Martin Luther King Day, a victim of the (official) Women’s March

First off, yes, I may be a day late, but this is definitely not a dollar short! I wanted to make sure this post was as perfect as I could make it, like I do with all others.

Of course, it’s just a coincidence that Martin Luther King Day, which commemorates the birthday of the slain civil rights leader, happens to fall near Inauguration Day in certain years, and thus the Women’s March.

(Read through and see another coincidence. It involves an Israel-hater and what her name really means. Then tell me Gd doesn’t work in mysterious ways!)

But the calendar coincidence is now a damn shame to Dr. King’s memory.

I’ve said time and time again all decent people are for equality, and luckily there were alternatives for marchers who wanted to avoid the Women’s March and its leaders’ anti-Israel, anti-Semitism and pro-Farrakhan mentality.

I’ll add what I’ve also said and written frequently: that the far left of the Democratic Party – and the failure of its more moderate, experienced leaders to rein them in – could very well split the party and help the Republicans’ 2020 presidential nominee (Trump or not) win the election and put more justices on the Supreme Court. (Justices who don’t think transgender people should be allowed to volunteer to fight doe our country on that basis alone.) I can even see the right Republican able to pull it off by campaigning as a moderate.

Don’t forget what Will Rogers said: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Early Saturday, Linda Sarsour posted a link to this article on Facebook:2019-01-19 sarsour

 

“While the first set of Unity Principles written by members of the Women’s March steering committee, which itself included prominent Jewish leaders, focused specifically on those most vulnerable, it did not mention Jews, which raised unnecessary suspicion. White supremacy and fascism endanger all of us, but we are not all equally in danger at all times, and while some communities in the United States feel unsafe for the first time in a very long time, others, such as communities of color and immigrants, have lived with danger for this country’s entire history. Centering the most vulnerable means exactly that: focusing first on the most vulnerable, through which we all benefit. (The 2019 Unity Principles now explicitly mention Jewish women.)”

My thoughts: Afterward, I also read Latinx women and Asian/Pacific Islander women, who were also previously excluded from the list, are also now on it. Why such division?

I totally disagree about Jews not having to feel unsafe in the U.S. In 1862, in the heat of the Civil War, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant initiated the most blatant official episode of anti-Semitism in 19th-century American history. (Luckily, Pres. Abraham Lincoln overturned that, and Grant came to his senses before becoming president.) What about the KKK and Leo Frank in the early 20th century? What about Henry Ford and Father Coughlin in Detroit in the mid-20th century? What about the Holocaust in our collective memories, and all the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Holocaust deniers here in the US? And the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh in October?

Back to the article:

“Tamika Mallory … refused to ‘condemn’ Black nationalist and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for his anti-Semitic views. She has since been asked to do this over and over, irrespective of the fact that his words are not her words, she is not responsible for him, and that asking her to do so means effectively condemning her ‘family’ and community—the people who were there for her and her son after the death of her husband.”

From me: So she can’t use the magic word “condemn” for the sake of society, and obviously considers Farrakhan above the rest of us, meaning unequal. In the meantime, she’s getting asked about this over and over, taking far more time to not say it than to actually say it! Is she achieving her objective or trying to keep her 15 minutes of fame?

“In the Forward (Your racism is showing when you tear down the Women’s March), Nylah Burton, a Black Jewish woman, writes that the attacks on Mallory and other Women’s March leaders are not only based in racism but make Jews of color more vulnerable. While ‘Mallory’s public embrace of [Farrakhan] was inappropriate to begin with … the sheer amount of racism and Islamophobia that defines much of the criticism against Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian Muslim activist, Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist, has become more toxic and harmful than the actions that spurred the protests [against Trump].’”

Me again: So now we’re comparing who has been more inappropriate and when? Perhaps Sarsour, Mallory and Perez are more than they were just described. They need to personally address that supposed amount of racism and Islamophobia reserved just for them, plus if and how they made Jews of color more vulnerable. Anybody going after a woman for being a woman is the outsider!

“No form of anti-Semitism is acceptable,” writes Burton in a different Forward article, Why do Jews keep tearing down Black leaders? “But not all forms of anti-Semitism are alike. White anti-Semites are motivated by a hatred of Jews and a desire for power. Black anti-Semites are motivated by anger over gentrification, police brutality, and slavery.”

Me: Nice history lesson. Why has the Forward been giving her space? Did it lead to Thursday’s announcement it’ll be ending its print operation to “become a digitally focused publisher” after 121 years? Another sad moment for the newspaper business, but I find this example hard to mourn.

“And the entire conversation has been turned from focusing on the most vulnerable, i.e. communities of color, to focusing on the angst of white Jews.”

Maybe they should’ve just stuck to equality for women. Instead, they got off their message and supporters are STILL blaming others! (More on this from someone who knows more than me on that subject, coming up right after this next prejudiced thought.)

“Zuckerberg and Sandberg have money and power, and we allow white people with money and power, no matter who they are, to get away with things no one should and that people of color certainly can’t.”

I won’t defend Facebook but the writer of this article, some Jodi Jacobson, is off the rails.

An article Monday morning reported what happened next: “Former Women’s March leader upbraids ‘antisemite’ Linda Sarsour for posting article claiming Jews are waging war on black people.”

She’s Mercy Morganfield, the daughter of famed American blues singer-songwriter Muddy Waters. This is just some of what she posted on Facebook less than three-and-a-half hours after Sarsour on Saturday. (Language warning!)

2019-01-19 mercy morganfield

“Tamika is not the problem. Tamika is the symptom. Tamika symbolizes everything wrong and deeply problematic about second-wave feminism. A white woman’s movement. Just like the first wave feminism was a white woman’s movement in the sixties. ‘March with one of them. But March,’ was Gloria Steinem’s advice just yesterday. This rhetoric by a 1st Wave Feminist is indicative of the mentality of the March itself. Let me translate: ‘March because optics are more important than inclusivity.’

“And Tamika is providing the optics. … The other co-chairs sit back and watch while Tamika says all the incendiary things. They push her to the front and let her believe she is their leader when in reality she is their fall guy.

“And her allies outside the WM are problematic. She has other black people chasing celebrity and the limelight riding on her coattails. They don’t have her back; they are riding her back but she can’t tell the difference. They say amen and egg her on while she doubles down on ignorance and xenophobia. She is mistaking their obsequiousness for support. She cannot recognize an opportunist right now because she is so deeply mired in her own opportunism. Tamika, you in danger, gurl.”

“She is not faultless; she is thoughtless. She is hapless. She is aimless and gameless. She is riding around butt naked and everyone is admiring her beautiful clothes.

“For the past two years, issues that impact black women and girls in the U.S. have taken a backseat to issues that impact Palestinian women. Awareness of ignorant religious dogma has replaced awareness around issues impacting black women in the black community. People are now more aware of the dumb shit Farrakhan says than they are the plight of missing black girls in Chicago. This is deeply problematic.”

“The only people quicker to stab you in the back than a white woman trying to cover her white supremacy in a blanket of liberalism are the black elite who serve up their own version of white supremacy by looking down their noses at their own people. They are also using Tamika.”

… (This is my favorite part of this Morganfield post. –Lenny)

“I wouldn’t have to denounce Farrakhan because I wouldn’t have been sitting there praising him in the first place. Academic rigor is required to get an advanced degree. A part of my Master’s thesis was to research the slave trade in the United States. Jewish people were not a huge part of the slave trade, dumb asses. Yeah, I said it. Dumb, fucking, asses. There are two prominent figures floating that theory, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke. What do those two men have in common? They both peddle hate. It is their business model. I think it is brilliant that white people got black people blaming Jewish people for slavery. Fucking Brilliant!”

“So Tamika becomes the face of antisemitism, while the enablers of antisemitism don pink pussy hats and march. She becomes their warrior. In a street brawl, she once said, ‘You don’t know me, baby. I will tear your motherfucking ass up.’ Unfortunately, we do know you Tamika. You are every black person who has ever had a once in a lifetime opportunity and lost it because of hubris. You are that black person with all that damn potential who allow your ego to rule your actions. We know you, Tamika. We wanted nothing more than to see you win, I know this black woman did.”

Morganfield followed it up Sunday with this post:

2019-01-20 mercy morganfield

But back on Thursday, Morganfield – to her credit – had more strong words over this, and here are most of them:

2019-01-17 mercy morganfield on sonalee“This is what is so troubling about associations and about liberals and progressives. This shameful woman, Sonalee R.—a therapist, someone who is respectful of transgender people—somehow believes the world would be better if millions of Jewish people weren’t in it. And the head of a woman’s movement is a friend of hers. They keep showing up in photos with antisemite after antisemite but they need us to believe they don’t have these deep-seated issues about Jews. Here in the U.S., Palestine and Israel conflicts took a more prominent seat and more prominent role in what the WM chose to throw their weight behind than did: the Flint Water crisis, the missing girls in Chicago, #metoo as it affects black girls, high infant mortality rate in the black community, high incarceration rate of black families, economic empowerment for the black community, voter suppression targeted at blacks, gun violence in our community, the increasing mortality rate of black women due to disparities in medicine—Linda Sarsour made Palestine issues take precedence over all of those other issues.

“Do you know how that looks? It looks like us defending comments made that are antisemitic more than raising awareness of all of those issues I just mentioned.”

… (This is my favorite part of this Morganfield post. –Lenny)

“Linda has not pushed money and support toward Fighting the Muslim Ban—she pushed it toward Palestinians who are fighting Israel. Where was Linda, Linda’s mom or dad—when we were fighting to desegregate schools, water fountains and lunch counters in the 1960s? And she comes in and sells black women a bill of goods that she is fighting for women of color and that simply isn’t true. She is fighting for Palestinian women and God bless her, she should. I agree that she should fight for the rights of Palestinian women, but should that take precedence over black girls in the U.S.—why? Why, again?

