A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager)

Syndicate content
Chuck Fager -- Writer, Editor
Updated: 2 days 7 hours ago

Trauma & Triggers: Coping With Campaign Overload

Sun, 11/04/2018 - 8:53am

I don’t know about you, but late last week I hit the wall about the midterm election: the swirl of attack ads, the endless urgent fund appeal emails, the feverish palaver about polls. Not to mention the shocks of the Khashoggi assassination, the mail bombs, and the massacre in Pittsburgh. When the funerals there were basically crashed by the uninvited  ghoul, my internal needle bounced into the red “zone marked “Overload.”

I’m not dropping out: already voted (first day of early voting); urged all & sundry to do likewise; sent several hundred dollars to a list of pleading, promising candidates. And I’ve been reading & listening to the nonstop chatter & prognosticating. 

Then finally it became too much. It was driving me nuts. Had to get away.

But where? In every direction, there was TNT (Trauma & Triggering).  I didn’t even need a screen to see it: Memories crowded in like visual earworms.

The most vividly ominous were from a road trip in late October, 2016: Philadelphia back to Durham. Leaving the interstate in western Maryland, I turned onto US15, which drops almost straight south across Virginia, 240 miles of farmland and hillocks and small towns, before veering southwest and passing through Durham about a mile from my place.

Before long, I started seeing Trump signs. Big ones, that people spent good money for and put time into erecting. By the time I hit the North Carolina line, I had tallied well over a hundred & lost count. Oh—plus two each for Hillary and Gary Johnson.

At the time, I had swallowed the conventional wisdom: yard signs meant nothing, the wise people said, Hillary has this in the bag, etc. 

My head “believed” it. But as US15 unrolled through hills and fields, that secondhand conviction settled in my belly like a growing lump of lead. I still clung to the wise people’s assurances, but my gut lost all conviction. Election night, I stayed up til near dawn, hoping it was a nighttime hallucination; Hillary did carry Virginia, just barely. But the gut turned out to right.

Surveying the rubble in the bleak post-election dawn, I realized that my loss was a double one: not only had Hillary’s campaign crashed and burned, but nearby was another smoking pile of debris: that of the plane carrying all, or almost all, of the wise people. Not just the partisan flacks, but the “independent” pollsters & most “analysts,” including many who were officially “conservative.”

Despite their deep ideological differences, they had long since forged a confident consensus that what had just happened simply couldn’t happen. And I, posing as a worldly-wise semi-sophisticated reader, had stifled my misgivings and accepted it. I did get fooled again, and was now left with neither a political success nor the mechanism I had leaned on to make sense of this campaign turned catastrophe.

The wise people survived, and should have resigned in shame and be pursuing rehab driving for Uber and learning HVAC at community college. Instead they crawled from the wreckage, dusted themselves off, checked their Twitter feeds and went back to “work.” Nowadays they pretend to be chastened, more guarded, though the Democrats among them are already certain that their blue wave is about to crest. For me, the specter of their epic 2016 collapse is still very real.

With effort, I managed to push this 2016 flashback to one side. But it did no good to stop listening to this season’s incessant chatter. I still knew, could almost hear, a giant invisible clock ticking down to D-Day, with seemingly endless days of it still to go. 

I tried distraction: a birthday lunch with the Fair Wendy. A stroll to the park with my grandson, granddaughter, great granddaughter & Sassy the dog. 

That was good, but it was still shadowed: look at them: all except Sassy would someday qualify for Social Security, Medicare, and one was already eligible for Medicaid.  But would it be there? 

And what about the rush of climate change? They’ve been through two hurricanes this year; all lucky this time. Next year?

By nightfall, they had headed home. Wendy went off to an architect’s meeting. I felt tired: ready to sleep — sleep! Probably the best way to muffle the ticking of that damn clock, foreshorten the wait.

So I went to bed.

Actually, I went to bed three times.

Didn’t work. I got back up three times. Read several chapters of a biography of the French writer Colette. (Once, her sexual adventurism seemed daringly “transgressive”; but now, she’d likely be atop both the #MeToo and #HimToo target lists, with a D. A. on the trail.) Not exactly a cure for insomnia.

On further thought, I began to have doubts about the whole scenario the wise people were now serving up: come November 6, or the  morning after, it will all be over.

Really? The more the clock ticked through that night, the more doubtful I became.

Consider: the word on the street is that a big cabinet shuffle will quickly follow the closing of the polls, aimed above all at derailing the various probes by one Robert Mueller,  a confrontation typically mentioned in the same sentence as “constitutional crisis.”  And how many new indictment bombshells can Mueller drop even as they’re trying to push him out the door?

Or what about the budget showdown that looms in early December? You know— the Wall versus the caravans. And speaking of caravans, what if rocks start to fly at the thousands of Army troops? And what if maybe a few bounce off and hit one or more of of the hundreds of vigilante “militia-persons” doing their freelance patrols with their over-the-counter big guns? And as for guns, how many days til the next big mass shooting?

Am I exaggerating, or is this what the last two years have been about: a succession of shocks that shows no real signs of slowing.  In which case, on reflection — of which maybe I’m doing too much in these long hours — the election, even if it goes the way I much prefer, is unlikely to really settle things down. There seems an equal chance it may add more fuel to many fires.

See? No wonder I can’t sleep.

The post Trauma & Triggers: Coping With Campaign Overload appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Pow Wow Chow-Gate: Therapy for The Feverish Media

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:07am

As far as the midterm elections go, for the media and the talking heads it’s basically all over now, except the voting and the counting (and recounting).

Early voting has started.

Some reporters are still criss-crossing the country, and sending back breathless dispatches, which, if you look close, are mostly interchangeable: campaigns are all in high-gear, GOTV is everyone’s goal, voter suppression is widespread, attack ads are nonstop, the polls are inching up and down, early voting is underway, — and crazy presidential tweets keep flying.

Which is to say, there’s not much real news here. After all, unless there’s some shocking  October Surprise about to drop (no sign of such yet), this frenzy is exactly what you would expect.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m past burned out on watching or listening to talking heads yammer back and forth about, “Will the Dems take the House?” “Oh, maybe yes, maybe no.” “What about the Senate?” “Well, maybe no, but possibly yes.” After this long, it’s like  asking, “Will the market go up or down tomorrow?”

