The blog has been pretty successful and also a learning experience, since there are so many elements involved in getting readers – from the subject, to the writing and pictures, and arranging it all correctly on the emailed subscriber letter, Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting and think I finally have it down, as long as I have time.
But I’m going to have less time because I’ve started freelancing for the weekly newspaper Philadelphia Gay News, or PGN as it’s known around here.
The publisher Mark Segal and I have been acquaintances for years and recently, the opportunity presented itself.
I’d really like to help with the paper’s website, epgn.com, but that will take some time. For now, I’ve been copy-editing and my first article just came out!
I’m excited about the possibilities, and to be part of a small group of journalists and technical folks whose members have changed over time, but have been putting out the publication for 43 years.
In fact, PGN has won so many awards, there isn’t enough space on the newsroom walls for them all.
We should all have problems like that!
Anyway, click here to see my first article, on today’s front page!
P.S. You’ve seen me ending blogs with, “If you appreciate what you read here, subscribe with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. Don’t rely on social media with its hacking issues and censoring like this, this and this.”
In case you haven’t checked, the first thisis an article called Facebook Flags, Censors NPR Report on Inflated Government School Shooting Statistics.
The second thisis an article called With ‘Napalm Girl,’ Facebook Humans (Not Algorithms) Struggle To Be Editor.
The third thisis an article called Did Facebook Flag the Declaration of Independence as Hate Speech?
My whole point is, it’s always better to be in control of your own content and thoughts. Facebook should be looking out for our privacy and getting rid of hate speech, including Holocaust-denial. Facebook deserves criticism including some of the latest:
Philadelphia is a great place to live. It has so much, so close-by: history, museums, sports. It’s walkable, livable, has green space. No, it didn’t get Amazon’s HQ2 and yes, it’s often overshadowed by New York and Washington. Too bad it has people in charge who don’t care about serving the public.
This goes along well with what I’ve recently written about liberalism turning so far left, it’s often becoming extremism. (See here, here, here and here.) Of course, Philadelphia is more to the left than the nation as a whole. Let’s see how much.
“The center has 35,000 clients and an annual budget of $16.5 million, $6 million of which is comprised of federal grants. The balance comes from revenue generated through the health center and private-development funding.”
In other words, the nonprofit gets government money and asks for donations, since it can’t come close to surviving by simply charging its clients or patients fees. This affects all of us.
“Thanks to a newly created HIV-prevention funding opportunity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mazzoni Center will receive $337,248 annually over the next five years to help continue three of our key intervention projects: HIV counseling, testing and referral services for MSM of color, for which we collaborate with GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative); comprehensive risk-counseling services for HIV-positive or high-risk men to cut down on the risk of future transmission or infection; and our community-outreach program ‘Get Real.’”
“Mazzoni Center is pleased to announce it has received an award of $1.5 million through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The funds are designated to support the purchase and renovation of a Center City building at Broad and Bainbridge Streets, where the agency will relocate and consolidate its core programs and services in summer 2017. …
“The grant demonstrates the growing commitment and collaboration between the State of Pennsylvania and the LGBTQ community,”
and both of these examples of public funding happened, like so much else, under CEO Shein.
But despite so many successes over a generation, not all has been going well at Mazzoni for the past few years.
“Last year, Mazzoni Center was plagued by published reports of systemic racism, mismanagement and dysfunction. In April 2017, Robert Winn resigned as medical director amid charges of sexual misconduct. CEO Nurit Shein was asked by the board of directors to resign later that month, following accusations of delayed action on Winn’s alleged misconduct.”
“Stephen Glassman stepped in to fill the interim CEO job in July 2017. During his tenure until March, he hired consultants with far-right ties to discourage employees from unionizing, which sparked another controversy. Last September, Mazzoni Center employees nevertheless voted 51-34 to unionize.”
Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino was hired as Mazzoni’s third CEO in less than two years – moving up here from Florida – but she recently resigned after just seven months. It wasn’t due to the heat, weather-wise. The former Floridian was probably used to our mostly warm weather during her short tenure.
“At the time her hiring was announced in March, she was attacked on social media by Mazzoni Center employees and others demanding her resignation, at least partly due to her non-LGBT status.
“The Black and Brown Workers Cooperative (BBWC), who say they represent nearly 400 workers in Philadelphia, told PGN in a statement in early April, just days after Gonzalez Sciarrino took over as CEO: ‘The days of people who are not from our communities coming in to take up a considerable amount of power in our communities is over,’ said BBWC cofounder Shani Akilah. ‘A white, straight cis woman is not fit to lead Mazzoni, no matter how much experience she claims to have,’ said Akilah. ‘The one thing she does not have and will never be able to have is lived experience.’”
Can you believe that?
Such an outrageous statement about an accomplished woman who the board of directors chose to lead their troubled agency after a long search!
Talk about discrimination, and it happened this year – not just in America, but inThe Birthplace of America!
“The move follows a series of social-media postings on Sloan’s personal Facebook page since the announcement of CEO Lydia Gonzalez-Sciarrino’s resignation earlier this week. In one public post on Monday, Sloan wrote: ‘This is what happens when you cross me. HAPPY MONDAY BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! #WEWILLNOTLGBTQUIET’ over a shared article of PGN’s coverage of the CEO’s resignation.
“A commenter questioned whether Sloan should be congratulated, to which she replied: ‘Congratulations is absolutely the word. THANK YOU … IM [sic] SO HAPPYYYY.’
“In another, Sloan shared a second article written about Gonzalez Sciarrino resigning with the hashtags ‘WeWillNotLGBTQuiet’ and ‘#Bih,’ internet slang for bitch.’
“As she left the building on Thursday, witnesses told PGN Sloan shouted out: ‘I got fired by y’all — tell your friends.’
