual life, and I felt that having a baby at the wrong time would doom me. I went on to a both a full career and motherhood. It all worked out for me, but only because I could control my fertility.

My life has centered around what the sociologist Mary Blair-Loy calls the “norm of work devotion”. Work has provided me with joy, social status, dignity, and financial stability. To me, the image of the stay-at-home mom epitomized oppression and thwarted self-fulfillment. Abortion rights are crucial to the logic of lives like mine, which is why I and about two-thirds of college grads support them.

But only about half of Americans without college degrees do. The logic of their lives is different. They fault white-collar professionals for unhealthy work worship and a failure to understand that “family comes first”. Elites think they are so high and mighty, but it’s we who keep the world in moral order, the working class believes.

The demise of blue-collar jobs means that many families face a daily scramble between two not-very-fulfilling or well-paid jobs, with Mom working one shift and Dad working a different shift, and with each parent caring for the kids while the other is at work.

Tag-team families are under such pressure, and these parents see each other so rarely, that they have three to six times the national divorce rate. In the light of this harsh reality, it’s no wonder they look back with yearning at the breadwinner-homemaker family, supported by the husband’s blue-collar job.

This helps explain why abortion rights look different to those with good jobs and education and those who are struggling. To women like myself, they are the bare minimum of human rights. To working-class women, who often see motherhood, not work, as the key source of social honor, obsession with abortion rights among well-off women is selfish, exemplifying lack of an adequate devotion to family. Seen in this light, opposition to abortion rights becomes, for high-school educated women, a way of claiming social honor.

That’s why research since the 1980s has found class differences in the levels of support for abortion rights. The fight over abortion becomes a fight over what it means to be a good person. That’s why things get ugly really fast. When elites dismiss abortion opponents as mindless misogynists and non-elites dismiss abortion rights advocates as selfish careerists, class conflict becomes acute.

Debates over guns and gun control are similarly visceral, again because identities are at risk. To me, the ready availability of guns is associated with killings among young black men without a future, struggling to find dignity in a society that offers them precious little. Guns mean Sandy Hook and other horrors, and living in a country where mentally unstable kids regularly murder their classmates.

But even as I feel so strongly, I understand how other Americans feel differently. If the abortion debate involves ideals of femininity, guns involve ideals of masculinity. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women but less than half (43%) of men support stricter guns laws.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/liberal-elite-its-time-to-strike-a-deal-with-the-working-class

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No more ‘purity’ tests for Dems

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/08/30/unity-reform-commission-opinion/

by Peter Rosenstein
August 30, 2017

If its recent press release is any indication, the Democratic National Committee Unity Reform Commission is having problems. While the Commission can agree President Trump is disgraceful and has hateful policies, reading between the lines of the following second paragraph shows that rifts continue:

“As we wrap up our latest meeting of the Unity Commission in Chicago, Democrats have never been more united against this disgraceful president and his hateful policies. And we know, the best way to fight back is to win elections.” This last sentence is most telling. “That’s why we’re working together to build a Democratic Party that speaks for every Democrat, that is inclusive and welcoming to all Americans, and that is working tirelessly to organize and elect Democrats up and down the ballot who represent our values.”

We know many of the Sanders people on the Commission are fighting for open primaries, hence ‘welcoming all Americans’ and we know ‘Our Revolution’ the group Sanders began headed by Nina Turner is saying they won’t support Democrats who don’t meet their ‘purity’ test and support their values. So whose values are being referred to in the press release?

The DNC should continue to hold ‘closed’ primaries, which means only members of the party get to vote on who will represent the party in a general election. Why would one open the primary to those who don’t care enough to be members of the party and work to develop its values and principles? Democrats have a basic set of values and principles clearly enunciated in the platform voted on at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Those values call for economic equality and raising the minimum wage; choice; human and civil rights for all; affordable healthcare for all; continuing to fight climate change; quality public education; and reform of the judicial system among other tenets of a free and just society.

The desired result of a Unity Commission should be an agreement that everyone there will fight for every Democratic candidate representing the party in the general election. If we listen to Nina Turner and her quest for a purity test based on her values the result will be a repeat of what we got in 2016 — a Republican Congress and Trump.