Surely many among the scribes must be fed up with this pointless speculation, and in the absence of actual new political news, many journalists and pundits — way too many, in my view — have gone rogue this week, and have decided to gnaw on the ankle of Senator Elizabeth Warren, over the six-minute video she released on October 15, about the matter of her Native American ancestry. 

A Fox host nearly falls out of his chair laughing about how “Warren”, translated into Cherokee, means “spreading bull.”

You know, “Pocahontas.” Her video does not shrink from showing some of the crudest, most egregiously offensive attacks, from Fox. Trump, and Sarah Sanders.

But Warren turned the thrust of that back on the accusers. The president told a big rally that if a DNA test showed Warren does have Indian ancestry, he’d personally donate a million dollars to the charity of her choice. The boast is in her video.

So she did the DNA test, done by a Stanford specialist, top of the field. She “passed” (an interesting word in this context): there was indeed an Indian in her family tree. Warren’s in-laws, who were dead set against their son marrying her mother, because her mom’s family was “part Indian” —  were not wrong. 

That it was several generations back made no difference: does anyone remember the “one-drop rule” for consigning light-skinned people to black slave status? That’s what the in-laws thought. (The couple eloped.)

So that was that; or should have been. Warren didn’t use this piece of her story to pursue formal enrollment into any tribe. And the video has more: she also methodically gathered testimony from those who did the hiring for all her law school jobs, underlining that no claim of “minority” status was ever part of any of those decisions. (Lots of the personnel paperwork is online for those who want more — plus ten years of her tax returns.

Somebody at Penn, and then Harvard, after she was already hired, described her as a “minority”;  that was their karma. She went along with the designation in some small, non-employment-related ways. But it was soon politically weaponized, and has followed her ever since she first ran for office six years ago. Clearly her goal was for the video to put the “Pocahontas” slur to rest.

Of course it hasn’t, and in a week when there’s really very little new political news, pundits seized on her foray like hungry dogs after a side of beef that fell off a truck. One after another, major papers calculated (and garbled) the DNA results.

Republican mockery was to be expected. Ross Douthat, the sometimes elegant conservative New York Times columnist, gleefully dubbed it “The Elizabeth Warren Fiasco,” declaring that by doing the video and “the new DNA test rebuttal to the president, she has demonstrated a conspicuous lack of political common sense.”  What seems to be the smoking gun for Douthat is that “she even contributed a family recipe to a Native American cookbook.” 

The ever predictable Fox News piled on, crowing that, “When it comes to political mistakes [she] . . . just made a doozy. President Trump wasted no time drawing more attention to Warren’s foolish move with two stinging tweets Tuesday.”

So did the RNC. Its release whooped (wrongly) that “Warren might even be less Native American than the average European American.” Trump swiftly tweeted an echo: “Pocahontas (the bad version), sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Warren, is getting slammed. She took a bogus DNA test and it showed that she may be 1/1024, far less than the average American.”

Gosh, if she hadn’t done it, does anyone think Trump would have stopped sending out racist tweets about her? Really? {His early comment: “a scam and a lie.” Also: “Who cares, who cares?”}

What was surprising to me was how eager some liberal pundits were to jump into the echo chamber. The one who made the biggest fool of himself  was the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. He struck a faux empathetic tone:

“Poor Elizabeth Warren.

She took President Trump’s bait and submitted to a DNA test to demonstrate her Native American genealogy — and, in so doing, may have doomed her presidential campaign before it began.” 

And why were her hopes now hopeless? Milbank made a grab for Ross Douthat’s smoking gun, agreeing that it was “her contribution to the ’80s cookbook, Pow Wow Chow: A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes, especially when he found that one of the recipes Warren submitted was for a cold crab omelet. Further, he insinuated, it was plagiarized from the New York Times. This was enough to convince Milbank why “all people of good taste — might wish to disavow Warren: It’s the crab mayonnaise.”

Note: “A Collection of recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes . . . .” It doesn’t say the recipes are for “traditional Indian cuisine,” or that the recipes were invented by the families. And maybe the contributors actually found some in other sources and liked them. This faux outrage soufflé falls as flat as a pancake.

It’s peculiar that Milbank would start talking about plagiarism. His “Pow-Wow-Chow-Gate” cookbook exposé was lifted straight from a New York Post columnist, who says he got it from that paragon of creative, but rarely authoritative research, Breitbart.

This is what happens when there’s not much real political news, and the next important date is three weeks way. The bar has to be lowered from payoffs to a porn actress, being in Putin’s pocket, covering for Saudi hitmen, to that true herald of the Apocalypse, mayonnaise.

Not to mention that Milbank, who on October 17 pronounced Warren’s presidential hopes DOA, is the same guy who assured his Beltway audience many times that there was no way in Hades that Donald Trump would even get to first base in the 2016 presidential race, never mind through the primaries, and would certainly not win the GOP nomination. 

Dana, “The Prophet” Milbank, eating his words about how Trump would never get anywhere in the GOP in May 2016.

Milbank’s record on Trump was so embarrassingly, continuously, dreadfully wrong that he tried to banish it with a jokey video shoot in a Post conference room, literally eating his words, which he hired a chef to make palatable. So we can take his pontificating on Warren with a big pinch of salt, or at least, some crab mayo.

Milbank reached for a kicker by adding that Chuck Hoskin, the spokesman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma had denounced Warren and her DNA test, saying,

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. . . . Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

This sounds very stern, but it is remarkably out of context. For one thing, Warren took the test to see if a story in her family had any factual basis; and it did. DNA tests don’t identify tribe, only genes.

For another, the Cherokee Nation’s record regarding defining and protecting Indian citizenship and “tribal interests” is decidedly mixed and hardly a model: in its efforts to become a “civilized tribe,” for instance, the Cherokee adopted American slavery; then it sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War; and as recently as 1972 it expelled thousands of enrolled members whose “well documented heritage” included the “taint” of being mixed with African American blood. Most were mixed blood descendants  of Cherokee slaves, who had been declared “Freedmen” and full tribal citizens by a post-Civil War treaty. (At the same time, mixed-blood Cherokees whose ancestry was part white got to stay on the tribal rolls.)