“Shortly thereafter, she wrote on her Facebook page, ‘They went and fired me for no reason get ready to raise hell everybody.’”
Makes me wonder what kind of people work at Mazzoni!
“Amber Hikes, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, had opinions on the resignation of its executive director, Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino, and posted those opinions on social media.
“When we called her for a clarification and asked whether she was representing her own views or the views in her capacity as a representative for the mayor, she stated: ‘This is a trip. It’s weird that it’s a slow day at PGN, especially with everything going on, but I’ll give you a quote to explain what’s going on.’”
That PGN editorial concluded, “The issue boils down to whether a non-LGBT person can run an organization that serves primarily LGBT people,” and the newspaper has spoken out against discrimination like that before.
In this particular case, it wondered based on Hikes’ social media posts, “Is her view personal or administration policy?”
That’s the question I – as a Philadelphia citizen – wanted answered. I even asked about public officials using their own social media accounts while supposedly working for the public, developing policy for the mayor.
Remember the name Amber Hikes, because this post is mostly about her. Shortly, you’ll read the Facebook faceoff we engaged in, and the letter she asked me to send – containing a bunch of questions – she never bothered to answer. You’ll also see several of her tweets containing profanities, and how her support of certain people – and disregard of others – are a prime example of the left gone too far.
Therefore, she works for the city but you’ll find no brotherly love coming from her (except for her boss, the mayor) and little sisterly affection.
Hikes had lived in Philadelphia for more than a decade but moved to California more than a year before her appointment at City Hall. That’s when she told PGN,
“‘When I arrived in Philadelphia about 11 years ago, I was a young, black queer woman seeking people who looked like me who loved like me and frankly, the next decade of my life, [I was] just living, studying, working and trying to build that community that I was seeking,’ Hikes said. ‘I noticed these multiple identities that were reflected in the intersections of so many of our underserved citizens.’”
And apparently those are the only people Hikes cares about.
For example, on Aug. 20, Gonzalez Sciarrino fired Kay Martinez, who was Mazzoni Center’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. That caused an estimated 50 people to walk out to protest the firing. Among those protesters was no other than Amber Hikes, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs. I’ll get into the contradiction shortly.
“‘The reason for Kay Martinez’s termination was disagreement with the Mazzoni Center management team that resulted in unprofessional conduct that was inconsistent for someone in their role,’ according to Mazzoni’s written statement. ‘We believe the facts, when communicated in the appropriate forum, will be obvious proof that we could not continue the employment of Martinez, a high-level director.’”
“Gonzalez-Sciarrino took on an ally role once she became the leader of an LGBTQ organization. There needs to be a demonstration of a high level of LGBTQ competency, no matter who it is,” said Martinez. “I’m not saying this heterosexual, cisgendered Latina person has no business being there — it’s about her level of LGBTQ competency. I had to educate the CEO on what my pronouns were and how to properly use the they/them pronouns, and that displayed a very significant trans incompetency.”
I wasn’t there, don’t know what really happened and have not heard about a resolution. Besides, most of us use he/him pronouns for someone who looks male, and she/her for someone who looks female. With so much diversity in the LGBTQI+ community, how could someone look at someone else and automatically know which pronouns they prefer? Even Harry Houdini wouldn’t be able to get out of that one!
“Right before presstime, Hikes did clarify that the statements are ‘on my personal Facebook so yes, I’m speaking personally.’”
Of course, I got interested and looked at her Facebook page. That was last Tuesday, Nov. 20. This is what I found:
So at least one of her Facebook friends, apparently not from Philadelphia, was very interested in Gonzalez Sciarrino’s three replacements, and wanted to make sure at least one was of what she considered the proper race, and trans, rather than cis.
Remember, the Mazzoni Center survives on public, taxpayer money – plus the generosity of some individual members of the public. Tens of thousands of people’s health, and other people’s jobs, depend on the place running smoothly. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money and a huge shame after so many people worked for so long, so Mazzoni could offer groundbreaking programs.
See that Facebook friend’s response before my question, which I decided should be about a large group of individuals never once mentioned in the resignation matter: men!
You can see I was attacked and also who her Facebook friends are by the number of thumbs-up quickly praising her for acting strong and attacking me. (Who your friends are tells a lot about you.) But I thought this public servant was out of line and didn’t give up, explaining myself further, using her tone against her, and then mentioning the mayor.
My letter makes a good point about her sentence starting with “Yes my boss.” So before going to bed, she made a more disgraceful assumptions and remarks, but invited me to send an email to her office, which I did.
(It appears since then, Hikes made her personal Facebook account private, and after that shut it down. Good move for somebody who was documented as having injected herself into multiple firestorms on social media!)
I spent the next morning crafting this exact letter to Hikes, emailed it midday, and cc’ed Mayor Kenney, whom Hikes spoke for and answers to:
Hi, Ms. Hikes! I’m a citizen of Philadelphia, on and off for 20 years on Thanksgiving (tomorrow, by coincidence).
You’ll no doubt remember last night, I wrote, asking you a question. I had just finishing reading PGN‘s latest article on the saga of the Mazzoni Center, and you said to “Feel free to shoot an email … with your grievances.”
Here it is.
I don’t expect detailed answers to every question I’m putting forth here, but would appreciate general explanations about some of the things you’ve said, and some of the ways I feel.
· “lived experience” qualifies a leader for an organization that deals with marginalized communities.
· “I think that personal, lived experience with those communities is essential to be able to serve them appropriately” … “In the same way that I think it is appropriate for a black person to lead Black Lives Matter, it is appropriate for a woman to lead the National Organization of Women, I think it’s appropriate for an LGBT person to lead an LGBTQ center.”
