Category Archives: Thoughts On….

The Actor Who May Have Cried Wolf: Thoughts On the Jussie Smollett Case

When we were children, many of us were told the tale of the boy who cried wolf.

For those who were not taught the story, it goes as follows: a boy is charged with watching the sheep that belong to the people in his village. He sees a wolf and alerts the villagers, they are up in arms as a result of the claim. But the wolf does not appear. The boy continues to state that he has seen a wolf. As the days pass and the villagers keep hearing this, they ignore the boy as the wolf has yet to appear. When the wolf actually appears, no one believes the boy.

Last month, Empire actor Jussie Smollett accused two men of verbally and physically attacking him for being African-American and gay. The most recent development in the case is that Mr. Smollett is charged with filing a false police report.

While he continues to state that he was attacked, the evidence that the police have found state the contrary. There are rumors abounding that the reason for claiming the attack was that his role on Empire will be reduced or his character will be written out completely.

If it is true that the attack was a hoax and he paid his attackers, it is akin to a woman claiming she was raped when it was nothing more than a date or a hookup that went wrong. Hate and prejudice are very real in this country, Americans are verbally and physically assaulted everyday just for being who they are. Not only is this a waste of time and resources for the Chicago PD, it may bring up the question if charges of assault based on factors such as race or sexual orientation are real or just a need for attention.

I hope that Mr. Smollett has not cried wolf. But if he has, it sets a dangerous precedent will not end well for Americans of color and members of minority groups.

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Thoughts On the First Anniversary Of the Parkland Shooting

One year ago today, the students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started the school day like any other school day. By the time the sun had set, 17 people were dead and many more were injured.

I’ve spoken in previous posts about my memories of the day of the Columbine attack. If only we would have done something back then. If only the gun laws would have been strengthened. If only our treatment of mental illness would have been different. Parkland and the other mass shootings that have occurred might not have happened. But we can only say “if only” in hindsight.

My heart still breaks for the families of those killed, the community at large and for the survivors whose lives were forever changed.

We need common sense gun control laws. While we cannot step on the rights of gun owners who follow the law and are of sound mind, we cannot continue to allow our children to be massacred in their classrooms.

May the memories of those who died one year ago today be a blessing and may we never forget the toll that gun violence takes on all of us.

 

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Thoughts On Ilhan Omar’s Israel Comments

One of the cornerstones of any legitimate and thriving democracy is the ability to criticize the government without fear of reprisal.

That being said, there is a distinct difference between having the right to openly criticize the government and hate speech.

Representative Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minnesota) comments, in my opinion, can without a doubt be classified as hate speech.

While I agree with her that money from lobbyists urgently needs to be removed from politics, the fact that she once again spread the lies that Israel (aka Jews) are using their money to gain influence is just plain wrong.

Some argue that antisemitism and anti-Israel is one and the same. They are completely different.  Antisemitism is hatred of members of the Jewish faith for no other reason than our religion. It is possible to disagree with the actions of the Israeli government and not be labeled antisemitic. But to criticize the actions of the Israeli government simply because it is Israel is antisemitic.

A real democracy has no place for prejudice or hate. A real democracy respects the diversity of the citizens who call this country home.

Do I accept her apology? I don’t know. But I do know that I am reminded that antisemitism is still very real and very dangerous.

P.S. Am I the only one who is disturbed by you know who’s hypocrisy in demanding that Representative Omar resign?

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Thoughts On The Calls for Ralph Northam to Step Down

Doing and saying stupid sh*t is part of life. Especially when we are young. The goal is to learn from that stupid sh*t we did so that we do not repeat the same actions or statements. These days, it’s not uncommon to relive the stupid sh*t we said and did via social media.

The most recent political scandal comes from Virginia and her current governor, Ralph Northam. Pictures from his medical school days in the early 1980’s have surfaced. In the pictures, two men are dressed up in costume. One man is in blackface, the other is wearing KKK robes.

When the accusations became public last week, Governor Northam initially admitted that he is one of the men in the pictures. As of earlier today, he has changed his statement, denying that he is in the picture. Despite calls for him to step down from the office of Governor, he remains in office and appears to ignore those who are calling for his resignation.

Of course, you know who had to add his own two cents to the conversation.