When this action was decried as baldly racist, tribal leaders retorted that this was their prerogative as a sovereign nation, and everyone else should butt out.

It was indeed their sovereign prerogative, yet the Cherokee establishment seemed to have forgotten that the U. S. Congress, which doles out tens of millions of dollars for various tribal services, is also sovereign. The Congressional Black Caucus was outraged by the expulsions, and soon many of these millions were being held up by the sovereign on Capitol Hill, while the CBC demanded that the black Cherokees be readmitted.

The tribe’s leadership stalled for years, but upholding its “sovereign” racial exclusion and expecting federal acquiescence was a losing bet. In late 2017, after years of litigation and pressure, the Cherokee leadership finally gave in and abandoned the racial expulsion policy.

So the Cherokee establishment’s opinions about Warren and her Indian ancestor are of interest but hardly definitive, especially when (to repeat) she didn’t use her DNA test to apply for tribal membership, nor has she sought one cent of its benefits (unless one counts the cookbook).

One more thing: their home turf, Cherokee County, voted for Trump by 60+ percent. It also produced big majorities against Obama twice (as, for the record, did all of the seventy-seven counties in Oklahoma). 

Which suggests to me that the odds of their rolling out the welcome mat for a feisty Democrat presidential aspirant were always pretty low, and it’s fair game to take this background into account.

But Warren hardly forgot the Cherokee despite their officials’ cold shoulder to her. Nor did she let Trump slide out of his million-dollar pledge to charity if she took the DNA test. “Please send the check to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center,” she tweeted to him.

Here it is, Donnie. The website is http://www.niwrc.org , to get information about where to send the $1 million check.

And: “Release your tax returns — or the Democratic-led House will do it for you soon enough. Tick-tock, Mr President.”

By the way, Warren’s video, after three days online, has had 937,000 views; and counting.

[Note to Dana Milbank — keep that chef’s phone number handy, Dude; at the rate you’re going, you may end up having more special prolix meals to get through. The Post’s own “Fact-Checker” gave its own coverage of the DNA story three Pinocchios, which is pretty damning. And if that mealtime comes, I know where you can get some really interesting mayonnaise.]

The Washington Post’s rating for lousy or false reporting. Four Pinocchios is the worst. Their own garbled coverage of the DNA story got a three.

Like this post? Share it.

The post Pow Wow Chow-Gate: Therapy for The Feverish Media appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

A Tale of Two Nightmares: One Asleep, One Wide Awake

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 7:54am

Nightmare Number one, wide awake: In the summer of 1959, my father, an Air Force bomber pilot, was transferred to a base near Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“Peace Is Our Profession” said the billboard by the base gate.

There my mother sent me and several of my siblings to St. Mary’s, the Catholic school downtown. It was across the street from the state Capitol. St. Mary’s was run by Dominican nuns, whose convent was next door.

I could have objected, but thought better of it.  Although I had become more or less an atheist, I was also a senior: one year left. I figured to keep my head down, get through it, then escape to college somewhere.

Far away in Rome, a new pope was settling in, replacing the late Pius XII. Pius had taken over in 1939, three years before I was born. When I thought about Pius, which was rarely, he had seemed like a permanent fixture, as solid as the thick stone walls of the old church in Kansas  where I was baptized, as unmoving as the statues there yearning toward their timeless crucified Christ.

But no, Pius was a mere mortal, and his successor, John XXIII, was quietly preparing to shake up the church’s seemingly impregnable  status quo. I mention these items, not because anything about them had penetrated my teenage male brain, but rather because I realize now that our nuns, an educated and alert group, were no doubt keenly aware of them. In fact, this must have been a very exciting year for them: not only was there a new pope, but Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy was making a serious run at becoming the first Catholic U. S. President in 1960.

Not that the nuns shared their anticipation with the likes of us. Only looking back can I perceive a few tiny slips. For instance, in Civics class, I noticed that whenever Sister Mary Catherine spoke about the ongoing presidential race, and Kennedy’s evident progress, she tended to look down, at her desk or even the floor, as if distracted.

This was puzzling at the time, but now I think I know why: she could not stop smiling, even grinning with anticipation– but in those distant days such levity, not to say obvious partisanship, was unseemly for a consecrated woman, at least outside her cloister.

These nuns  were  pledged  to  Marian  decorum and a drastic modesty: all had taken new names, beginning with Mary: Sister Mary Brigida, Sister Mary Amator, etc. They wore identical floorlength cream-colored habits, with high collars, stiffly-framed, black- trimmed veils and wimples that billowed loose behind them like capes, and covered all their hair.

Our nuns, the Sinsinawa Dominicans, in their pre-Vatican Two habits.

(One day in English class, Sister Mary Amator’s wimple shifted an inch or two, and a wisp of hair escaped from under its protective hem. Absorbed in whatever she was writing on the big blackboard, she noticed nothing, except how unusually attentive the class was. But of course–we were all leering at the loose lock, no less naked because it was grey; afterward the whispered debate was intense, but the consensus view was that Sister Amator had formerly been a blonde.)

Forget our snickers: these women were serious about their mission. It was not only to aid the salvation of our immortal souls, but also to see us properly prepared to take part in this new Catholic era. Thus they repeatedly urged us to enroll in Catholic colleges once we graduated.

(Such attendance, they also knew, greatly increased the odds we would marry other Catholics, and produce that most valuable church asset: new Catholic families.)

To this end, it was announced one day that we would soon be treated to a field trip, all the way to Denver, to visit the nearest Catholic colleges: Regis, for men, run by the Jesuits; and nearby Loretto Heights, for women, operated by the Sisters of Loretto.

I enjoyed the trip, though I was already clear that, as a budding atheist, wherever I went to college, it would be at a secular school. This resolve was greatly strengthened when we visited, of all places, the Regis library.

I had long had fond feelings for libraries,  and at first glance, the one at Regis seemed a fine specimen: well-lighted, relatively new, with many long open shelves. Open shelves of books to me embodied freedom of thought and learning, and its liberating possibilities.