The role of the DNC should be to support building effective state and local Democratic Parties. The one requirement any organization or candidate they support should meet is to say they are proud Democrats and will support general election Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

I have been a Democrat my entire life supporting candidates from Adlai Stevenson to John F. Kennedy to Hillary Clinton. I voted for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; stood with Congresspersons William Fitts Ryan and Bella S. Abzug and supported Abe Beame, Shirley Chisholm and Christine Quinn. In not one case did I agree with every position those candidates held. But what we had in common was support for the basic principles of equality, human and civil rights for all, economic opportunity and a great public education system allowing everyone the chance to succeed.<

The Democratic National Committee and all Democrats should follow the lead of environmentalist Tom Steyer, who recently said he will invest $2 million in the campaign to elect Democrat Ralph Northam governor of Virginia. While not agreeing with every Northam position, Steyer rejected the idea of purity saying, “We think he is much better than Republican Mr. Gillespie on environmental policies in general.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/08/30/unity-reform-commission-opinion/

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The anti-trans history of Tomi Lahren, Fox News’ latest hire

From GLADD:  https://www.glaad.org/blog/anti-trans-history-tomi-lahren-fox-news-latest-hire

By Drew Anderson, Director of News & Rapid Response
August 30, 2017

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today released the following background information on Fox News’ newest hire Tomi Lahren, an anti-trans activist who has signed on as a contributor for the cable station notorious for employing out-of-touch anchors and pundits who want to rescind LGBTQ acceptance across the nation.

Tomi Lahren has gone after critics to President Trump’s transgender military ban despite the fact the White House could not even defend the policy to the media. Further, Lahren has praised the Trump Administration for revoking President Obama’s guidance protecting trans students at their schools and deadnamed and misgendered Chelsea Manning.

Read more about Tomi Lahren’s anti-LGBTQ record below.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Tomi Lahren’s Anti-LGBTQ Record

Anti-Trans Statements

Supported President Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving openly in the U.S. Military: “The military is not a social experiment. Finally a POTUS who understands the concept. Political correctness=intellectual dishonesty!”

Claimed liberals don’t have an actual argument to support transgender service members; adds that people only support it because it “feels right.”

Said Trump’s repeal of Obama transgender guidance did nothing more than “return America’s taxpayer funded bathrooms and locker rooms to normal.”

Went after and deadnamed Chelsea Manning by saying, “trans traitor Chelsea Bradley Manning,” and “him—well I guess her now.”

Other Anti-LGBTQ Comments

Criticized pride parade marchers for engaging in resistance against the Trump Administration, filled with untruths about the administration’s supposed support for LGBTQ people.

Lashed out at President Obama’s last State of the Union address, because “he had to throw gay marriage in there. Of course.”

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Why the Media Refuses to Understand Antifa

From The Pacific Standard:  https://psmag.com/social-justice/understanding-antifa

While establishment pundits fret over civility, the antifascist movement in America is working for peace.


Aug 31, 2017

For months, the American public has debated how best to confront the fascist right as its members attempt to build power. Now, after being chased out of Boston and then the Bay Area, America’s white-power activists seem to be on their collective back foot for the first time in over a year. How did this happen, and what can we learn about how to keep them in retreat?

Among those on the broadly defined left, the main strategic split with regard to fascists has been between those who favor prevention by any means (up to and including physical confrontation), and those who think it’s best to let the marketplace of ideas take care of their worthless ideology. Call it antifa versus free speech. A lot of people have changed their position on this in reaction to unfolding events, but the poles have remained intact. Antifa still wants to bash the fash, and free-speechers still want to tease the KKK into obscurity like Superman did. Somehow, both sides still think they’re right.

It’s important to note the antifa/free speech division doesn’t split evenly between liberals and the far left. There are capital-D Democrats like former congressman John Dingell, who tweeted “I signed up to fight Nazis 73 years ago and I’ll do it again if I have to,” and there are ex-revolutionaries like Todd Gitlin who think antifascism is “alienating.”

The free speech crowd certainly does know how to speak, and their central success has been publishing articles that reinforce the idea that antifa scares away allies and emboldens the right. These pundits clearly do speak for a segment of the population, and it’s possible that black bloc outfits and videos of street fighting—touted incessantly by right-wing media—are turning them away from the antifascist cause. The more alienated these observers feel, the more correct they consider themselves in condemning antifa. But antifa isn’t trying to earn the support of 51 percent of any electorate. Our main concern is winning, and we don’t need nearly that many people to do it.

