Persistance, Conviction, Bravery, and Compassion

You know, looking back at history can contextualize our current events, and it can also restore hope.We can look at those who have gone before, those who had endured the struggle, and persevered. I look, personally, to heroes like Judy Shepherd. The mother of Matthew Shepherd who has never given up.

  • The Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Hate Crimes Act, introduced on April 3, 2001, by Rep. John Conyers and was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime.
  • The bill died when it failed to advance in the committee.
  • It was reintroduced by Rep. Conyers in the 108th and 109th congresses (on April 22, 2004, and May 26, 2005, respectively). It failed to advance out of committee.
  • In the Senate, similar legislation was introduced by Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R–OR) as an amendment to the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (S. 2400) on June 14, 2004. Though the amendment passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 65–33, it was later removed by conference committee.
  • The bill was introduced for the fourth time into the House on March 30, 2007, again by Conyers.
  • The bill passed the subcommittee by voice vote and the full House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20–14. The bill then proceeded to the full House, where it was passed on May 3, 2007, with a vote of 237–180 with Representative Barney Frank, one of two openly gay members of the House at the time, presiding.
  • The bill then proceeded to the U.S. Senate, where it was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Gordon Smith on April 12, 2007, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • The bill died when it failed to advance out of committee.
  • On July 11, 2007, Kennedy attempted to introduce the bill again as an amendment to the Senate Defense Reauthorization bill (H.R. 1585). The Senate hate crime amendment had 44 cosponsors, including four Republicans. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ultimately dropped the amendment because of opposition from antiwar Democrats, conservative groups, and Bush.
  • For the 5th time, Conyers introduced the bill into the House on April 2, 2009.
  • The bill was immediately referred to the full Judiciary Committee, where it passed by a vote of 15–12 on April 23, 2009.
  • The bill passed the House on April 29, 2009, by a vote of 249–175, with 231 Democrats and 18 Republicans supporting. And on October 8, 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was rolled into the conference report on Defense Authorization for fiscal year 2010. The vote was 281–146, with support from 237 Democrats and 44 Republicans.
  • Back in the Senate, the bill had again introduced by Kennedy on April 28, 2009. The Senate version of the bill had 45 cosponsors as of July 8, 2009. The Matthew Shepard Act was adopted as an amendment to S. 1390 by a 63–28 cloture vote on July 15, 2009.

READY FOR THIS:

  • At the request of Senator Jeff Sessions (an opponent of the Matthew Shepard Act), an amendment was added to the Senate version of the hate crimes legislation that would have allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty for hate crime murders, though the amendment was later removed in conference with the House.
  • The bill passed the Senate when the Defense bill passed on July 23, 2009. As originally passed, the House version of the defense bill did not include the hate crimes legislation, requiring the difference to be worked out in a Conference committee. On October 7, 2009, the Conference committee published the final version of the bill, which included the hate crimes amendment; the conference report was then passed by the House on October 8, 2009. On October 22, 2009, following a 64–35 cloture vote, the conference report was passed by the Senate by a vote of 68–29.
  • The bill was signed into law on the afternoon of October 28, 2009, by President Barack Obama.

Persistence. Judy Shepherd, John Conyers, Ted Kennedy, Gordon Smith. Persistence.~~~And how about, bravery and conviction too? We never know how strong we are to our convictions until those convictions are tested, right? Like Judy Shepherd an opponent to the death penalty, who stuck by that conviction, and demanded life sentences for her son’s murderers.And conscience objectors, like Desmond Doss, now immortalized in (2016) Hacksaw Ridge. And Guy LaPointe too…

~~~On this day, July 2, 1948, Joseph Guy LaPointe Jr. was born in Dayton, Ohio. LaPointe (July 2, 1948 – June 2, 1969) was a medic in the United States Army. Patrolling Hill 376 in Quảng Tín Province, his unit came under heavy fire from entrenched enemy forces and took several casualties. LaPointe, a conscientious objector, ran through heavy fire to reach two wounded men. He treated the soldiers and shielded them with his body, even after being twice wounded, until an enemy grenade killed all three men. LaPointe was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War.~~~And then, there are the feel-good stories of compassion: On this day, July 2, 2016, Bono invited Adam Bevell onto the stage to jam with U2 during their U2 360 tour concert in Nashville, Tennessee. Adam Bevell’s brother-in-law had sketched out the small sign for him right there in the stadium and Adam held it over his head for the entire concert “BLIND GUITAR PLAYER. Bring me up.” at the end of the concert Adam’s wish was granted. The crowd hoisted him up on stage at the band’s request and Bono took his hand to lead him over to a guitar.” The guitar was strapped onto him and Adam chose to play his and his wife’s wedding song, “All I Want Is You,” while Bono sang along. Bono’s compassion for Adam brought out by Adam’s brother-n-law’s compassion for Adam as well.