But something didn’t jibe with this appealing tableau. Behind the reference desk, my eye was caught by a large area enclosed by heavy mesh metal partitions, like chain link fencing but thicker, with a locked gate. Inside were more books; I could see the shelves through the mesh. Were they antiquities? Precious manuscripts of historic value? They didn’t look like that.

No. My question to a cheerful librarian got a straightforward answer: the enclosure was for books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.

I stared at it in fascinated horror: of course I had heard of the Index. It was hundreds of years old. Where the Church was part of or protected by governments, it went hand in hand with censorship.

The Index, in a 1758 edition. I had never seen it, but it still loomed large over my youth. It is reported that this edition removed works affirming heliocentric from the forbidden list, after 200 years om it. A statue marks the place in Rome where Giordano Bruno was burned in 1600. He was held prisoner for six years before execution, but refused to recant his “heretical” views.

My first, adolescent thought was that it must include the books about sex. True enough, authors such as Gide and Balzac, thought to be peddlers of lasciviousness, were on it. But the Index was much more concerned about the mind than the loins, with stamping out heresy more than suppressing lust. One of the main goals for its first few centuries was to stop the spread of that damnable, intolerable heresy of (wait for it) heliocentrism: the belief that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun rather than vice versa, the latter being the Church’s official view. One of this view’s early advocates, Giordano Bruno, had his books added to the Index, and was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Inquisition. But in 1959, there were more philosophers (Kant, Spinoza, and Sartre) on it than racy novelists, or for that matter, astronomers.

Prohibited, yes; but many of the books were there at Regis, partly visible on those shelves. That was because, like numerous drugs, they were dangerous at large, but could be useful in special situations, and if doled out in carefully limited doses. Thus to read them, one needed a “prescription,” in the form of official permission. This was granted (or not) by the local bishop or Cardinal, based on an adequate showing of why the reading was needed (say, studying the history of astronomy), and how the project would be subject to properly orthodox supervision.

The Frontispiece to the 1758 edition of The Index. The motto at the bottom is Latin for a verse from the New Testament Book of Acts (19:19): “Many [recent Christian converts] who had practiced witchcraft gathered their books together and burned them in front of everyone.” (Actually, in those days it would have been scrolls.)In fact, in 1959 the Index, after its nearly 600-year run, was on its last legs. The new pope I was oblivious to would push it halfway over the brink before his premature death, and his successor, Paul VI (just  made a saint by Francis) finished the job, formally abolishing it in 1966.

But I had no inkling of that. On that day in Denver, in that brightly lit library, I felt I was looking into something close to the very Heart of Darkness. Here was one of the key tools by which the Church intended to capture, control and stifle my mind, as it had those of millions down the centuries.

A Headline from The Guardian, marking the official end of the Index.

Further, that locked gate at Regis did not open on a museum, filled with old relics, but on something intended to be a key part of my personal present, and future.

That enclosure, unremarkable visually, has stayed with me ever since. I have also seen that while the wire mesh is down, the Index abandoned, the spirit behind both has not been finally banished, either from the church or from many power centers outside it. Digital technology, as we are beginning to learn, has spawned many new tools for new censors, official or self-appointed.

Many in our class of about sixty heeded the call behind the Regis field trip: one became a priest; two of my close buddies headed east to the Catholic University of America, and so forth. To these two, once they were safely away on the east coast, I sent a long “coming out” letter, disclosing the lack of faith I had carefully concealed from them in our year at St. Mary’s.

Suitably shocked, they soon wrote back, pleading for me to take my concerns to a priest, before it was too late. But it was already “too late” for me, so of course I didn’t; and eventually both of them, by different circuitous paths, joined me in this “outer darkness.” We’re still in touch, intermittently, scattered across the continent from the far Northwest to the southeast.

Nightmare Number Two, Fast Asleep: Last night, a strange one. No monsters, no open violence, but cumulatively unnerving:

I was at a university, whether as a student, faculty, or something else wasn’t clear. The school was unnamed, but large, and prestigious. It was also being culled.

First, students were disappearing. Not being snatched by goblins, or screaming and resisting, but suddenly gone, quietly but unmistakably. Those who vanished were not all of one color, or LGBTs, or any other such familiar marker. But it somehow became evident that all had been identified as wrong or undesirable. By whom and how, there was no clue; maybe — I thought this later, but it fit the dream — it was Inquisition-by-some-invisible-algorithm: automated analysis of our ever-growing collections of individual likes and clicks had yielded suspect “profiles” which were marked for removal.

And shortly it was not only students. I saw books sliding off shelves and being slipped into a transparent wrapping, something that could be folded like saran wrap, but then became solid as plexiglass. The titles slid past too quickly to track; some looked old, others not. The books didn’t disappear, but were still being put entirely out of our reach. Again, by whom or for what, was not evident.

Through all this, no one touched or spoke to me; yet the sense of threat became steadily more pervasive and surrounding.

This culling was being done deliberately, and the dream unfolded slowly but relentlessly. The growing claustrophobic sense that my turn was coming finally forced me awake, into the familiar darkness of my predawn bedroom.

This was some relief; but the sense of indefinite menace continued, and sleep was gone. My usual morning routine of reading the daily papers didn’t help at all. It was better later at Meeting, though to get there I had to take a detour past numerous hurricane-downed trees, and sit in a chilly, unlit meetinghouse. . . .

The post A Tale of Two Nightmares: One Asleep, One Wide Awake appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

2020 Speculations: Wanted — A Fighting Leader

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 7:19am

With the awful weekend behind us, we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming, namely endless speculation about the Democrats & their 2020 presidential contest.

Even during the Late Unpleasantness around the Supreme Court, many media mavens kept offering comments about how presidential aspirants on & off the Senate Judiciary Committee were (or weren’t) building their 2020 “brand” in the midst of the swirling controversy. And I admit, I was pondering all that too.

If this now sounds rather ghoulish, it’s still what they (& I admit it, we) do, and some even get paid for it (not me; I’m such a sucker I do it for nothing).

So, with that lame apologia, here’s my handicapping report:

There were three identified aspirants on the minority side of the Senate Judiciary Committee: California’s Kamala Harris, Jersey’s Cory Booker & Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar.

