What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow


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Thoughts one day before the election:

Months ago, I committed to voting for Hillary because of the unique threat Trump poses. I’ve been vocal about my decision to vote for Hillary and have written about why it is important to stop Trump and have asked others to vote for Hillary as well. I have also asked for tolerance and understanding for the myriad experiences taking place during this election cycle. I have tried to offer perspective on why it is difficult for many to vote for Hillary even under these extreme circumstances and those like myself who will vote for her, but for whom it is a deep and oftentimes painful and confusing struggle. I had hoped that as a liberal reaching out to other liberals, I would be met with some measure of understanding. In some instances that has happened. Unfortunately, in far too many, it has not.

Hillary is not as dangerous as Trump. I believe that with utmost certainty. That is why I chose to vote for her. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that in this final week, I have been on the receiving end of and have witnessed much that has forced me to second-guess that decision to vote for her, that has made that personal struggle even more intense.

Yes, Hillary is not as bad as Trump. However, I have found that far too many Hillary-supporters are as dangerous in my mind as your average Trump-supporter. The level of intolerance and shaming I have seen has left me feeling that the divide between conservatives and liberals isn’t as wide as we might think or believe, that we are all susceptible to being both manipulated and instigated by fear. Even though I am voting for Clinton, I have still been called “selfish” and “irresponsible” for trying to express and share with others why that decision is such a difficult one; to offer perspective for those out there struggling to understand why and how this decision could be fraught, could be immensely challenging, even painful.

This has come from people who believe they speak for and represent the party of inclusiveness, empathy, open-mindedness, equality, freedom of speech and choice, and are fighting for the “common good.” I have witnessed a level of hate and intolerance and bullying that has left me spinning. In addition to the names that I have been called, in addition to the immense intolerance I have been shown by so very many, I have also watched women attacking other women for expressing their difficulties in voting for Hillary, for having a different perspective or a different struggle. I have seen groups of women calling other women “twats” and claiming that those women don’t even have a right to be called “women.” To me, this is incredibly destructive, it is the antithesis of empowerment. It is most certainly not inclusive or compassionate. And it certainly isn’t working toward any “common good.” The phenomenon or “trend” I am witnessing, of fear and anxiety manifesting as intolerance and discrimination and taking the form of browbeating and hostility, feels like a rampant response that has only escalated as election day approaches. Hate and intolerance doesn’t lead Democrats to a different place than it does Republicans. It’s the same road.  Continue reading “What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow”

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What I bring with me into the voting booth tomorrow

How Clinton’s most avid supporters can help get her elected now & prevent a 2020 election shit-show recap


blind_chanceThere’s an amazing film by the brilliant Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski called BLIND CHANCE. BLIND CHANCE was the film that inspired the lesser-but-still-interesting film, SLIDING DOORS. The difference between the two was that Kieślowski’s cinematic meditation focused on political ideals and personal happiness and how they might change based on different sets of experiences. BLIND CHANCE explored several different possibilities of one man’s life when chance alterations are introduced, the different paths and belief systems that unfold and are adopted, ways of seeing and interpreting the world, that can be contained in the same person based not just on choice, but on chance.

There but for the grace of god, some might say.

For me, a threat to both our country and our world even greater than Donald Trump is that of intolerance and limited perspective in any form. From wherever it derives and however it manifests. Bigotry, rage, fear, shaming, demonizing, condescension, devaluing, blaming. These are greater threats for me because I believe they are the very things that serve to create and legitimize men who think and act like Donald Trump and the people who respond positively to him. I would add to that horrible picture a political system that favors and rewards corporations over people and places financial success and gain over humanitarian causes and concerns. Trump is not an aberration. He is a culmination.

I, like many liberals, want to see Hillary Clinton win this election so that Donald Trump doesn’t become our next president. Unlike some, I do not share many of Clinton’s voting choices or her approach to governing. I cannot see into her heart, but I am able to give her the benefit of the doubt that she does come from a good place and a desire to make life better for most people. It’s not her motivation that concerns me most. It’s that I believe she is mired in a style of politicking – the one she and her husband helped solidify into the Democratic Party – that favors a particular relationship with corporations, conglomerates and banks, the big-moneyed powers in our country. This is matched by an equal and active cynicism of the kind of Progressive approaches that I deeply believe are not only possible, but crucial to changing not just the course, but the mindset of this country. Continue reading “How Clinton’s most avid supporters can help get her elected now & prevent a 2020 election shit-show recap”

How Clinton’s most avid supporters can help get her elected now & prevent a 2020 election shit-show recap

Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt


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Let me start by saying I have no idea if Woody Allen is guilty or innocent of molesting his daughter. And to that point, neither do you.

