Fourth of July

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With all that has happened in the last few months, this 4th of July doesn’t seem to be a time of celebration. It’s not exactly a time for mourning, but it is close. That which we thought was the promise of America has disappeared in the worst bait-and-switch act ever in our history. The oligarchy we were becoming has morphed into the fascism we once fought against; worse yet, a large part of the population have embraced it, and to the rest it is becoming normal. It is not a birthday worth the candles.

However there are strange glimpses of hope. When conspiracy radio talk host Alex Jones said the liberals will be launching a second Civil War today, people took to Twitter in the best satirical fashion to create notes from the front as “Second Civil War Letters” (I urge you to search #secondcivilwarletters on Twitter and laugh your ass off; I also created my own letter on another blog here). I also took to reading Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July.” Written 166 years ago, it is amazingly prescient today and can help to inspire most of us. If we can come out of those darkest times, we can again.

For today’s 4th of July, I present you with one of America’s greatest treasures with one of America’s great speeches: James Earl Jones reading excerpts from Douglass’ “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July.” This was presented as part of Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States.”

 

 

The speech itself is worth reading in its entirety, and you can here.

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March for Our Lives 2018

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On April 24 of this year, cities across the US held sister marches with the March for Our Lives rally organized by the student survivors of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida. Millions across the country marched against the NRA and gun violence, an estimated 800,000 alone in Washington DC. I marched in Boston where I could not tell you the exact numbers. I will say it had the same kind of energy as the counterprotest to the “Free Speech” rally last summer.  As usual my daughter was with me taking photos. Our collection on the web is late but timely: there was another school shooting earlier this week in Santa Fe, TX that left 10 dead and 10 others wounded.  There seems to be no shortage of mass shootings in this country which is why we marched in April, and we will probably have to march a lot more before sensible gun laws can be enacted and enforced as a nationwide standard. Here are the photos from April’s march:

Interview with Monica Cannon-Grant

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For those who missed our show on February 11, 20018, it was an amazing interview with Monica Cannon-Grant, Boston activist and founder of Violence in Boston, which serves to improve the quality of life & life outcomes of individuals from disenfranchised communities by reducing the prevalence of violence and the impact of associated trauma. Great to listen and learn.

Click here to listen to the show.

Perseverance and the Search for Meaning

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On Feb. 4, I gave this sermon at the UU Church of Medford, MA, based on the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. This was to begin the month’s sermon topic of “Perseverance.” I started with an excerpt from the 1992 Introduction to the book.

“The reader may ask me why I did not try to escape what was in store for me after Hitler had occupied Austria. Let me answer by recalling the following story. Shortly before the United States entered World War II, I received an invitation to come to the American Consulate in Vienna to pick up my immigration visa. My old parents were overjoyed because they expected that I would soon be allowed to leave Austria. I suddenly hesitated, however. The question beset me: could I really afford to leave my parents alone to face their fate, to be sent, sooner or later, to a concentration camp, or even to a so-called extermination camp? Where did my responsibility lie? Should I foster my brain child, logotherapy, by emigrating to fertile soil where I could write my books? Or should I concentrate on my duties as a real child, the child of my parents who had to do whatever he could to protect them? I pondered the problem this way and that but could not arrive at a solution; this was the type of dilemma that made one wish for “a hint from Heaven,” as the phrase goes.

“It was then that I noticed a piece of marble lying on a table at home. When I asked my father about it, he explained that he had found it on the site where the National Socialists had burned down the largest Viennese synagogue. He had taken the piece home because it was a part of the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. One gilded Hebrew letter was engraved on the piece; my father explained that this letter stood for one of the Commandments. Eagerly I asked, “Which one is it?” He answered, “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land.” At that moment I decided to stay with my father and my mother upon the land, and to let the American visa lapse.”– Vienna, 1992