The chaos and brutality in Charlottesville showed what’s at stake, and what happens when antifascists are outnumbered. Fascists showed up hoping to hurt people, a posture that gave them a fighting advantage when both sides were equal in strength. Antifascists were able to protect other activists from further harm and possible death, while the struggle of Corey Long and Deandre Harris and the martyrdom of Heather Heyer inspired nationwide introspection—even if President Donald Trump thought about it and landed on the wrong answer. It’s hard to watch this footage and not conclude that standing up to white supremacists—literally just standing—requires conscious self-defense.

People were horrified by the white-nationalist show of strength in Charlottesville. But since then, fascists attempting to maintain their momentum have instead crashed into a brick wall. In Boston and San Francisco, thousands of antifascists flooded the streets to shut them down, leading to a reversal of the infamous torch march pictures: a few dozen white supremacists, surrounded by the outraged citizenry. Compared to Charlottesville, the violence was minimal, and that’s how it’s supposed to work. When antifa wins, there’s little fighting, and participants move on to other things, like disaster relief; when the fascists win, there are death camps.

Luckily, the free speech side is right about one thing: Fascists are not a dominant force in American politics, their West Wing access notwithstanding. If we want to make them feel deeply unwelcome and vastly outnumbered, antifascists don’t need everyone to the left of the KKK to show up ready to throw down. A 10- or 20-to-one anti-to-fa ratio is sufficient, which means we’re talking about minor-league baseball attendance numbers here, tops. And I don’t mean a 10,000-person black bloc: a small militant core can protect a broad diversity of antifascists. That’s what Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer saw in Berkeley: “Many attendees expressed surprise at the unprecedented level of coordination between groups that don’t always get along,” he wrote.

Continue reading at:  https://psmag.com/social-justice/understanding-antifa

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On the Ethics and Utility of Violence

I personally support people’s rights to keep and bear arms for the purposes of self defense.  I don’t advocate first strikes or being the initiator of violence.  But rather measured response to threats of physical violence.

From TransAdvocate:  http://transadvocate.com/on-the-ethics-and-utility-of-violence_n_20587.htm

Aug. 23, 2017

After the property damage at the University of Berkeley by protesters opposed to Milo Yiannopolous speaking there, many within the movement have condemned the violence. They argue that the violence plays into a narrative constructed by white-nationalists, and damages the moral legitimacy of the progressive movement that opposes everything he is calling for.

Others, such as Katherine Cross, have strongly argued that violence against fascist movements (“punching Nazis”) and leaders is not only justified but necessary and a moral imperative in order to preserve democracy. She opines that “Nazism is democracy’s anti-matter. There is nothing about the ideology or its practice that is anything but corrosive to democratic institutions. Fascism is a cancer that turns democracy against itself unto death.”

This essay does not propose to achieve a definitive answer to how, when, and where violence is justified. It attempts t o analyze the effectiveness of violence and the threat thereof as a tool used by factions to influence systemic change. This includes how it can positively and negatively create change, as well as change societal attitudes. While this may seem like a “listicle”, it does tie together by the end.

1. “Punching Nazis” is depicted as virtuous in popular culture, and we accept it

In comics and cinema, gratuitous punching of oppressors by the “good guys” is depicted as right and justified.  Indiana Jones, Superman, and Captain America all used violence in the defense of liberty, with the understanding that Nazis were the bad guys. Who didn’t want to cheer when Hermione Granger punched out Draco Malfoy, the vicious spawn of Death Eaters (basically magic Nazis)?

One could argue that these are all fictional characters. They are, but that is beside the point.  These movies are a mirror of our own societal attitudes, beliefs, and values. They reflect what we believe is good, moral, and ethical. We are supposed to empathize, identify with, and agree with the motivations and actions of the protagonists. Hermione Granger is supposed to represent the moral center or conscience of three main protagonists.  Were we to find her motivations and actions contrary to our own values, we would not want to cheer her when she punched out Draco Malfoy.

2. Violence in the face of an existential threat is nearly universally seen as justified

Preemptive violence against a clear and present danger, where there is a clear intent of existential harm is generally accepted by our society. Whether it involves Jews participating in insurgency during WWII, or home-defense “castle laws”, or even pre-emptively blowing up the second Death Star, we culturally believe that using violence, at some level, is acceptable to avoid levels of violence and oppression that are far worse.

Milo Yiannopolous and the ideas he espouses are seen by many within the transgender community as an existential threat. He advocates harassing, bullying, and mistreating transgender people until they self-deport back into the closet, and encourages that they should be forced into the harmful and ineffective practice of reparative therapy. In short, he is advocating a form of crowd-sourced cultural genocide.

Thus, attempts to remove a platform for his advocacy of this can be argued to be a form of collective self-defense.

Continue reading at:  http://transadvocate.com/on-the-ethics-and-utility-of-violence_n_20587.htm

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Rabbi blames wave of white supremacists on conservative talk radio, TV and politicians

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/rabbi-blames-wave-of-white-supremacists-on-conservative-talk-radio-tv-and-politicians/

Sarah K. Burris
30 Aug 2017

Wisconsin Rabbi David Cohen was horrified listening to the chants from white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia just weeks ago.

Cohen began an op-ed for The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle by saying that the rallying cry “blood and soil” used by “khaki clad, torch carrying clean cut American youth was, in a word, chilling.” The phrase comes from Nazi Germany to define legitimacy of citizenship and race.

He explained that Americans should have seen this coming after “decades of conservative talk radio, television, and some conservative politicians, blaming immigrants, people of color, Muslims and Jews for society’s problems.” Those desperate for opportunity look for a scapegoat when they don’t get it. All of society’s ills are placed on those who’ve been able to pull themselves up.

Meanwhile, “the White House has taken deliberate steps that have amplified racist voices,” Cohen wrote, citing cuts in funding to focus on counter-terrorism and put them on the fight against ISIS. “Programs to encourage people to leave white supremacist groups were defunded. These are not coincidences,” he wrote.

He agreed that the adage “one step forward — two steps back” can too often be true, but the gains in civil rights cannot falter. But he’s not fearful they’ll have to refight battles from the 1960s, he’s worried about having to fight the policies of the 1930s again. The fights over monuments seem like Americans are being forced to relive the 1860s.

“As Jews, none of this is new; we’ve seen such discrimination before,” he wrote. “It’s only recently that we’ve been accepted in America as ‘white’ and, in some corners, are still considered ‘other.’ Witness the Charlottesville demonstrators shouting ‘Jews will not replace us.’ We know these anti-Semites; we’ve seen them before.”

“Having seen all this before, we Jews know what we have to do,” Cohen wrote, urging Jews not to allow this behavior to flourish. He goes on to beg people to hold policymakers, including President Donald Trump, accountable when they allow this racism and antisemitism to continue.

Similarly, “we have to make sure that Holocaust education is expanded and strengthened. As the survivors become fewer and fewer, we now have to speak for them,” he urged.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/rabbi-blames-wave-of-white-supremacists-on-conservative-talk-radio-tv-and-politicians/

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Three Cheers for Cultural Appropriation

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/opinion/cultural-appropriation.html?ref=opinion

I haven’t watched MTV’s annual Video Music Awards since Bill Clinton was president. I was wearing a plastic choker and Alanis Morissette won for “Ironic.” But I wish I had tuned in this Sunday night. The award show was a veritable orgy — not of sex, but of cultural appropriation.

First up was Kendrick Lamar, whose backup dancers wore ninja outfits as they scaled a wall of fire. While the popular rapper went home with an armload of trophies, he was criticized for borrowing Asian dress. Later, Katy Perry, who just recently finished an apology tour for her previous sins of cornrows and kimonos, “snatched” off her long blond wig — a bit that was torn apart for caricaturing African-American women. Luckily for Ms. Perry, the floodlights lingered longer on her nemesis, Taylor Swift, who unveiled a new video that was immediately blasted for appropriating Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” Speaking of Queen B, I’m just waiting for the charge that she’s exploited Persian culture by naming her new daughter Rumi after the 13th-century Sufi poet.

And that’s just the rap sheet from a single night in pop music. Charges of cultural appropriation are being hurled at every corner of American life: the art museum, the restaurant, the movie theater, the fashion show, the novel and, especially, the college campus. If there’s a safe space left, I’m not aware of it.

The logic of those casting the stones goes something like this: Stealing is bad. It’s especially terrible when those doing the stealing are “rich” — as in, they come from a dominant racial, religious, cultural or ethnic group — and those they are stealing from are “poor.”

Few of us doubt that stealing is wrong, especially from the poor. But the accusation of “cultural appropriation” is overwhelmingly being used as an objection to syncretism — the mixing of different thoughts, religions, cultures and ethnicities that often ends up creating entirely new ones. In other words: the most natural process in a melting-pot country like ours.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered some of the most sublime speeches of the 20th century. In them he used a mostly Latinate language to evoke the trials of the Israelites while quoting the writings of a slave-owning founding father. Irving Berlin, the songwriter who wrote “White Christmas” and “God Bless America,” was a Jew born in a Russian shtetl in a home with a dirt floor. Jessye Norman, one of the greatest opera singers of our time, is a black Southerner who is famous for her Wagner repertoire. Hamdi Ulukaya is a Kurd born in Turkey who now runs the most popular Greek yogurt company in America.

The point is that everything great and iconic about this country comes when seemingly disparate parts are blended in revelatory ways. That merging simply doesn’t happen in places where people are separated by race and ethnicity and class. And it’s not only what makes American culture so rich, but it is also a big part of the reason America is so successful. When we see a good idea, we steal it; when we have a good idea, the rest of the world is welcome to it as well.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/opinion/cultural-appropriation.html?ref=opinion

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What trans soldier Albert Cashier can teach Trump about patriotism

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/22/donald-trump-transgender-military-ban-albert-cashier

When Trump moved to ban trans people from serving in the US military, he ignored the long history of trans soldiers fighting for their country – starting with Albert Cashier, born in 1843

by
Tuesday 22 August 2017

On 6 August 1862, a young man called Albert Cashier enlisted in the Union army in Belvidere, Illinois. He was short for a soldier, just 5ft 3in. His fellow privates noted that Cashier kept his collar buttoned high up his neck, above his Adam’s apple, and that he always slept apart from the other men.

Cashier’s size did not hold him back. Fighting with the 95th Illinois infantry, he was involved in some of the most important battles in the war.

Cashier’s bravery was noted in accounts from the time. On one occasion, he was captured and escaped by attacking his Confederate guard. In another battle, comrades remembered Cashier sweeping up a Union flag which had been felled from its post by Confederate gunfire. He climbed a tree and lashed the tattered stars and stripes to a branch, showing that the Union would not be cowed.

But what Cashier’s fellow soldiers did not know was that the diminutive private had a secret – one that would only be revealed decades later.

Albert Cashier was assigned female at birth.

His story, from immigrant to proud soldier, to eventually being “outed” by nefarious hospital workers, will be retold in Albert Cashier the Musical, which airs in Chicago this month.

The production’s six-week run is timely, given Donald Trump’s recent announcement that he will not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity. There are up to 6,630 transgender people on active duty in the US military, according to a 2016 study, and up to 4,160 in the select reserve.

“The temperature Trump sets for our country, the mood he sets and the anger that he’s creating and the polarization that he’s building between people – it’s just terrible,” said Jay Deratany, who wrote the musical. “But I hope this play bridges some gap.”

Deratany, who also wrote the play Haram! Iran! – based on the true story of two gay Iranian teenagers who were executed in 2005 – said his own experiences as a gay man had attracted him to Cashier’s story.

“I was a lawyer and the idea in the legal field of coming out … I would have lost my career if people found out. I was terrified,” he said. “I had a girlfriend at one point and I hid all that. So I identified with Albert and the secret life he had to lead.”

Cashier was born Jennie Hodgers in Clogherhead, a fishing village 40 miles north of Dublin, on Christmas Day 1843. He moved to the US as a child, eventually settling in Illinois, and was presenting as a man by the time he enlisted in 1862.

There were just 16,000 men in the US army when the civil war broke out. Abraham Lincoln pleaded for volunteers, and was successful – of the more than 2.5 million people who served in the Union army, the majority did so voluntarily.

With the 95th regiment, Cashier fought in Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee and Louisiana, marching almost 10,000 miles over three years.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/22/donald-trump-transgender-military-ban-albert-cashier

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