~~~Persistence, bravery, conviction, and compassion…On this day, July 2, 2016, a man died who exemplified all those attributes and more.On July 2, 2016, Elie Wiesel אליעזר ויזל‎ died in New York, New York. Wiesel was a writer, professor, and political activist. He was the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel was involved with Jewish causes, and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In his political activities, he also campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa, Nicaragua, and Sudan. He was outspoken against the Darfur Genocide and silence surrounding the silence surrounding the Armenian and Darfur genocides.

Weisel once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Yes, we must take sides. Sides for the Medicare recipients who lost dental and vision today because KY Gov Matt Bevin didn’t get his way….

We must take sides, when innocent children are separated from their parents, and caged in the name of law enforcement.We must take sides when our Muslim sisters and brothers are banned from entry to the United States because of their nation-of-origin.

Yes, yes, we must take sides again White Supremacists who stage rallies in Portland and Charlottesville, and tie men to the back of trucks and drag them through Jasper, Texas.

We must take sides when a 21-year-old college student is beaten and left to die, simply because he loved differently from Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson.

Yes, The L.A. Times called Elie Wiesel “the most important Jew in America” and, in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called Wiesel a “messenger to mankind” when it awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize.Guy Lapointe was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

~~~The rest of us? Who knows whether we’ll ever get any awards, accolades, or recognition. Heck, we might actually get arrested instead of getting awards. But what would we lose if we didn’t try? We might lose a bit of ourselves…Yes, looking back at history can contextualize our current events, and it can also restore hope. And perhaps reinvigorate our persistence, bravery, conviction, and compassion.

Leon Mugesera and Donald Trump

On this day, July 1, 1962, the Belgian-administered region of German East Africa was granted independence. From the Belgian support of the racist “Hamitic” origin theory of Tutsi superiority to the creation of two states with Hutu majorities (rather than more homogenous nation-states), sadly the seeds of the Rwandan and Burundi Genocides were already sown.

Belgians defined “Tutsi” as anyone owning more than ten cows (a sign of wealth) or with the physical feature of a longer nose, or longer neck, commonly associated with the Tutsi; the physical distinctions were explained by postulating a partial descent from Hamitic peoples of the Horn of Africa or even European Caucasians.

Thirty years later, in 1992, Leon Mugesera gave the most famous speech in Rwandan history. Mugesera was an official in President Habyarimana’s MRND Party (Movement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement). In his speech at a party conference in Gisenyi, Mugesera called on Hutus to kill Tutsis and to dump their bodies in the rivers of Rwanda…  To send them back to Ethiopia where they came from….

~~~

Shereen Marisol Meraji recently had a new episode on her podcast Code Switch and interviewed a neuroscientist, a sociolinguist, a philosophy professor, and a historian about the use of term animal and animal metaphors to describe people.

Now, there is this Godwin’s Law; it says that the longer a conversation goes on, the more likely someone will be compared to Hitler or Stalin. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. The fact is that Hitler used derisive language to describe people. Does that make Hitler unique? No. Does that make anyone who uses derisive metaphors of animals, am I calling that person Hitler? No. But the fact of the matter is that language matters. Skilled orators can inspire people, but it is much easier to use code language to galvanize a mob.

In the podcast, Meraji and historian Ibram X. Kendi discuss the history of referring to enslaved West Africans as animals and beasts….

And David Livingstone Smith, a philosophy professor, who wrote “Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, And Exterminate Others,” he continued the discussion and reminded listeners of that famous “nits make lice” by John Chivington (a Methodist minister on top of everything else!).

