Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

age discrimination cartoon

Cartoon curtsey of: http://blog.aimvic.com.au/2012/08/06/
leon-gettler-age-discrimination/

If, in 1967 when Congress enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you were one of the white male baby boomers who (a) could not understand the need for the legislation, or (b) empathize with the women, African Americans and others who were victims of sexism, racism or other ism, now is your time to feel discrimination’s pain.

Age discrimination, the treatment of an applicant or employee less favorably because of age, is very real.  Companies such as Ernst & Young, Monsanto, Chevron and Lockheed Martin have paid millions to employees hoping that age discrimination allegations go away. Unfortunately, 63% of older individuals believe they have experienced age discrimination and 30% believe they have been mistreated. Beliefs are subjective, but few could argue with the fact that the average duration of unemployment is 50.2 weeks for workers over the age of 55 and 36.9 weeks for those under age 55. See, “Older Workers Say Age Bias Is Common“, http://nyti.ms/16ZsKOi,Age Discrimination Takes Its Toll”, http://nyti.ms/wQoLGp, and “On the Edge of Age Discrimination, http://nyti.ms/11GQNLq.

Loss of employment, harassment and unfair treatment may be the least of the objectionable results of age discrimination. A study reported in Research on Aging showed that age discrimination could be hazardous to a senior’s health. The discrimination apparently produces high levels of depression, much of which goes untreated. See, “Age Discrimination Takes Its Toll”, http://nyti.ms/wQoLGp.

You might think that because white males are now experiencing age discrimination in greater numbers than ever before, Congress or the courts would have made it easier for seniors to prove age discrimination.  You would be wrong. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, victims were required to prove that discrimination was one of the factors leading to the employee’s demotion or dismissal. In 2009, the Supreme Court ignored that legal precedent and made it harder for older workers to win their cases. The Court’s ruling shifted the burden of proof so that victims must prove age was the deciding factor causing the discriminatory treatment, a near impossible standard to meet. It should come as no surprise that since the Supreme Court’s decision lower courts have denied thousands of age discrimination claims. See, “Combating Age Discrimination,” http://nytimes.com/2012/03/30/opinion/combating-age-discrimination.html?_r=0 and “Age Discrimination Takes Its Toll”, http://nyti.ms/wQoLGp.

The AARP publishes a list of senior-friendly employers. In 2011,  Scripps Health,  Cornell UniversityNational Institutes of HealthFirst Horizon National Corporation and West Virginia University headed that list.  Http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-09-2011/aarp-best-employers-winners-2011.html. These employers deserve our accolades for doing what is fair and, more importantly, for doing what is right.

Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Girl Scouts of the United States of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a decade of statistics evidencing sexual violence against females in America tell a sobering story that, if we are truthful, comes as no surprise.

  • In 1995, of the 126,000 children who were victims of sexual abuse, 75% were girls.
  • In 1997, girls 16-19 were four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • In 1998, one of every six or 17.7 million American women were the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
  • In 2003, nine of every 10 rape victims were female.
  • In 2006, 232,960 women or 600 women everyday were raped or sexually assaulted. *

Females are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence perpetrated by heterosexual men.  Nonetheless, to their credit, women, for the most part, do not condemn the entire heterosexual male population for the epidemic of violence against them in this country. If they did, society as we know it would cease to exist. Few women would endanger themselves or their daughters by living under the same roof with a man whose heterosexual orientation was the root cause of female sexual abuse.

To condemn an entire group for the acts of a few is a hallmark of intolerance and prejudice. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, an organization devoted to the well-being of America’s girls and young women, has refused to so broadly blame heterosexual men. Accordingly, membership in the organization as adult volunteers is open to both women and men 18 years and over. The organization uses screenings and reference checks conducted by independent, third-party agencies to protect girls and young women from potential volunteers and staff who might cause them harm. See, http://www.girlscouts.org/for_adults/volunteering/volunteer_faq.asp.   This approach seems to have worked.  We have not heard stories of sexual abuse within the Girl Scouts or of its supporters demanding the prohibition of heterosexual males from serving as volunteers.

On the other hand, by refusing to accept gay scouts or permit gay volunteers, the Boy Scouts of America has condemned the entire gay population for sexual violence against boys. In a change of policy, the organization now allows gay youth as scouts, but continues its prohibition against gay volunteers. Some view this change as a step in the right direction. Others view it with fear and trembling. In actuality, the new policy is morally inconsistent and perpetuates the BSA’s blanket condemnation of gay men. The BSA and many of its supporters use their homophobia as a shield against a simple and, perhaps, inconvenient truth. Sexual orientation is not what makes either a heterosexual or a homosexual man a predator. The BSA’s new policy is only an expression of the organization’s continuing prejudice and intolerance, both of which the BSA has no right to teach our children.