For my money, Klobuchar came across best, but none of them really stood out. Harris & Booker stumbled out of the gate, heckling Chairman Grassley about arcane procedural technicalities (extra points if you can remember any of them), which of course went nowhere.

Then neither of them really laid a glove on Brett Kavanaugh, despite his flagrant & frequent lying. I kept longing for someone to elegantly, icily call him a liar & a perjurer. None came close. Nor did any of them effectively smack down the libelous Lindsey Graham, or the odious ancient apostle Orrin Hatch.

Sens. Cory Booker, left, and Kamala Harris, right.

The only one who defended her dignity was Klobuchar, who batted back Kavanaugh’s gratuitous insults about both her and her father as he blustered and prevaricated about his drinking. There was a welcome — tho all-too brief — flash of steel in her response— but then the Minnesota Nice reflexes kicked in and she squandered the opening.

The upshot was that all three aspirants joined their Dem colleagues who just sat there and let the Coverup Crew splatter them with slime like drunken Beach Week Yalies tipping over a row of porta-potties. The only real fightback came from the protesters,  shouting as they were hustled out; it wasn’t enough.

So of these three, Klobuchar seemed the most solid. But unless she learns to land a punch, no dice. One thing the protests inside and out in the halls made clear is that the Democratic base is boiling mad and fed up with getting rolled. Whoever their 2020 standard bearer turns out to be, she/he will have to be a fighter, and be seen as such.

This consideration applies to several figures outside the Committee too. Take the one some pundits regard as the presumptive front-runner, Joe Biden.

Uncle Joe.

Although Uncle Joe is highly-regarded as a seasoned party elder, his long history also brings baggage: above all, it stirs memories of a double disaster from 1991: first, the humiliation of Anita Hill. And second, the empowerment of Clarence Thomas, whose legacy of embittered, reactionary jurisprudence has disfigured the Supreme Court for 27 years and counting.

Biden was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee then. And while it makes me want to Ralph to voice this comparison, the truth is that his performance then was only barely less appalling than that of Ghastly Grassley last week.

Many younger angry millennials likely don’t even know this traumatic story; but we can count on the GOP’s propagandists to make sure they learn it. Maybe I can forgive Biden’s 1991 performance; he’s expressed regret about it. But though I say it reluctantly, in 2018, it’s a burden that’s disqualifying.

Clarence Thomas, left. Anita Hill, right.

Then there’s the other legacy candidate, my hero of 2016 whose visage is carved indelibly on my personal Mt. Rushmore:


Sanders did the right thing. He was among the first to publicly oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, and for the right reasons.

A magic moment: Bernie greets a bird that alighted on his lectern at huge Oregon rally, 2016.

But he was not high-profile in the struggle. Maybe that was also the right thing to do: step back and leave the spotlight for women. We know he’s a fighter. But still . . . . How about Bernie for Attorney General?

And there’s one more aspirant who needs mention here. Within two hours of the confirmation vote, I had an email from this one. (I get dozens of such emails daily; I suspect somebody thinks my last name is spelled S-O-R-O-S).  This missive struck me as being very different from what I had seen and heard from the others. Here’s most of it. Look it over; can you see what caught my attention?

“Just before the vote, I thanked, hugged, and consoled the hundreds of people who were still outside the Capitol and Supreme Court. Women (and friends of women) who have relived the worst moments of their life these past few weeks and fought with courage for the millions of people who could not be here.

Today’s vote hurts people. It hurts every victim of sexual assault who’s been ignored, every woman who’s been told to be quiet, every person who’ll be on the losing end when Brett Kavanaugh casts a gut-punching deciding vote – in favor of states that keep American citizens from voting, in favor of corporations that cheat people, in favor of gun traffickers who put our kids at risk.

We lost this one. I don’t like to lose – and this one really hurts – but I’m not sorry I got in this fight.

Because here’s the deal: When we fight, we get stronger. It doesn’t drain our batteries. It builds up our muscles. And this was a righteous fight. We called out entitled, powerful men who use their privilege to protect each other. We lifted the voices of millions of survivors of sexual assault. We refused to be women who sit down and shut up.

And we strengthened our bonds for the next fight that lies ahead. Because there will be a next fight, and another fight after that, and another fight after that. We won’t always win when we fight. But if we don’t put up a fight, we’ll always lose.

So today, take some deep breaths – and get ready to fight back. . . .”

Of course it’s Elizabeth Warren. And in it I hear a voice that’s much more in tune with the moment than any of these others.

First, she’s angry, convincingly so. Controlled, coherent, but really pissed.

Second, her writing combines the brains of a Harvard Law professor with a clipped, assertive, down-to-earth vernacular:

“Today’s vote hurts people.” “ . . . a gut-punching deciding vote . . .”  “We lost this one. I don’t like to lose . . . but I’m not sorry I got in this fight.
Because here’s the deal: When we fight, we get stronger. . . . We refused to be women who sit down and shut up.”

This is plain talk with a solidly authentic ring.

I was not among the thousands of women and men who thronged the Capitol. But I think I know what they’re feeling today: they want to keep up the fight, with leadership that’s ready to fight, capable of it, and can lift their flagging spirits as they regroup to face the next battles.

Among all of these names here, Warren by far sounds most like that kind of leader. And she’s got a real  track record.

January 2017: Warren was silenced in the Senate by Mitch McConnell when she persisted in reading statements by earlier senators opposing the appointment of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge, because of evidence of his racist statements and actions. After her silencing, numerous male senators read the same statements, but were not sanctioned. Warren’s act of defiance became an instant viral resistance meme: “Still, she persisted.”

Right now she’s concentrating on re-election to the Senate from Massachusetts, and leads in all available polls. She says she’ll decide about 2020 after that.

If my intuition is right — that her fighting voice and image best fits this moment and the angry, fired up base — this could well be her moment too.

“We won’t always win when we fight,” she said frankly, “But if we don’t put up a fight, we’ll always lose.” And: “Because there will be a next fight, and another fight after that, and another fight after that.”

This may not quite be Churchillian, promising blood, tears, toil & sweat. Yet it’s not so far from it, it’s realistic, and has a forceful  eloquence of its own.