Originally I was asked in October to give a sermon this past November. There were two problems with that: one is that I find myself these days writing at a much slower pace than I used to, so I needed much more time than I was allowed for a deadline; second is that the Soul Matters theme for that month was Abundance—there was no way I could do a service on abundance in any form. I shouldn’t say any form, because I could have given the shortest sermon in history: ask “what does it mean to live a life of abundance?” answer “I have no clue,” and go right to the closing circle. However, I felt that would leave many unsatisfied, so that idea was scrubbed. So I offered to do a sermon during February when the theme was perseverance, which gave me more time and I knew I could go in a number of directions. Now when I made that decision, I was given a late-February Sunday, which was fine. As it turns out there were some small schedule conflicts that Rev. Marta had to resolve, so she asked me if I could do this date in February. I agreed and things were fine. However it was later that I realized that this would be the first Sunday in February, which leads off the new theme for the month. It’s one thing to give a sermon that ties into the themes of the month; it’s another to set the tone for the themes of sermons for the month. That I wasn’t prepared for. As much as I like the spotlight, I’m much more a supporting player who likes to steal the light for a while rather than the lead who has the light always shining on them. It’s a bigger task to try and define the themes while leaving room for others to expand on them, rather than being one who helps push out at the edges. But this is the hand I am dealt, so let’s start with the basics.

What is perseverance? It is defined as steadfastness in doing or achieving something despite the difficulty, obstacles, and/or delay in the goal’s success. It is more than simple persistence and determination, but it helps to have both. In this case it is facing a goal that is hard to reach to begin with, has impediments in the way—all the way—through getting to the goal, yet still moving towards a conclusion nevertheless. In many ways, it doesn’t just require a leap of faith to get to the end, the journey is a leap of faith in itself.

While it may not always seem like it, there are examples of people living lives of perseverance now and in history. For a few weeks I went back and forth trying to decide which would be the best example to use. I could talk about the current situation of Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria and how one third of the population are dealing with little or no power and assistance. Or I could talk about the Black Lives Matter movement as another manifestation of liberation theology from abolition to the Civil Right movement. I thought about speaking of my own personal goals and struggles over the last decade, as personal testimony is important to our faith. I also thought I could talk of Albert Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus” as the existential parable to such a life within all the absurdities that abound. These and more are fine examples of persistence despite obstacles, against the odds—and some I may yet address in talks in the future. But I eventually settled on an item that I found early in my college life and feel is a clear and concise example on perseverance: the experience in the Nazi concentration camps as experienced by Dr. Viktor Frankl which he chronicled in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It is historical, resonant, and powerful on its own right, gives a fascinating look into the minds of those who were held and survived the camps, and considering last week’s sermon about the power of laughter, what better way to bookend that service than with existentialism and the Holocaust.

Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna in 1905 to Jewish civil servants. He showed an early interest in medicine, wanting to be a doctor at the age of three. In his teens he sparked an interest in philosophy, experimental psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, going so far as to corresponding with Sigmund Freud. It was Freud who helped get one of Frankl’s first article published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis at the age of 16. Frankl slowly realized he had an aptitude for not only diagnosing psychological problems of patients, but to understand what motivates people. In 1928, while still a medical student at the University of Vienna, he started a special program to have him and other psychiatrists counsel troubled high school students. This led to a position at the University Clinic in Vienna after graduation. From 1930 to 1937, he oversaw patients at the “suicide pavilion,” caring for over 3,000 people with suicidal tendencies. His efforts were to help patients make their lives meaningful in the face of depression. This would take extreme symbolism not too much later.

With the Nazi takeover of Austria, Frankl was forbidden from working on any “Aryan” patients because he was Jewish. With his reputation, he was able to become the head of the department of neurology at Rothschild Hospital, the only hospital in Vienna where Jews were allowed admission. This provided him a little protection in the face of ongoing danger and threat of deportation. When the hospital was to be closed, the dangers was realized. In September of 1942, Frankl, his wife, and parents, were arrested and deported to the Thereseinstadt Ghetto, a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. He would eventually be moved to three other camps—Auschwitz-Birkenau, Kaufering, and Turkheim, which was part of the Dachau complex—before the camps were liberated.

Soon after liberation, Frankl’s short memoir “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” eventually formed the first portion of his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” At almost 100 pages, it is a very fast, but nonetheless potent, read of what went on in the camps.  It is one of those books that you can open to literally any page and find a topic worthy of a sermon. While he gave his own experiences at the camps, some description of events were left out, for as he writes “Many accounts have been written about this horror.” In some ways his approach to the events at the camps are from a clinical point of view; he tries to give people a view into the psychology of a concentration camp prisoner. And while part of his purpose is breaking down the three distinct phases of an “inmate’s mental reaction to camp life”—the entry to the camp, the day to day survival, and the points after liberation—this is still the account of concentration camp prisoner Number 119104. As such, much of what happened to him was subject to the whims of officers, Capos, and, to some extent, fate. Frankl describes the almost perfect convergence of all three on the night he was sent to Auschwitz. Men and women were separated into groups, and they had to file past a senior SS officer whom he said “assumed an attitude of careless ease” as he looked over each person, and simply pointed left or right with his finger. He had no idea what this meant, but after a brief inspection Frankl was pointed to the right. Later that evening, he picks up the story:

“I inquired from prisoners who had been there for some time where my colleague and friend had been sent.