The podcast also mentioned how, in WWII, the Japanese were referred to as devils, when the genocide-committing Germans were not? I wonder why?

~~~

There is a history of interconnection between White Privilege and the language of dehumanization

On March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens spoke in Savannah, Georgia, and referred to the new Confederate government whose “foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Another example that just saying something is a philosophical or moral truth doesn’t make it truth. But, perhaps more to the point, repetition will convince many people of a truth, even if it’s not…

Like on April 20, 1968, when British MP Enoch Powell delivered his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech in which he recounted the belief that, within “15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” Incidentally, Powell’s district in Parliament is now represented by Eleanor Smith, a daughter of Barbadian immigrants who, as a young girl, was taunted after Powell’s speech.

And then, there’s John Blake’s recent piece on the “M-Word.” US Senator George Allen, cruising to a re-election victory in Virginia in the summer of 2006” as Blake writes, and the 18 words that ended his political life: “So welcome, let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America, and the real world of Virginia,” Allen said to an Indian-American in the mostly European-American crowd.

Blake continues:

“Jimmy the Greek,” lost his job when he said that blacks were superior athletes because of breeding from slavery

Trent Lott resigned as Senate majority leader in 2002 after he seemed to suggest that the United States could have avoided “all these problems” if it had remained segregated.

Blake argues that overt racist speech went underground in 1968, the year that MLK, Jr. was gunned down and the year that George Wallace shouted Segregation Forever.

But now overt racist speech, dehumanizing language, and the language of violence is all back. Yes, there are pundits and politicians from both parties using violent language now, but it is clear who brought the language mainstream again. Arguing otherwise is simply the diversionary tactic of the Godwin Law Inverse.

The inverse of Godwin’s Law is a false declaration of victimization designed to immune our selves from responsibility. It goes like this, “Can you believe it? THEY’RE calling me/us/Trump Nazis! Nazis killed millions of people, I can’t believe THEY’RE insulting the memory of the Holocaust victims.”

It’s a logical conceit to protect the speaker and anything he or she might say, from criticism. The conversation then becomes about the accusation (inferred or otherwise) and not about the content of the offensive language in the first place.

~~~

Just last week, on June 24, 2018, Ed Henry of Fox News’ had a segment on TV with the onscreen banner which read “PUNDITS CALL TRUMP SUPPORTERS RACIST, NAZIS.” During the segment, Trump’s deputy campaign manager told Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who is African-American, that Payne was “out of your cotton-picking mind.” Yup, he said that. While, as I said already, the onscreen banner said, “PUNDITS CALL TRUMP SUPPORTERS RACIST, NAZIS.”

~~~

David Bossie, the Trump surrogate did apologize. I even have the feeling he didn’t realize the loaded-language which he had used. Rosanne Barr was held accountable, the Netflix Exec. But….

 

Ronald Reagan has been called the Teflon President, but I think its time to pass that baton to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Donald Trump has mainstreamed insensitive language, conspiracy theories, and replaced fact-based journalism with self-serving opinions of perceived reality.

The Donald’s Art of the Deal is the art of making destructive language fashionable while remaining beloved by his base, perhaps even beloved because of the dehumanizing discourse. After all, it wouldn’t resonate if it wasn’t already in so many of us already, right?

Blake concludes his piece by suggesting that the increase of dehumanizing language could be a new norm. Let us hope it is not, let us hope we will not become desensitized to it like violence and inappropriate language in music, movies, and TV.

~~~

In my book, This Day in Donald: The 140 Character President, I wrote, “Words matter.  Language is a neutral reality; it can be used to hurt or to mend, to shame or to love, to tear down or to raise up.” The book is a collage of tweets, speeches, and statements by the 45th President of the United States and weaves together an overview of the how the 45th President of the United States chooses to communicate, represent himself, and represent the Office of the President.  Each entry catches his choice (and indeed the current American capacity) to tear down others and his propensity to equivocate moral and personal condemnation of persons with whom he disagrees with on policy.

~~~

Yes, Leon Mugesera called for Tutsi’s to be killed and sent up river. Other Hutu extremists called Tutsis “cockroaches” that needed to be stamped out. Presumed racial superiority and hate, whether it be Hutu, Nazi, or White American must be relegated to history. Otherwise, if we embrace the language of dehumanization, we are replacing US President Abraham Lincoln with Confederate VP Alexander Stephens, replacing Bobby Kennedy with George Wallace, and replacing US Representative Tom Lantos, who survived the Holocaust, with the former White House strategist, Steve Bannon, who said to wear the label of “racist” as “a badge of honor.”