Actually, while proofreading before publishing this post, I realized she must’ve meant the The National Organization for Women, not of Women, and she should know better.
I also just realized the NAACP was formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor – not a black organization – to advance justice for African-Americans.
Seems I know more than Ms. Hikes on some aspects of women and African-Americans! It also disproves her last point. But as you may have imagined, there’s plenty more…
That first statement leads me to wonder what qualifications the leader of an organization that deals with marginalized communities should have? If “lived experience” is a requirement, then are there others? If not, then how does “lived experience” qualify compared to other qualifications? Could it simply be a tie-breaker?
That second statement, dealing with demographics, leads me to wonder, “Do you think it was appropriate for President Obama to lead (what was) a majority white nation?” Also, do you feel that’s OK when it comes to labor laws?
That statement sounds to me like something President Trump would say to the media, not “the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia,” as it says in your biography (https://www.phila.gov/departments/office-of-lgbt-affairs/). Would you mind sharing what else was going on the day PGN contacted you? (I’ll be happy to help clear things up with them by forwarding your answer, if you’d like.)
(I don’t agree with PGN’s opinion 100 percent and don’t think anybody in the world can, since it tries to give opposing points of view and make us think. I would suggest a few changes to the newspaper but will not question its original reporting. As for any agenda, after decades as a reader, I will suggest it’s the betterment of the LGBTQI+ community in every way, in Philadelphia and around the world. I take that to mean equality and peace.)
Your use of personal social media while serving the public made news, and it was also news to me that it had made news before. (Editorial: “She injected herself into this latest firestorm, as she has with others on social media.”) Therefore, I became curious.
Also, you chose to have your Facebook account’s privacy setting open to the public (or did not pay attention) which has apparently led to some news and definitely led me to read, which was my right. This morning, I saw that setting had changed and I’m sure you understand the consequences of libel, should that be the case, considering your response to me last night. You know what’s on the Internet tends to stay there. You should also know I always jealously protect my good name, with legal counsel on hand for a situation exactly two weeks ago (Nov. 7). I’ll ask you to make sure any defamatory reference to me on your Facebook timeline is gone, after you respond to me.
I don’t think you treated my questions, and definitely my point, fairly. I was intrigued when I read this comment to your post on Mazzoni, and the probing answers and replies that followed.
When I saw the response that followed, from somebody whose Facebook profile says she is “based in Washington DC and California” rather than any mention of Philadelphia, and considering how you answered her, I decided to ask you about this story making news.
I decided to use gender as the basis of my question, because it had not been brought up, and because PGN reported in its news article, “The three new leaders are Medical Director Dr. Nancy Brisbon, Care Services Director Alicia Manley and Chief Financial Officer Racquel Assaye” – all women.
I even called out my own questions as among the “knit-picking” ones! I wanted to make a point.
Let’s say your response to me was different than above, not so nice, and falsely accusatory.
I’ll point out, right off the bat, your response to me was absolutely rude. You tried to make it clear you don’t work for Mazzoni, using emojis between every word. Of course not. You’re “the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia.”
Then, you used the phrases “is exactly what we need” and “is moving us in that direction.” Does that sound like a politician with an interest in the center, or something more that may cross a line? It definitely makes your relationship sound different than your first sentence (“I don’t work for Mazzoni,” emoji, emoji, emoji).
But you were one of the people who “participated in a walk-out to protest the firing” (according to the PGN article) of Mazzoni Center’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. How could you walk out if you don’t work there, and how could you protest as a city official? I don’t get it, either way.
If you say you were simply standing by the non-management workers there, please realize I’ve been a member of two unions and shop steward at one. I have absolutely no problems with unions, and in fact encourage workers to unionize. Collective bargaining is probably the only way for them to have a voice in working conditions and we are lucky Pennsylvania has not turned the way of Michigan under previous gubernatorial leadership here.
However, the treatment of the patients is the reason Mazzoni exists, and the reason members of the public donate money to keep it running and more. I completely understand the workers walking out if they were ordered to do something morally wrong or illegal. (I chose to leave one job under similar circumstances.) Otherwise, they were probably putting their jobs and even the treatment of their patients on the line.
You also accused me of being sexist, but that is not true in any way. There are women I turn to as mentors for advice, including whether I could be considered one for something I said, did, or believed. Again, I was simply adding one more facet of humanity to the discussion that had not been mentioned: gender. If instead, I had mentioned religion, age or national origin, would you have accused me of “ageist nonsense” and the like?
I don’t know the three Mazzoni leaders’ religions, ages or national origins, and unlike so many others, I’m not asking. It should really be nobody’s concern (except possibly for government employment forms), unless the people involved choose to share that information. Anything else sounds like a quota system and that’s wrong, whether it’s aiming for a number higher or lower than the current number – especially on employment issues where there may be legal concerns and you represent the city of Philadelphia.
Right now, I’m doing as you suggested and emailing you with the address you gave. If you didn’t notice on top, I’m also taking this moment to make sure you know this email is not private since I’m cc’ing your boss, Mayor Jim Kenney, because you called All Lives Matter (a phrase I never used) “nonsense.”
Thanks, but I don’t need you to put words in my mouth.
Mr. Mayor, Would you agree it’s “nonsense” that All Lives Matter, realizing I never brought up that phrase to Ms. Hikes?
Also, should your appointee be answering a constituent as a “black, queer woman” or as a public servant? If you do think she answered appropriately, then do you answer constituents as a “straight white male of Irish descent?”
Ms. Hikes, considering your statement it’s “nonsense” that All Lives Matter, please put in order the amount that these people’s lives matter (in general, not a specific person, and feel free to add any I may have forgotten, or combine any):
I don’t know about you but I think there is too much division in this country, and a lot of it comes from people treating their fellow Americans as less than them. But on the other hand, others like the ones you responded to cling to very, very specific classifications – and caused me to write.
