So on a daily basis, I find myself interacting with people (mostly on Facebook) who don’t understand racism, sexism, homophobia and other similar concepts. They aren’t really that difficult to understand, I don’t think, but I’ve made it a career choice and a personal interest to understand people who are different from me and the history that has led to the present state of discrimination, prejudice and negativity that affects those groups. I know not everyone has the time to minor in women’s studies or learn the material sufficient to teach black history classes like I did, so I’m going to give you a handy guide to how to avoid being racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and other things that you might want to avoid being if you want to have a productive life in a modern society.
So here you go, if you do any of these things below in connection with your interactions with or discussion of a particular group of people based on their demographic characteristics (race, gender, age, religion, sexual identity, ethnicity, national origin, etc.), then you are entering into territory where you are being offensive and morally wrong. This doesn’t make you a racist, sexist, etc., automatically, but it does push you in that direction and you should examine your actions, words, etc.
1. Directing physical or emotional harm or wishing harm upon the group
Monday, President Obama spoke at the graduation ceremonies for Kalamazoo High School. The school won the privilege of having him give a speech through the Race to the Top Commencement challenge in March.
It make the evening news because there was so much news about the oil spill, the primaries, local politics and local graduations, but it probably ranks as one of the most influential speeches I've heard him give. Not because he said anything new, or different than he did before. It wasn't what he said, it was who he was speaking to and where he was speaking.
When the big day finally came and President Obama surprised us and arrived in our holding room a few hours before schedule, it was surreal, not only for the chance to hear the President speak but to have him mere inches away from us in a private setting. It was more than anyone could have dreamed of. The initial excitement never faded. Later, seeing him on stage joking with our principal, listening to our valedictorian and salutatorian speak, and finally giving us a speech that showed that he had read our essays and paid attention to our community was incredible; an experience none of us graduates or our families will soon forget. The honor went far beyond the President simply coming to our graduation or even shaking our hands. It was the fact that he made the experience wholly about us, using no political campaigns or agendas, that made it a truly special ceremony.
When Barack Obama the candidate began to rise in the 2008 primaries, one of the very first reasons I took him seriously was because I saw a man who could stand and be a role model. Whatever your politics are, whatever your disappointments are with him, I hope you'll set them aside long enough to let the thoughts he shared with those young people sink in just a little, and consider the good they do.
They are not all, they are not community, they are not food on the table. But example is important. And what he says is what he lives, whether you agree with his approach or not.
On instant gratification
But meaningful achievement, lasting success – that doesn't happen in an instant. It's not just about the twist of fate, or the lucky break, or the sudden stroke of genius. Rather, it's about the daily efforts, the choices large and small that add up over time. It's about the skills you build, the knowledge you accumulate, the energy you invest in every task, no matter how trivial or menial it may seem at the time.
On giving back
And once you start juggling those classes and activities and that campus job; and you get caught up in your own dramas and anxieties; you may feel like you've got enough on your plate just dealing with your own life. It might just be easier to turn the channel when the news disturbs you; to avert your eyes when you pass the homeless man on the street; to tell yourself that other people's problems really aren't your responsibility.
But think for a minute about the consequences of that approach here in this community. What if those Kalamazoo Promise donors had said to themselves, “Well, I can pay for my kid to go to college, why should I pay for other people's kids too?”
Think about the consequences for our country. What if our Founding Fathers had said, “You know, colonialism is pretty oppressive, but I'm doing OK, my family's doing OK, so why should I spend my summer in Philadelphia arguing about a Constitution?”
What if those abolitionists or those civil rights workers had said, “You know, slavery is wrong, segregation is wrong, but I just don't have time for all those meetings and marches, so I think I'll take a pass.”
And I want you to think for a minute about the extraordinary men and women who've worn our country's uniform and given their last full measure of devotion to keep us safe and free. What if they had said, “You know, I really do love this country, but why should I sacrifice so much for people I've never even met?”
You and I are here today because these people made a different choice. They chose to step up. They chose to serve. And I hope you'll follow their example. Because there is work to be done, and your country needs you.
My hope: That all of the anger, conflict and disappointment felt right now between liberals and progressives and in-betweens and sometimes-liberal-sometimes-nots can be set aside long enough to remember to serve side-by-side, together.
This week should have been our party. A decades-long fight to bring America to the notion that health care should be a right, not a privilege has cleared the first, biggest hurdle: getting to the starting gate. The fight isn't over--not by a long shot--there are many hurdles yet to clear, but yet I see progressives everywhere demanding the right to cry. It's your party, Dems, cry if you want to.
I personally don't feel like crying. I recognize that this a marathon, and we're barely in Mile 1. We've got far to go before we've won this race, but I'm just happy we've started. I don't particularly understand those who are upset that we haven't crossed the finish line right now. To me, that completely disregards the hurdles that blocked us from the starting gate and that now pepper our pathway like landmines, waiting for us to take a wrong step.
Don't believe me? Look at the bookings: yet another Sunday of Republicans telling us that this is a slippery slope to the dreaded socialist/Maoist/Leninist state. People like Lamar Alexander on State of the Union, Jim DeMint and Michelle "Bat Crap Crazy" Bachmann on Face the Nation and Lindsey Graham on Meet the Press. And even on Chris Matthews, that learned panel of pundits thinks health care reform will ultimately be a "winner" for Republicans over the Democrats. But fear not, because we can always count on the GOP laying some landmines for themselves too. Look at the mano a mano between Florida senate rivals Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio on Fox News Sunday. So I'm taking the long view, pacing myself, but don't look to me to cry at this party.
ABC's "This Week" - White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
CBS' "Face the Nation" - Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine.
NBC's "Meet the Press" - Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show" - Panel: Howard Fineman, Kelly O'Donnell, Andrew Sullivan and Gloria Borger. Topics: Real Health Care Push: Will It Be A Winning Issue for Dems or Republicans? Elephants in the Room: Are Tea Partiers The Real Republicans Or Party Spoilers? Meter Questions: Will Health Care Be More of a Winning Issue for Republicans Than Democrats? YES: 8 NO: 4; Should Obama Move To the Center Instead of the Left As A Reelection Strategy? YES: 11 No: 1.
CNN's "State of the Union" - White House senior adviser David Axelrod; Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - Two great heads, probably the two most articulate commentators in the health care debate -- who happen to disagree on this bill -- Paul Krugman of Princeton and the New York Times and Robert Samuelson of Newsweek and the Washington Post, battle it out. But first, Fareed travels to Mexico City to speak with the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, on the violent drug war wracking that country, sparking civilian death rates that rival Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Fox News Sunday" - Debate between Republican candidates for U.S. Senate: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.
TPM Muckraker has found the next late-night sensation - a birther infomercial entitled "Where Was President Obama Born." It's already received the usual 1:00-in-the-morning airing on at least one local TV station in Texas. The United States Justice Foundation, a Birther front group led by the aptly named Gary Kreep, paid $100 to the CBS affiliate in Lubbock for the privilege of gracing their airwaves. That seems like money well spent for the Birthers for reaching a few thousand eyeballs or so and filling them with wingnut ideology. But that's not the true purpose.
For a $30 contribution, viewers also get a fax sent in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his real birth certificate.
Getting 4 suckers to fork over $30 for nothing covers their whole expense, and looking at the production values, producing the episode didn't cost much more than $100 either. This is pure conservative hucksterism, where a few people make money off of whipping up fears for no real purpose.
And Bill Keller, the host of the birthermercial, is perfectly positioned to be that huckster - he's a fundamentalist preacher:
The program was produced by LivePrayer.com, a Web site affiliated with Bill Keller, a fundamentalist Christian minister who also hosts the infomercial.
Imprisoned in the late 1980s after an insider trading conviction, Keller later committed his life to God, attended Liberty University in Virginia, and founded Bill Keller Ministries, according to his bio. LivePrayer.com was "founded for the sole purpose of having a site on the internet where people can go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for prayer."
This has about as much of a chance at dislodging Barack Obama from office as the Sham-Wow, but both infomercials have the same goal - to get rich off of selling you garbage. Sadly, there are probably enough morons in America to make Gary Kreep and Bill Keller very wealthy men.
I was there too. It was awesome and Ted lit up Denver. I just heard historian Michael Beschloss say on MSNBC that when Ted was a boy he knew FDR. He saw it all and was part of so much American history.
Statement from The Kennedy Family:
“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and
uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis
Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous
light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and
perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone
who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who
stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress
toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this
country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that
our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them
For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few -- new hope.
And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
It's sad that he didn't live to see a health-care reform bill finally pass. In his memory, in honor of his service, and in the name of everything he stood for, we need to pass it more than ever.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has called for both a criminal investigation and a blue-ribbon panel to look into "Bush administration abuses of power and misconduct."
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) told the National Press Club Friday that both avenues should be pursued because a criminal investigation would be done in private, while a blue-ribbon "9/11-type" panel would work publicly and would create a public record of the Bush administration's actions.
Conyers also slammed former Bush administration officials who are refusing to testify before the judiciary committee. He rejected the notion that "executive privilege" prevents Bush White House officials from answering questions before Congressional committees.
"Wait a minute," he said, "you don't know what questions we're going to ask."
"If we ask a question that you think can't be answered, we can set it aside ... but the blanket [notion that] anybody near the White House doesn't have to come to a hearing, that wouldn't wash at my son's freshman class at Moorhouse College in Atlanta much less with me."
(UPI) -- Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Thursday he would invoke privilege if asked about advice he gave to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., on handling an extramarital affair.
Coburn said he was talking to Ensign about his tryst with a former staffer in his capacities as a doctor and a man of the cloth, Roll Call reported.
"I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon," Coburn said. "That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody. Not to the (Senate) Ethics Committee, not to a court of law, not to anybody."
Doug Hampton, whose wife had engaged in an affair with Ensign, has claimed Coburn urged Ensign to pay the Hamptons millions of dollars after Hampton confronted Ensign about the affair.
"I categorically deny everything he said," Coburn said. Coburn said he has acted as a counselor to other lawmakers in the past. "Ya'll don't know about all the people I've counseled," he told Roll Call when asked why Ensign sought his help.
Coburn is bound by congressional law, I would imagine, and if he's going to stick his nose into salacious dealings that may cross the line, then he'll need to answer whatever questions come his way.