“Black people, we have to start being more woke and questioning the status quo. Ask these four co-chairs what they did for black women this year and you will find they did nothing. You are whispering and standing up for people who’ve done NOTHING—for black women. Being a black woman and telling white women to shut up and listen to black women makes a nice sound bite but does nothing to move the needle. Especially when you are saying that over and over again to a sea of white faces who are happy to exclude all marginalized women as long as they get to march and as long as they have an outspoken black, brown and Muslim token to legitimize them. Spreading false and ignorant information about Jewish people that have black folks nodding their heads in agreement is simply peddling hate. The same way Trump peddles hate. And hate is a destructive energy not a redemptive one.

“If a white woman was featured in a picture on social media with David Duke and the message read, ‘It would have been better if black people didn’t exist.’ Would you be okay with that white woman heading the women’s movement? You would be calling for her head and you know it. But you’re okay when a brown woman does that to a Jew? Please check your hypocrisy at the door of the church. You know that place you go every Sunday and act share the love of Jesus. A Jewish man who taught the world to love. Huh? What would Jesus do? If Jews didn’t exist as this asshole in the picture hopes–who would you worship on Sundays, Boo?

“You are okay with this because they are talking about people some preacher in a church you don’t even belong to—spewed off some uneducated bullshit about Jews and you ate it up hook, line, and sinker. What the hell is wrong with you, black people? This is not who we are. If it is we might as well grab a tiki torch and flame up—we’re no better. Do you understand how destructive the energy of hate is? Do you understand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would be so ashamed of black people for supporting this while you celebrate his legacy this weekend?”

“Linda is a woman of color when it suits her—but I guarantee you this—her parents would never have allowed her to marry a Muslim of African descent. Chew on that while you are taking up for her.”

It takes a real leader to police one’s own people, and Mercy Morganfield didn’t just start this week, so thank you to her for that.

Another women’s issue is safety for journalists. I haven’t heard that mentioned. Read this story from last week, “For local female journalists in US, rape threats, stalkers, harassment can come with the beat,” from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Let that occupy the bigots’ time!

2019-01-19 sarsour ny times

Unfortunately, it’s hard to shut Sarsour up. Saturday night, she was thrilled after reading this piece from new New York Times columnist Michelle Alexander, subtitled “Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time.”

Alexander started writing about the speech Dr. King gave at New York’s Riverside Church, exactly a year before his assassination.

“Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement.

“King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, ‘I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.’ Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal’ and added, ‘that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.’

“It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.”

Another blemish among many in the New York Times’ coverage of the Middle East. (Definitely read! –Lenny)

Is she saying The New York Times never discussed article topics before hiring her last year, and how she might offer thoughts on topics different than other Times writers, and now she has gone rogue?

Alexander then launches into an attack on pretty much everything Israel with these one-sided, distorted phrases and sentences that make you wonder what a Jewish person must’ve ever done to her, and whether she had a Jewish friend in law school who wasn’t on the fringe left:

  • “Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power”
  • “Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent … because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism”
  • “compromised or discredited by smear campaigns”
  • “blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers”

“And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.”

“We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions.”

“We must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel.”

Talk about real hate! Don’t tell me Dr. King would’ve ever spoken like that. You’ll hear his “I Have a Dream” speech soon, and he didn’t use language like that – even when referring to racists in power.

I don’t know why Michelle Alexander feels the way she does and question whether her views belong in The New York Times (too many people are clicking onto the article), but you get the drift. Let her talk about this picture, especially the sign.

jews fight descrimination of negroes

Then, she mentioned Dr. King.

king brochure martin kramer
from website of historian Martin Kramer, http://martinkramer.org/sandbox/2013/01/why-martin-luther-king-never-visited-israel/, mentioned below

“King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement.

“Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, ‘I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.’

“He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.”

I’ll stop there and remind you – or teach you – the Six Day War happened because Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and mobilized its army along its border with a much-smaller Israel. The U.N. was absolutely ineffective at avoiding war by running away. (Nobody talked about the West Bank or Gaza back in those days, did they, Ms. Alexander?)

Then, Nasser induced Syria and Jordan to begin attacks on Israel by using the initially confused situation to claim that Egypt had repelled the Israeli air strike, when it really destroyed the country’s air force.

The Arabs were big losers. What happens when a country loses a war? What has happened throughout history, Ms. Alexander, and why should this case be any different?

In fact, keep reading!

Israel didn’t ask for the war, the territories, definitely not the people there, and negotiated with anyone whenever possible. Egypt and Jordan are success stories, even if not wildly successful.

Who is available today? Dictator Mahmoud Abbas with his corruption and net worth of $100 million, or Hamas terrorists? More importantly, who do Palestinians support? Do they want peace with Israel? Look the the polls.

And demanding a right of return 70 years after 1948, or even 50 years after 1967, is preposterous and isn’t coming from anybody who wants peace!

Instead, Israel is making friends all over, or reestablishing friendships. Just Sunday, Israel and Chad restored relations. (Now would be a great time for Ms. Alexander to use the word “apartheid!”) Mali’s Prime Minister will be visiting soon. We don’t even know exactly what’s happening with the Gulf states, but relations are improving.