“’Was he sent to the left side?’

“’Yes,’ I replied.

“’The you can see him there,’ I was told.

“’Where?’ A hand pointed to the chimney a few hundred yards off, which was sending a column of flame up into the grey sky of Poland. It dissolved into a sinister cloud of smoke.

“’That is where your friend is, floating up to Heaven,’ was the answer.”

It was little games like this, and worse, that the SS and Capos played that often reminded him of the story “Death in Tehran.” With all that—the shock and disgust of imprisonment, then the apathy and forced to live an abnormal routine as if normal—how does one not succumb to the extremity of the concentration camp? This however was Frankl’s gift as he had shown earlier in his career.

When Frankl counseled suicidal patients, he helped them to figure out how to find and hold on to hope. To do this, he had to help each person find their own meaning to life and reconnect with it. This in turn gave them the strength to keep going. His theories contradicted a popular school of psychological thought of the time: Sigmund Freud’s pleasure principle. Freud held that man’s primary drive is seeking pleasure and all other motivations are “secondary rationalizations of instinctive drives.” Frankl flipped this concept on its head. He posited that man’s primary drive is a search for meaning in one’s life, which he called the “will to meaning.” This falls in line with the philosophy of existentialism, in that the there is no real meaning in the world except for that which we make of it. While this concept is taken to mean that things happen as they happen—there is no good or evil, just the amorality of nature and therefore suffering is a kind of absurdity as well as a fact of life—Frankl takes it to a different point: that our suffering comes from being disconnected from what meaning life has for us, and man’s real purpose is find that meaning for each person and to work towards making life meaningful. This was his therapeutic technique called Logotherapy. Logo is from the Greek word logos which is “meaning.” In other words, in finding one’s own meaning of life, you find reason to persevere.

So what was Frankl’s own meaning that kept him alive through four concentration camps? Oddly enough it was this theory of logotherapy. When he was detained by the SS, he had a nearly completed manuscript detailing his theories and approaches. This work detailed his analysis of his own work and findings, his theories and new psychological approach, and would eventually form the book The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy. It was nearly 300 pages of his life’s work up to that time, as it was seized by camp guards after entering the camps and destroyed. That might have been the end of it had he not felt this to be his own important gift to humanity. He felt so strongly in this that over the next few years, while still in the various camps, he worked to rewrite the manuscript scrawling notes on whatever he could get his hands on. He even claims this burning desire to bring this book to realization is what kept him from succumbing to typhus like so many others. It also got him through some of the day to day hardships in the camps. One particular day after being forced to hike to a work site in the freezing winds with sore legs and feet, lamenting this day and what lay ahead, he had the image of himself standing on a podium in front of an audience lecturing on psychology and philosophy; this helped him at that moment in his depths by rising above the current circumstances and even viewing himself having survived them in the past. This was also a part of his theory: it focuses on the future, or as he puts it “on the meanings to be fulfilled by the patient in his/her future.” His own work and work as a camp doctor helped him survive the horrors of the Holocaust.

So what can we take from his teachings and experiences? How can he teach us to live a life of perseverance? First and foremost, we must realize that while life is random, rough, sometimes tortuous, it has multiple chances to learn more about it and ourselves. We are creatures that search for meaning in life and it seems that we can create that meaning for our lives as well. Frankl says “this meaning is unique and specific in that must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning.” Is it the creation of a work of art, or the writing of a great novel? Is it the work one does in life, or helping to raise the life they have created? Any of these can fulfill that meaning to life and keep us as individuals moving forwards. Again as Frankl said, “In a word, each man/woman is questioned by life; they can only answer to life by answering for their own life; to their life they can only respond by being responsible.”