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* Http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims, and http://.now.org/issuew/violence/stats.html.  See, National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, 1998; U.S. Department of Justice, 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey, 2003; U.S. Department of Health $ Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 1995 Child Maltreatment Survey, 1995.

 

Martin Luther, who spent a lifetime reforming the Roman Catholic Church from what he perceived as its “false doctrines” and “ecclesiastic malpractice”, is the same man who said that “so thoroughly hopeless, mean, poisonous, and bedeviled a thing are the Jews that for 1400 years they have been, and continue to be, our plague, pestilence, and all that is our misfortune.” Luther’s words, though uttered in 16th century Germany, could have been expressed by Anti-Semites, both before and after him, around the world and throughout the millennia.

Jewish hatred and scapegoating, like blaming the Jews for the Black Death’s devastation of Europe in the mid-14th century, has led many societies to attempt to eradicate the Jewish people from their populations. There was the:

  • violence against the Jews of Ancient Greece and expulsion of the Jews from Ancient Rome;
  • 11th century Muslim pogroms against the Jews on the Iberian Peninsula;
  • Crusades starting in 1096 and continuing for centuries;
  • expulsion of Jews from England in 1290;
  • Spanish Inquisition;
  • massacres of Ukrainian Jews and the Russian pogroms;
  • Holocaust; and
  • exodus of the Jews from Muslim countries,

to name but a few examples.

See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism and http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Judaism-Western-Tradition-David-Nirenberg/dp/0393058247.

Some thought that the Nazi’s extinction of nearly entire Jewish populations was so repugnant that it would end Anti-Semitism once and for all. They were wrong. Twenty-first century Anti-Semitism is alive, well and occurring throughout the world, including in some of the least likeliest of places, such as: Malmo, Sweden; Toulouse, Paris and Marseilles France; Brussels, Belgium; Auckland, New Zealand; and Montreal, Canada. See, http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/23446/Default.aspx.

Notwithstanding their small numbers, the reality is that the Jews are and have been the likely targets to shoulder blame. The poor hate the Jews for being wealthy capitalists, and the rich hate the Jews for being communists. The Jews who maintain their own culture are hated for insulting the culture of the country in which they live, and the Jews who assimilate are hated for appropriating that culture. A Jew who is attacked and turns the other cheek is a coward, and a Jew who fights back is overreacting. See, Little Nemo, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=404068.

The scapegoating of Jews has been particularly devastating to the Muslim population of the Middle East. Israel, accounting for one-sixth of one percent of the Middle East land with its 6 million Jews, is routinely blamed for the problems, both political and social, of the 300 million Muslims living there.   Http://www.masada2000.org/geography.html. Until recently, blaming the Jews was the easy answer that hid the root causes for many of the Muslim population’s significant problems, making it impossible to find meaningful solutions.

Today’s Anti-Semitism also includes the intellectually specious Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that attempt either to minimize the horrendous effects of the Holocaust on the Jewish population or to exclude Anti-Semitism as a causal factor in the Holocaust. Some, like Greta Berlin, the American director of the Free Gaza Movement, blame the genocide squarely on the Zionists who “operated the [Nazi] concentration camps” Others, like Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, charge that the Jews willingly murdered millions of their own to win world sympathy for the establishment of Israel. At the extreme, some will deny the very happening of the Holocaust itself. Http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/23446/Default.aspx.

Though satire, the Tom Lehrer song “National Brotherhood Week”, is disturbingly on point.

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

The song would be laughable, if it wasn’t so true. See, http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Judaism-Western-Tradition-David-Nirenberg/dp/0393058247.

Yellow badge Star of David called "Judens...

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In 1948, Alfred Kinsey sent shock waves through the heterosexual world when he proclaimed that one in every ten men is gay. See, http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx. The percentage may be off, but the concept is not. Heterosexual and homosexual adults and children walk together through life, inexorably intertwined in school, work and social activities. We mix and mingle and yet, for the most part, we are unaware of sexual orientation. For the homophobic, rather than scare, this reality should console.