We don’t know these people. What seems to be clear to me is that there is a lot of anger, hurt, sorrow, fear and dysfunction among the Farrow/Allen group. As there is in any family. What concerns me far more than anything Woody Allen is accused of doing, is the reaction of the public to the tweets and statements of Ronan Farrow and family. The constant commentary on social media that Woody Allen is a monster, that he is evil, that we should stop supporting him as an artist, the call for his head (or his balls) on a stake… This is dangerous and far reaching. It doesn’t effect just one person or one family. It reaches out and envelops something far deeper, far more nefarious and destructive.

Now granted, my reaction here comes from my own fears and doubts, my own dysfunctions. My personal fear of being misunderstood or misrepresented, my fear of a mob-mentality, my fear of people who know what’s right not stepping up out of their own fears of attack or retribution… These are some of the things that drive my emotional reaction to the media circus playing out right now. And I can’t take them with any less seriousness than I do the actions and reactions of others.

History has shown us that people’s fear and hatred can be quite easily manipulated. Whether it’s the Salem Witch Trials or Nazi Germany, the war in Iraq or the Tea Party, people can be rallied with relative ease into forgoing truth or facts and replacing them with pitchforks and torches. The vitriol that I have witnessed against Woody Allen in the past few weeks has left me shaken. Not out of concern for Woody Allen. Again, I don’t know if he is a victim or a victimizer. What frightens and concerns me is that Ronan Farrow and family seem to be on a dangerous mission. And people, from the ignorant to the well-educated, are falling in line to back the hatred and anger (far more than the sadness and hurt) based, not on facts or reality, but on their own personal fears and dysfunctions. And Ronan (and whoever else may be behind this) knows exactly what to say and where to say it to create this tidal wave of misguided loathing. I say misguided because we simply do not know the truth or even anything vaguely resembling the truth. Woody Allen is being tried in the media, not by a jury of his peers, but by a jury of easily manipulated emotions and misinformation or, as one commentator observed, “a media psychodrama with the verdict handed down by random members of the general public.” This whole fiasco goes well beyond the question of Woody Allen’s guilt or innocence. The only thing here that comes close to encapsulating the word “monstrous” in my opinion is the behavior of the public in this matter. It is historically and socially monstrous. Have we learned nothing?

What adds to the horror of the scene for me is not only that people are gathering to stir one another’s dread and hostility, but that so many of them (most, I dare say) are completely ignorant of any of the actual facts of the case. I have read and heard so much information and accusations in discussions and tweets and chats and posts that are completely and absolutely false. Factually incorrect. Robert B. Weide‘s piece in The Daily Beast, The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast, is the first sane piece of writing on the issue I have read to date. There is more than enough information out there to, at the very least, suggest the possibility that Woody Allen did not molest his child. In fact, there is just as much evidence to suggest the possibility that Mia Farrow may have coached her daughter into believing this. But no one seems to be up in arms about that possibility. Now don’t misunderstand me here. I am not suggesting that any of the above is true or false; I am not trying to do to Mia what Ronan is doing to Woody. All I am pointing out is that people are reacting, not to facts or evidence or truth or reality, but to what they want/need to believe to fuel whatever fears and desires they have surrounding this issue. And people like Ronan Farrow are igniting that fire every chance they get. Again, I understand that he is hurt and outraged. I understand that he may need or want others to share in that rage. I understand that it must be extremely painful to watch this man you believe to have done something horrible to you and the ones you love being celebrated with lifetime achievement awards and accolades. I get it. That must be extremely painful and frustrating. But to act out that rage on social media knowing full well that the people he gathers there do not care about truth or justice, to use their dysfunction as a means to rally them to his side, to enact his fantasy of a mass rejection of Woody Allen, to essentially mark him as a monster… THIS is something worthy of a public discussion. THIS is something playing out right here in front of us, something we ourselves are a part of. NOT the private matters of a family none of us know or could possibly know.

The witch hunt that is taking place, the ease with which the Farrows have stirred mass hatred by using the public’s ignorance as a tool to soothe and satisfy what is, essentially, a family tragedy, is frightening to me. And to see it reach those I know whom I considered intelligent and thoughtful people, to see them pick up their hangman’s noose with such fervor and conviction shows me that we have not evolved very far at all. Certainly not far enough to avoid future tragedies. We have proven once again that we are out here, waiting to be duped, lied to, tricked, or simply misguided with good intentions by those with an agenda, be it innocent or nefarious. We are the masses happy to point fingers at what frightens us all the while shying away from pointing that finger at ourselves. We gather and yell “monster” never seeing the monster that stares back at us in the mirror, the real monster we should be facing, the real monster we should be working so diligently to bring out into the light.

Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt

Anti-Muslim Fear. America In Transition.