Should he be given a pass for making a stupid mistake that is often the mark of a young person? I don’t know. I don’t know because these pictures are offensive, then and now. The excuse of stupidity of youth can only go so far. By a certain age, we all know right from wrong. It’s matter of choosing to either do the right thing or do the wrong thing and face the consequences.

The fact that Governor Northam first stated that he is in the picture, then said he wasn’t is questionable. The answer to the question is a simple yes or no. Any other answer brings up more questions, including if he is able to do the job the voters of Virginia hired him to do.

I’m sure that some Republicans are literally jumping for joy that a Democrat has been accused of racism. This issue does not belong to any specific political party. Racism and prejudice, no matter where one stands on the political aisle. We are all Americans, we are all human beings and we all deserve the same respect, regardless of what we look like.

 

 

 

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Thoughts On the Anniversary of the Publication of Pride and Prejudice

It has often been said that first impressions are lasting impressions, even if they do not tell the whole story of the person we have just met.

First Impressions was the initial title of Jane Austen‘s immortal classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Today is the 206th anniversary of the book’s initial publishing.

Elizabeth Bennet is far from the simpering, fainting “save me” heroine who is waiting for a version of prince charming to sweep her off her feet. She is lively, intelligent and not afraid to share her opinion. Unlike other women of the time, she is not going to just marry the first man who asks her because it is her only option in life. Marriage in her eyes is about compatibility and affection, not someone’s income or family connections.  But even with her strengths, she is thoroughly human and learns that judging someone based on a brief first impression is not the best way to figure out who someone is.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is equally imperfect. I have to admit that there are moments in the first few chapters when I just want to smack him or call him a very unladylike name. But the genius of the character is that as the book goes on, Elizabeth and the reader learns that Darcy is not a snob. He is responsible for many people’s happiness and security, especially his much younger sister. He also finds large parties and social gathering difficult to maneuver socially. There are some people for whom they would rather stay home than go to a party where they know almost no one.

The thing that strikes me every time that I read Pride and Prejudice is that Elizabeth Bennet is a modern heroine. In a time when women had no rights, no voice and were basically chattel to the men in their lives, Elizabeth Bennet is not afraid to stand up for her rights. She is caught between a rock and a hard place. In Jane Austen’s world, marriage was more often about family, status and income than love, companionship and affection. She could remain single, but given her meager inheritance, she would likely be beholden to the generosity of others. She could marry her cousin, Mr. Collins and stay in her childhood home, but that marriage would be extremely unhappy.

I keep going back to Pride and Prejudice not just because it is one of my favorite books, but because I find reassurance and comfort in the book. When I am feeling down or unsure of my voice, Pride and Prejudice gives me strength to move forward. For that reason, among others, I keep coming back to this treasured masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts On Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Today. Today is the day that remember the millions of innocent souls who were murdered because they did not fit in with the Nazi ideal.

This day is particularly personal for me. I am an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jew. Though my family has been in America for more than a century, they lived for many generations in Eastern Europe before immigrating to America in the early 20th century.

My mother’s grandparents came from Dobromil, a shtetl that in their time was in Poland. Today it is in the Ukraine.

 

My mother’s maternal grandmother, Ida Miller (née Lowenthal), came to this country with her then entire immediate family when she was a child. My mother’s maternal grandfather, Saul Miller, came to this country as a young man by himself. His widowed father, his siblings, their spouses and their children are among the martyred six million.

While we mourn the loss of millions of innocent lives, we are reminded every day that the Holocaust is not just another historical event. The sentiments and forces that led to the Holocaust have not disappeared into the ashes of history and under the cries of “Never Again”. Antisemitism is once again on the rise. A poll of 2000 people in the UK has revealed that one out of every five respondents believe that the Holocaust never happened and one in twelve respondents believe that the number of victims in inaccurate.

We need to keep telling the stories of the survivors and the victims. We need to keep saying never again so that one day, never again will truly mean never again.

 

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Thoughts On the Government Shutdown Ending…For Now

The longest government shutdown in America is over….for now that is. After 35 days and 800,000 government employees missing out on two paychecks, you know who conceded and agreed to open the government.

The problem is that this is only a temporary resolution. If Congress and you know who cannot come together, the government will shut down again in three weeks.

At least he did not get his border wall.

After weeks of a stalemate on both sides of the aisle, the halting of a number of flights by the FAA at a number of East Coast Airports (including LaGuardia Airport in New York City), due to staffing shortage finally got the attention of those in power.