~~~

On March 15, 2016, I posted the following parody of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem on Facebook and submitted it to the Providence Journal. I received back an email from Ed Achorn, the editor of the Journal, arguing that the parody if invalid since no one has yet ‘come for the Mexicans.’

The New America?

In America, they came first for the Mexicans,

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Mexican;

And then they came for the Muslims,

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Muslim;

And then they came for the African-Americans,

And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an African-American;

And then they came for me . . .

And there was no one left to speak for me….

~~~

We have lost the understanding that at the other end of each sound bite, text, tweet, email, and phone call, at the other end there is a person. It is not about “The” Blacks, “The” Jews, “The” Gays, “The” Muslims, “The” Liberals, “The” Democrats, “The” Republicans, or “The” Conservatives. It is about, and always should be about our fellow Americans and, indeed, our fellow humans.

There is still time to reject racist rhetoric and return to respectful discourse.

And the time is now.

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/28/624416635/what-happens-when-groups-of-people-are-described-as-animals

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/20/603884872/an-anti-immigration-speech-divided-britain-50-years-ago-it-still-echoes-today

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/29/us/racial-rhetoric/index.html

 

Hope: Looking Back at June 2018

The Supreme Court:

  • Masterpiece Cake v CCRC
  • National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra
  • Trump v. Hawaii

Trump, Canada, and North Korea:

  • The 44th G7 summit was held on 8–9 June 2018, in Quebec, Canada… Trump feuds with the other 6 members, and suggests Russia should be let back into the G8/G7.
  • In fact, the summit was dubbed the “G6+1” by the Government of France and political commentators. This resulted from the United States withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and from the Paris Agreement, American tariffs, and trade-related disputes between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau…

Trump-Kim Summit:

  • Trump and Kim signed a joint declaration at a summit in Singapore on June 12 and pledged to work toward peace and to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. “We’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations,” and called his meeting with Kim “honest, direct and productive.”
  • Then, on June 21st, satellite images show the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center upgrading its nuclear facilities. That’s less than two weeks after Trump boasted of a diplomatic breakthrough with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program after decades of hostility.

Immigration News:

  • June 15: For the first time, the Department of Homeland Security says how many children have been separated during the zero-tolerance initiative: Nearly 2,000 children from April 19 to May 31.
  • June 18: Nielsen says the administration “will not apologize” for separating families. “We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job,” she says. “This administration has a simple message — If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you.”
  • June 19: Iowa’s GOP governor calls the separation of immigrant families “horrific” and says the government shouldn’t treat children as “pawns.”
  • Also, Methodists sign a formal denominational complaint against AG Jeff Sessions for his role in causing the separation of families.
  • Later, Maryland’s GOP governor recalls his national guard troops from the border.
  • June 20: Facing a national outcry, and after blaming Democrats in Congress (who control neither the Senate nor the Houses), Obama/Bush/and Clinton, as well as saying it was a policy he could not reverse, Trump signs an executive order designed to keep migrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning his earlier claim that the crisis was caused by an iron-clad law
  • And, of course, on June 21st, The First Lady wears a jacket making it clear she really doesn’t care; about what we’re not too sure.

Russia? How about some Russia news:

  • Later, Trump announces summit with Putin and reminds us all that Russia says it did not interfere in the 2016 Election…
  • Perhaps the highlight of the Russia probe this month was when Jim Jordan (OH-4) called Rod Rosenstein a Democrat. He’s not. And it shouldn’t matter regardless.

But The Biggest News:

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement.

  • Citing his so-called swing vote, moderates and liberals have suggested same-sex marriage, abortion, and other issues are endangered.
  • However, Kennedy voted with the conservative majority in Bush v Gore, and the travel ban, so he’s hardly the Saint of Liberalism.
  • In fact, the court has only taken away rights once that it had recognized. The right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments.

~~~

On this day, June 30, 1934, the Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals, occurred in Germany.