It is also important to know that these desires to achieve can be frustrated. There are always obstacles in the way and each can provide moments of doubt. This is to be expected and in some ways appreciated. One of the ways logotherapy differs from most psychological methods is how it views mental health. Most modes of psychoanalysis trends towards finding homeostasis, or a tensionless mental state; logotherapy acknowledges that a certain degree of tension is needed for mental health, in this case the tension between what a person has already achieved and what they have yet to achieve. Think of a bow and arrow. When a bow has no tension placed upon it, the arrow remains stationary, it may even fall off. To send the arrow flying to an intended target, you must put tension on the string to propel the arrow. That positive tension is what is needed to push you where you need to go. As Frankl says “what man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.”

This meaning we seek is very individual, very specific at any given moment. What gave us meaning as children may not be the same thing that gives us meaning now. It can change and we have to recognize when such a time happens. It doesn’t mean that what we believed was wrong, but that that what we believed then no longer applies now. If we are beings that strive for meaning, we need new goals to achieve as we go.

I find this very helpful in that the past is not something gone and forgotten, but something that can be built upon. In the camps, Frankl was being marched out in the cold and wind to one of their work details. The prisoner next to him said “If our wives could see us now. I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.” At that point Frankl had no idea whether his wife was dead or alive, but that statement brought her image to his mind. Through the march and the detail of the day, he held her image in his mind, even having imaginary conversations with her. It got him through that time, but it also taught him that none of what happened in the camp can take away the love he knew with his wife whether she be alive or not (His wife did in fact die in the Bergen-Belsen camp). On a higher level, he said that at that moment he realized that “the salvation of man is through love and in love.”

While he even admits the prisoners not long for the earth would spend their last days lying in bed often lost in thoughts or memories as that was one of the few escapes from the horrors there, the memories of love can help build one’s inner life to use as a buffer against that which is assailing them. How you look back on past achievements can help understand a person’s state of mind. Think of people who look on their accomplishments as the best they ever could do and tend to live in the past, compared to those who see their deeds and use them to build on and go on to further triumphs (sometimes in different realms). If we have a goal to reach or a meaning to achieve, each milestone in our life is a stepping stone to the next achievement along the path. The past is helpful to know what you are capable of, but the key to hope, stability and perseverance is moving forward.

One of the best lessons I learned from Frankl’s writing and theory is his use of humor. He often uses it as a counter to the neurosis that a patient might currently be suffering from. He called this “paradoxical intent.” For example, when faced with a severe case of writer’s cramp that jeopardized a man’s job, a doctor told him instead of trying to write neat and legibly to try and write in the worst possible scrawl and show everyone how exemplary his scribbling ability was. When the man tried to scrawl, he couldn’t and was freed from his writer’s cramp within 48 hours. I personally had a moment of clarity with this technique many years ago. I was living in a low-income SRO in Everett that didn’t allow visitors to stay overnight, so Sophia could no longer stay with me on weekends. Money was growing tighter, prospects became dimmer, and there was the threat of eviction on my head. I was so very far down that thoughts of suicide were growing. I was on the phone with the Samaritan’s talking to them about my problems. I will point out that I was talking to the Samaritans because the Suicide Hotline told me to call them, and the Suicide Hotline told me to call them because I wasn’t actually partway through my suicide plan for them to get involved. You have no idea what it is like to call the Suicide Hotline and have them tell you “we can’t talk right now.” While on the phone with the Samaritans, the volunteer asked me if I had been reading anything lately. Without missing a beat, I answered him earnestly and honestly, “Lately I’ve been reading Hamlet, which is probably not the best choice considering my current state of mind.” The volunteer said that shows I’m in a better state of mind, and I was able to get off the phone with him not a few minutes later. Without trying, I used the paradoxical intent in its proper form, and it kept those suicidal thoughts at bay for a while.

I highly recommend reading his “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which the publishing arm of the UUA, Beacon Press, now offers in stores and online. Dr. Frankl’s theories helped get him through the Holocaust and they have been helping many of his patients and readers for decades since. Through practice and personal experience, he soundly proved Nietzsche’s statement that “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” While he agreed with the existentialists in that suffering can have meaning, in no way did he mean that suffering was necessary to find meaning. He was dedicated to helping people discover what their meaning in life was so they can persevere as he had to. As he himself put it, “as a professor in two fields, neurology and psychiatry, I am fully aware of the extent to which man is subject to biological, psychological, and sociological conditions. But in addition to being a professor in two fields, I am a survivor of four camps—concentration camps that is—and as such I can also bear witness to the unexpected extent to which man is capable of defying and braving even the worst conditions conceivable.” In other words, to persevere is to have a reason to keep moving forward.