Right now, our country is divided over so many personal issues. I think concentrating on very, very specific classifications for a job (or three specific jobs) – three of the four (Black, Latina, trans and woman) written by your Facebook friend in the comment, and brown written by you in your first reply to that person – adds to the divisiveness.
The LGBT community is already a minority of the population. Labeling more and more differences separates us, and makes us a tiny minority of a minority of the population. How many people will qualify if you add in religion, age and national origin (oh, and “lived experience”)?
All people are created in the image of God, and automatically entitled to equal human and civil rights. That should be practiced by everyone including the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, your biography on your city office’s website https://www.phila.gov/departments/office-of-lgbt-affairs/ says you set your “sights on fighting and advocating for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community—specifically youth, transgender people, and people of color.” I take that to mean not the LGBT community as in your city office’s title, but only certain subsets. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Then, a few paragraphs later: “Hikes believes in employing an intersectional lens in all aspects of community work.” Does that mean filtering people and deciding how worthy they are of the city’s help, using the words from your Facebook post above?
Remember, the top of the page which sounds like a job description reads, “City of Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs: Serving the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia through advocacy and inclusion.” I take that to mean the city’s goal for the office. “The LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia,” from the city, sounds quite different than your quote, “most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community.” Again, correct me if I’m wrong with this distinction.
And does the city’s use of the word “inclusion” regarding the office you lead refer to all elements of the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia or just the ones mentioned in your biography?
You know none of us chose the circumstances in which we were born, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I spent years teaching that quote to elementary schoolchildren. I think that concise quote best describes what all of us should want for the future of the world, and these days can go beyond “the color of their skin.”
We, collectively, have vastly different experiences. Much of it is due, as I said, to the fact none of us chose the circumstances in which we were born. But then to read what you wrote last night, “that we need to see more black and brown trans women in leadership in our organizations,” has me questioning your devotion to all members of the LGBTQI+ community in your role as “executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia … serving the LGBTQ residents of Philadelphia through advocacy and inclusion.”
As a city resident, homeowner, and taxpayer – as well as member of the LGBTQI+ community – I want to know how you represent me.
Am I wrong for asking?
Also, do you feel the demographic issue taking such a major role in the Mazzoni saga is turning moderates such as myself to the right, which would probably be the last thing you want politically?
Thank you in advance for your more thoughtful answers this time around.
I hope you thought the letter was well-written, informative and asked good questions. I don’t know whether Mayor Jim Kenney or his hand-picked executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, Amber Hikes, feel that way.
“There was a very vocal need for someone to be more outward-facing and more community-engagement-based.”
So Tuesday, I forwarded them this second email:
Ms. Hikes and Mr. Mayor,
Tomorrow will be one week since I wrote to both of you and I have not received any sort of answer, much less acknowledgement, to my questions and concerns from either of you.
Public servants need to be available to be effective, kind of like journalists. I’ve been one of those for a couple of decades.
Furthermore, I’m wondering if I’m the first person to ask you these questions because if not, then you could’ve probably given me canned answers you’ve already given others.
I plan to blog on this disgrace (at least so far) so thousands around the world know what I consider the craziness and favoritism that goes on in Philadelphia, and how my inquiry has been ignored (so far). It’s all unfortunate.
I’ll include your entire, unedited answers in my post tomorrow, especially from Ms. Hikes, who had time to immediately respond to her personal-but-public (but last I checked, private) Facebook account at odd hours last Tuesday, Nov. 20. I’ll also include my letter.
Please inform me. That shouldn’t be too hard for decision-makers with your titles and powers in such a big city, right? Even Gmail “nudged” me to follow-up, as if I needed to be reminded.
Philadelphia citizen and taxpayer
I’m ashamed of the politics that goes on in this great city and sometimes ask myself why I don’t move just over the line, where there is no city wage tax that takes more money from paychecks than the state’s income tax does. Productive people don’t seem to be valued.
As for the Mazzoni Center, its volunteer board of directors is about to become a whole lot different. Five of the 17 will resign. According to PGN, the reason is lack of enough diversity among a board with this membership: “Five are women, six are people of color and eight are white men.”
Board president Chris Pope told the paper,
“Many of our legacy board members have served for 13 years, and now it’s time to make space for new faces, new voices and new perspectives. Diversifying our board has been a major focus for some time now and we are looking for prospective candidates that will bring a fresh outlook as we move the organization forward.”
We’ve been through Facebook. Yesterday, I wondered if Ms. Hikes had a Twitter account, and boy does she!
These were all her personal tweets. None of them were retweeted from somebody else. I’m going in chronological order, starting just over a year ago, and any underlining in red is mine. I chose words I think she should not have used, or used in the way she did. It’s unbecoming for someone in her role. At least I think so.
“officially added black and brown stripes atop the city’s pride flag — making Philadelphia the first city to do so — to recognize people of color who had long felt excluded. … Hikes views the new flag as a way to start conversations about race and identity, particularly with white people who have not experienced the same disparate treatment as people of color — and may be reluctant to believe it exists.”
Talk about pettiness and simple-minded people separating themselves from others when they’re supposed to be coming together, uniting as one!
“found widespread reports of racial tension and discrimination in the neighborhood (the Gayborhood), which often touts its inclusivity. … The report noted that dress codes, ID policies, bar service and treatment of staff can vary depending on the patron or employee, which perpetuates discrimination.”
Because of that, it forced 11 bars and two nonprofits – the Mazzoni Center and Philadelphia FIGHT – to take part in fair business practice training within 90 days and implicit bias training within 120 days. Did places frequented mostly by straight people face the same requirements? Do you think those establishments, including neighboring ones, are any better?
