Friday, September 11, 2015

Today is Septmember 11th...

The images of that day are scars on the memory of those who were old enough to remember. I remember. I ran daycare out of my home. I had a number of children and employees with me.  My husband at the time called and said, "Have you seen the news? Do you know what's happening?"

Of course I didn't. I had nine children in my care and didn't allow television.

"A plane just ran into one of the World Trade Center buildings."


"Oh my God, there's a second plane. The second building has been hit."

My husband, he was a joker. "No they didn't. Not funny."

"No Megan. Turn on the radio, the television, listen."

Oh my God. I turned on the radio. It was happening. For real. Not just some surreal nightmare.

Then they hit the Pentagon. I had a friend who worked there. Also, my sister was in DC at the time and no one could reach her.

Fear was instilled in every American that day. Whether you knew people on those planes, in those places, or even if you didn't. We all had one collective mind that day. Terrorism, devastation, death.

I've been to the memorial. All the names etched in stone, the ever flowing fountains that reflect the absence of the once  monumental's beyond profound. And there's a tree. The Survivor Tree.  The trunk of a pear tree saved from the wreckage of the attack and replanted. It has grown into a new tree, a symbol of survival of course, and rebirth.

Since I've been there, they've taken seven story steel tridents from the original buildings and placed them in the museum to greet visitors. (or maybe it was all there and I just didn't go in because the fountains were so exhaustive). There are a lot of strange conspiracy theories about these tridents, but I believe they are like the Survivor Tree. They lasted through the wreckage and are now a symbol of resilience.

None of this actually has to do with the reason I'm writing this blog. I'm writing this blog because many quotes came about from our nation's tragedy. We bleed Red, White & Blue. United we stand. We came together as a country....

This last one is what I'm focusing on. WE CAME TOGETHER AS A COUNTRY...

We did. For a brief period of time we were united. And that convergence happened no matter who
we were because we were all fighting and devastated and mourning the same cause. It mattered not if you were white or black. Christian, Muslim or Atheist. Gay or straight. We were all grieving for every single person -  man, woman and child - that died in that terrorist attack.

So what happened?

The wrong targets were chosen. A war started. The Patriot Act was sanctioned.

Boundary lines were then again drawn.

I'm sorry, everyone in a turban is not a terrorist. Everyone from the Middle East is not against America. Most of them (not unlike those from Mexico) are still here for that American Dream that's been touted for decades by those who came before them.

Media took over. Maybe they had help. But fear was perpetuated. Therefore, many live in fear of those that are different or those they do not understand. And that is wrong. That is profiling.

And then of course the liberal left vote in a black president, and all hell breaks loose.

Now these are the things that divide us. Those who tolerate and embrace the differences in our society, and those who abhor it.

And I'm only venting. I don't have an answer, because sure, there are terrorists and there are illegal immigrants abusing our systems. Of course there are American citizens that are also terrorists, think Timothy McVeigh. Think about all the school shootings like Columbine and wherever else shootings took place in our country. And many Americans abuse medicaid and welfare ( which they are honestly not called anymore, get with the program) but so many others DO NOT abuse the system, but legitimately need it.

So honestly, there is ugly all over the world, including our own country, I know this. But why do we, the non terrorists and non abusers fight each other?

If you believe in freedom, which is seems like everyone in America does, how can you not believe in equal rights women's rights, LGBT's rights? How can you not think that the majority of people in this country want it to be great? Want to see greatness in themselves? Their sex, religion, race, culture or sexual orientation doesn't matter. What matters - and this is what it's all about - is our freedom and the fact that we have to come together and be a great nation again.

As long as we're divided, we're vulnerable. And we can't let another 9/11 happen ever again.

Monday, August 10, 2015

In Defense of #BlackLivesMatter

 Photo by Gage Skidmore  Some rights reserved
There was a lot of hub bub with the disruption at the Bernie Sanders rally by BLM protesters. I have variety of feelings about this, and I'm not sure they are all easy to convey, but I am going to try.

I think the two women who disrupted the rally in the name of BLM chose their venue poorly. Why take the stage away from Bernie Sanders, who more than likely is your best ally in the presidential race? Why protest to people who, also more than likely, support the BLM cause? It seems like a waste of time, energy and resources.

Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal did a thoughtful editorial on what happened at the event and while I think she makes some good points, I think some of what she says is a little off base. She said the mostly white crowd turned ugly. Yes, I think people in the crowd were feeling many things, anger, disappointment, sure, probably some racism, and I'm sure there was some solidarity, but for her to point out that the crowd was mostly white seems inconsequential. Washington State is 81% white and 4% black. I think no matter what the ratio of white to black, people were going to feel many different things about the protest. White or African American I'm sure some would agree and others would disagree with the protest.

There were many different reasons for the individuals in the crowd to feel the way they did and it wasn't necessarily because they don't believe in the BLM movement. As Jayapal also stated, some were probably annoyed by the disruption, some may have disagreed with the tactics, some were disappointed because after standing in the hot sun all day, they didn't get to hear Sanders speak.

Sanders may have handled the situation poorly; I think that's forgivable. He was caught off guard. The protesters handled their demonstration  haphazardly, as if they didn't have any kind of plan at all. Then to call the entire crowd a bunch of racist supremacists...well, they reduced themselves to that in which they are decrying - racists. I'm one of the most tolerant people I know, and I would have felt highly offended and disrespected had I been there. I probably would have booed them too. If you're going to dismantle an event in that way, how about instead of insulting everyone you try to connect with them and urge them to pull  together as a community to fight injustice. And don't scream at people. And when you've had your say, give the mic back. There were important things that needed to be discussed by Sanders and they affect everyone, including the black lives that matter.

Did the protesters achieve what they set out to do? Maybe. They made people listen. They made people remember Michael Brown and other blacks killed unjustly. But as I said before, I would guess the majority of those in that crowd had already been listening and still remembered Michael Brown,  Eric Garner, John Crawford, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and of course Trayvon Martin, whose death incited the formation of BLM in the first place. I would bet those women were preaching to the choir.

BLM on a national level needs to rally their local chapters and ensure everyone is on the same page with their tactics and goals. What they do and how they represent should be consistent across the board. I know there's some question about the validity of these women actually being part of BLM, but at this point it doesn't matter. They disparaged the movement in many people's eyes resulting in a loss of support of a worthy cause.

All that said, I will still support BLM. I don't think these two women were the best representation of the organization. I think what BLM is doing is important. People need to understand that Black Lives Matter. And yes, all lives matter, but we, as a white people do not face the same challenges as the African American community. If you don't believe that, then you are part of the problem.

I believe BLM's fight needs to keep progressing and that changes need to be made in our criminal justice system, education, and in our communities in so many other ways. I honestly don't know if racism will ever completely go away. It's extremely difficult to eradicate centuries old learned behavior of abuse and oppression. I hope with the emergence of every new generation, the stereotypes, racial profiling and fear of our differences will wane. I hope that little by little people will stop teaching hate and start embracing diversity and exhibiting tolerance. I think we're on the right track, but I do think organizations like Black Lives Matter are important in the fight against social injustice and that they need our support.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Present Day Religious Tyranny

I was going to rant about a bunch of stuff, but this post became very long. So, today I talk about religious tyranny.

The religious right is trying to force Christianity on the rest of the country. How are they doing this? The Religious Freedom Restoration Act for starters. This is not a freedom of religion act. This is an act of discrimination and bigotry disguised as a freedom of religion act. There was only one reason this was put in place: so business owned by Christians could deny services to the LGBT community.

And now republicans in Idaho and trying to get the Bible into schools as a text of History and Science. Complete and utter bullshit! Not everyone believes in the same god. Not everyone, even some Christians believe that the bible is to be taken literally. A book that no one can verify is factual has no place in our school system. A book based on religion has no place being anything more than  a study in literature like Siddhartha or Paradise Lost.

The Pilgrims and Puritans left Europe to be free of religious tyranny. These are the people that founded our country. Do you think they would force their religion on us as the Church of England did to them?

And what about the Revolutionary War? Sure, it wasn't solely based on religion or religious freedoms, but it played a part. People were moved to fight for their freedoms, including their religious freedoms. Thomas Paine had a hand in this when he published Common Sense. He blasted the monarchy as taking on a sovereign authority that should only belong to God. He suggested that Americans follow the lead of Jews in the Old Testament and reject a monarchical government. He urged the colonists to take up arms to protect freedom of religion for dissenters and declared the colonies as an asylum of religious liberty.  Let me repeat that. Asylum of religious liberty.

Liberty's definition is: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.

No one's religion should be forced upon us.  It's right there in the Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; 

This means no national or state mandated religion. It says we are free to exercise religion. It does not specify Christianity as that religion. So, what do you think you're doing when you place a book based on Christianity in our schools and treat it as fact. Hey, private schools can do what they want. But public schools, schools run by our government should not impose Christian beliefs on those who attend.