The war happened in the beginning of June and the Arab League Summit attended by eight Arab heads of state ended less than three months later with the Khartoum Resolution on Sept. 1. It became famous for the “Three No’s” in the third paragraph: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

mlk zionists jewsWould somebody tell me how the hell Israel, wanting land for peace, could deal with that?

Until I get an answer (comment section below) – if The New York Times, Michelle Alexander, Linda Sarsour, Electronic Intifada, and the folks at the United Nations don’t get it – Dr. King really admired Israel, and there’s no better evidence than his own words.

“The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has a right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”

Here, he goes further, saying even if it wasn’t necessary, he’d speak out against anti-Semitism because it’s wrong, unjust and evil – and he’d do the same for Catholics.

In this speech, he says he knows white people who believe in justice and humanity are going to stay with the civil rights movement because it’s just and right.

Dr. King repeating some of what he said above, but I learned how much he really knew about life for Jews under the Nazis and Soviets.

This video from Christians United for Israel is to “discover the forgotten history of how the civil rights movement and Christian Zionism have united Christians and Jews to fight racism and anti-Semitism for over 50 years.”

This speaker from the IBSI – Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel teaches so much and shows how far Dr. King was ahead of his time.

Even The Young Turks (no friend of Israel) has advice for the Palestinians to get what they want, because they’ve been doing things wrong (terrorism, I suppose?), using quotes from MLK!

Finally, a longer video from Dumisani Washington, founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, speaking about Dr. King’s true pro-Israel legacy, Israel’s diverse multi-ethnic community, and the racism of BDS. (Worthy of you watching as much as you can. That goes double for Michelle Alexander!)

Now, from the My Jewish Learning article “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Trip to the Holy Land: What we can learn from MLK’s most important trip of his life”:

In Jerusalem in 1959,

“It troubled King that Jerusalem was divided, the western part controlled by Israel and the eastern part by Jordan. ‘And so this was a strange feeling to go to the ancient city of God and see the tragedies of man’s hate and his evil, which causes him to fight and live in conflict,’ he recalled.”

“The details of King’s only visit to the Holy Land, which has nearly been forgotten by history, are contained in a sermon he delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL on Easter Sunday, 1959.”

Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute lets us read and listen to it:

“I must say that when you say ‘landing in Jerusalem’ you must qualify what you are saying and tell what part of Jerusalem. That is because men have not solved their social problems, and we’re still banned because in their Jerusalem, that ancient holy city has been divided and split up and partitioned. And before you can enter one side of the city, it must be clear that you will not enter the other because one side is Jerusalem, Israel, the other side is Jerusalem, Jordan. Because of the Arab-Israeli conflict this city has been divided. And if on your visa it is revealed that you are going into any Arab nation, you can only go to Israel without being able to ever go back to an Arab country in the life of your passport; the hate is intensified. And so this was a strange feeling to go to the ancient city of God and see the tragedies of man’s hate and his evil, which causes him to fight and live in conflict. …

“This is always one of the interesting things about traveling, that you learn to know people. You meet people of all races and of all cultures, and you tend to be lifted above provincialism, and chauvinism, and what the sociologists call ethnocentrism. You come to see a unity in mankind. … I think this is the greatest education that can ever come to an individual. I think if more of our white brothers in the South had traveled a little more, many of our problems would be solved today.”

About being in Jerusalem, and when Jesus was there:

“And he entered this gate, and we walked around and through there and pretty soon, about fifty feet from the gate, we came to a spot and the guide said, ‘This is where the old temple stood, the Temple of Jerusalem.’ (Keep this in mind when someone lies to you and says there is no Jewish history in Jerusalem. Then ask them where the Muslims were at the time. –Lenny) You remember that temple fell in 70 A.D. The Roman Empire came to stop an uprising in Palestine, and they destroyed the temple. But the spot is still reserved, and there is a big stone in the middle of that point where all of the sacrifices used to take place on the altar.”

But King stayed on the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, where the Old City and Western Wall were, even though he visited Jewish holy sites that Jews were not allowed to visit. (We can’t let it go back to the way it was for those 19 years, 1948-67, under Jordan. –Lenny)

Back the My Jewish Learning article:

“He would later call the trip ‘one of the most important occasions of my life.’ …

“Prior to the Six Day War, King was an outspoken supporter of Israel, which he famously called ‘one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.’ After the war, in which Israel reunited Jerusalem and captured the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights, King expressed reservations about travelling to the country and having to defend its actions during the war. He feared doing so would alienate his supporters in Africa and the Arab world.  ‘I don’t think I could come out unscathed,’ he fretted to an adviser in a phone conversation recorded by the FBI.”

SIDEBAR: This immediately reminded me of my newspaper PGN’s editorial this week:

“Even Dr. King occasionally struggled with acceptance and tolerance issues.

“One of those struggles was when it came to Bayard Rustin. Rustin was an indispensable force behind the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was also openly gay. Many have called him King’s right-hand man.

“And, while King needed Rustin for the movement, he did not immediately embrace Rustin and his sexuality (many labeled it ‘promiscuity’ then), which at times became a liability to the movement.

“Even Dr. King succumbed to fear and a desire to keep the movement on track, and the two parted ways a few times.

“Eventually, King evolved, realized Rustin’s worth and defended him.

“If King hadn’t, the movement would most certainly have been different and likely more violent and less effective.”

mlk torah heschel
You didn’t see this in the movie Selma

BACK TO THE STORY from My Jewish Learning:

“Israel had extended several invitations to King during the 1960s to visit the Jewish state as part of a wider effort to strengthen ties with the African American community. King accepted at least two official invitations but backed out both times. He also agreed to lead an interfaith pilgrimage of 600 to Israel in November 1967, but that didn’t pan out either. He was assassinated the following year.”

Click here for many more details about what happened behind the scenes in this article Why Martin Luther King never visited Israel from historian Martin Kramer.

Click here for the full story of how Kramer solved the mystery of this quote attributed to Dr. King – “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” – even though so many don’t want to recognize it.

“Ultimately, King’s failure to step foot in the State of Israel did not diminish his legacy in the eyes of most Israelis. His leadership during the civil rights movement has inspired generations of Israeli activists, from the Mizrachi Jews (those from Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dagestan, Azerbaijan,  Iran, Uzbekistan, the Caucasus, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan but never mentioned in any right of return or compensation. –Lenny) who fought for better housing and jobs during the 1970s to the Ethiopian Israelis who, more recently, have demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv against police brutality and discrimination.  The Knesset has recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and there is a forest in the Galilee that was planted in his honor.”

mlk3
Sept. 10, 1987: Martin Luther King III plants a tree in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest during his religious pilgrimage and study mission in Israel (http://mochajuden.com/?p=4000)

That’s the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Forest in Israel’s Southern Galilee region, and the Israelis didn’t just love him. There’s also the Coretta Scott King Forest in Biriya Forest, Israel.

What’s especially interesting is that part of the forest had been destroyed over the summer of 2006 when Hezbollah in Lebanon launched Katyusha rockets into northern Israel. The terrorists from a neighboring country destroyed two million trees in the one country that had more trees at the end of the 20th century than it did at the beginning! That’s not what the Kings would’ve supported.

mlk st israel

I don’t think the Israelis would have any major problem with how the Kings would’ve thought of them today.

“One can’t help but wonder, if King were alive and visited Israel today, what would he think?

“One hint comes from Clarence B. Jones, one of King’s lawyers and closest advisors. Jones has said that he believes King would not shy away from criticizing Israel over specific policies, but that he would not stand for efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. ‘No African-American leader of national stature was more passionate, privately and publicly, in fostering a working coalition with the Jewish community and his support for the State of Israel,’ Jones said of King in 2014. …

“No doubt, King would be disappointed that peace between Israel and the Palestinians still has not been achieved. And he would likely be troubled by the poor treatment of the thousands of African refugees who were denied asylum, held in detention centers in the Negev, and are now being told to return to either their home countries or a third country by April or face jail time. (The government considers the refugees to be economic migrants who entered the country illegally.)

“But he would be amazed at the diversity of the country’s population: that Jews from Morocco live next to Jews from Yemen and India and Ethiopia and Iran and France, among other places. And he would marvel that Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, Hebrew Israelites, Samaritans, and Circassians have also found a home in Israel—a place that one day might truly be, in King’s words, ‘an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.’”

I find this pretty positive when you look at the entirety. I think my point has been made.

Just one more: Ever the scholar, one thing I learned after Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as “termites” is that Linda Sarsour’s last name means “cockroach” in Arabic.

cockroach
From Google Translate. Go ahead! Try it!

And this brings me to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, especially “the content of  their character” part. I played this video every year as a teacher – not just so my students could see and hear Dr. King, but also for its meaning, and how to properly give a speech – including speaking clearly, knowing your audience, and using inclusiveness, repetition, etc.

This is always worth a listen, for so many different reasons. So enjoy, as my students and I always have.

 

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My urge: Follow your conscience, despite the cost

Listen to this.

Ever heard anything so absurd? It’s not “Follow the Leader” because there is no leader. There are local TV news anchors. I don’t think one of them wants to be on the air reciting the crap their corporate bosses ordered them to do. Not even their managers on the job site.

But these local TV news anchors around the country, along with many others, are now reading those nonsense marketing scripts the rulers of Sinclair Broadcast Group demanded, and I’ve written about here and here. Of course, there are plenty more references to Sinclair on this blog, since they’re so awful and there’s so much to reveal.

According to yesterday’s Bloomberg, the statement takes “aim at the integrity of other U.S. media outlets.”

That left many – myself included – wondering why some of the company’s journalists with credibility didn’t just quit.

sinclair numbersSinclair owns or operates an astounding 193 TV stations around the country, in 89 cities, covering about 38 percent of the American population. It has been trying, unsuccessfully so far, to buy a smaller giant, Tribune Media. Let’s hope it stays that way until they fail.

And it seems most of the Sinclair anchors, among the highest paid employees at their stations – which isn’t saying much, depending on location – are angry over the whole thing. They don’t want to do it.