“He was shocked to see the organization named in the report. He said he was skeptical about the thoroughness of the vetting process.
“‘Philadelphia FIGHT is probably one of the most diverse organizations in the city,’ Goode said. He called the organization’s CEO, Jane Shull, a champion of equality in the workplace. ‘I do not believe anyone could write that who investigated, who read the personnel plan, who knew what they were talking about.’”
So citizens of Philadelphia: Do you think there is any more to this woman than vulgarity, divisiveness and unresponsiveness? Is this appropriate from one of our city leaders? Should Hikes be sent her walking papers?
“a 23-member body that will advise the Mayor on policies that support the lives of LGBT individuals in the city and support and amplify the work of the Office of LGBT Affairs. … The members reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, which includes transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer communities, as well as diversity in ethnicity, religion, race, gender, disability, profession, citizenship status, socioeconomic status, geography, housing status and age.”
Hikes, still the newly-appointed LGBT Affairs executive director back then, said,
“I look forward to serving with this vibrant team as we address the needs of our community and elevate the voices of our most underserved community members.”
“G Philly was sent documentation from the meeting that raised concerns surrounding Cooks’s social media interactions with members of one of the commission’s committees.
“‘The emergency meeting was basically centered around complaints that Commissioner Amanda Dougherty made about Sharron targeting her in various social media posts she made this past weekend,’ said a commissioner present during the meeting who asked not to be named. ‘Dougherty provided the commission with multiple screenshots of Facebook posts where Sharron indirectly called her out for being a white bisexual woman taking up space in the community affairs committee.’”
Sounds too much like Amber Hikes with social media. And President Trump.
Like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, there has to be another revolutionary change in leaders here in Philadelphia. Click here for directions on registering to vote.
If you like what you read here, subscribe with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. Don’t rely on social media with its hacking issues and censoring like this, this and this. I’m also available for writing/web contract work. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennycohen
I don’t remember a seven-day period like the time since last Saturday. That’s when I woke up, turned on the TV, and saw what was happening in Pittsburgh. I got very angry and couldn’t stand to hear anything about it after two hours.
It took until Wednesday for the anger to turn to sadness. I had my class and other chores to keep me occupied, along with a lot of sleep. (I can never get enough of that.)
Only Thursday, did I watch a local newscast. I haven’t seen national news or cable in a week. I mostly got information from your comments and posts on Facebook. I know it’s not good, but I have reliable friends whose politics I know.
Here he was on Tuesday, talking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
Later, he wrote,
“Such a horrible few days here. At least the media is giving us an opportunity to talk about the important work that JFCS does to help the community recover.”
Terrific job by Jordan and also the media.
So we don’t forget, the victims were
Joyce Fienberg, 75;
Richard Gottfried, 65;
Rose Mallinger, 97;
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66;
Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and his brother
David Rosenthal, 54;
Bernice Simon, 84, and her husband
Sylvan Simon, 87, who were married in the same synagogue in 1956;
Daniel Stein, 71;
Melvin Wax, 88; and
Irving Younger, 69.
JFCS’ website says you can support the injured victims of terror and loved ones of the deceased. Click here to help by credit card or mail a check, payable to Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh – Fund for Victims of Terror, to:
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
234 McKee Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Monday morning, I didn’t want to watch news from Pittsburgh. I got up earlier than usual and turned on a show I never do: one I figured would focus on politics alone. And they did. And it reconfirmed why I don’t watch.
I’ve grown up hearing, “Be safe on the campaign trail” – and generic stuff like that, which anyone should agree on – but nothing that would cause a viewer to think a supposed journalist has an opinion on a candidate for any office.
About Lou Dobbs: First, he puts his positions in the ring and openly takes sides. Second, I normally wouldn’t ask, but after what you just read and heard, are there any psychologists or psychiatrists – professional or amateur – who want to give opinions in the comments section at the bottom?
I should say I’m not for anyone deciding they want to enter this country whenever and wherever they want. Every country needs secure borders, and not like the Communists kept people in. These people from Central America, who I showed Paul Krugman calling “unarmed desperate migrants” last time, are apparently walking all the way through Mexico – bottom to top – set on entering the U.S. I don’t know who they are; just supposedly where they’re from.
But I would suggest “real refugees” would go anywhere they could go if they were so desperate. I have relatives I never got to meet who would’ve done that, just less than 80 years ago. There are other countries around, and groups trying to make a point do not seem legitimate to me.
Individuals hoping to apply for asylum may not be doing themselves a favor by being part of that.
Sept. 10: Alan Dershowitz: Why did Bill Clinton share the stage with Louis Farrakhan? (At Aretha Franklin’s funeral, along with Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson and MSNBC’s Al “diamond dealers” Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton used that phrase about Jews in his eulogy of Gavin Cato, 7, killed in the 1991 Crown Heights car accident. He also said, “It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights.” A banner displayed at the funeral read “Hitler did not do the job.” Riots followed and may have been the reason Rudy Giuliani beat Mayor David Dinkins in his bid for reelection. Giuliani said,
“You can use whatever word you want, but in fact for three days people were beaten up, people were sent to the hospital because they were Jewish. There’s no question that not enough was done about it by the city of New York. One definition of pogrom is violence where the state doesn’t do enough to prevent it.”
According to Wikipedia,
“Use of the word was rejected by Dinkins and his supporters, primarily on the basis that a pogrom needs to be state-sponsored.”
Brandeis University historian Edward S. Shapiro later called the riot “the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history.” Unfortunately, it seems that has now changed.)