We don't need the bible in schools. If you want to teach your children the bible, do it at home, take them to church. I'm not saying that some curriculum shouldn't be based on theory, after all, much of science is based on theory. However, the bible isn't science, and it's not a proven history. Religion simply doesn't belong in schools unless you are teaching children about ALL religions.

As for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - it's original purpose was "ensuring that interests in religious freedom are protected."  It applies to all religions, but is mostly was put in place for Native American religions and their sacred grounds that have been victim to the expansion of government projects.

The Indiana RFRA allows individuals and companies to assert that their exercise of religion. Really? The Constitution protects our religious freedoms. Why do we need this? Oh that's right, so companies and individuals in your state can turn away people they don't deem "worthy" of their Christian value services. Governor Mike Pence says it's all a big “misunderstanding.” And, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”


In response companies have halted expansion to Indiana. It's also been criticized by the likes of the NCAA, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, Gen Con, Disciples of Christ, and Subaru.

All of this, as I stated before, is nothing more than religious tyranny. Something many of our ancestors fled from and fought against. Our country is not a Theocracy. We cannot let the ball keep rolling in this direction. If they force this on us, what of our rights will be in jeopardy next?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

50 Shades of Twitter Trolls

If you follow Twitter and the literary world, you've probably heard that EL James was the brunt of a Twitter attack . If you don't know who EL James is, you at least know her books, the  50 Shades of Grey series. Now, I don't claim to be a fan of the books. I have read about 5 pages and wasn't impressed. However, I would never take it upon myself, no matter how much I hated a book, to brutally attack and criticize the author, especially during a Q&A they were hosting.

Sure, many people think she's not a good writer, many people don't like her books, a lot of them think they portray abusive relationships in a glamorous light. So write a book review on Amazon. Blog about it. There is no need to attack the PERSON behind the words.

Here are some of the horrible tweets...

  •  does the E.L. Stand for ELiterate?
  •  after the success of "Grey," have you considered re-telling the story from the perspective of someone who can write.
  •  what's it like telling millions of women it's okay to be in an abusive relationship as long as he's rich.
  •  Is there a safe word we can use to get you to stop writing such drivel?
  •  Do you ever feel guilty that you made so much money from romanticizing sexual abuse and selling it as "erotica romance"?
  •  Will you be rewriting the book from Stephenie Meyer's point of view next time? 
  •  how do you feel knowing you've made your riches from convincing young impressionable girls that abuse is 'love'?
  •  Which do you hate more, women or the English language?
  •  Is it only ok for Christian to stalk, coerce, threaten & manipulate Ana because he's hot, or is it also ok because he's rich?
  •  Do all these negative tweets sent to you seem abusive to you? I think it's romantic enough to be turned into a novel!
Um...seriously? From what I could see, the majority of tweets during the #AskELJames  Q&A were like this.

Let's take a couple things into consideration...

50 Shades of Grey is FICTION! And it's erotica. EL took people's real life sexual fantasies and
fictionalized them. Maybe they aren't my sexual fantasies or yours, but I bet they are someone's. Why else would so many copies have sold? Out of the millions and millions of books out in the bookosphere (yeah, it's a word) I'm sure there are others that glorify relationships like this, and rape, and murder, and all sorts of ugly things.

Remember the movie Natural Born Killers? I mean, I thought it was brilliant, as did others. However there were some...not so much. They felt like it glorified violence. Here's what some reviewers say...

  • ...just for sickening starters, there wasn't one, single, solitary character in this entire film who was even remotely likable.
  •  Phew! - What a total waste of H-Wood Talent !
  •  I regret having to give this film one star- zero stars isn't an option. Neither is negative 3 stars. That would've been acceptable.
  •  worst movie ever... 
  •  ...I could feel my brain welling up with hatred for every individual involved in the making of this movie. 
You get my meaning? It's not real. It's fiction. It's subjective. So, like the people above, if you hate it so much, write a review. I would almost guess that they can't though because they probably have not read the books.

I'm not defending the series, I didn't read it, I have no desire to read it, and like I said, the part I did read I thought was crap. Writers are used to that kind of criticism. We have thick skin (or we learn to grow it.)  I am defending the writer. She's a person and is not defined by the books she wrote. She likes wine, dogs, chocolate, bacon and Magic Mike.  And she has feelings like the rest of us.

So step off Twitter Trolls. Go back to fawning over Harry Styles, making up new memes, posting Shia Laboeuf videos, and tweeting about hockey (this is truly what some of them do, I checked.) Just leave EL James alone.

Plus, she probably doesn't give a shit what you think anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fine. I'm Intolerant: Part Deux

Photo by Fibonacci Blue
If you read my blog yesterday, you'll know that I'm being facetious. Because I'm intolerant of intolerance, that makes me least that's what some people have said. Some joking, some maybe not? Who knows. Anyway, it's because of these statements:
  • I believe in marriage equality.
  • I do not like not practice racism.
  • I believe waving a confederate battle flag is a slap in the face to all African Americans and their ancestors who worked so hard for their civil rights.
Yesterday I spoke about marriage equality. Today, racism and the Confederate battle flag (Southern Cross). I believe if you want to wave your battle flag after what has gone on this past couple weeks, let alone the last few hundred years, you are either ignorant or racist. 

There are those who call it "heritage and pride." Mostly because they had an ancestor fight for the confederacy.

Heritage. Your ancestor fought for the Confederacy. Against his own country. What was happening at the time was not tyranny,  as with the Revolutionary War. It was one part of the country still wanting to be able to own people for self serving reasons, and the other side saying, that's not okay. One side that so desired slavery that they tried to secede from the Union. One president saying, nope, not happening. The cost of your ancestors defending the right to own slaves cost 625,000 American lives.

The war started when a Confederate army opened fire on Fort Sumter, claiming it as its own. The North originally wanted a "little" war to restore the Union. It had to turn into full on destruction of the South and its institution of slavery. The nation had to be reunited and reborn, free of slavery.

Confederate president Jefferson Davis tried to flee as his armies were surrendering. Not very brave behavior for a leader. He was caught and the rest of the confederate army collapsed.

Pride. So, after reading the above, is this flag really a symbol of pride? I don't want to hear the "The battle flag isn't the national flag of the Confederacy," argument. Who cares? Both are representative of a nation torn apart by slavery. Are you proud that your ancestors tried to keep slavery alive? Are you proud that so many people had to lose their lives to defend the freedom of others? The Confederate flag is not a symbol of pride; it's a symbol of shame.

The flag after the war was flown only on occasion at events honoring confederate soldiers. However,  there was a surge of reappearances during the struggle for civil rights and desegregation. It's said that it's first return was in South Carolina in 1948 when Strom Thurmond ran for president under what was known as the Dixiecrat party. Article 4 of its platform was, "We stand for segregation of the races."

After the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, and when desegregation started,
Little Rock 9 Protest
the flag surfaced more and more. Then in 1961, to honor the 100th anniversary of the onset of the civil war, South Carolina flew it over its capitol. (It was moved in 2000, but was still on capitol grounds. There's more to that story, but you can find out on your own).

Some southern states even incorporated one of the Confederate flags into their own state flag.

So I repeat, if you want to continue to wave your Confederate battle flag, you are either ignorant or racist.

I had someone, a transplant to the south, debate this with me: People are trying to erase it from history. I think we know that it can't be erased from history.  His point was that Apple stopped selling video games based on the  Civil War.  In my opinion, perhaps that is going to far. There are many historically accurate games and you can't erase history, I don't know. But I do applaud stores from discontinuing the sale of the Southern Cross. The flag, like the Nazi flag, belongs in history books and museums, not flying high at state buildings, in front of people's homes, or in the back of a pickup truck. He also told me that support of the flag wanes with every generation, which is good to hear.

I applaud Bree Newsome, the activist that climbed the pole on the South Carolina capitol grounds and removed the Confederate battle flag. That was a brave act of civil disobedience. She was immediately arrested of course. Someone offered her bounty money, which she refused. Instead she had it donated to support the victims of the Charleston church massacre. She wants everyone to keep in mind, this act was not about one woman. In her own words. "We made this decision because for us, this is not simply about a flag, but rather it is about abolishing the spirit of hatred and oppression in all its forms."

It comes down to respect. Even if you disagree with me on what the Confederacy battle flag symbolizes, you have to realize that an entire race (and supporters) finds its image oppressive. If you respect African Americans and the battles they and their ancestors have encountered throughout the years, take your flag down. It's the neighborly thing to do. It's the right thing to do.  Especially after the Charleston shooting and the burning of southern churches. For many people in this country, the battle flag is nothing but a reminder of the victimization and slavery of blacks, and that racism unfortunately still exists in our "civilized" society.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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