So why are they doing what they’re told, despite the fact they hate everything about it, personally and professionally? Wouldn’t you have more respect for someone who uses their conscience and just says no, regardless of the consequences?

Bloomberg reports,

“The short answer is the cost may be too steep. According to copies of two employment contracts reviewed by Bloomberg, some Sinclair employees were subject to a liquidated damages clause for leaving before the term of their agreement was up: one that requires they pay as much as 40 percent of their annual compensation to the company.”

Can you imagine?

And that right to enforce the liquidated damages clause isn’t just a scare tactic.gavel judge

Bloomberg says last Oct. 13, it sued former reporter James Beaton of WPEC-West Palm Beach, Fla., for breach of contract, asking for $5,700 in damages as well as other related costs, according to a copy of the complaint filed in state court.

He “quit in 2015 to start a public-relations firm, leaving the news industry entirely,” after being “ordered to do ‘man on the street’ interviews that he felt were politically biased.”

The company’s bias is well-known. Add breach of contract penalties and that says to me, don’t work for Sinclair!

Bloomberg followed up.

“He said Sinclair offered to settle its lawsuit three months ago for $1,700 but demanded he sign a gag order promising not to talk to the press about Sinclair. ‘I told them to go jump in a lake,’ he said.”

Good for him!

As for the damage clauses, Bloomberg cited several employment lawyers as saying they’re rare for regular employees but

“more common in the broadcast industry, specifically when dealing with on-air talent. The clause serves to protect companies from costs associated with replacing an anchor who suddenly leaves, for example. Yet at Sinclair, at least some employees who never appeared on television were still required to sign such contracts, the former employees said.”

money dollars centsOn top of “the potential financial penalty,” there are forced non-compete clauses in contracts that mean employees must sit out and cannot go to the competition. In other words, they will have to move to a whole new city if they want to collect a paycheck. Luckily, states like California, Montana, North Dakota and Oklahoma ban them for the most part. I believe Missouri did a few years back, and Utah took action over the past few weeks.

Furthermore, there is forced arbitration which means no sympathetic jury for the employee.

Typical Sinclair! No reasonable person can feel anything but resentment if they know how the company operates.

But there’s no shortage of information.

Journalists, as natural storytellers, have put Sinclair under major scrutiny by having them share the same scripted, anti-media talking points around the country.

Mediaite reports in Portland, Ore., the general manager issued an internal memo instructing his staff not to answer questions from anyone contacting them! FTVLive’s Scott Jones has a copy of the memo, which says most callers “likely haven’t actually watched and don’t have full context on (sic) due to social media, etc. I will also remind you that giving statements to the media or sharing negative information about the company can have huge implications.” Click here to see it.

So much for communications! If a Sinclair reporter wants to talk to you, then don’t talk to them. If there is negative information about the company, shouldn’t it come clean? Not in this business!

Don’t forget Sinclair is conservative not impartial like newscasts are supposed to be. President Trump appointed Ajit Pai Federal Communications Commission chairman, and he’s under investigation for improperly pushing for rule changes to benefit Sinclair Broadcasting in its attempt to acquire Tribune Media.

jared kushner hillary clinton

And, a month after the presidential election, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner said Sinclair executives worked with the campaign to spread pro-Trump messages in Sinclair newscasts. Sinclair vehemently denied that and claimed it offered equal amounts of airtime for in-depth interviews to Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, and she declined the invitation.

Yesterday, The Huffington Post reported,

“Such efforts include promoting favorable coverage of Trump’s 2016 campaign and requiring affiliates to air conservative commentaries by Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump adviser.”

Back in January, I wrote:

“In 2004, Sinclair barred the ABC affiliates it owned from airing the episode of Nightline that profiled American soldiers killed overseas. (It owns stations affiliated with all of the networks.) The same year, it tried to get its stations to carry a pre-election film that bashed presidential candidate John Kerry. (Some might even say the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech is only for station owners, not employees nor the public.)”

So you decide on Sinclair’s push to conservatism, based on what you’ve seen here, or if you live in a market where there’s a Sinclair station. By the way, that’s a whole lot of the country!

sinclair before tribune
Sinclair territory, before it buys Tribune

It also fits nicely with what President Trump tweeted about the networks yesterday:

This is what he tweeted Monday:

But KOMO-Seattle anchor Mary Nam, at a Sinclair station, took issue with the president and had the guts to call him out for calling watching “Fake News Networks” funny.

More props to another Sinclair station, WMSN in Madison, Wisc. They were dealing with record snowfall (even for them!) and an important state Supreme Court election. Sounds a lot more local, important and even life-saving than the bullshit Sinclair demanded.

And thanks again to FTV Live’s Scott Jones who found this gem from WGN-TV executive producer Jeff Hoover, whose Tribune station is technically not supposed to be bought by Sinclair, but instead by the chairman of Baltimore-based Atlantic Capital Group who’s a business partner of Sinclair executive chairman David Smith.

Oh, the price? A mere $60 million, rather than hundreds of millions for a highly-rated station in a big city like Chicago!

Who do you think will pull the strings? Same story in so many other cities where shell corporations, some almost entirely owned by the Smith family, hold the licenses that let Sinclair operate more stations than the rules allow.