“Haaretz’s inexplicable inclusion of Sarsour’s condemnation of the synagogue massacre alongside those of Israeli leaders is puzzling. Moreover, the paper’s failure to note Sarsour’s bear hug of (Louis) Farrakhan, ‘the pied-piper of hate,’ is downright reprehensible, and gives a false hechsher (kosher stamp) to a purveyor of anti-Semitism.”
These tweets are still up:
What is happening in our country?? Holding our Jewish communities all over the country but especially in Pittsburgh in our hearts. We are in this together. We have to be. We must protect each other. https://t.co/YMfsoxiIhr
Whomever did this is a monster. Our places of worship should be sanctuaries. We should all be free and safe to practice our faith in this country without fear of being targeted. https://t.co/w2zbYz7oaN
“supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and tweeting that ‘nothing is creepier than Zionism.’ Unsurprisingly, she supports a one-state solution: all Palestine, no Israel.”
The point of the article was that
“When a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was vandalized, Sarsour spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign with other Muslim activists to repair the damage. More than $125,000 was raised – more than necessary for the project – and Sarsour committed to donating the excess funds to other Jewish sites damaged by vandalism. Sarsour said that the project was intended ‘send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America.’”
But at the same time, Sarsour
“declared that feminism and Zionism are incompatible.
“‘You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it,’ Sarsour said in an interview with The Nation.
“This came as quite a surprise to thousands of Zionist feminists. (And, of course, Sarsour singles out the country in the Middle East that has female ministers of Parliament, equal rights and reproductive rights, rather than any countries where ‘honor killings’ are overlooked, rape victims are executed for ‘adultery,’ and women can’t go out unsupervised or drive, but whatever.)”
The author compared Sarsour to a character in the Purim holiday story who switched sides, from evil to supportive, because he was an opportunist rather than an altruistic ally.
“We remember Charbonah for good because he actually switched sides. Even if it was self-serving, he came around. … Sarsour, on the other hand, is still the same. I’ll publicly thank her for fundraising to repair the desecrated cemetery – even if it was a PR stunt, it was a good thing to do.”
But she doesn’t get remembered the same way because she stayed the same person.
A few months later, the same author wrote an article in the same publication called Protest, But Protest Wisely. Sarsour played a minor role in that.
“Musician Courtney Love Cobain was in a Twitter war with Muslim activist Linda Sarsour, saying that Sarsour had raised $80,000 for the victim of an alleged Islamophobic attack that had been proven never to have occurred. According to Cobain, Sarsour had jumped all over a convenient hot-button cause, bringing her followers along for the ride, facts be damned. (The parallels to Reverend Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley case are evident.)”
In fact, Michigan’s August primary had her tweeting up a storm.
The first Palestinian American woman, first Muslim American woman IS heading to the US Congress. History has been made and will continue to be made. Thank you @RashidaTlaib for inspiring us all. #DoneWaiting#MichiganPrimaries
(“4. Palestinians keep turning down fair deals: This argument wrongly presumes that any deal that includes the sharing of stolen land with the victims of said theft could be fair. … 6. Israel has a right to exist! (His exclamation point.) This claim is a product of U.S. and Israeli hasbara, a term for propaganda.”)
And he tweeted out this:
Praying for everyone killed, hurt, or otherwise harmed in today’s synagogue shooting. Sending love, healing, and my deepest sympathy to my Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, but particularly in Pittsburgh.
Honored to have spoken at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Conference. Had a great time listening to my comrade Reverend William Barber’s prophetic call for justice. I was excited to… https://t.co/ocsCZyyv74
But he just started Aug. 31, according to his “official” Twitter feed. I know because he calls it @RoyceJOfficial.
He’s expecting to graduate from college sometime in 2020. That’s a long time away. More than a year. It shows. He has a lot to learn, like not blocking people with experience from encouraging and teaching him.
For now, he reminds of the person who wrote to the WCYB Facebook page while I was digital media manager and asked:
Just don’t go to his website. There’s something wrong, and it looks like it’s coming from the Far East.
I’m going to offer you links to other pertinent articles I’ve been collecting since even before that dreadful day, for an election post. Hopefully you’ll find an article or two that speak to you. Some have themes I discussed in the last post. Some are news and some are opinion.
Please don’t blame the messenger if there’s something you don’t like. Just let me know if you see something you think needs to be corrected IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. (In fact, if you saw this on social media or someone sent it you, PLEASE subscribe to the blog. I always update posts in the comment section – check around! – and I’m the only one commenting there.)
Aug. 26: America Soured on My Multiracial Family (When my wife and I adopted our daughter from Ethiopia in 2010, we did so full of hope. In the years since, we’ve faced ugliness that has robbed us of our optimism—and left us fearful for the future of our country.)
Oct. 27: Shaking My Faith in America (NY Times opinion piece by Howard Fineman, NBC News analyst and journalism lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, who grew up attending Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.)
Oct. 29: On a very dark day, KDKA-TV news shined with its coverage (Notice the headline didn’t say it was better than the other two local news stations. The newspaper may have gotten details because it has a partnership with this station. Still, it’s a very good look at how TV news works. I should point out Pittsburgh is the largest TV market where the Fox affiliate, which happens to be owned by Sinclair, doesn’t produce its own news. Instead, it carries a 10pm newscast produced by the competition. Also notice how the most reliable people have been at this station – or any other – for many years and have the best sources. They should be respected and valued as they age, and not get pushed out the door by cheapskate companies.)
Oct. 29: On Social Media, No Answers for Hate (Despite efforts against hateful and false content, those posts and videos are thriving. One Instagram search produced nearly 12,000 posts with the hashtag “#jewsdid911.”)
Oct. 30: Anger At Media Spreads Into Local TV (While President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media are usually centered on national outlets like CNN and The New York Times, the attitudes unleashed have filtered down to journalists on the street covering news in local communities across the country.)