Operation Hummingbird eliminated Gregor Strasser and his leftist wing of the Nazi Party, as well as prominent German conservatives including former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and Gustav Ritter von Kahr as well as Hitler’s own supporters when he eliminated the Brownshirts (SA) and its leader, Ernst Röhm.

~~~

On this day, too, nine years later, on June 30, 1943, the Częstochowa Uprising was ended with additional 500 Jews burned alive or buried beneath the rubble. Another 3,900 Jews were captured and put to work in the labor camps of Apparatebau, Warthewerk, and Eisenhütte. A random selection of 400 people were shot and, in December that year, 1200 prisoners were transported to Germany. The men were sent to Buchenwald, the women to Dachau… all perished.

~~~

Truly dark days on this day in history, and the history of June… But there is hope, amid struggle as well…

~~~

On this day, June 30, 2001, as the deadline of the international body overseeing decommissioning paramilitary (terrorist) weapons  approached, David Trimble threatened to resign as First Minister if the deadline was not met. The next day, July 1, 2001, David Trimble resigned as Northern Ireland First Minister.

~~~

In a shout-out to my Rhode Islander listeners:

On this day, June 30, 1983, Vinny Pazienza (December 16, 1962) defeated Keith McCoy in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was The Paz’ second career win; the bout was called in the 3rd Round by KO. His career total is 50-10, with 30 KO. Pazienza held world titles at lightweight and light middleweight; Bleed for This (2016) is based on his comeback from a spinal injury.

But good things happen too:

And, on this day, June 30, 2007, Peter Rometti sang the National Anthem at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, during Disability Awareness Day. Rometti had autism and halfway through, he started to struggle… stammering, laughing nervously, and losing some of the words. 38,000 Red Sox fans responded and carried Rometti through the remainder of the Star-Spangled Banner.

~~~

The United States has weathered the disenfranchisement of women, the attacks on Native Americans, the enslavement of West Africans, the internment of Japanese Americans, and discrimination against immigrants and gay human beings before.

For every John Chivington, Roger Taney, George Wallace; we have many more Sojoioner Truths, Frederick Douglasses, Elizabeth Katy Stantons, Susan B Anthonys, Fred Korematsu and Yuri Kochiyama.

We have lost Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard; we have lost Trevonn Martin, Freddie Gray, Stephan Clark and just this month Antwon Rose too.

~~~

“Yes, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

And, yes, We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter… because [we’ve] been to the mountaintop [already]…

We’ve seen John Adams defend the crew of the Amistad… who can tell me the name of the plaintiff in that case?

We’ve seen Teddy Roosevelt denounce the San Francisco segregation of Chinese children,

Who can tell me the name of that Mayor of SanFran?

Who can tell me the name of the judge who found Susan B Anthony guilty of voting?

Tell me, please, what was the name of the bus driver who ordered 2nd Lt Jackie Robinson to move his seat on the bus, or the driver who told Rosa Parks to move?

We can bury the Andrew Jacksons in the annals of white privilege and arrogance; while raising up Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, and Leroy Collins.

This country has weathered the Alien & Sedition Acts, we will survive Russian interference and recalcitrance of our own politicians to find the truth; the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Japanese-Internment, we will survive the current administration’s border policy and travel bans.

That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt. That’s not to say that there won’t be lasting pain and consequences for these immoral decisions.

I dare say more people know the name Barack Obama, than George Wallace.

~~~

“And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.” Its not about our personal comfort, its about what side of history do we want to be on, do we want to look back with regret that we didn’t stand up to bigotry and vile verbal rhetoric?

[I’m not perfect, not at all, but I know God is with me.] “And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. [I may never see the Lion lay down with the Lamb, but]…  I’ve seen the Promised Land [in glimpses here and there, in the faces of our children]. I may not get there with you. [you might not get there either]. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, [we] will get to the Promised Land!”