No doubt, there are evil homosexuals and heterosexuals who populate our lives and the lives of our children. As parents (both homosexual and heterosexual), we must be vigilant to keep our children safe from them. However, the “them” are not evil because of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts of America’s latest proposal to change its discriminatory rules on gay participation suggests the opposite. The proposal would allow openly gay youth to participate in scouting and would prohibit openly gay adults from participating as scout leaders. At best, the proposal evidences BSA’s lack of confidence in its own programs. At worst, the proposal is blatantly homophobic, discriminatory and inconsistent in its moral teaching.

The new policy is based on the bizarre notion that when gay boys enter adulthood they suddenly become predators and abusers merely because of their sexual orientation. What is even more bizarre if possible is that the Boy Scouts of America, whose mission is to instill “lifetime values”, develop “ethical character” and teach “citizenship, service and leadership”, is making the proposal. Http://www.scouting.org/. The organization apparently believes that gay scouts will mature into predators and abusers notwithstanding years of immersion in the BSA’s character-building programs.

Since no credible evidence exists to support the theory that gay adults are predators as a result of their sexual orientation, the policy is blatantly homophobic and discriminatory. The BSA’s own experience provides some proof of the inaccuracy of this theory. As Kinsey told us, from the founding of the BSA on February 8, 1910, some percentage of youth participants (now over 2.7 million) and adult volunteers (now over 1 million) were and are gay whether or not the BSA permitted their participation. Consequently, for over a century the BSA’s gay adult volunteers at the very least have met the organization’s requirements and functioned in accordance with its stated policies.

By requiring tolerance with respect to only a portion of the gay population, BSA takes a morally incoherent position that cannot withstand logic. Such an indefensible position, however, is not new to the BSA. Until the late 1940’s, rather than prohibiting racial segregation in scouting, the BSA required segregation for those African American boys living in states having segregated schools. As a result, in those jurisdictions the BSA mandated “colored only” troops having facilities and programs inferior to those of their white counterparts and whose African American boys were often not allowed to wear scout uniforms.  Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Boy_Scouts_of_America and http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/african-americans-boy-scout-movement.

Intolerance and discrimination are not “ethical” or a “lifetime value” in America. It is time for the BSA leadership to get in step with the reality of their organization. Homosexual and heterosexual men have been teaching and training homosexual and heterosexual boys since the day the BSA was founded, and will continue to do so whether or not its leadership finally does what is right.

See, http://wapo.st/14z1rdn and http://www.kansascity.com/2013/04/22/4196737/boy-scouts-latest-misstep.html

Photo courtesy of: http://www.glaad.org/blog/president-obama-announces-opposition-boy-scouts-ban-gay-scouts-and-scout-leaders

Intolerance in the name of God has been around for centuries. For example, between 1095 and 1291 and then to a lesser extent for the next three centuries, intensely pious and fanatical Roman Catholics, led by their Popes and with the cross as their standard, fought “Just” and “Holy” wars throughout Europe and the Middle East.  While forcefully converting whole nations to the Roman Catholic church, they killed, looted, tortured and raped Muslims, Jews, believers in the Eastern Orthodox religions and other “heretics” and pagans (believers in pre-Christian religions), throwing a significant portion of the world into the Dark Ages.  Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades and http://wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christian_thought_on_persecution_and_tolerance.

Today, from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania, Muslim fanatics emulate their crusading forebears. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has described their murder and torture as a “bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.” Http://thebea.st/11KT9YQ. We see the violence born of intolerance  in the vigilantism of radical Muslims attempting to establish Sharia in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that “some of the greatest dangers to [Nigeria’s] democracy and freedom are shrouded in the perils of ethnicity and religious intolerance.” http://bit.ly/17VgzkK.  We see the violence born of intolerance in the Sunni Muslim government’s decades-long persecution of Sudanese Christians, culminating in the genocide at Darfur.

Although violent religious intolerance occurs for a variety of historical, political and cultural reasons, monotheistic teachings seem to play a role. The concept of the all-powerful, omniscient and omnipresent One True God means, for the fundamentalists, that all gods other than their god are false, that all holy books other than their holy book are bogus, and that all believers in religions other than their religion are damned for eternity. For the fanatical fundamentalists, it is one short step to the principle that only they, who follow the One True God, are moral, good, righteous and holy enough to inflict His vengeance on all believers in the “other”.  Seehttp://bit.ly/17KsGOw,   http://www.humanreligions.info/fundamentalism.html and http://www.humanreligions.info/violence_and_crime.html.

