Saturday, November 28, 2015

Helping Endangered Women in Iraq

Yanar Mohammed could be living safely and quietly in Toronto.  That's the dream of so many refugees from Syria and Iraq.

But Yanar returned to Iraq to organize safe homes for women who flee honor killings, rape, forced marriage, and other evils.

Today in Iraq the 12th-century Shari'ah legal system is being enforced.

She notes that women's voices have been ignored by the UN Security Council in making decisions about Iraq.

“For me, the Islamist groups on the ground are like the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S., or the Nazis in Germany,” she said on the phone from Toronto this week.

Here are two websites related to her work:

Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq

Women on the Frontline

May her work be blessed and supported.

Pro-Life Killers

Thinking about the lives lost in Colorado Springs...

People believe that they can shout and wave signs outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and still be innocent when blood is shed at that location by a crazy man.

These people and the gunman are "pro-life."

The gunman showed his commitment to the lives of fertilized eggs by killing adults on the street and at a health clinic.

These demonstrators vent their fury and unknowingly fan the flames of violence.  

To try another metaphor, their emotions and words ferment in the brains of fringe lunatics, sometimes resulting in mayhem.

“There are protests of varying sizes outside that building probably six days a week,” said one person who was interviewed. Sometimes the protests attract as many as 200 people, but “most days there are a dozen people there,” he added.

May this clinic reopen in peace and no longer be plagued by violence.

Turning Away Refugees

It's hard to believe a Democratic in the House of Representatives, a person who once attended the same church as I, would vote against the Syrian refugees.

But it's true.  She and seven other CA Democrats voted for HR 4038, "legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States."

Julia Brownley got elected to the school board in Santa Monica, where she didn't even answer my email when I had a problem with Santa Monica High School.  In 2003 my daughter Marie had a truly dismal teacher for US History, but the school wouldn't let Marie move to another classroom.

We fought for two months until finally the Supervisor of the district met with John and me and Marie and the principal, and Marie was allowed to change to a class with a decent teacher.  Two years later the incompetent teacher's contract was not renewed.  The wheels of justice turn slowly.  

In that case, justice came about with no help from Julia Brownley, who somehow became a member of the Assembly in California and then, moving to Ventura County, was elected to the House, where she still appears to be either without compassion or more interested in getting reelected than in helping victims of the war in Syria who need to relocate to another country.  

I'm guilty of contributing $25 to her campaigns once or twice.  I'm sorry.

Philanthropist Blake Byrne feels the same regret on a larger scale; he wrote to Brownley and seven others like her, as well as to the the LA Times.

"...Reelection at the expense of the Syrian refugees is not worth reelection, " he wrote.

If you live in Thousand Oaks or anywhere in Dictrict 26, contact Julia and ask her to rethink her position on the Syrian refugees.

See also this website, which lists the 92 places where the Bible tells us to welcome the stranger/sojourner/refugee ("ger" in Hebrew).

"For the LORD your God is God of gods... who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).  

"There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you" (Exodus 12:49).

If you live in the districts of Scott Peters (San Diego), Pete Aguilar (Redlands), Ami Bera (Elk Grove), Jim Costa (Fresno), John Garamendi (Walnut Grove), Janice Hahn (Los Angeles), or Raul Ruiz (Palm Desert), please contact them and urge them to rethink their position in light of the Bible's teaching.

Strangers were not usually welcomed in Bible times.  This teaching is counter-intuitive but compassionate.  

Let's do the right thing as a nation.  We took part in the destabilization of the Middle East that has turned patriotic Syrians into refugees.

It's our duty to allow these people to resettle here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No longer "The Honorable"

Woodrow Wilson has been exposed for the racist, self-obsessed, mediocre man he was.

Thank you to Joyce Carol Oates for her historical fiction The Accursed, in which Wilson plays a major role and comes across as a pathetic narcissist.

Thank you to the students of Princeton University for protesting publicly because their School of Public and International Affairs still bears the name of this man.

Thank you to the New York Times for publishing an editorial, "The Case Against Woodrow Wilson," supporting the renaming of this school.

Oates spent nearly thirty years researching, writing, setting aside, and writing again for this fictionalized account of racists including Wilson in the early 1900s at Princton Seminary, 

As James Russell Lowell once wrote, in a poem that is now a hymn:

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

In other words, truth will out.

"Once to Every Man and Nation" on YouTube

Monday, November 23, 2015

Discarded Women

How disheartening to hear how Syrian women are tricked, coerced, and used by ISIS... and then discarded.

These three women eventually escaped to Turkey, but first they were coerced into marriages with ISIS foreigners who turned out to be suicide bombers.  

The men were not allowed to become fathers, lest they abandon their mission.  So the "wives" were not allowed to get pregnant.

One day their husbands disappeared and soon men came to inform them that they were widows.

