Finishing The Agenda of Civil Rights

Given the overt and implied racism of the recent onslaught of tweets and accusations from Trump and his devotees and given the ones that are still to come, we can no longer remain silent. We must stand up for our own diversity. I shun politics in these pieces, but this is not about politics, it is about values. We have it seems, made the next election a referendum on Trump.  But in this case it is not nor should it be about him. It is about the values he represents, values that have vibrated with many who felt overrun by people of color and by the presence of religions other than Christianity.  This is not about ideologies, it is not about the rationalizations some may give, it is not about the arguments the more articulate on each side come up with. It is about finishing the agenda of the civil rights movements. It is about racism and immigration.  It is about all those, who are not yet able to put an individual’s humanity ahead of color, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin. It is about what does and will make us into better human beings, what will help us grow, reach out, serve others as individuals and as a nation. Those who seek entry into the US illegally seek conditions other than poverty or death. Is seeking survival or increasing your safety really a choice? It’s not a question of open borders. There are alternatives. But it is a moral question. To those who are so critical of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants, I say, what kind of a choice is it when you have no choice but to leave all that you know?  I am an immigrant. I know what leaving everything behind feels like. Way back all those years ago that is why people like our family sought to immigrate to the US. Then the US stood for the kind of country that helped people, the kind of country that was inclusive and accepting of diversity (even if at times reluctantly), the kind of country one wanted to be part of. Those are values worth standing up for and our voices must be loud and clear. By whatever means we choose, whatever means are available, let us march, write letters, speak to friends as well as foes, protest peacefully, post useful information, repost important thoughts… Even more important let us vote and make sure everyone we know does as well—because we can no longer remain silent. We must stand up for our own diversity.

The Free Speech of Prisoners

Incarcerated people are usually American citizens—with the exception of the many immigrants detained for lack of visas or other papers—and as American citizens one would expect that they would be subject to the provisions of the Bill of Rights which includes freedom of speech. But that may not necessarily be so. The issue came up when a weekly debate club in Statesville Correctional Center in Crest Hills, Illinois, was suspended without explanation. They had been debating the pros and cons of Continue reading “The Free Speech of Prisoners”

The Religious Freedom Taskforce

According to Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, addressing a recent Religious Freedom Summit, there is what he called a dangerous movement interfering with religious freedom. Consequently, he announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Taskforce and charged them with enforcing 20 principles which he presented in a DOJ Memorandum. Some of the 20 points seem to place religious liberty over civil Continue reading “The Religious Freedom Taskforce”

On Religious Freedom

A military chaplain, the Rev Ronald Apollo, sued the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to be able to practice his religious beliefs and won. BOP wanted all personnel to carry pepper spray, including chaplains, so that if attacked by an inmate they could protect themselves. Apollo challenged the rule and now prison chaplains will no longer have to carry pepper spray. That to some may be just another example of how the Christian right asserts its values on the society, but it is more than that. First of Continue reading “On Religious Freedom”