Nov. 2: FNC’s Ainsley Earhardt Gets Heat for Comment On Trump And Press (The supposed journalist said President Trump is suggesting, if the press doesn’t want to be called an enemy of the people, it should report the news the way he wants it. Yeah, politicians editing the news, rather than journalists keeping tabs on the politicians!)
It looks to me he’s getting desperate, because besides rejecting free public school, he’s not sticking to his issue. He wrote less about the cost of education, more about foreign affairs, and for the first time, the state’s economy!
Yes, these are tough political times and would be even if the Pittsburgh massacre hadn’t happened. People are finding out what their supposed “friends” really think and are dropping them from Facebook. It especially hit home when friends of mine, who don’t even know each other, got personal over I post I’d written. In one case, I had to delete some uncalled for remarks on both sides.
But even I got a little touchy and had a moment I felt I had to apologize to a stranger on a mutual friend’s post, about a Florida synagogue’s invitation to a gubernatorial candidate. (So glad I don’t have to decide down there!)
Please leave your comments in the section below, and don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. Don’t rely on social media with its hacking issues and censoring like this, this and this. I’m also available for writing/web contract work. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennycohen
The “game” of politics is no fun anymore. Discussing anything having to do with it used to be educating and entertaining, and sometimes enlightening, among friends and on social media. Not anymore. These days, it’s all for the kill.
Saturday, NBC Nightly News showed skirmishes in New York and Portland, Oregon. As correspondent Matt Bradley put it,
“America’s political conversation is forgetting to use its inside voices.”
It included soundbites from former Attorney General Eric Holder (D, more here)…
and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R, more here).
And this is Wagner responding to his comments without apologizing (“I shouldn’t have said what I said”) for what he said above.
“The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
(Video and subject matter will start at 35:15 in. Then, there are follow-up questions and Sanders actually says her quote at 38:21 in.)
Twice recently, Facebook friends who don’t even know each other have gotten into personal put-downs over issues in articles I posted.
Those experiences were new to me. I felt hurt and regret they happened among friends. Both happened earlier this month.
One of the combatants when I expressed disappointment over Nikki Haley’s resignation as United Nations ambassador had fighting words, but never really made a point. Later, after a lot of back-and-forth with another friend, he removed his comments.
I think Nikki Haley was our best ambassador at the United Nations since perhaps Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Sadly, that’s going back.
Not everyone agrees with me, but at least one was able to make his point with facts, rather than name-calling.
For example, this is what Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal – no fan of Haley’s – wrote in his column, last week. (I underlined my favorite part and emailed to thank him for it as soon as I read it, especially considering his audience.)
So disagreeing peacefully – whether with words or in person – can be done, and a prominent activist proved it.
The upcoming midterms are, of course, “the most important election in our lifetime.” Ever heard that before? Kind of like “the storm of the century.” Not to be believed until it actually happens.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs, and so will more than a third of the Senate.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone voted, the better or best candidate (depending on the number running) wins, and all will be satisfied they had their say?
But unfortunately, it’s more than that.
Of course, it’s which of the parties gets (or keeps) the majority in the House and the Senate that really matters, and those damn parties – and their “machines” – just won’t shut the hell up among their members or in TV commercials.
Neither will others who campaign for politicians outside of where they live. Some are current politicians hoping to score points for advancement; former politicians hoping to stay relevant, or make money by selling books or giving speeches; and groups like political action committees, corporations, labor unions, and other associations allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to give unlimited money to campaigns in 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, lest their free speech right guaranteed by the First Amendment be compromised (as if they’re people).
A few days earlier on Facebook, I’d shown my disappointment that two senators worthy of respect felt the need to rally with a woman (Linda Sarsour) who comes as close to being the devil as any American.
THIS. New York just sent some of the most progressive candidates EVER to the State Legislature unseating corporate democrats- establishment operatives are STUNNED. We like it like that. #NYPrimaries ✊🏽🙌🏽https://t.co/pTgWnvdqO6
And making sure the world knows you’re Brooklyn-born but aligned with a group of people who can’t make peace among each other, can’t make peace with other Arabs, can’t make peace with other Muslims, and turned down every attempt by Israel to make peace. Ask most American presidents who’s responsible for the problem between the parties in the region (especially President Bill Clinton) and they’ll tell you it has been and still to this day is Palestinians who support killings and pay terrorists, and who refuse to admit Israel is the world’s one Jewish country.
Not sure how this is possible, but I am feeling extra Palestinian right now. 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸
Every one of those tweets you saw above used Sarsour’s own words. None were complete retweets. And did you know she’s on the board of the Women’s March? Most of us are in favor of equality for all. It’s a goal, but we should not be supporting this organization with money, feet, or anything else. You have to know what they’re really about.
I was working the day of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, after President Trump’s inauguration, and it disgusted me watching how Sarsour got up in front of the crowd and talked about the Middle East! I know that’s not what so many people came from so far to hear, so I urge you to be careful with who you support. Click here to see who’s in charge of that fringe group that’s trying to fit in. Don’t let it. Instead, speak up, vote and organize without having to answer for them.
FINALLY, BACK TO THE STORY: All but one person who put up an emoji or commented on my Facebook post about those senators making the mistake of being in the wrong place with the wrong people agreed with me. I was pleasantly surprised by very liberal friends who were among them! But one, a retired public defender, did not. I took down four of the more personal posts between her and someone who disagreed with her, and am not showing any comments from either Facebook post here. I hope both sides eventually thought about what the other said, like old times.
Speaking of old times, it used to be, being in the middle – an independent thinker not automatically taking sides – was a good thing. In news, we figured if we left both sides angry, we did our job fairly and kept both from abusing power.