And so far, the Committee newcomers,  Harris, Booker and Klobuchar, are all promising, but just not yet in the same class.

So these are my current speculations on the 2020 Democratic horse race. I’ll close with a quote from a Warren floor speech before the vote, about the ultra-secret FBI instant-“investigation”.  She declared flatly that, despite all its shortcomings,

“ . . . the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”

If anybody can find a way to pry open those closed doors, it could be her. And if that happens, Brett Kavanaugh may soon have many new reasons to Ralph. And the White House could be faced with a real fighter in 2020.

It would be about time. Way overdue, in fact.

If you find this post useful, please pass it on.

The post 2020 Speculations: Wanted — A Fighting Leader appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Post-Confirmation: Our World Won’t End Right Now. (But you can see the clouds gathering.)

Sat, 10/06/2018 - 1:54pm

The confirmation vote is is done.

I won’t hold it against anyone who feels stunned and numbed by the travesty in the Senate, and needs to take some time to scream, cry & regroup. (Just don’t forget the midterms!)

Yet soon enough, those on the progressive side will need to look beyond the next election to the long work of coping with other aspects of what Kavanaugh’s arrival on the court portends.

And yes, the outlook is mostly bad; terrible, in fact. And it was a terrible prospect even before any of us knew who Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick were.

The upside down flag signals an emergency. I rest my case.

Further, it’s about what we knew, or could have known, before the explosion, that I want to deal with here.

I don’t mean to diminish for a minute the magnitude of the institutional violence done to women this week, especially survivors of direct assault and abuse. Yet the list of legal catastrophes whose likelihood will climb with Kavanaugh’s ascension was already long, and portends massive negative impact on many other segments of the population; all of us, really.

Further, there was an excellent, but now forgotten overview of this in the opening session of the hearings, presented by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

I don’t know why Whitehouse isn’t  better known.  Maybe it’s Rhode Island’s mini-size (at barely 1200 square miles, it makes Vermont — 8 times as large– look huge; or maybe its due to the state’s mostly Democratic voting record.) Perhaps it’s because he is not running for president.

Whatever; Whitehouse was a prosecutor and state attorney general before he came to Washington. He knows how to make a case succinctly and trenchantly. And he made this detailed pre-rapist case against Kavanaugh in the first round of opening statements on September 4.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

After him, the supposed ace debater Ted Cruz sounded shrill, small and tinny. Cruz’s butt-kissing only underlined the power of Whitehouse’s statement,  a masterwork of plain, well-informed, vivid, carefully angry and occasionally profane argument.

Most of the rest of this post will be quotes from Whitehouse’s  statement. The text, along with links to the documentation for his charges, are all on his website, in full.

If you read the earlier post about Whitehouse’s statement, his brief is worth revisiting. A month ago it was a possibility; it’s now about to become imminent.

Whitehouse did not focus solely on Kavanaugh; rather he spotlighted the bloc that the newcomer will solidify, what Whitehouse rightly called “The Roberts Five.” That’s a phrase we should remember and make clear to the public. We’ll let Whitehouse  pick it up here (I have added the emphasis, having heard the talk first, which he delivered with much passion.)

Whitehouse: When is a pattern evidence of bias?

In court, pattern is evidence of bias all the time; evidence on which juries and trial judges rely, to show discriminatory intent, to show a common scheme, to show bias.

When does a pattern prove bias?

That’s no idle question. It’s relevant to the pattern of the Roberts Court when its Republican majority goes off on its partisan excursions through the civil law; when all five Republican appointees — The Roberts Five, I’ll call them — go raiding off together, and no Democratic appointee joins them.

Does this happen often? Yes, indeed.

The Roberts Five has gone on 80 of these partisan excursions since Roberts became chief.

There is a feature to these eighty cases. They almost all implicate interests important to the big funders and influencers of the Republican Party. When the Republican Justices go off on these partisan excursions, there’s a big Republican corporate or partisan interest involved 92 percent of the time.

A tiny handful of these cases don’t implicate an interest of the big Republican influencers — so flukishly few we can set them aside. That leaves 73 cases that all implicate a major Republican Party interest. Seventy-three is a lot of cases at the Supreme Court.

Is there a pattern to those 73 cases? Oh, yes there is.

Every time a big Republican corporate or partisan interest is involved, the big Republican interest wins. Every. Time.

Let me repeat: In seventy-three partisan decisions where there’s a big Republican interest at stake, the big Republican interest wins.

Every. Damned. Time.

Hence the mad scramble of big Republican interest groups to protect a “Roberts Five” that will reliably give them wins — really big wins, sometimes.

When The Roberts Five saddles up, these so-called conservatives are anything but judicially conservative.

They readily overturn precedent, toss out statutes passed by wide bipartisan margins, and decide on broad constitutional issues they need not reach. Modesty, originalism, stare decisis [the value of precedent], all these supposedly conservative judicial principles, all have the hoof prints of the Roberts Five all across their backs, wherever those principles got in the way of wins for the Big Republican interests.

The litany of Roberts Five decisions explains why big Republican interests want Kavanaugh on the Court so badly that Republicans trampled so much Senate precedent to shove him through; so let’s review the litany.

What do big Republican interests want? Well, first, they want to win elections.

What has The Roberts Five delivered?

Help Republicans gerrymander elections: Vieth v. Jubelirer, 5-4, license to gerrymander.

Help Republicans keep minority voters away from the polls: Shelby County, 5-4 and Bartlett v. Strickland, 5-4. And Abbott v. Perez, 5-4, despite the trial judge finding the Texas legislature actually intended to suppress minority voters.

And the big one: help corporate front-group money flood elections — if you’re a big special interest you love unlimited power to buy elections and threaten and bully Congress. McCutcheon, 5-4 counting the concurrence; Bullock, 5-4; and the infamous, grotesque 5-4 Citizens United decision (which belongs . . . on the Court’s roll of shame).

What else do the big influencers want?

To get out of courtrooms. Big influencers hate courtrooms, because their lobbying and electioneering and threatening doesn’t work. In a courtroom, big influencers used to getting their way have to suffer the indignity of equal treatment.