From my perspective, the administration is completely tone-deaf to the needs of American people. They want to accomplish what they want to accomplish and if there are adverse consequences, so be it.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked why furloughed workers couldn’t just go to the bank and ask for a loan to cover their expenses.

His net worth, as of 2016, was estimated to be $2.9 billion.

And then, you know who suggested that the grocery stores would be willing to “work” with the Federal employees until they receive their next paycheck.

These comments are tone-deaf, insensitive and is proof in my eyes that this administration no idea what the average American goes through on a day-to-day basis.

Just another reason for you know who to be a one term President.

 

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Thoughts On The Continued Shutdown and the Ban On Transgender Soldiers

We are officially into the second month of the longest government shutdown in American history. The stalemate on both sides of the aisle remains as the approval rating for you know who continues to drop.

The financial reality in this country is that many workers, in spite of having jobs that come with a steady paycheck, are within one or two missing paychecks of financial disaster. If the government does not open by Friday and the Federal workers who have been furloughed or working without pay do not receive their paychecks, it could create a financial ripple that affects every American household.

The irony about this shutdown is that it comes down to a disagreement about how to keep the country safe. The people whose job it is to keep us safe cannot do their jobs because they lack financial support to complete their jobs. FBI agents are complaining that they are unable to do their jobs without a paycheck or funding. 10% of TSA agents are calling out sick. They are the front lines of national security at our airports. How are they supposed to do their jobs if they cannot afford to come to work? A number of TSA agents have resigned or considered resigning out of sheer desperation.

Mitch McConnell could have ended the shutdown already. But he refuses to, blocking four bills that would have re-opened the government and supply badly needed paychecks to government employees. He is already laying the groundwork for a 2020 re-election campaign. If I lived in Kentucky, I would be thinking long and hard if he deserved my vote.

On top of this shutdown, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of barring Transgender men and women from serving in the military. Upholding this ban is akin watching a magician doing street magic using playing cards. The audience is directed to look at their left hand while their right hand holds the card that will “magically” appear from thin air. We are in the middle of a national crisis, those in power should be working together to re-open the government. They should be not banning Americans who are willingly going into the military, knowing full well that they may have to sacrifice their lives to protect this country. President “bone spurs” is one to talk about who should and who should not be in the military.

I feel like the country at this moment is at a fork in the road. We can either go one way and move towards the ideals created by our Founding Fathers. Or, we can go another way and remain a divided country where identity politics and labels rule over us. I just hope (hope being the important word in this sentence), that we, as a nation make the right decision.

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Thoughts On Kamala Harris’s Joining The 2020 Presidential Race

This morning, another name was added to the list of nominees for the 2020 Presidential election: Kamala Harris.

Senator Harris (D-California), from my perspective, is the ideal candidate to go up against you know who. She represents everything that this country stands for and what is represents. She is the daughter of two immigrants, a woman of color, a litigator whose career has been focused on fighting for injustice and fighting for the underdog.

Looking back, I can see why Hillary Clinton alienated certain voters during the 2016 Presidential election. There is nothing worse than an unlikable woman, especially in the arena of politics. It taints the idea that a woman can succeed in the political arena.  Senator Harris is professional, intelligent, well spoken, but also warm and easy to talk to. She understands the struggles of the average American.

It makes sense that Senator Harris would make her announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While only time will tell who goes up against you know who next fall, I hope that come 2020, I will be able to refer to Senator Harris as Madam President.

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Thoughts On Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If he was alive today, he would have been 90 years old.

There are two ways to deal with injustice in the world. One way is to sit back, throw your hands in the air and do nothing because you feel powerless. The other way is to be bold enough, in spite of the fear and trepidation, to stand up for what is right and for those who are unable to fight for themselves.

In his time, he lived in a divided America. In our time, we still live in a divided America. There is still a notion in this country (and the world by extension) that one’s skin color, family background or sexuality is a defining factor how we judge another person instead of judging someone as an individual. It’s 2019, it’s time that saw each other as individuals instead of judging them by labels that are beyond our control.

Dr. King was a speaker like no other. Over fifty years after his death, his words continue to inspire us. In facing the demons of hate, he stated the following:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

It takes more time, emotion and energy to hate than to love. It’s 2019, it’s time to hold out our hands with love to our neighbors. I can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King’s memory.

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