Not anymore. It seems more and more Americans are blindly endorsing the extremes of one side or the other (which may or may not be true), and their targets are moderates who don’t agree with them 100 percent, and of course journalists.
That’s making more and more independent thinkers frustrated and shoots down some old sayings like,
“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.”
And sociographer Milton Himmelfarb’s,
“Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.”
Not being a stereotype like in previous generations can be a good thing. In this day and age, it should keep those on the extremes from saying things that are too controversial. We just have to let them know.
Please leave your comments in the section below, and don’t miss out. If you like what you read here, subscribe to CohenConnect.com with either your email address or WordPress account, and get a notice whenever I publish. Don’t rely on social media with its hacking issues and censoring like this, this and this. I’m also available for writing/web contract work. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennycohen
I got up extremely early this morning to take Pedro to work, since he didn’t get the holiday off.
Soon after getting home, I noticed my Facebook friend Mark Segal — founder, owner and publisher of the renowned Philadelphia Gay News — had posted his column from last week. I’m two weeks behind in reading.
I love and respect Mark because he’s amazing: the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) media.
That said, I’m going to bury the details. There’s a reason and it’s because this week, he came up short.
“Mark, Israel’s oppression of Palestine? Who are these people of Palestine? The ones who massacred the Jews of Hebron in 1929? The ones who refused the U.N. partition plan in 1947? The ones who support terrorism, teach hate, and have turned down every peace opportunity? The ones you failed to include in your list of so many homophobic groups of people.
Why do the gay “Palestinians” try to sneak into Israel? Freedom to be themselves, or so their own families don’t kill them? Why do most of the straight ones in Jerusalem want to stay Israeli citizens? That doesn’t sound like oppression to me.”
Then, he gave a quick response: “I’ve written time and time again all that you have stated. Point is most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
To Mark’s credit, he “liked” my response.
However, I don’t think it went far enough. That’s why I wrote back, and I’m also doing so here because I feel strongly the point is so important:
Yes, Mark. You have “written time and time again all (I) have stated.” (Your words.)
And yes, Mark. “Most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
In other words, unfortunately, most in our community are ignorant because they don’t understand the issues.
That’s a disappointment and shows your writing “time and time again” has not gotten through.
For example, take this column. You were pretty clear about most of the countries you mentioned.
However, when it came to Israel, you wrote the longest of your 10 paragraphs (159 words). You focused on “a powder keg of dispute” rather than “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” and I think that was a mistake.
Then you spent the rest of the paragraph (135 words, or 85 percent) being negative towards Israel. You condemned its current government (that allows it to be “the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East”). You said the worst thing about them is “they work in collaboration with the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” which is perfectly within its rights.
Like it or not, Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government, the Knesset (parliament) is there, and every country decides the site of its capital. This is one call President Trump got right, and former presidents for more than 20 years have not.
It is not a gay rights issue.
Then, you wasted 89 words (66 percent, which is nearly two-thirds of the paragraph) doing the job of Israel-bashers and anti-Semites (if there’s a difference) bringing up a vicious boycott that hasn’t worked, and comparing Israel to South Africa under apartheid.
You failed to clearly teach our community that does not understand the issues there is no apartheid in Israel, that Israel rescued so much of the Ethiopian Jewish population which is black and that black Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis have the same rights as everyone else. All types of Israelis get elected to the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, join the army, become beauty queens, etc.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (page 9 in link) and that great man said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
That is Israel.
That paragraph in your column — its largest — was a wasted opportunity to inform, which we both know is the point of a news organization. You did not state unequivocally that Israel is morally right as a supporter of the LGBT community, and the Palestinians are morally wrong for being homophobic — plus all the history I stated in my previous post.
Not strictly differentiating between right and wrong — and allowing the less educated, simple among us to continue to use intersectionality, and their prejudices towards Israel and the Jewish people — was a disservice. Ignoring it allowed misinformation to continue.
Mark, you are usually a terrific writer. I bought your book. You were nice enough to autograph the portion of Larry Kane’s book, Larry Kane’s Philadelphia, about you for me and also for my parents.
You’ve done a ton of creative and constant protesting for the LGBT community over five decades. You’ve traveled extensively and know better. This was not your best column.
Oh, and the anti-Israel reaction since the story was misleadingly brought up after more than two years. And how Israel is constantly being treated differently than every other country in the world. (By the way, look for the part that reads “a fair and just immigration policy in our own country.” Who knew we’d still be discussing that?)
That makes some of us very defensive.
A month earlier, there was my very first blog. Three years and four days ago, I wrote how reaction to a terror attack in France was different than terror attacks in Israel, and what it would look like with the shoe on the other foot.
(Side note: Anniversary missed. Can’t let that happen again!)
Here is some more on Dr. King and Israel, thanks to the group Stand With Us.
Click here to watch Dr. King state, “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”
Other examples of his positions on Zionism and Israel include:
— “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
— “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
— “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Dr. King, said:
— “I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.”
–“Martin … warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.”
According to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights leader and one of the 13 original Freedom Riders: “(MLK) understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and Jews … He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation … He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.”
I may be wrong, but I’m going to guess Mark is working extra hard since he’s between permanent editors for the first time in years. He definitely means well and usually does well. But notice, since I wrote so little on that, it doesn’t come across as the focus of this blog — just like “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” in the column.
Mark has put his own freedom on the line for the cause too many times to count. He knows how to take a stand. I just just wish he’d done so this time, for the issue’s importance, and that more people may be reading PGN if they’re off from work due to the holiday.
P.S. I have a positive update on my mother since Thursday’s post, after she fell in the kitchen and broke her pelvis in three places. Yesterday, she was transferred from the hospital to rehab. She’s expected to be there for physical therapy, two weeks minimum. Then, she and my fathher will need help when she returns home.