Blessed be.

Reason for Treason: Once More For the People in the Back

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I wrote about this last August, coon after the Charlottesville rally and the death of Heather Heyer, but it never seemed to catch on. Now with the government about to be shut down due, in part, to the showdown over the status of immigrants covered by the DACA act that “president” Trump rescinded and his “shithole” comments about countries that send us non-Norwegian immigrants, it’s time to revisit this topic.

The Robert Muller investigation is gaining momentum and witnesses as we reach the new year, but the investigation is a far from completed, and what many hope will lead to Trump’s impeachment is actually a long process that we are hardly in the beginning stages. Still people are so sick of this “president” even after only one year that they want him out fast. Yet when faced with a golden opportunity as the “president’s” shithole comment, the Congress is moving to censure him. Instead, Trump can be removed very quickly right now on grounds of treason, and his comments serve as evidence.

The legal definition of treason according to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115, Section 2381 is “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” (emphasis mine) As such those guilty of treason, among punishments like death, “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” The neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right are hate groups whose presence and numbers pose a dangerous threat to our democracy and Constitution that upholds it. The purpose of the Constitution is to “ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..” among other things. While the Constitution was created by white male land and slave owners for said white male land and slave owners, the Constitution has been amended to include women, people of color, disabled, the poor, the young, and working class people among others. Neo-Nazi’s purpose is to bring the original intent of the Constitution back through “purging” the land of people of color, and other undesirables. This purge—threaten, murder, attack, etc.–is against the laws of the land as they stand and to the Constitution they claim to adhere to, and makes them enemies of the nation. This “president,” as all presidents before him, have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the Constitution. By not denouncing the alt-right Nazis and hate groups, by not helping Puerto Rico (American citizens) in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and with referring to brown skinned immigrants as coming from shithole countries–“President” Drumpf given comfort and aid to an enemy within the United States. Statements by alt-right figures as David Duke and Infowars supporting Trump after those remarks—and anything that puts down brown and black people—proves that these groups are not only comforted but emboldened by the “President’s” words and actions. And when Trump’s racism starts to become and/or affect American policy, he is now undermining the democracy we have and the Constitution that protects it. Trump has therefore met the criteria for treason and can (and should) be removed from office. And we need no special investigator to do this.

Sending him up for treason would be a healing move for this nation. It would show to Black and Brown Americans that we as a nation are serious about doing something about white supremacy and institutionalized racism. It would heal damage already done by Trump in the name of ignorance and racism. And while it is not a panacea for race relations and racism in itself, it will be a giant step to show the country is serious about tackling the issue.

James Baldwin said “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it has ben faced.” We have been faced with Trump’s racism every day for a year, and now is the time to face it head on, not with censure, not with reprimands, not with speeches and countermarches, but with justice swift and sure and is expressed in our Constitution. Our democracy demands it and so should we.

Back On the Air in December

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I’m happy to announce that the “Theology in Action” online radio show will return to the interwebs with new shows on Sunday December 3 at it’s new time, 8am EST. Having been on hiatus since June, I will return to my hosting duties for the long running show on Activate Media Radio. We will continue the conversation about spirituality, social justice and the intersection between the two on a weekly basis. We tackle topics from the headlines, questions about and abounding in these turbulent times, and commentary on living in the world today. Interviews and round table discussions will be par for the course for us, but we hope to have real conversations about what we are doing and how we go about our lives in the best way possible and leaving it better for future generations. Please join us every Sunday morning at 8am for insights and discussions on Activatemedia.org. Hope to see you on Dec. 3!

“Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” Poem by Martin Espada

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This is my second favorite poem about 9/11. The other I posted on this site several years ago is “Names” by Billy Collins. This one is great because it shows the lives of people in the background in most everyday life and puts them in a cherished place. Alabanza.