It is impossible to know with any certainty what Allah would think about the death and mayhem being committed in His name. From just two of the lessons of Muhammad, we can, however, make an educated guess. He taught that “the greatest crimes are to … murder your own species” and  “if people do you good, you will do good to them; and if they oppress you, you will not oppress them.” Fanatical believers have yet to learn some of the most basic lessons of the Prophet.

crusadesmainpic

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/RiseofIslam/Crusades.html

Photograph of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni ...

Photograph of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being prepared for the execution by hanging. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although we have made great strides recently, America still has a long way to go before gays and lesbians have full civil rights. Yet, we are one of the more tolerant countries in the world. While we debate whether gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, in over 70 countries homosexuality is a crime. It’s a capital offense in seven of those 70. Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, United Arab Emirates, and Somalia all punish homosexuality by death. One’s life is an extreme price to pay for one’s sexuality.

  • In 2005, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, two gay, Irani teenagers, were executed by hanging because of their sexuality.
  • In 2008, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh warned homosexuals to leave Gambia, “a country of believers,” within 24 hours or else suffer decapitation.
  • In 2005, Saudi Arabia sentenced more than 100 men to prison or flogging for “gay conduct.”
  • In 2005, a 50-year-old Nigerian man was stoned to death after admitting he had committed a homosexual act.
  • In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Taliban, using a tank, buried an 84-year-old man under a stone wall for engaging in homosexual acts and did the same for the same reason to three men in Kandahar.
  • In 2000, the Saudi Arabian government sentenced over 100 men to prison and floggings for attending parties with same-sex couples.
  •  In the Sudan, lesbian women have been flogged and buried to their necks and then stoned.
  • In 2011, gay activist David Kato was beaten to death in Uganda.

Http://www.ranker.com/list/7-worst-capital-punishments-for-being-_illegally_-gay/joanne, and http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/homosexual.htm

The 7 sited countries are located either in Africa or the Middle East where the Quran and the hadith (Muhammad’s words and actions) are used, many say wrongly, to support the ultimate persecution of gays and lesbians, as the will of Allah. So strong is this religious belief that it permeates the culture in each of these 7 countries as well as in other countries in the region that criminalize homosexuality, making it near impossible to change attitudes. Liberia’s President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, admitted as much, when responding to a Liberian newspaper’s demand that she uphold African values and her “African womanhood” by ceasing to seek justice for gays and lesbians. She said that to decriminalize homosexuality would be counter to cultural tradition. Http://www.dallasvoice.com/countries-homosexuality-illegal-punishable-death-10107063.html.

Government-approved atrocities against the LGBT world community are vicious and widespread, but the numbers are dwarfed by the personal, ad hoc, rampant acts of hatred against the community. Yes, America has come a long way, but America’s journey is only a miniscule part of the whole story. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized, “No one is free until everyone is free.” Americans must remain vigilant against intolerance and inequality until the LGBT community is treated fairly not only in America, but in every other country on earth. See, http://caraobrien.tumblr.com/post/409268731/homosexuality-punishable-by-death-in-7-countries, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Love Association], be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition [of marriage]”, so said Baltimore’s renowned neurosurgeon, Benjamin Carson on Fox News. Dr. Carson apologized for his “not the best choice of words,” by explaining what he meant. He said, “no group of individuals, whoever they are, whatever their belief systems, gets to change traditional definitions.” The doctor was wrong on two counts.

First, far too many people unfairly and indefensibly equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality, and then use that equation as a scare tactic to limit the rights of homosexuals. Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, has nothing to do with sexual predatory behavior. Sexual predators, whether towards children or animals, can be either homosexual or heterosexual. As we are all too well aware, a sexual predator may even have taken a vow of celibacy. There is simply no statistic that evidences sexual predatory behavior as being more prevalent in homosexuals. In fact, the statistics prove otherwise. In 1995 when homophobia was far more rampant than it is today, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse, of whom, 75% were girls. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims.

Second, although many states have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, their definition isn’t sacrosanct. Contrary to Dr. Carson’s belief, the Supreme Court is one group of individuals who can and did change the traditional definition of marriage. Not long ago a significant number of states in these United States defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman of the same race. In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional all  laws barring interracial marriage. In the time it took to write its opinion, the Court changed the traditional definition of marriage forever.