Ethics? I think not. Overly controlling from the home office? Absolutely!

Yesterday afternoon, The Huffington Post reported,

“Some employees have spoken out about their frustration at having to parrot the conservative politics of their employer,” but also, “Others say they’d like to do more, but they’re wary due to what they say is Sinclair’s policy and practice of closely monitoring its employees.”

Click here for more and to read the entire Sinclair employee handbook.

The publication says,

“Labor lawyers tell HuffPost such language is common in workplace handbooks and contracts. But Sinclair employees say the company’s culture and behavior have made them particularly mindful of such policies.”

Also, “There’s a lot held over us,” a journalist at a Sinclair affiliate told HuffPost on the condition of anonymity. “They pay attention to what websites we’re on.”

Plus,

“Sinclair employees say their parent company often pays especially close attention to its affiliates’ editorial activities, meddling in how they present their stories and graphics, and sometimes going so far as to delete offensive comments on an affiliate’s online articles before that station’s own web editors have a chance to do so.”

And so many of the anchors who have to read the propaganda say they feel awful.

In Rochester, Norma Holland of WHAM-13’s Good Day Rochester wrote about her dilemma on Facebook:

“The Sinclair message you saw me and my colleagues in has damaged the trust you place in us — a trust that’s taken, me in particular, 22 years to build. That hurts. … I could have chosen to quit, but who among us has an alternate career in their back pocket ready to go? …I have a family to support. That’s not an excuse — that’s reality.”

(Full disclosure: Her boss wanted to hire me in Detroit in 2000 or 2001. Nice guy. This isn’t his fault.)

Then there’s Sinclair executive chairman David Smith, telling New York magazine yesterday,

“He dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media, which he believes ‘serves no real purpose.’ In emails to New York, Smith said that print — as in newspapers and magazines — is a reality-distorting tool of leftists. Print media, he said, has “no credibility” and no relevance.”

Yeah, so his company’s newscasts are where Americans should get their information about current events? Not newspapers with bigger staffs and specialists? Not TV or radio networks with people with decades of experience, some whom even covered Martin Luther King’s assassination 50 years ago tonight?

No, he forces his TV stations to go off on everyone else. What a bastard, who inherited the company from his daddy!

His earlier experience was as a partner at Ciné Processors, a bootleg porn manufacturer owned by his father Julian Sinclair Smith’s company, the Commercial Radio Institute, according to a 2005 story in Rolling Stone. Like father, like son.

David Smith even goes beyond Trump when it comes to not wanting publicity.

New York communicated with Smith in mid-November, after requesting an interview.”

“Appreciate the interest in your wanting to do a story but we don’t talk to the print media as a general principal as we find them to be so devoid of reality and serving no real purpose. Have a great holiday,” Smith said in response. Later, he added, “Again my experience has consistently been that even with an interview it’s of no consequence in terms of spin, facts or distortion, political bent etc. The print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble which accounts for why the industry is and will fade away. Just no credibility. see ya.”

Then, “When New York asked Smith if he’d be open to meeting off the record at least, he replied, ‘I have also learned that there is no such thing as off the record. Bye.’”

FTV Live’s Scott Jones points out it was print media that reported on Smith’s arrest for committing a perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes a dozen years ago.

I wrote, less than a month ago:

The Baltimore Sun reported David Smith was arrested “and charged with committing a perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes” in August, 1996. It happened “in an undercover sting at Read and St. Paul streets, a downtown corner frequented by prostitutes.” Smith and Mary DiPaulo “were charged with committing unnatural and perverted sex act.” Police said “they witnessed the two engage in oral sex while Smith drove north” on Baltimore’s Jones Falls Expressway. Neither Sinclair nor its local flagship station WBFF-45 would comment.

People in the media have lost jobs over less. It looks like Smith used his power and influence to keep most of the media quiet. How do you think Sinclair would have handled another company’s executive in a similar situation?

Jones concluded sarcastically, “But I’m sure that has nothing to do with his thoughts on how print does their job.”

Personally, I’d call his role in programming over the public airwaves into question.

Last year, you saw Last Week Tonight With John Oliver go off on the problems with Sinclair and how it shouldn’t be allowed to buy Tribune. You can watch it again here.

Now, HBO’s Oliver is at it again. (Parental warning about language!)

So Sinclair Senior Vice President of News Scott Livingston sent a memo to staff:

“There is a lot of noise out there about our company right now, and what is lacking in that analysis is something we constantly preach; context and perspective. The critics are now upset about our well-researched journalistic initiative focused on fair and objective reporting. … We are focused on fact-based reporting. That’s our commitment to our communities. That’s the goal of these announcements: to reiterate our commitment to reporting facts in a pursuit of truth. A new Monmouth University Poll out today says Americans are concerned, in fact, 77 percent of the respondents believe “fake news” is reported at least occasionally in mainstream media. https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_us_040218/. This is a concern that is shared by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. This poll underscores the importance of our journalistic responsibility effort. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of accuracy and fact checking.”

FTV’s Scott Jones has the rest of Livingston’s dribble here. I will say Livingston has a point about former Democratic political operative and advisor George Stephanopoulos anchoring on ABC, and NBC’s Chris Matthews’ past serving on the staffs of four Democratic members of Congress, as a presidential speechwriter during the Carter administration, and spending six years as Chief of Staff to longtime House Speaker Tip O’Neill (although he has said, “I’m more conservative than people think I am. … I voted for George W. in 2000.”).

I’m not a fan of anybody going from politics to impartial news anchoring (Stephanopoulos), although an analyst position is OK when the analysis is necessary to put the news into perspective.

Jones proves critics like him absolutely do “original journalism” (Livingston’s term) with a list of his own exclusives about the not-so-clean company here.

Considering Sinclair’s power and how much more it wants to buy, we’ll see how much longer local news organizations remain the most trusted source of information in Pew Research Center’s polling on trust in media.vince leonard 1958 bcast pioneers

I doubt legendary KYW-TV anchor Vince Leonard of Philadelphia, who recently died, would’ve put his reputation on the line, reading what Sinclair is telling its anchors to do. He left town in 1980, but I’ve heard wonderful things from people who worked with him and are still working there today.Nick Clooney wikipedia

The Cincinnati Enquirer asked Nick Clooney, who used to anchor at WKRC in the Queen City, and he said, “I have no idea what these folks are doing for a living, but it isn’t news.”

He added the concept of a scripted editorial not identified as scripted wouldn’t have happened in the 1970s or 1980s when he anchored at that station, now owned by Sinclair. He said sure, station owners would give editorials, but they’d give the editorials themselves, not tell anchors to read it for them.

How many of you have ever quit a decent-paying job over ethics? Care to share?

On a similar note are people at Philadelphia’s Fox TV station bragging about what a wonderful job they did, so high on themselves for working so hard covering snow, just like journalists were all over the region.

chris march 7 snow

But where were they when the bigger storm hit on March 21? Too scared to be live on-air like the competition? (I did comment to that above post, asking where they were during the bigger snowstorm, but that got taken down. How dare someone question their collective news judgment? I don’t know if the poster was asked to take it down, or did so on his own. I know it was up for at least a few days and nobody can deny the truth simply by deleting it.)

I don’t know about “the best content in Philly” since I wasn’t watching four TVs at once. In fact, I was working and hardly watched anything but I’m sure every station had its exclusive, great, memorable reporting moments.

However, if I had my choice, would I want to work at the station that does news “at likely half the staff & budget of competitors” or a station that wants to win, and pulls out all stops to do so?

The fact is, there are some very good people there who are smart, experienced and connected, and out-report others. Too bad they’re hardly seen – a “distant fourth” and repeat it again like the newspaper did, compared to stations 1, 2 and 3 – because the bosses only pay for “likely half the staff & budget of competitors.”

I’ve always striven to be the best and encourage others. How the people in charge can be happy with their competitive performance and keep their jobs while not doing the best for the people of the region is a shame – but as I’ve said time and time again, it’s profits before people. Oh, and an office twice the size it had been when I started there!

Meanwhile, I hope they have to strain tomorrow to cover both the Villanova championship parade and Phillies home opener. They better hope no other news happens with “likely half the staff.”

I think I’m going to use those insider lines regularly!

And since I like to end on a good note, The TV Answer Man,Phillip Swann, reports the newly-sold Weather Channel has expanded its live coverage by up to 10 minutes an hour! That means less recorded reality programming.

weather channel logo

The article says, “It’s unknown if the new owner influenced the change in programming strategy.”

“Many of you have told us that you want to see more of our trusted weather coverage and we’ve taken note,” viewers who subscribe to its newsletter read, Sunday. “Starting tomorrow (April 3), we will be extending our live coverage by up to 10 minutes per hour, giving you a chance to dig even deeper into the weather affecting you each day.”

That means collapsing “our Local On the 8s so that they run during our live segments. Where you use to see our traditional Local On the 8s segments, you will see the same weather information displayed on the right side and/or bottom of the screen.”

They had always run during breaks from the channel’s live coverage.

byron allen

The move comes just two weeks after comedian and entrepreneur Byron Allen acquired The Weather Channel from Comcast, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital for approximately $300 million, according to Bloomberg News.

Just hope none of the meteorologists visit your town for work-related purposes!

Philadelphia is expecting snow on Saturday.

More details on Israel after the gay paper

column

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.

First, read his column here or in the embed.

You’ll notice on Facebook, I responded with:

“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.”

gay flag

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.

middle east
Israel, the size of New Jersey, is surrounded by dozens of Arab and Muslim countries. The circle includes Judea and Samaria (“The West Bank”), and the Gaza Strip.

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.

israel flag

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.”

gay symbols

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 book

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.

mark larry book

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.

I rarely write about the Middle East. In fact, I haven’t since this story in early 2015 about Israel having injected some Ethiopian immigrants with a birth control drug, how it involved about 30 women, lasted for about three months and ended because Israelis found out and were furious.

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!)

mlk Wikihistoria
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Wikihistoria)

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.”

pgn

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.