So The Roberts Five protects corporations from group “class action” lawsuits: Walmart v. Dukes, 5-4; Comcast, 5-4; and this past term, Epic Systems, 5-4.

The Roberts Five helps corporations steer customers and workers away from courtrooms and into mandatory arbitration: Concepcion, Italian Colors, and Rent-a-Center, all Roberts Five. Epic Systems does double duty here: now workers can’t even arbitrate their claims as a group.

Hindering access to the courthouse for plaintiffs generally: Iqbal, 5-4.

Protecting corporations from being taken to court by employees harmed through pay discrimination, Ledbetter, 5-4; age discrimination, Gross, 5-4; harassment, Vance 5-4; and retaliation, Nassar, 5-4. Even insulating corporations from liability for international human rights violations: Jesner, 5-4.

Corporations aren’t in the Constitution; juries are. Indeed, courtroom juries are the one element of American government designed to protect people against encroachments by private wealth and power. So of course The Roberts Five rule for wealthy, powerful corporations over jury rights every time — with nary a mention of the Seventh Amendment.

What’s another one? Oh, yes.  A classic: helping big business bust unions. Harris v. Quinn, 5-4; and Janus v. AFSCME this year, 5-4, overturning a 40-year precedent.

Lots of big Republican influencers are polluters. They like to pollute for free.

So of course The Roberts Five delivers decisions that let corporate polluters pollute. To pick a few: Rapanos, weakening wetland protections, 5-4; National Association of Home Builders, weakening protections for endangered species, 5-4; Michigan v. EPA, helping air polluters, 5-4; and, in the face of emerging climate havoc, there’s the procedurally aberrant 5-4 partisan decision to stop the EPA Clean Power Plan.

Then come Roberts Five bonus decisions advancing a far-right social agenda: Gonzalez v. Carhart, upholding restrictive abortion laws; Hobby Lobby, granting corporations religious rights over the health care rights of employees; NIFLA, letting states deny women truthful information about their reproductive choices—all 5-4, all the Republicans.

Add Heller and McDonald, which reanimated for the gun industry a theory a former Chief Justice once called a “fraud”; both decisions 5-4.

This year, Trump v. Hawaii, 5-4, rubber stamping President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim travel ban.

And in case Wall Street was feeling left out, helping insulate investment bankers from fraud claims: Janus Capital Group, Inc., 5-4.

No wonder the American people feel the game is rigged.

Here’s how the rigged game works: big business and partisan groups fund the Federalist Society, which picked Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. As White House Counsel admitted, they “insourced” the Federalist Society for this selection. Exactly how the nominees were picked, and who was in the room where it happened, and who had a vote or a veto, and what was said or promised, is all a deep dark secret.

Then big business and partisan groups fund the Judicial Crisis Network, which runs dark-money political campaigns to influence Senators in confirmation votes, as they’ve done for Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. Who pays millions of dollars for that, and what their expectations are, is a deep dark secret.

These groups also fund Republican election campaigns with dark money. The identity of the big donors? A deep dark secret.

Once the nominee is on, the same business front groups, with ties to the Koch Brothers and other funders of the Republican political machine, file “friend of the court,” or amicus briefs, to signal their wishes to the Roberts Five. Who is really behind those “friends” is another deep dark secret.

It has gotten so weird that Republican justices now even send hints back to big business interests about how they’d like to help them next, and then big business lawyers rush out to lose cases, just to get them up before the friendly [Supreme] Court, pronto. That’s what happened in Friedrichs and Janus.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the biggest corporate lobby of them all. It’s the mouthpiece for Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Guns, you name it—and this year, with Justice Gorsuch riding with the Roberts Five, the Chamber won nine of the 10 cases it weighed in on.

The Roberts Five since 2006 has given the Chamber more than three-quarters of their total votes. This year in civil cases they voted for the Chamber’s position nearly 90 percent of the time.

People are noticing. Veteran court-watchers like Jeffrey Toobin, Linda Greenhouse and Norm Ornstein describe the court as a delivery service for Republican interests:

Toobin has written that on the Supreme Court, “Roberts has served the interests . . . of the contemporary Republican Party.”

Greenhouse has said, “the Republican-appointed majority is committed to harnessing the Supreme Court to an ideological agenda.”

Ornstein described, “the new reality of today’s Supreme Court: It is polarized along partisan lines in a way that parallels other political institutions and the rest of society, in a fashion we have never seen.”

And the American public knows it, too. The American public thinks the Supreme Court treats corporations more favorably than individuals, compared to vice versa, by a 7-to-1 margin.

Whitehouse shows that the public is catching on to the “corporate capture” of the Supreme Court.

Now, let’s look at where Judge Kavanaugh fits in. A Republican political operative his whole career, who’s never tried a case. He made his political bones helping the salacious prosecution of President Clinton, and leaking prosecution information to the press.

As an operative in the second Bush White House, he cultivated relationships with political insiders like nomination guru Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society architect of Kavanaugh’s court nominations. On the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh gave more than 50 speeches to the Federalist Society. That’s some auditioning.

On the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh showed his readiness to join The Roberts Five with big political wins for Republican and corporate interests: unleashing special interest money into elections; protecting corporations from liability; helping polluters pollute; striking down commonsense gun regulations; keeping injured plaintiffs out of court; and perhaps most important for the current occupant of the Oval Office, expounding a nearly limitless vision of presidential immunity from the law.

[Kavanaugh’s] alignment with right-wing groups who came before him as “friends of the court”? 91 percent.

When big business trade associations weighed in? 76 percent. This is what corporate capture of the courts looks like.

There are big expectations for [Kavanaugh]. The shadowy dark-money front group, the Judicial Crisis Network, is spending tens of millions in dark money to push for [his] confirmation. They clearly have big expectations about how [he]’ll rule on dark money.

The NRA has poured millions into [his] confirmation, promising their members that [he]’ll “break the tie.” They clearly have big expectations on how you’ll vote on guns.

White House Counsel Don McGahn said, “There is a coherent plan here where actually the judicial selection and the deregulatory effort are really the flip side of the same coin.” Big polluters clearly have big expectations for [him] on their deregulatory effort.