The Supreme Court based its expanded definition of marriage on the legal principle that “marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.” The Court used the word “man” to identify the beneficiary of the right of marriage. If the Court meant to limit the right to males only, then gays are surely within the benefitted group. Of course, the Court meant no such thing. Rather, the Court assured that the civil right to marry benefitted all mankind. The Court could have confirmed Dr. Carson’s traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, albeit without regard to race, but chose not to.

Dr. Carson is too smart and too old not to understand that our traditional definition of marriage was born of injustice. Over time, we change definitions to include the rights of the disenfranchised, whether, for example, they be women or African-Americans.  Our willingness to expand those benefitting from our civil rights is what makes America great and unique among the countries of the world.

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Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson. Photo courtesy of: http://www.biography.com/people/ben-carson-475422

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, in 2010. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether the government has a legal basis for denying gays and lesbians both the right to marry and the benefits of marriage.  If precedent governs the Court’s decision, the Justices will search for harm caused by same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, for those diehard marriage equality haters, there simply is none. Even the lawyers who argued the case in California admitted as much.

If there is no provable harm, then the Court will be faced with a different, more perplexing question. Can the Supreme Court uphold same-sex marriage bans and the Federal government’s discrimination against same-sex couples if a majority of the nine Justices believe same-sex marriage is morally reprehensible or homosexuality is just plain yucky? Our country is a country of laws. As such, the Justices’ religious beliefs or personal distaste should never be an adequate reason for denying civil rights. At least one Justice, Antonin Scalia, however, might disagree. He vociferously opposes same-sex marriage, and has telegraphed his moral outrage from the bench. When dissenting against the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down anti-sodomy laws, the Justice was fearful that allowing sodomy would inexorably lead to allowing same-sex marriage and would obliterate any distinction “between heterosexual and homosexual unions”. (Sodomy isn’t even the distinction the Justice believes it to be, since sodomy is practiced willingly by many heterosexual couples.) See, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/bruni-marriage-and-the-supremes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Justice Scalia is now in the minority in America. A monumental shift has occurred in just a few years.  In an ABC News/Washington Post survey, respondents favored same-sex marriage by a margin of 58% to 36%, almost an exact reversal from the respondents in a similar poll conducted seven years ago. Over 81% of young adults now support same-sex marriage.  Http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/03/18/gay-marriage-support-hits-new-high-in-post-abc-poll/ Our President is a staunch supporter when just a year ago he was not. The Republican Party, the standard-bearer of anti-gay rights, has done an about-face in only a matter of months.

If the politicians wish to remain in office, then they will support same-sex marriage, making the Court’s decision somewhat irrelevant. If the Court decides that the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, Congress can repeal it. If the Court decides a state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, the state legislature can repeal it and replace it with a marriage equality law. Same-sex marriage is here to stay, because Americans have finally stood for what is right and fair and will cause their politicians to do the same even if the Supreme Court chooses not to.

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...

Some say God promised the land to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Some say it was the British. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British-Mandate-for-Palestine-(legal-instrument). No matter the provenance, it appears that the promised land indeed overlapped – with Palestine having had claim to all of the land that is Israel and Jordan, and Israel having had claim to all of the land designated as Palestine. http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/jordan.html Given the circumstances, Bill Clinton stated the obvious, “there is no choice but … to divide this land into two states for two people” – (the Arab State of Palestine and the Jewish State of Israel). Unfortunately, intolerance perpetuated by distrust makes this logical outcome near impossible.

Over 60 years of endless fighting created generations that have only known the other nation as the “enemy”, a brutal people who cannot be trusted. Without rehashing all the reasons for this distrust, two bear mentioning.

Immediately upon the creation of Israel, the Palestinians with the aid of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries invaded Israel in the hopes of claiming the land that is Israel for Palestine. They lost, the “Cataclysm” – the exile of the Palestinians began, and the Palestinians became a people without a country as Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip and Jordan annexed the West Bank, both land masses designated as part of Palestine. From that point forward, the Palestinians with their “friends” fought the common enemy, Israel, by many means, including military attacks (both airborne and ground) across the Israeli borders. With each incursion, Israel’s distrust of the Arab world continues to grow.

In June 1967, Israel, acting on its distrust, initiated a military campaign in which Israel (a) destroyed the air forces of Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, (b) beat the Egyptian army in the Sinai Desert, (c) cleared the West Bank of Jordanian forces, and (d) captured the Golan Heights from Syria. After signing a peace treaty with Egypt, Israel returned Sinai to Egypt.  See, www.historylearningsite.co.uk/six_day_war_1967.htm.   Hoping to augment the security of its borders, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Arab world as well as some in the international community consider these actions violations of the Oslo Accords and the Fourth Geneva Convention. For the most part, the Israeli occupation continues with the establishment and expansion of settlements on Palestine designated land. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_settlement. With each expansion and creation of settlements, the Palestinians’ distrust of Israel continues to grow.

