WKRP “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. My feed has had a number of posts on it reminding me of the plight of the Native Americans.

Lincoln made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday during the Civil War.

As I have grown older the Native American and Pilgrim narrative has become meaningless in my celebration of Thanksgiving.

What has become far more important is it being a day on which I give thanks for having made it through another year. Tina is 80 and I am 72. Life was never easy for either of us. Sometimes we made it harder for ourselves and sometimes life has just been hard and mean.

Yet I am thankful for having found the strength to hold true to my values, for not having lost sight of the importance of doing what I can to make the world a better place.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

If we want to save American democracy, we must have a very difficult conversation about evangelical Christianity

From The Conversationalist:  https://conversationalist.org/2019/11/14/if-we-want-to-save-american-democracy-we-must-have-a-very-difficult-conversation-about-evangelical-christianity/

Launched with a hashtag, a new movement seeks to raise awareness of how fundamentalist Christianity is polarizing the national discourse.

Chrissy Stroop
November 14, 2019

In thousands of evangelical elementary schools across the United States, children begin each day by reciting three pledges — one to the American flag, another to the Christian flag, and a third to the Bible. The latter two might come as a shock to people who are unfamiliar with white Christian fundamentalist subculture, but they are standard practice in these schools, approximately 2,000 of which are subsidized by taxpayer funds.

The version of the pledge to the Christian flag typically recited in fundamentalist and evangelical schools, which usually self-identify simply as Christian schools, ends with “one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty for all who believe.” This is hardly a pluralistic sentiment. One wall in the elementary building of the K-12 Christian school I attended in the 1980s and ‘90s was emblazoned with part of Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” We schoolchildren knew exactly what those words meant. We were raised to be the generation that would take back America for Christ, “saving” the country from the godless liberals who, we were told (explicitly and often), killed babies and were destroying the institution of the family, and whose preferred policies, we were told, would bring divine punishment on our nation.

Eighty percent of white, born-again Christians — that is, white evangelicals and fundamentalists — voted for Donald Trump in 2016. More than 90 percent of them object to his impeachment, and polls consistently show him at over 70 percent in their favorability rating. If you want an answer to the question of where President Trump’s white evangelical base was radicalized, it’s right here. And while this demographic is down to 16 percent of the population, it remained 25 percent of the electorate in the 2018 midterms and is advantaged by gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the Electoral College.

Ex-evangelicals (or “exvies”) like myself have been trying to draw attention to the problem of evangelical authoritarianism in recent years, bringing the insights that come with lived experience to the table. Using hashtag campaigns like #EmptyThePews,  #ChurchToo, #ChristianAltFacts, and #ExposeChristianSchools to achieve collective visibility we have, in conjunction with the efforts of researchers who have been monitoring the Christian Right for decades, made some progress in changing the national conversation around evangelicalism. A change in the discourse is essential if we are to shift the Overton window back from the extremes to which the Right has taken it over the last few decades.

For too many pundits, commentators, and gatekeepers, the answer to “where were they radicalized” is found in taboo territory. Christianity as it is practiced by millions is not always a social good — indeed, it is sometimes downright harmful to both individuals and society. But the Americans who most need to have that conversation are often unable to engage with the idea that the Christianity they view as “authentic” is anything less than perfect. And so we continue to see hand wringing, pearl clutching, and an increasingly desperate barrage of unhelpful think pieces about the “crisis” of young people leaving the church and about evangelical hypocrisy.

Repeating that the “coastal elites’” reading of the Bible is “correct” and “heartland evangelicals’” reading of the Bible is wrong will not, despite the former’s best intentions, convince evangelicals to withdraw their allegiance from Trump. The vast majority of white evangelicals are not going to listen to mainline Protestant, liberal Catholic, moderate to liberal evangelical, or Jewish commentators who quote Bible verses exhorting readers to treat foreigners with kindness. And fellow conservative evangelicals like Michael Gerson, a George W. Bush administration alum who helped create the monster of which Trump is a symptom — but who now sees Trump as a liability — are not going to rein them in. And none of this does anything to reverse the normalization of Christian extremism that now dominates the American public sphere.

Hashtags like #EmptyThePews can harness the democratic potential of social media — which still exists, despite the anti-democratic forces that exploit it for nefarious purposes — to break through these barriers. Indeed, hashtags may prove critical in the fight for human rights and democracy, the greatest threat to which, in the United States, is undoubtedly represented by the Christian Right and the Christian nationalist ideology to which its members adhere.

In August 2017, I launched #EmptyThePews out of frustration with the response from conservative white evangelical leaders to the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, at which protestor Heather Heyer was killed. Prominent Christian Right voices either remained silent on Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comments, or even went so far as to assert on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network that there was “not a racist bone” in Trump’s body. Opining on how, as authoritarians, white evangelicals typically refuse to listen to any criticism, I observed that the only things they’re really afraid of are declining church attendance numbers and losing the youth. We should, therefore, throw their alienation of young Americans and their loss of members in their faces.