This whole notion of a “Ground Zero Mosque” is a complete fabrication created and spurred on by politicians who are using Americans’ misguided fear as a tool. And the consequences are dire. Now simply being a Muslim is reason enough to fear for your life. Is this America? Yes, it’s America in transition. It’s America learning that it is no better or worse, no stronger or more immune to mass hatred and bigotry than any other country in the world.

Here’s just one example of a politician fueling hatred and twisting facts into a misguided, fear-based movement:

“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”  —Newt Gingrich

Ironic that Gingrich equated Muslims with Nazis and yet the type of hatred he espouses is far more akin to the early stages of Naziism than anything being promoted by an Islamic Cultural Center. And isn’t a Holocaust Museum’s purpose to forever remind people of the bigotry and hatred that caused the Holocaust in the first place in the hopes of recognizing it and stopping it before it happens again?

One such consequence of Gingrich and others’ fueling of people’s misconceptions and feeding into their fear is that New York Muslim cab driver Ahmed Sharif was slashed from throat to cheek by his fare when he admitted to being Muslim. By a drunk 21 year old Michael Enright caught up in the anti-Muslim fervor.

Or how about the man mistaken for a Muslim who was violently harassed by anti-Mosque ralliers?

While the face of American bigotry and small-mindedness rears its ugly head and reveals its face to the world at large, at least a voice of reason can be heard alongside it as 9/11 families and others stand in protest to the anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the nation and vocally support the building of the Islamic Cultural Center 2 blocks from Ground Zero that Fox News and a handful of politicians have misleadingly dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” New York Neighbors for American Values rallied yesterday near Ground Zero:

“I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values,” Talat Hamdani said, and supporting the Islamic center and mosque “has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of New York’s Shalom Center, said the project will show the world a form of Islam that espouses peace – not the Islam of the terrorists.

“It is right; it is wise to build it,” he told hundreds of people gathered under the arches of Manhattan’s Municipal Building, a short walk from ground zero.

Several coalition members noted that the mosque site’s developer, Sharif el-Gamal, modeled it after the Jewish Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It serves anyone who wishes to participate, they said, and so will the Muslim center near ground zero.

Stand up for what is right. Don’t be a pawn. And support freedom of religion in America. See the Islamic Cultural Center blocks away from Ground Zero for what it is. Not what you may fear it is.

Anti-Muslim Fear. America In Transition.

In Melissa Etheridge’s Own Words


imagephpIn my continuing discussion about gay rights in America and my personal reactions to all that has taken place in the last several weeks, I wanted to post, in its entirety, a piece Melissa Etheridge wrote for the Huffington Post. For those who have been following my blog, you’ll know I wrote just the other day about Melissa Etheridge’s meeting with Pastor Rick Warren, Etheridge’s wife’s response, and my own personal feelings and attitude about what has been happening both in this country and around the world regarding the rights of gay men and women.

Here is what Melissa had to say:

This is a message for my brothers and sisters who have fought so long and so hard for gay rights and liberty. We have spent a long time climbing up this mountain, looking at the impossible, changing a thousand year-old paradigm. We have asked for the right to love the human of our choice, and to be protected equally under the laws of this great country. The road at times has been so bloody, and so horrible, and so disheartening. From being blamed for 9/11 and Katrina, to hateful crimes committed against us, we are battle weary. We watched as our nation took a step in the right direction, against all odds and elected Barack Obama as our next leader. Then we were jerked back into the last century as we watched our rights taken away by prop 8 in California. Still sore and angry we felt another slap in the face as the man we helped get elected seemingly invited a gay-hater to address the world at his inauguration.

I hadn’t heard of Pastor Rick Warren before all of this. When I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so accustomed to, it painted the picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He probably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you know. One more hater working up his congregation to hate the gays, comparing us to pedophiles and those who commit incest, blah blah blah. Same ‘ole thing. Would I be boycotting the inauguration? Would we be marching again?

Well, I have to tell you my friends, the universe has a sense of humor and indeed works in mysterious ways. As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album I had one more stop last night. I’d agreed to play a song I’d written with my friend Salman Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim from Pakistan. The song is called “Ring The Bells,” and it’s a call for peace and unity in our world. We were going to perform our song for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group of Muslim Americans that tries to raise awareness in this country, and the world, about the majority of good, loving, Muslims. I was honored, considering some in the Muslim religion consider singing to be against God, while other Muslim countries have harsh penalties, even death for homosexuals. I felt it was a very brave gesture for them to make. I received a call the day before to inform me of the keynote speaker that night… Pastor Rick Warren. I was stunned. My fight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice inside me said, “Are you really about peace or not?”

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife’s struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world’s attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women… and everyone in-between.

In Melissa Etheridge’s Own Words