Illegal Jesus

A national failing

I’m sitting here in the living room of my two-bedroom apartment, safe and warm with a belly full of dinner I cooked in my small but comfortable kitchen. My house doesn’t has wheels. I have a box of pictures in my closet that I like to look at sometimes. I am not uprooted, nor am I attempting to iron out a new identity for myself.

I am not a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. I am lucky, for reasons I don’t understand.

This weekend, we watched When the Levees Broke, a four-part documentary directed by Spike Lee. It is at times amusing, at times disturbing, and most times heartbreaking. Most of the interviews told us things we already knew about the generalities of the storm, the evacuations, the failings of the levees, with the poignant touch of personality. Tears. Anger.

I teared up many times and cried openly several times. The biggest emotional reaction I had was in response to then President George W. Bush reassuring the nation that we would help New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast area. I can’t find video of it on YouTube, nor can I remember his exact words, but I remember my reaction. I shook with anger. Then I started crying, which is an unfortunate response I have in cases of extreme emotional stress. All of it was, of course, tempered by how, during his last press conference, he defended his actions during Katrina.

It took him nearly three weeks to put his feet on the ground in New Orleans.

The Army Corps of Engineers knew the levees could not withstand a strong storm.

It has been three and a half years and areas of New Orleans are still in shambles, still waiting to be bulldozed or cleaned up or repaired. It is the city that has been forgotten. I was glad for the press grilling President Bush on Katrina during his last press conference. It brought it all back to the surface, back to the public eye. I’ll admit to letting the issue fall to the back burner and I’m not proud of it. Everyone needs to remember. Something needs to be done. The job needs to be finished.

A month or so ago, Rachel Maddow reported on storm damage from Hurricane Ike. It still hasn’t been cleaned up. Along the coast, tangles of trash and debris float, polluting the water and the soil with toxins and waste. It’s shocking. Our government doesn’t care. I can’t say that the Obama administration cares. I haven’t really heard much of a plan from Obama; maybe I’ve missed it (feel free to point me to any statements Obama or his administration has made on Katrina and/or Ike damage cleanup).

This week, I’m going to try to send some letters and emails to people about New Orleans, Katrina, and Ike. I encourage you to do the same.

Those Who Ignore History Are Doomed to Repeat It…

Posted in human rights, personal, religion, the personal is political, women's rights by indiegoddess on January 8, 2009

“As the day progressed, the hall slowly filled with rowdies, and each speaker was interrupted by catcalls and jibes. Lucretia kept order with apparent self-possession, although within her her stomach knotted and spat.

She was not surprised by the heckling. Yesterday she had warned her sister delegates to expect nothing but increase [sic] hostility now that it was at last perceived that woman was demanding nothing less than full equality. ‘Any great change must expect opposition, because it shakes the very foundation of privilege,’ she reminded them.”

-Margaret Hope Bacon, Valient Friend: The Life of Lucretia Mott

Because my conscience, and the light I see inside myself and others, says that it is right, I will keep fighting until all are equal. Until every holder of unwarranted privilege shakes in their boots at my voice, I will continue to speak out, continue to refuse to be silenced. Because it is the right thing to do.

The queer and straight; women and men; trans and cis-gendered; black, red, brown, and yellow, white and everything in between; children, teenagers and the elderly; abled, and disabled; fat, and thin; jewish, agnostic, pan-theistic, wiccan, athiest, secular humanist, christian, and muslim; poor, rich; strong, weak, broken and complete must be made equal. Because. It. Is. The. Right. Thing. To. Do.

And to the cat-callers: come. And to the advocates: let them come. They come because they recognize that we are serious. They recognize that we will accept, now, nothing less than full humanity for all. For each and every one of us. And that we will fight. And that we will not rest, save for in the arms of the final sleep of death. WE WILL BE EQUAL. WE WILL BE FREE.

Let them come.

Calif. AG: Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment is Unconstitutional | ABA Journal – Law News Now

Posted in human rights, political by indiegoddess on December 22, 2008

In an about-face, California Attorney General Jerry Brown is asking the state supreme court to overturn a voter-approved constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage in the state.

Brown argues that “the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification,” the Los Angeles Times reports. He says the right to marry is an “inalienable right” under the state Constitution’s protections for liberty and privacy, and a majority vote cannot override such rights.

Brown argued that the authors of the state Constitution did not intend “to put a group’s right to enjoy liberty to a popular vote,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

via Calif. AG: Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment is Unconstitutional | ABA Journal – Law News Now.

H/T to Katie for the Tweet. Go Jerry Brown!

Just so we’re clear

Posted in human rights, women's rights by writerwriting on December 22, 2008

If a person does not or cannot give consent to sexual intercourse, regardless of gender, IT IS RAPE IF THE OTHER PERSON OR PERSONS CONTINUE.

Is that concept really so hard to grasp? Stop blaming the victims of rape for being too drunk or for wearing the wrong clothes or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just stop.

Prop. 8 Sponsors Seek To Nullify 18K Gay Marriages

Posted in human rights, the personal is political by indiegoddess on December 20, 2008

The Yes on 8 campaign filed a brief Friday arguing that because the new law holds that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized or valid in California, the state can no longer recognize the existing same-sex unions.

via cbs13.com – Prop. 8 Sponsors Seek To Nullify 18K Gay Marriages.

More about this from Pam (our neighbor in NC!) over at Pam’s House Blend, as usual.

Willing to Fight

Posted in christianity, human rights, personal, political, religion, the personal is political, women's rights by indiegoddess on December 19, 2008

What does it really mean to be a leftist in the early part of the 21st century? What are we really talking about? And I can just be very candid with you, it means To have a certain kind of temperament, to make certain kinds of political and ethical choices, and to exercise certain kinds of analytical focuses, targeting on the catastrophic and the monstrous, the scandalous, the traumatic, that are often hidden and concealed in the deoderised, manicured discourses of the mainstream, that’s what it means to be a leftist, so let’s just be clear about it. So if you’re concerned about structural violence, if you’re concerned about exploitation at the workplace, if you’re concerned about institutionalised contempt against gay brothers and lesbian sisters, if you’re concerned about organised hatred against peoples of colour, if you’re concerned about a subordination of women: that’s not cheap PC chit-chat. That is a calling: that you’re willing to fight against and try to understand the sources of that social misery. At the structural and institutional level and at the existential and the personal level. That’s what it means in part to be a leftist. That’s why we choose to be certain kinds of human beings. That’s why it’s a calling, not a career. It’s a vocation, not a profession. That’s why you see these veterans still here year after year after year because they are convinced, they don’t want to live in a world and they don’t want to be human in such a way that they don’t exercise their intellectual and political and social and cultural resources in such a way to leave the world just a little better than it was when they entered. That’s in part what it means to be a leftist. – Cornel West, 2007

Boys will be boys?

Posted in human rights, political, the personal is political, women's rights by writerwriting on December 19, 2008

Jon Favreau is young, attractive, and intelligent. It’s a shame that he’s kind of a douche on top of it:

It’s even more of a shame when people (women, especially) brush that photo off with a hearty chuckle and the excuse that “it’s just a party” and “it’s not REALLY Hillary Rodham Clinton” and “zomg he’s so hot!”

Well, hot or not, what he did was wrong. He did apologize and all that good stuff, but really, what he did was WRONG. Blatantly so. To think otherwise is a little shocking to me because if you replaced that picture with one of two McCain staffers degrading a cut out of Obama, there would be high hell to pay. The staffers would likely not be employed anymore and we’d drag them through the mud because they are clearly racist.

But if someone is clearly sexist? Well, that’s okay because boys will be boys. It was a party! They’d had a few beers! Yeah, he shouldn’t have taken the picture, nor should he have posted it on his Facebook. But no one got hurt, so it’s not a big deal.

EXCEPT THAT IT IS A VERY BIG FUCKING DEAL. Let’s say that the HRC cut out was an actual woman. Everyone’s a little drunk, someone has a camera, and they all pose for ridiculously stupid pictures they will post all over Facebook. Let’s say that a couple of the guys in a few of the pictures gives the girl a few drinks, holding them up for her while another guy puts his hand on her breast. She doesn’t really mind because it’s all in fun.

But then later, it happens again, only without a camera and she is no longer feeling fun. Or maybe she is and she just doesn’t want to be touched. She rebuffs a guy. He doesn’t really back off. He reminds her about the pictures they all took earlier and he goes in for a grab or a kiss. It’s loud at the party and everyone is drunk and no one is surprised to see a couple groping on the couch.

Only it isn’t a couple groping. It’s a guy sexually assaulting a woman.

It doesn’t fucking matter that the HRC represented in that picture wasn’t real. What matters is our response to pictures like that, and in response to violence against women in general. It is not funny, it is not cute, and it isn’t something you fucking joke about.

I’m ashamed of Jon Favreau and even more of the Obama camp for blowing this off so completely.

Sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told

Posted in christianity, human rights, religion by writerwriting on December 15, 2008

Blessings be upon thee, Christian women. The answer to your prayers are here.

A group of conservative Christian women is seeking 100,000 signatures on a “True Woman Manifesto” aimed at sparking a counter-revolution to the feminist movement of the 1960s.

Introduced at a gathering of more than 6,000 women in early October, the document calls not for equal rights, but instead proclaims that men and women are created to reflect God’s image in “complementary and distinct ways.”

That includes the idea that women are called “to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.”

Source.

Jimmy Carter – A Human Rights Agenda for the Obama Administration – washingtonpost.com

Posted in africa, human rights, political, the world by writerwriting on December 10, 2008

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With a new administration and a new vision coming to the White House, we have the opportunity to move boldly to restore the moral authority behind the worldwide human rights movement. But the first steps must be taken at home.

Jimmy Carter – A Human Rights Agenda for the Obama Administration – washingtonpost.com.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Posted in human rights by indiegoddess on November 20, 2008