Continue reading at:  https://conversationalist.org/2019/11/14/if-we-want-to-save-american-democracy-we-must-have-a-very-difficult-conversation-about-evangelical-christianity/

Hungary pulls out of Eurovision amid rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric

From The Guardian UK: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/nov/27/hungary-pulls-out-of-eurovision-amid-rise-in-anti-lgbt-rhetoric

No reason given for withdrawal from show, called ‘homosexual flotilla’ by pro-Orbán journalist

in Budapest and Flora Garamvolgyi
Wed 27 Nov 2019

Hungary will not participate in next year’s Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is “too gay” for the taste of the country’s far-right government and public media bosses.

While no official reason has been given for the withdrawal, the move comes amid an increase in homophobic rhetoric in Hungary, where the anti-migration prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has launched a “family first” policy aimed at helping traditional families and boosting birth rates.

Earlier this year, the speaker of the Hungarian parliament compared same-sex adoption to paedophilia, while a pro-government television commentator referred to Eurovision as “a homosexual flotilla” and said not participating would benefit the nation’s mental health.

A source inside the Hungarian public broadcaster, MTVA, told the Guardian that while no reason was communicated internally for the decision to withdraw from the contest, the assumption among employees was that Eurovision’s association with LGBTQ+ culture was behind the move.

“I was not surprised. It comes from the organisational culture of MTVA,” said the source, adding that positive coverage of LGBT rights at the media holding was discouraged, save for annual coverage of Budapest Pride.

Public media in Hungary is closely linked to the government and has been instrumental in spreading its messages around migration and other issues. Earlier, the Hungarian website index.hu quoted unnamed sources inside public media speculating that the reason for the withdrawal was likely to be that Eurovision was deemed “too gay”.

Orbán’s spokesman, Zoltán Kovács, described the index.hu story as “fake news” on Twitter, but did not specify any other reason for Hungary’s non-participation.

In an emailed statement to the Guardian, MTVA said: “Instead of taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020, we will support the valuable productions created by the talents of Hungarian pop music directly.”

In previous years, the winner of a series called The Song would go on to become Hungary’s Eurovision entry. This year the programme will continue but the prize will be a chance to appear on various domestic media outlets and at festivals.

MTVA did not respond to a question on the reasons for the decision.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/nov/27/hungary-pulls-out-of-eurovision-amid-rise-in-anti-lgbt-rhetoric

ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen at Never Is Now 2019

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Becoming Eve: Abby Stein’s Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman

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Transgender Texans Deserve a Seat at the Table

From The Rivard Report:  https://therivardreport.com/transgender-texans-deserve-a-seat-at-the-table/

November 20, 2019

In 2019, we have lost at least 22 trans sisters across this country to violence and hate. These women have been gunned down, strangled, beaten, and murdered simply for living their truths. I think about their families and friends and what they had to endure after losing their loved ones so horrifically. I think about my own family and friends and their concern for my safety. I know they fear that one day I’ll be next, that one day they will be mourning my death.

As terrifying as that thought is, their fears are warranted. Texas leads the nation in transgender murders, with more transgender people killed in Texas in the last five years than in any other state. On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, I want us to remember those who have lost their lives in Texas this year. Muhlaysia Booker, Chynal Lindsey, Tracy Single, and Itali Marlowe were beautiful souls who left us too soon.

Without state laws protecting transgender rights, there’s no telling how many more in our community we will lose. That’s why I’ve dedicated the past 24 years of my life to working in Texas politics. I’ve worked on over 50 campaigns and ballot initiatives in local, state, and national elections. My work has included fighting to pass the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in San Antonio and marching, protesting, and speaking with elected officials to fight the passage of House Bill 2, known as the bathroom bill. I continue to use my voice at every opportunity to ensure that trans Texans are not discriminated against.

After so many years fighting this fight, I started to think about the phrase “a seat at the table” and realized that I had been wrong about its meaning. I realized that the trans community was longing for more than just a seat at the political table. What we really want is a seat at the table of life – to feel loved, appreciated and respected for our contributions, skills, and achievements. We want to dream and set goals for the future in a safe and productive environment without discrimination.

The question then becomes, when will people stop fearing what they don’t understand and ask questions to advance a dialogue? I, personally, never felt the need to be accepted for living my truth. I never asked for anyone to accept me, as I had already accepted myself. I do, however, ask for respect – the respect that each and every one of us deserves.

As I look at the 2020 election, and all that is at stake, I can’t help but feel compelled to do more. Our community has suffered enough at the hands of extremists who feel the need to silence our voices and our truths, and I will not sit idly by and watch this happen. Loving the skin that I’m in, I will challenge the status quo. I will continue to fight for a seat at the table. If I find that all the seats are full, I will just bring my own chair.

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