Israel requires safe borders, and Palestine requires the curtailment and dismantling of settlements – a simple enough agenda for peace. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Seehttp://nyti.ms/101c1Dn. Peace is only possible if the two-nation solution is a viable option, and the two-nation solution is only a viable option if each nation can tolerate the other’s existence. When Hamas screams, “One State, No Jews”, http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/12/10/hamas-doubles-down-on-its-one-state-no-jews-peace-plan/, and the Arab world constantly blames Israel for every evil, it’s hard to envision a Palestine that is willing to live side by side with Israel. When allegations of Israeli racism against its Arab citizens are deemed proven by, for example, the Israeli government’s introduction of a “Palestinian-only” bus line for workers entering Israel from the West Bank, Israel makes it expotentially more difficult for the Palestinian people to ever accept Israel as a neighbor. See, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/05/17194265-a-palestinian-rosa-parks-is-needed-israels-segregated-buses-spark-outrage?lite.

Both sides continue to lose when vital resources are diverted from building flourishing societies by the waging of war. As Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has asked “where does it say that Palestinians should live in squalid conditions?”  It’s time for a free, independent and prosperous Palestine and for Israel, a nation born of survivors, to exist among people who no longer vow its extinction.

English: US Registration plate as seen in 2008...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taxation without representation, a British offense explicitly cited in the Declaration of Independence, formed the basis of a slogan that fueled a revolution more than 235 years ago. The right of an Englishman to be represented in Parliament dates back to the Magna Carta in the thirteenth century and was the deemed consent by the voting public to any act of Parliament. Without that right the acts of Parliament were illegal or so the British colonists argued. See,  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/taxation+without+representation+is+tyranny and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_taxation_without_representation.

This core right of British democracy found its way into our Constitution in the form of the citizen’s right to elect voting representation in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. That right has endured for all Americans since America’s inception, except for the residents of the District of Columbia. They have no right to elect Senators and Congressmen who vote on legislation. They have been and remain disenfranchised. They have no member of Congress voting to champion their interests or assuage their grievances. See, http://dcvote.org/media/media.cfm?mediaID=4630.

Our Nation’s capital has more than 600,000 residents, a population larger than Wyoming and the 25th most populous place in the United States.

  • They pay approximately $1.6 billion a year in federal taxes – more per person than the residents of every state pay.
  • They volunteer for military service and have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country in numbers greater than 20 states.
  • D.C.’s economy is larger than the economies of 14 states.
  • Congress has the right to overturn all laws enacted by D.C.’s elected city council and all actions by its elected mayor.
  • Congress has approval rights over D.C.’s budget including the spending of local tax dollars for local purposes.
  • Like the residents of  Guam and Puerto Rico, D.C. residents have the right to elect a non-voting Representative, but unlike the residents of D.C., the residents of Puerto Rico and Guam pay no Federal taxes.
  • D.C. is the only capital of any democracy in the world where the residents have no right to vote in their country’s legislature.
  • Residents of our Nation’s capital have had no vote on momentous decisions, from the entering of every war that America has fought to the abolition of slavery in their own cityHttp://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/dc-voting-rights/why-dc-voting-rights.html.

There should be at least a good reason why the citizens of the capital of the free world are treated more like the colonists who settled this country than the citizens of the democracy those colonists died to create. Unfortunately, the reasons most often cited are all the more troubling because they are at best – political, and at worst – racist. Apparently, too many of the residents of the District of Columbia are African-American and vote Democratic, and that seems to be reason enough to punish them with second-class citizenship. See, http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/dc-voting-rights/why-dc-voting-rights.html.

In the early 1790’s when the framers of our Constitution were still alive to explain constitutional provisions, the residents of D.C. had full voting representation. Congress, enhancing its power over the District, legislated away the District’s representation in 1801 and has maintained a stranglehold over the District ever since.  http://www.fairvote.org/d-c-voting-rights. More than two centuries have passed. It’s time for Congress to give back what it took away (or at least start the process if a constitutional amendment is necessary). Alternatively, Congress should relieve the residents of the District of Columbia from all obligations to pay Federal taxes. In America, it’s wrong to have it both ways.

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