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the booming ice storm of glass from the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness
like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan to Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

Marching Against Nazis

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On Saturday August 19, there was supposed to be a “free speech” rally on the Boston Commons, that was originally supposed to be a white nationalist rally. To most of Boston, it was still a racist, or Nazi, rally. I of course wanted to be there and I wanted Sophia to be with me to stand up against racists and white nationalists. We needed to show they were cowards hiding behind the coattails of a failed president. I was a little worried about violence towards us, how I could protect Sophia if anything happened, stuff like that. I arranged to meet Sophia’s brother and another friend during the march. However when we saw the crowds about 30,000+ waiting to march, I was pretty sure we had nothing to worry about. Sophia kept up her photojournalist end by shooting pics of the protest signs. I broadcast on FB live as best I could. It all came out pretty well. We spent the Saturday marching against Nazis. What did you do this weekend?

 

 

 

Reasons for Treason

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After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, “President” Trump planted himself in a very precarious position. When he spoke about the events to the press right after the death of Heather Heyer and the injury to 19 others, he said “we condemn in the strongest possible terms, the egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence—on many sides. On many sides.” This implies that leftist anti-Nazi protesters were just as violent and hate filled as the neo-Nazi alt-right provocateurs. In fact, a statement on the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi blog, said Trump “didn’t attack us… nothing specific against us… [H]e implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no countersignalling at all.” I’m loathe to agree with neo-Nazis but they are right: his ambiguous denouncement of the neo-Nazis responsible for terror, injury, and death helped to shield their alt-right fascist activities. After backlash and controversy, “President” Trump eventually gave a second statement where he said “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” However he undermined that the next day at a press conference where he defended his initial remarks and continued to claim violence on both sides. If you only have one chance to make a first impression, Trump screwed up royally. Then given a Mulligan, he recovers but fails again. However this isn’t about Trump’s flip-flopping; this is about treason.

The legal definition of treason according to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115, Section 2381 is “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” As such those guilty of treason, among punishments like death, “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” The neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right are hate groups whose presence and numbers pose a dangerous threat to our democracy and Constitution that upholds it. The purpose of the Constitution is to “ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..” among other things. While the Constitution was created by white male land and slave owners for said white male land and slave owners, the Constitution has been amended to include women, people of color, disabled, the poor, the young, and working class people among others. Neo-Nazi’s purpose is to bring the original intent of the Constitution back through “purging” the land of people of color, and other undesirables. This purge–threaten, murder, attack, etc.–is against the laws of the land as they stand and to the Constitution they claim to adhere to, and makes them enemies of the nation. By not denouncing the alt-right Nazis from the start by name–and reaffirming his allegiance to them by recanting his harsher second statement–“President” Trump given comfort and aid to an enemy within the United States. Nine more neo-Nazi rallies have been scheduled this weekend, proving that they are not only comforted but emboldened by the “President’s” words and actions. Trump has therefore met the criteria for treason and can (and should) be removed from office as per the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.

Words have consequences, which is one reason the neo-Nazis are an enemy to this country. As such, the “President’s” words should have the consequence of his removal from office, especially since his words has helped this enemy of us all.

Constitutional Question

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I have an important question to ask any lawyers or Constitutional scholars out there: can the president be removed from office for inciting police brutality?

On Thursday, “President” Trump spoke to law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island in what was touted as a “law and order” speech. Among the problematic things he said was encouraging police to hurt prisoners.

When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough—I said, “Please don’t be too nice.” Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over? Like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. I said, “You can take the hand away, OK?”

The immediate response to that from police in the audience was applause; the response from Police Chiefs was much the opposite. Groups like the International Association of Chiefs of Pollice to the poliece chiefs of Boston, Houston, New Orleans, and New York have criticized the “president” for encouraging police brutality. The Chiefs of Police needed to speak up because as head law enforcement officers, they are required to follow the law—as opposed to Trump who hasn’t seen a law that he hasn’t broken in some way. This is not the first time Trump has spoken to incite violence, especially during the primaries, but this has gone too far.

Our country is going through an epidemic of police shootings, especially of unarmed Black and Latino people. The Blue Wall of Silence that is inherent in police departments and the abuse stemming from overzealous police does not help, but put that aside for a second; having the leader of our country not only advocate but encourage a practice in our police that we are trying to stop is problematic to say the least. This is an ethics violation if there ever was one. He is encouraging police to violate an arrestee’s civil and constitutional rights. One retired police detective called Trumps remarks as “treasonous.” If “President” Trump is actively inciting violence against people, he is working against the Constitution, thus violating the oath of office he took. So isn’t this grounds to justify his removal from office? Please correct me if I’m wrong. But if I’m not, please let us know what we or Congress needs to do to get him out of there.