~~~

We’re better than the Alien and Sedition Acts, we’re better than the Know-Nothings; we’re better than Jim Crowe and McCarthyism… Every time we have been challenged from our believe in this New Jerusalem, every time we have been knocked down like the Second Temple itself, we have stood up taller, and held our hands out to more people, bringing those huddled masses yearning to be free. Amen, we will rise, we will rise. This is our country and we will make it better, with more hope, and more love, for more people and stare down the voices of fear and xenophobia… 12 score and two years ago, our Founding Fathers set forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all white male landowners were are created equal… but we didn’t stop there, we rose higher, we stood taller and recognized that landowner or not, free or slave, male or female, we are all created equal.

~~~

Now we are engaged in a great civil [debate], testing whether this nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated to protecting the freedom and liberty of people we might not like, who might look differently than us, that might pray differently than us, we are being tested to see how can long endure. We meet daily on a great battle-field of that war: social media, partisan news, blind following of our ideological politicians.

We have to dedicate a portion of that battlefield, as an oasis of peace, a final resting place for those who gave their lives that that nation might live in harmony. Amen, tt is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. [But it is a lot harder to do than to say.]

But, in a larger sense, we cannot stop. Think of those who have gone before, who struggled here, before us. The world will little note, nor long remember what I say here on podcasts or social media, but the world can never forget what we have done together already as a nation. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which our forebearers fought for already and have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored aliens among us, those too who love differently and pray differently. We must take increased devotion to that cause for which others gave the last full measure of their devotion—that we here highly resolve that the women, Native Americans, West Africans, Catholics immigrants, Japanese-Americans, African-Americans and Gay Americans shall not have struggled and died in vain

—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Ron Robert and RI Sports

Hello! And Welcome to this Day in Today

Today’s theme is going to be on Rhode Island sports history, specifically, the weekly sports show Lil Rhody Sports Show on 89.9 The Juice every Saturday from 10 to Noon. I want to shout-out and thank Ron Robert and his co-host Eric “E” Levy for taking my call today and allowing me part of the show. We talked a little bit about this week in RI sports history, but I want to go back and look at the previous week as well as the upcoming week in RI sports history…

Earlier this week, June 3, 2018, Chris Iannetta went 0-4 against the Dodgers at Coors Field. I know that because I watched the game! Two Rhode Islanders at the game, though I think Chris had better seats! Iannetta was born, April 8, 1983, in Providence, Rhode Island, and named Christopher Domenic Iannetta. He went to St. Ann’s School in Providence, Rhode Island, and attended St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He played in college for the North Carolina Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously played for the Rockies, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently, Iannetta is an American professional baseball catcher for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball (MLB).

~~~

Also this week, on, June 5, 1987, Cody Wild was born in Limestone, Maine, however, he grew up in North Providence, Rhode Island. He attended LaSalle Academy and graduated from North Providence High School. Wild was selected in the 5th Round (140th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Wild played college hockey for three years for the Providence College Friars until he left after his junior season to sign with Edmonton Oilers. He last played in the 2015 season for the Nottingham Panthers in the UK.

~~~

But the best story this week is that on this day, June 7, 1884, Providence Grays Pitcher Charlie Sweeney struck out 19 batters in a nine-inning game, a record that would stand until broken by Red Sox Pitcher Roger Clemens 102 years later. He is also quite famous for the rivalry with fellow Gray pitcher, and future Hall of Famer, Old Hoss Radbourn.

~~~

On this day, June 8, 1939, the Sakonnet Yacht Club was formed as a Rhode Island non-business corporation. Of course, Rhode Islanders have been sailing Narragansett Bay for hundreds of years before that, especially those little schooners that, on this day, 246 years ago, June 9, 1772, the disgruntled people of Warwick burned the Gaspée off the coast of Warwick, Rhode Island.

Looking ahead this week

On this day, June 10, 1923, Howard Shannon was born in Manhattan, Kansas. Shannon (June 10, 1923 – August 16, 1995) was an American basketball player and coach. Shannon was the first overall pick in the 1949 BAA Draft, selected by the Providence Steamrollers. Shannon averaged 13.4 points per game during the 1948–49 BAA season and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

~~~

On this day, June 12, 1969, Mathieu Schneider was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York. He lived with his family in West New York, New Jersey until moving to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, for his high school years. In Woonsocket, Schneider attended high school at Mount Saint Charles Academy. Under coach Bill Belisle, Schneider and his team won three of the school’s 26 straight Rhode Island state hockey championships. Schneider left Mount Saint Charles after his junior year and joined the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League. Later, he was drafted in 1987 by the Canadiens and won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1993. He was also a member of the 1996 World Cup champion Team USA squad.

~~~

On this day, June 13, 1999, the Providence Bruins defeated the Rochester Americans four games to one to win the first Calder Cup in team history.

~~~

On this day, June 17, 1880, John Montgomery Ward pitched the second perfect game in MLB history.

Other

On this day, June 12, 1987, The Witches of Eastwick was released. The Witches of Eastwick is a 1987 American comedy-fantasy film based on John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick (1984). The film stars Jack Nicholson, alongside Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon as the eponymous witches.

~~~

On this day, June 15, 1775, the United States Continental Navy acquired the USS Providence sloop. Originally chartered by the Rhode Island General Assembly as Katy, the ship took part in a number of campaigns during the first half of The American Revolutionary War. It was destroyed by her own crew in 1779 to prevent her falling into the hands of the British after the failed Penobscot Expedition.

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On this day, June 16, 2010, Deer Tick made their network television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman. Deer Tick perform a song from their debut album, “Baltimore Blues No. 1.” Deer Tick is an American alternative rock band from Providence, Rhode Island composed of singer-songwriter John J. McCauley, guitarist Ian O’Neil, bassist Chris Ryan and drummer Dennis Ryan. John McCauley is the son of former RI State Representative John J. McCauley, Jr., is also the husband of singer Vanessa Carlton; the two were married on December 27, 2013, in a ceremony officiated by none other than Stevie Nicks.

Religion v Speech ~ June 4th

Freedom of Religion versus Freedom of Speech

The tyranny of the Majority versus The Tyranny of the Minority

On this day, June 4, 1738, George III (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was born in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1791, George begrudgingly assented to the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The Act relieved Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the legal practice of Catholicism, and the existence of Catholic schools. (On the other hand, there were continued restrictions as well: chapels, schools, officiating priests, and school teachers had to be registered with the government. Assemblies with locked doors, as well as steeples and bells to chapels, were forbidden. Catholic priests could not wear clerical robes or offer Mass in the open air; Protestant children could not be admitted to Catholic schools. Monastic orders and endowments for Catholic schools and colleges were prohibited.)

The Tory Leader, William Pitt the Younger, as well as the rival Whig Leader, Charles James Fox, had pledged full Catholic Emancipation. Amazingly, however, King George III argued that full freedom for Catholics would be a violation of his coronation oath.

It wasn’t until 1766 that true Catholic Emancipation did not occur until the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. To overcome the vehement opposition of both the House of Lords and King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked tirelessly to ensure passage in the House of Lords and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.

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On June 4, 1870, Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was born. Hesselblad worked tirelessly at inter-religious dialogue, and against racism. During World War II – and after – she performed many charitable works on behalf of the poor and those that suffered due to racial laws and promoted peace between Christians and non-Christians. The war also saw her save the lives of Jewish people who would have otherwise have perished in the Holocaust had it not been for her direct intervention. Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000, and Pope Francis approved her canonization in late 2015. Hesselblad is also recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations due to her efforts in World War II saving the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

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On this day, June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in response to the pro-democracy demonstrations. At the heart of these demonstrations was the lack of freedom in China… no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and -certainly on June 4th– no freedom of assembly or petition of grievances.

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And today, June 4, 2018, the US Supreme Court announced its decision in Masterpiece Cake v CCRC. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I don’t think it’s as simple as either of the two sides think that it is. I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults

As my friend David Stacy said, its perhaps “one of the most intelligent decisions they’ve written in some time… What I think is so brilliant about it is that it’s allowing for a better conversation. SCOTUS set the standard for how government officials treat religious individuals and cases of religious expression outside of the clergy. The fallout will be interesting, for sure.”

I sure hope Dave is correct. but I am nervous about the fact that there were three different concurring opinions. That kind of tells me that they couldn’t agree among themselves, and that’s why they made a narrow decision, not for their altruistic and brilliant reasons that David is hoping for.

Where is that line between religion and speech?

  • Would we expect a Muslim cakemaker to put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on a cake? Would a Jewish cakemaker have to create a cake with a swastika on it? Would a Catholic cakemaker have to make a cake with the image of a pope or priest as a pedophile or with condoms?
  • On the other hand, would we be comfortable with a cakemaker denying to make a cake for a mixed-race wedding? Or a cake for a marriage between persons of obvious age discrepancy?

What right does a service provider have to limit their services? What right does society have to force services from unwilling service providers? I sure don’t know…

I also think, but I’m not sure how this would be worded in a judicial decision, that there is an issue of access. I’ve heard this issue come up in abortion/women’s reproduction cases. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Court held that if legislation is crafted in such a way that the access to abortion clinics is essentially eliminated, then that is unconstitutional. So, to a degree, as long as there are fair alternatives to Masterpiece Cake, then the Court perhaps should lean toward protecting the religious freedom of the business owner, however, if there was not a fair alternative, then the Court ought to lean toward protecting the rights of the customer.