Finally, [he] come[s] before us nominated by a President named in open court as directing criminal activity, and a subject of ongoing criminal investigation. [Kavanaugh] displayed expansive views on executive immunity from the law. If [he is] in that seat, the White House has big expectations that [he] will protect the President from the due process of law, that should give every Senator pause. [But of course, it didn’t.]

Now, from me, not Whitehouse, a word of advice: don’t try to absorb all this in one gulp. Let it settle; bookmark the Whitehouse background papers (and maybe this blog post), and come back to them.  After all, all this — all this! — is in addition to preserving rape culture, and shoring up the Elite Boys-Will-Be-Boys Protection Plan, and reinforcing the precedent that telling lies under oath by guys with the right skin color & connections are okay.

It’s a lot to take in. If you add up the agenda that Whitehouse has sketched out, plus Kavanaugh’s vow of revenge (“what goes around comes around”) it amounts to a full-fledged counter-revolution. Catch your breath. Let this settle for a bit. (But don’t forget the midterms.)

Then we better get down to the business of figuring out how to fight back and preserve as much as we can in the meantime. It will be a long slog. Big protests in Washington, though they will have their place, will not get it done.   Meaningful resistance will take thought, homework, expertise, creativity and planning.

UPDATE: News reports indicate that Kavanaugh was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts shortly after the Senate voted. This suggests that with The Roberts Five now reconstituted, the notoriously workaholic jurist can get down to work on their lengthy agenda.

Either that, or he may be off to have some beers, possibly too many, with his almost as notorious friend Ralph.

If this post is of value to you, please pass it on.

The post Post-Confirmation: Our World Won’t End Right Now. (But you can see the clouds gathering.) appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Evangelical University loosens its ban on same sex relationships. Oh wait — No, It Didn’t.

Sat, 09/29/2018 - 5:51am

In its September 20 issue, Christianity Today magazine [aka CT] reported that Azusa Pacific University, or APU (a southern California school that evangelical Quakers founded), had changed its behavioral rules to permit same sex “romantic” relationships (if they did not include sex; APU forbids sex to all outside marriage, and does not recognize same sex marriage).  The shift was featured in a  September 18 APU blog post with this graphic  header:

— OOps, no it didn’t. APU’s policy change only lasted a few weeks. As word of the change went viral in the evangelical world, criticism poured in, and the APU Board of Trustees quickly stepped in to overturn the change and reinstate the original rules.

The Christianity Today report includes the text of the original rules and the now discarded revision.

The original rules were summarized by CT thus:

““homosexual acts” (among others) are “expressly forbidden” by Scripture; “heterosexuality is God’s design for sexually intimate relationships”; and “humans were created as gendered beings” in order to be fruitful and multiply.” The original policy concluded that:

“Azusa Pacific University pledges to guide the university community toward understanding and embracing their God-given sexuality as reflected in this statement. Any deviation from biblical standard of sexual behavior is sin and therefore is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”

The revised rule replaced “sin” with this reformulation:

“Any deviation from the biblical standard is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”

APU’s September 18 blog post stated:

“This change is a result of much dialogue between students and administration. For years, LGBTQ+ students at APU have run an underground support group called Haven. However, because they weren’t endorsed by APU as an official club, they couldn’t gather on campus or advertise their meetings.

The group met in apartments around APU because members only knew about Haven by word-of-mouth. Members of Haven were motivated to have their voices heard after an APU faculty member was the target of a hate crime on campus, where LGBTQ+ slurs were used against him.

Last year, with help from LGBTQ+ organization Brave Commons, Haven members started discussing this topic with administration. Erin Green, co-executive director of Brave Commons and recent APU alumni, coordinated much of these conversations.


“We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent],” Green said. “Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.”

The students spoke, and the administrative board listened. Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D., said that as the board evaluated their code of conduct, they wanted to be attentive to equity.

“The changes that occured to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,” Fiala said. “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”

The Los Angeles Daily News reported on APU’s policy change and its abrupt reversal, which was announced  in a Board statement on Friday, September 28. The statement said, in part:

“We remain unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity. The Bible serves as our anchor.

We stand firm in our convictions, never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social. . . .

Last week, reports circulated about a change to the undergraduate student standards of conduct. That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.

We see every student as a gift from God, infinitely valuable and worthy in the eyes of our Creator and as members of our campus community. We believe our university is the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality. We embrace all students who seek a rigorous Christian higher education and voluntarily join us in mission.

We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission. We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”

The Daily News noted that advocates of the change feel betrayed by campus officials:

“For Erin Green, who graduated from APU in May and is now co-executive director for Brave Commons, a national organization that looks to support LGBTQ students specifically at Christian universities, the reversal is a disappointment. Green, who participated in the discussions last year with university administrators that led to the policy’s removal, went so far as to describe it as a betrayal because the administrators were the ones who reached out to her and other students.

“We poured our hearts out, were vulnerable and relived our trauma telling our stories, telling stories of previous students who were damaged or hurt in some way by the institution, which had action taken against them for being gay or being in a same-sex relationship,” Green said.

“They looked us in the eye and said this policy is harmful, it’s discriminatory, it’s stigmatizing and we’re going to get rid of it,” she said. “And we trusted them.”

Brave Commons: Sadder but Wiser?

APU board member Albert Tate insisted that

LGBTQ students will not be forced back underground and that they will be able to continue having conversations with one another on campus.

“How we structure, support and come alongside that group is secondary to the goal of the group, the goal of gathering together and having all students know they’ve been seen, heard and loved by us,” Tate said. . . .

Tate said he hopes they will continue to meet with university support staff, administrators and board members to craft a policy that is both consistent with the university’s core values and removes language that makes LGBTQ students feel persecuted.

“For anybody on our campus to feel persecuted in any way, shape, form or fashion obviously is not what we want,” Tate said.

In the meantime, Green said students will go back to feeling just that — persecuted.

“They said we could put our trust in them, and we did that,” Green said. “And this is how they treat us, an already marginalized community — push us back down into the fringes.”

APU has a seminary, which includes a “Friends Center”, which offers  courses in evangelical Friends history & theology.

The post Evangelical University loosens its ban on same sex relationships. Oh wait — No, It Didn’t. appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs