Going Political

Image of airport protests over the weekend from Reuters
Image of airport protests over the weekend from Reuters

Yep, going political on the blog today. So if you think that might bug you, move along…

An open letter to my pro-Trump friends (and yes, I do have several) who have said, “This isn’t a ban on all Muslims. It’s only a ban on the seven countries that pose the greatest threat.”

You are partially correct. It’s not a ban on all Muslims.

However, it also does not ban immigrants from those countries which history shows us pose the greatest threat to the United States with regard to domestic terror attacks. The nations included in the ban are as follows:

Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Where is Saudia Arabia, home of most of the 9-11 hijackers? What about Pakistan, birthplace of at least one of the San Bernardino shooters? How about Kyrgyzstan & Russia. birthplace and previous home of the Boston Marathon bombers?

Nope. None of them are on the list.

So you are indeed correct, it is NOT a ban on all Muslims.

However, this ill-thought-out, sloppily executed order has banned many already thoroughly vetted refugees from coming into this country. Many of them are coming from places like Syria, countries we have frankly helped to destabilize with our many years of half-hearted war in that region, our short-sighted diplomatic policies there, and our apparent complete lack of understanding regarding the various sects of Islam in that part of the world and how they do (or more often, don’t) fit together. 

Basically, we helped break a number of these countries. Surely the least we can do is to help clean up the mess by allowing those desperate to escape to come here and live with us.

You may say, “Well, my president isn’t the one that created their mess.” But yes, he was. The previous president was your president, whether you like it or not. Just as, although the majority of voters in this country did not actually vote for Donald Trump, Mr. Trump is in fact their president now. Either every U.S. President is the president for all of us, the spokesman for all of us, the man we employ to implement our will; or he has no authority at all and this great experiment in democracy is at its end.

If, as I believe, each president is the president for all of us, then each president carries the burden of all his predecessors. That’s essentially the definition of the job: volunteering to come in and clean up the mess you think the previous guy made in the office.

Banning refugees who have already spent years having their credentials checked will not clean up that mess. Handcuffing Iraqi interpreters who worked with our soldiers won’t help clean up the mess. Separating a five-year-old child from his parents while checking his paperwork won’t clean up that mess. Sending a Cleveland Clinic doctor back to her homeland, where she had the nerve to go and visit family for a vacation – that will not clean up our mess in the Middle East. Detaining those who have Green Cards and other thorough documentation of their right to be here – that does nothing to clean up our mess in the Middle East.

In fact, nothing about this policy will clean up the mess made by the Obama, Bush or any other previous administration in the Middle East. It will merely add to the series of mistakes we’ve made in that region, mistakes which scream how little we understand the groups active there, the issues at play, and why the hell we are there in the first place. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world and gives a new recruiting tool to groups like ISIS.

Worst of all, this ban will do nothing to make any of us here in the United States safer.


How do you measure a year in the life?

tumblr_lxzdnaWQGh1qhht8fo1_500This Saturday was my first Saturday off at work in literally a month and I had to spend it at a funeral for a lovely, adorable 18-year-old girl.

She was a friend of Dr. Cooper‘s from his theatre group. She’d been in every play at his high school since the Doctor started there. Dr. Cooper goes to an all-boy high school and his friend was from their sister school. She was very impressive to behold — a very tall, rather heavy Black girl who was so full of pride and self-confidence. She was about six feet tall and wore platform shoes everywhere. She was probably close to 200 lbs. and she was unafraid to be photographed in a bikini.When I was her age, I wore one-piece bathing suits everywhere because I have a small birthmark on my hip I didn’t want anyone to see.

What would a world full of girls with that kind of pride and self-confidence be like? I wondered whenever I saw her. I couldn’t imagine. I still can’t.

I was in awe of her.

That girl loved herself and everyone around her and she died suddenly in her sleep a couple of weeks ago. I thought maybe the school was using a euphemism when they said she “died in her sleep,” and that she’d had some hideous dark side we never saw and had OD’d or something.

But no.

It turned out that when she was not quite 13, she was hit by a car and severely injured. She spent the next five years in and out of hospital and seeing various experts, but I guess they could never quite put her body back together as it should have been. Her head especially gave her problems constantly. Her girlfriends said at the funeral that she was always having severe headaches. But she didn’t want to be pitied, so almost no one outside her closest circle knew about it. She was still a fabulous dancer and a very good actress and a gifted student. She just had these headaches, you see. No big deal.

She had a bad time in junior year of high school and had to be homeschooled, but then she improved and was back at school for senior year. She had a good summer but started having headaches again around her birthday in early August. She came home after her first weekend at college, laid down to rest because her head hurt, and never woke up.

Her mother reserved a large room at the funeral home, because she knew that a funeral for a young person would have a big turnout. My own best friend died suddenly at 29, and I remember thinking at the time: At least when you die young, you get a good turnout at the funeral.

So this young lady’s family expected a large turnout and reserved a good-sized room for the funeral. But they were wrong. It wasn’t a good turnout at all.

It was a spectacular turnout.

They filled the main room and then the funeral director came in and suggested that the people standing in the back might want to go sit down in another unoccupied room until the service started.

Then more people came in and the funeral directed suggested that those people in the other room should just stay there and he would turn on remote speakers so they could hear the service. And then more people came and he had to get the speakers operational in a third room.

And then more people came and more people came and more people came. They filled every room of the funeral home and then the overflow sat in the lobby or stood on the steps of the main entrance to the building. They cried and laughed and talked about her fondness for wearing her “Black Feminist” t-shirt when she would stop in to visit her classmates at the school she was too sick to attend. They talked about how, in the midst of her own pain and illness, she would bake cupcakes and bring them into the lunchroom for those classmates. They talked about how much she loved to dance, and that her favorite musical was Rent, and that she intended to get a tattoo that said only:


Because all true lovers of musicals would get that reference.

By my calculations, she had approximately 9,460,800 minutes on this earth, and she did more with those minutes than most of us who’ve had a helluva lot more time. She will be missed, she will be mourned, but most of all, she will be an inspiration to the other teenaged girls who knew her. I hope they will dress flamboyantly and wear bikinis no matter how imperfect their bodies. I hope they will sing and dance and eat lots and lots of cupcakes and grow up to rule the world.