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Regardless, and as I said to David Stacy earlier today is that, personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I also don’t think it’s as simple as it might seem prima facie. Personally, I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults…

June 3rd ~ Irrendentism

Nation-States

Yesterday, I explored the term “citizenship” as well as what it means and doesn’t mean. Sadly, citizenship is not a Golden Ticket as many believe. It is not the automatic panacea that some immigrants believe it is, nor is it an automatic giving away of the cow as those who already have citizenship might believe. Citizenship is tied up into the constructs of the nation-state and modern international relations as well.

Nation-states are sovereign entities recognized by other members of the international community. One of the first definitions of sovereignty is often the definition of borders… that is an argument that is frequently mentioned when discussing southern border security in the United States. After all, what kind of a country cannot delineate and secure its own borders, right?

By THAT definition, of course, Western Sahara and Tibet are not nation-states, but wouldn’t that also mean that Ukraine is not a nation-state either? Nor Syria?

And, inversely, wouldn’t that mean that South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Kurdistan are nation-states? Or, how about this one, wouldn’t securing of the borders mean that Taiwan is nation-state? Shall we tell the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations?

No, securing of borders is not the only standard for sovereign recognition. It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the only measuring stick. Sometimes, an existing nation-state believes, demands, takes extraterritorial land, and then claims sovereignty. There’s even a term for when a nation-state expects former land to be returned to them; it’s called irredentism. Let’s look at the US annexation of the disputed land between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers 175 year ago… or 50 years ago, the Chinese annexation of Tibet. Or, most recently, Russia’s annexation of Crimea….

On this day, June 3, 1998, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland entered into effect. The Nineteenth Amendment was approved by referendum on May 22, 1998. It was an amendment, essentially, codified the Good Friday Agreement. Yes, it enabled the establishment of shared political institutions between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But more importantly, it renounced the claim to the whole island of Ireland and replaced the irredentist claim on the whole island of Ireland to an aspiration towards creating a united Ireland by peaceful means, “with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island.”

Also, on this day, June 3, 2010, the competition for territorial claims to the former British Mandate of Palestine played out again. If it’s strange to think that Russia should have the right to annex Crimea after less than thirty years… If it’s strange to think that the Irish Constitution claimed the whole of an island that has been divided since 1922, and not independently unified since 1175 and the Treaty of Windsor…

If those are strange irredentist claims… how do we objectively look at the Israeli annexation of West Jerusalem in 1948 and the Israeli annexation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem in 1967?

Palestinians have been trying to call attention to the situation for decades… sometimes ethically and unfortunately sometimes through violence. The eye for an eye mentality of the Irish Troubles and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has left a lot of us blind.

On June 3, 2010, Huwaida Arraf gave her first interview of what happened on the supply ship, Challenger 1, in the Med, on May 21, 2010. Arraf (born 1976 in Detroit, Michigan) is a Palestinian American human rights activist, lawyer, and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. ISM a Palestinian-led organization focused on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using non-violent protests. At the times, Arraf was also the chair of the Free Gaza Movement which organized the Gaza Freedom Flotillas. These ships carrying Pro-Palestinian activists and were organized to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Arraf was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza boats as well as the 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos in international waters on May 31, 2010.

Perhaps irredentism belongs in the past and off the negotiation tables. Perhaps wars of aggression, frankly any wars, should not be rewarded with territorial annexation. Perhaps the exercise of civil rights should not require oaths of allegiance as they once did in Britain’s Ireland and oaths shouldn’t be required of Palestinians in order to vote in Israel. If Israel claims the extraterritorial land, then all the people living there should be afforded equal rights.

George Mitchell, the US negotiator in the Good Friday Agreement and later US Representative for Peace in the Middle East recently said,

“Each conflict is unique. Each requires a solution that is grounded in the specific and particular history of the people, the region, the issues. There are similarities, of course: religion, territorial demands, national identity. All of that are factors.”

Let’s remember that modern Nation-states have modern responsibilities and that peace can only be achieved through concessions by all parties, and a rejection of irredentist claims on history.