Soon thereafter they were again coerced to marry new ISIS warriors...but these three escaped across the border into Turkey to tell their stories.

And now the US is urging Turkey to close 100 km of its border with Syria?

How will refugees escape?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bombs Don't Bring Peace

Thank you to Senator Bernie Sanders for speaking the truth about the Middle East as much of the world rushes to war.

It was the US bombing of Baghdad that destabilized the Middle East and led to the formation of the so-called Islamic State.

More bombing is not going to solve anything unless it is a unified effort planned by the United Nations.

What we need to do is assist the young immigrants and children of immigrants in Europe and the US to find meaningful lives, so they will not be desperate enough to become suicide bombers and terrorists.

Thank you to President Obama for not rushing to war in Syria in the past few years as most Republican presidents would have done.

These are Sanders' words:

I voted against the war in Iraq, and knew it was the right vote then, and most people recognize it was the right vote today. The only mission President Bush and his neo-conservative friends accomplished was to destabilize an entire region, and create the environment for al-Qaeda and ISIS to flourish.
While we must be relentless in combating terrorists who would do us harm, we cannot and should not be policeman of the world, nor bear the burden of fighting terrorism alone. The United States should be part of an international coalition, led and sustained by nations in the region that have the means to protect themselves. That is the only way to defeat ISIS and to begin the process of creating the conditions for a lasting peace in the region.”– Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cheers for RBG and Gloria Steinem

Three cheers for feminist leaders in their 80s--Gloria Steinem (b. 1934), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933), Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (b. 1932), and Letha Dawson Scanzoni (b. 1935), for starters.

Read the great interview with Gloria and Ruth, who have been friends since the 1970s.

In the 1950s, the Harvard Law School dean met with the 9 women in a class of 500 beginning law students (including RBG) and asked them, "How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?"

Gloria Steinem, meanwhile, was interviewing Saul Bellow for an article when Gay Talese, also present, commented, "Every year a pretty girl comes to New York and pretends to be a writer.  This year, it's Gloria."

"The Fights of Their Lives" is the title of this fascinating interview by Philip Galanes.  Photo by Hilary Swift, taken in RBG's private chambers at the Supreme Court.  

Here are seven striking  quotations taken from the interview:

Gloria's new memoir, My Life on the Road (Random House), prompted this interview.  See this review by Ann Friedman:

Friedman faults GS for three things: not valuing online dialogue enough, including only her professional and intellectual life in the memoir, and not explaining her current decision to focus on nesting as well as traveling.

The charge about not including her emotional and relational life is not fair.  GS has already written seven other books, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) and Doing Sixty and Seventy (2006).  When one sets out to write a memoir, one has to choose what to include and what to leave out.  The current book is already 276 pages, without her personal life.  

Is Friedman wishing the book were twice as long?  Of course the love/family vs. career conflict is a prime topic in most women's lives today, and we would like to know what suffering GS encountered in the choices she made.

However, that's not what she chose to write about.  The central metaphor of this book is the road--a life centered on travel.  Let's respect her choice--choice--and not demand discussion of the home vs. work issue that men are rarely asked about, until they decide to retire "for family reasons."

As for not explaining her decision to seek a balance between nesting and travel in her eighties, please!  The woman is 81 years old.  She has already addressed the subject of aging in her previous book, Doing Sixty and Seventy.

Perhaps Friedman's core quibble here is that GS "assures readers that we don't have to give up the journey in order to have a home, and vice versa." I will have to read the memoir to find out whether I agree that GS asks too much of women in a you-can-do-it-all-have-it-all mode.

That problem--not being able to balance work and home adequately--is the subject of the memoir I am working on.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In Memoriam: Faith Sand

Faith Annette Sand lived a life of courage as well as faith.

She served as a missionary in Brazil for fifteen years, adopting eight children while she was there.  

She had the courage to publish my pro-choice abortion book in 1994, when women's clinics were being bombed and attacked.

In the last years of her life she fought metastatic melanoma with faith and courage.
I met her through Evangelical Women's Caucus, a feminist group founded in 1974. 
Born in Minneapolis in 1939, she died on August 5, 2015.  A family gathering was held shortly after.
Her public memorial service was celebrated on November 7, 2015, at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles.
Faith attended Hampden DuBose Academy and graduated from Wheaton College in 1961.
After serving in Brazil, she returned to the US and earned an MA in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1982.
She founded Hope Publishing House, published many books and wrote three books, Travels of FaithAdventures of Faith, and Prayers of Faith.
She leaves her husband, the Reverend Albert Gleaves Cohen; two daughters from her first marriage, Heather Pidcoke-Krause and Heidi Pidcoke; and her Brazilian children.
Members of the Southwest chapter of EEWC-CFT will remember Faith for hosting their annual Epiphany party in her beautiful home for many years.
Faith and Albert supported the placement of this stained-glass portrait of St. Teresa of Avila in St. Athanasius Church at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul.