Context

Posted December 6, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Civil Liberties, Ethics, Racism, Violence

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m going to explore this a little more fully when I have some time to go find references, which I don’t have time to do this morning, but you better pay attention to this because it may explain some things about the posts I’m making here and why I’m so very, very appalled not just at what’s happening to people across the country but why I can’t believe what some of the people I’ve known for decades are saying.

I attended the School Without Walls (SWW) from 1977 to 1981. The school, part of a movement that came about in 1968, was very different from traditional high schools. Some of the people reading this note attended the school with me, and I’m shocked to hear what some of them are saying. Shocked because they clearly did NOT understand why SWW existed in the first place, and I’m frustrated because they’re not listening now.

Teachers, students and parents from Monroe High School founded SWW because they needed a place to learn, in an environment that was exploding after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That core group came from a mix of backgrounds and the student population was diverse, too. It was an intense four-year journey for me, that launched a career of writing, even if I haven’t been paid for much of it.

I’m not going to pretend or idealize the experience I had while I was there, but I can count at least 40 people on my Facebook Flist who attended or graduated from SWW. So here’s the thing. Check it out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Rochester_race_riot

And you thought Rochester wasn’t part of that?

You want to know where SWW derived? Look up the Free School Movement.

I’m not saying folks aren’t paying attention. I’m saying they’re not applying an empathy filter. Put your own kids in the place where Michael Brown was, and imagine what this would be like for you. If you can’t put yourself in that place, examine WHY you can’t do that. Is it because you don’t get it, or because you simply can’t imagine your kid being shot just for being big and belligerent? Not your kid’s style? So what? USE YOUR IMAGINATION! Put yourself or your son or daughter or their friends in that place.

The core problem with today’s world, with all the arguments about money, guns, race, equality, sexuality? They are happening because people (some of them on my own Flist) canNOT imagine what this is like and because they don’t get it, they think it’s okay, what’s going on with the cops today.

I’m telling you, that’s wrong.

If you still want to know what’s wrong with this country, maybe it’s because you can’t imagine what it’s like to be Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice or their siblings or their parents or their friends. And you can’t imagine that cops could possibly be corrupt or that the system does fail.

And to those of you who find yourselves wondering how this could possibly be happening, I say it’s time you woke UP!

You’re being set up. Educate yourself.

The court case I got called for over the summer? It had eerie overtones and I’m glad I wasn’t on the jury because I don’t think in hindsight that I could be impartial. Here’s how it shook out:

http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/2014/11/12/ex–cop-johnnie-riley-to-be-sentenced-for-shooting-handcuffed-suspect/18915647/

Now the thing is, would he have gotten jail time if the cop had been white? Would he even have been indicted? We will never, never know.

No, not all cops, not all lawyers, not all courts, but if there’s even one that’s practicing the law as if some people aren’t worth the same as others, that cop or lawyer needs to GO!

And if we don’t try these people in a court of law, we will never know what happened.

Where’s the justice in that?

Race is fiction. Racism is very, very real.

#blacklivesmatter #justiceisbroken

It’s time for a NEW Equal Rights Amendment.

Posted July 3, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Civil Liberties, Constitution, LGBTQ, Politics, Women

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is not a link share, but my own opinion and you’re welcome to do with it what you will.

In the last two days I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion. If the Equal Rights Amendment as originally written is dead, then it’s time for a new and improved Equal Rights For ALL Amendment, that covers everyone, with no exceptions for race, gender or ability.

The amendment MUST make clear that this right transcends due process and extends to every individual person in the country. And by person, I am specifically excluding corporations, which are not now and never have been people.

To wit:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of gender, race or ability.

Section 2. Rights shall extend to every individual within the borders of the United States and its territories, regardless of nationality.

Section 3. The word “individual” shall not be construed to mean property held by an individual in the form of a corporation.

Section 4. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 5. This amendment shall take effect one year after the date of ratification.

I’ll make an appointment to see Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer if I have to.

If certain members of the Supreme Court can decide to ignore the 14th Amendment, because it’s not specific to equality and equity (which are similar but not the same), that’s proof enough for me that the states made a bad decision and that this needs to be addressed.

No riders, no “must ratify by” date limitation.

It’s long past time.

If you agree, spread the word: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pass-equal-rights-all-act-amendment-us-constitution/4TdbChJP

Second class citizens…

Posted July 2, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: 14th Amendment, 2nd Amendment, ALEC, Choice, Civil Liberties, Constitution, GOP, Politics, Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

On Monday, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 margin (which divided itself by conservative and religious lines), declared that employers who object to contraception as a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs do NOT have to cover their employees, one of the most important points of the Affordable Care Act.

Read that sentence again. It doesn’t indicate some methods. It refers to ALL contraception.

From the second article:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

I’ve heard and read plenty on the subject, and I’m certain that you can do all the same homework I can, to find views that support your contention (for or against).

Whatever.

The ramifications of the decision are farther reaching than the right cares to admit. Aside from the question of violating the 14th Amendment (which Scalia declares is not applicable for everyone), there’s the larger issue of cherry-picking the Constitution to suit whichever political organization has the most money.

See, here’s the thing. The term “closely-held” belies the truth. 90% of corporations in the US are “closely held” – and any one of them can pick and choose not to cover contraception or any other thing they don’t like, simply because of their personal, deeply-held beliefs.

So let me put this into different terms, especially if you’re a guy who thinks there’s no war on women and it’s just a fantasy cooked up by liberals.

1. Are you a guy who’s interested in women?

2. Do you like having sex with women who won’t likely get pregnant because they’re on the pill?

3. Can the women you see and sleep with afford to pay for that birth control if it’s not covered by their insurance?

4. Are you ready for parenthood?

Not all pills are taken to prevent pregnancy. Women take the pill to control other conditions, as well as preventing pregnancy.

If you think this decision doesn’t affect you or your girlfriend(s), think again. And if you believe this applies only to Christian faith-owned companies, you’ve got another thing coming.

This decision isn’t about birth control. It’s about destroying the ACA, piecemeal, starting with the first, best hope for giving women control over their own bodies. And if you’re arguing that this is okay, then you need to go back and reread the Constitution, past the second amendment, because you missed some things.

Now, about that Constitution, well, here’s the thing, and this is where I get a little twitchy, so you’re just going to have to bear with me, because I’ll get there:

When the Constitution was originally written, it lacked a few things, and it was written in a context that doesn’t fit well with today’s society. Let’s take that tricky Second Amendment problem, which I’ll call “The Comma.”

See, if you read the sentence the way it’s written, with, you know, grammar and stuff, you’ll see it says this (from Wikipedia, because it’s convenient):

Text

There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with capitalization or punctuation differences. Differences exist between the drafted and ratified copies, the signed copies on display, and various published transcriptions.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] The importance (or lack thereof) of these differences has been the source of debate regarding the meaning and interpretation of the amendment, particularly regarding the importance of the prefatory clause.

One version was passed by the Congress,[24][25][26][27][28]

As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives:[29]

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[30]

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribeWilliam Lambert and resides in the National Archives.

Well-regulated militia back then meant individuals serving in militias, carrying muskets, not individuals on their own, carrying AK-47s. Today’s version would be the National Guard, but back then there were neither the Guard nor the police, and the standing army was specifically disbanded as soon as possible. So who is today’s well-regulated militia and why do people still have guns if they don’t belong to this mysterious organization?

Who wrote the opinion for the majority in that case? Why, our old friend Scalia.

Now let’s take the comments he made above, regarding the 14th Amendment:

Text

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.[1]

And Scalia’s opinion, from the California Lawyer article (linked above):

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Notice in Section 1 of the text, the following words: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Do you see anywhere in that sentence the words “except women?” Nah, me neither.

And yet, this is precisely what Scalia and his four cohorts have decided regarding the Hobby Lobby case.

I had a closely-held corporation of my own until I dissolved it, back in 2006. It included a small number of employees (all of whom were contractors, including me). Corporations are not unique. And the benefits accorded to Hobby Lobby’s employees are not a gift, but access to a group discount paid for by the employees themselves.

But wait, there’s more!

More?

Yep.

Because when you consider for a moment how tenuous our grip is on the current set of Constitutional rights, you fail to remember a couple of things that go back a bit. Let me remind you of them:

1. The Moral Majority were the foundation of today’s conservative groups. They spawned virtually ALL of the groups under which ALEC operates, that are working hard to restrict rights based solely on Christian values, and to expand religious protection whenever and wherever they think it will suit them, forgetting that there are other religious people in this country until someone reminds them.

2. There was a lot of noise about holding a Constitutional Convention to do away with the current Constitution, back in the 1970s and 1980s. Think that discussion has gone away? Nope. The Tea Party has grasped hold of it and if they manage to get control of the House and Senate this year (2014) this is precisely what is in store for the United States.

If you think freedom is at risk now, if you think all the talk of Sharia law in the states is just blowing smoke, you’re not paying attention to the agenda. And if there’s no war on women, how is it that the decision handed down on Monday affects ONLY women? If you’re a single-issue voter, you’re missing the point. If you have daughters, you should be scared to death on their behalf. If you’re a woman, you need to protect the freedom you have, or you’re likely to lose your ability to do anything that isn’t controlled by the patriarchy.

[edited to add]

And if you think this is just restricted to birth control, let Clarence Thomas settle that question for you. Pray tell me, if the Supreme Court is not intended to uphold the Constitution, and if states are not required to abide by the binding document, exactly *what* is holding the USA together?

From Patheos.com: Constitutional horror: Clarence Thomas argues states can establish official religion

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argues states may establish an official state religion, and sees no problem with an individual state making Christianity the official state religion.

Thomas believes the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not apply to the states. The Establishment Clause is that part of the First Amendment that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

So what can you do?

WRITE. Write to your local congressional representatives, Senate and House alike, and tell them you want to pass the Equal Rights For All Act. Flood their offices with letters and show them you do care. Make them pay attention.

VOTE. November 4 is just a hair over four months away. The House of Representatives is replaced every two years, as long as enough people vote. Here’s the Senate situation, for midterms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2014.

PS: Don’t forget: I told you so.

 

Truth is in the eyes of the beholder…

Posted June 5, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: GOP, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It would be wrong of me to post Jim’s previous response to Bergdahl’s return and not post this.

Stonekettle Station ~ Negotiating With Terrorists: The Counterpoint

By definition, I came at the Iranian hostage crisis from the opposite side. As a Junior High student, I worked on Carter’s campaign and I would have voted for him myself, had I not been 12 at the time. I watched with horror as the capture dragged on…and on… and then watched with rage as the Reagan administration did what the Carter administration couldn’t. My rage came from elsewhere and time has proven me right concerning how those hostages were freed. I suspect more time needs to flow before we fully understand who and why the hostages were taken.

Perspective has a funny way of changing what we *know* as truth. Here’s just a taste of how the pot can call the kettle black:

Oliver North (Yes, Oliver North) Accuses Obama Of ‘Financing A Terrorist Organization’ With Bergdahl Release

Why is this so ironic? Some of you were likely too young to remember or too disaffected to pay attention to Iran-Contra back in the mid-80s. I wasn’t.

Seeing both sides of a situation without knowing all the facts, no matter how heinous the crime, is so completely and utterly unAmerican that I shudder to think what our country will become if we can’t somehow grab hold of the trolls who aren’t paid by the other side and get them to realize that they are acting as tools serving a purpose.

As far left as I am, I don’t know all the facts in this case. I wasn’t inside Bergdahl’s head, wasn’t there at his post, didn’t see his capture. I suspect that unless you are either Bergdahl himself or the Afghans who held him, you weren’t and didn’t either.

Fast forward to this week.

Daily Kos: The way back machine delivers the LOLs. Bonus Alan West LOL. Bonus Gateway Pundit LOL.

I’m telling you to look for the thinly veiled agenda behind all the hand-wringing.

In the United States of America (at least for now) by virtue of the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments to our Constitution, our citizens are considered innocent until proven guilty. Our soldiers fight and die for this principle along with all the rest. I respect the law. I just served the most recent round of jury duty and while I’m relieved that I didn’t have to sit on the jury panel for a trial, I would have done so and I would have applied the same principles to the crime and the accused.

Jim Wright presents the other side, and in his more than eloquent way, makes clear that the conversation won’t happen if all we do is swear at each other in apoplexy. Every decision we make, every opinion we hold, comes from what we have learned. When we are presented with facts we have to assess whether they are grounded in truth. If we still believe these facts after seeing all the evidence, we can then believe we know the truth. But there’s a caution in this: If we are told lies by people who have agendas we don’t know, and the people who speak are in positions of authority, it is our responsibility to investigate the agenda, not just the speaker. Even oaths can be broken if the oath-taker believes something other than the honest truth.

I have *always* been involved in politics. I have *always* been a Democrat. And I’ve gotten really good at researching what I write. If you throw up a straw man argument or fuzzy science, I WILL call you out. Your responsibility is to check your sources and make sure they’re not telling lies. If you don’t know what I mean, go back and reread everything in that Daily Kos article.

Ya know, I’ve got a lot of experience reading between the lines…

Posted June 3, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Ethics, GOP, Politics, War

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unless you’re living under a rock (and you’re probably not if you’re reading my stuff), you already know about the blowback from the trade of former POW Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five former residents of Gitmo, Afghan detainees we were preparing to keep indefinitely. As in forever. As in we never ever intend to close Gitmo, so long as That Black Man is President.

That’s precisely what I read right here:

In a tweet Monday morning, Johnson noted that Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) had said “if Obama’s trying to liquidate and close Gitmo through deals to release detainees, that’s illegal too.”

Illegal. Say whut?

You read that right. The GOP think it’s illegal because of this law it appears they passed.

That’s hilarious, considering we’re already in violation of the Geneva Convention. So what law are they talking about? Why, it’s our old friend, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

That’s right, friends. Almost one year ago to the day, by a 59-2 vote, the GOP secured Gitmo and are in a position to keep us from closing this facility because it would look good for the President to bring this chapter to a close.

These same disingenuous bastards will hold up the continued operation of the prison as a failing step in the President’s agenda of change. It must be HIS fault the base is still in operation. It CAN’T be us! We had NOTHING to do with it!

I call BULLSHIT.

Not only did the President talk about this with the GOP in advance of the swap, but three years of negotiations have gone by since the process began. The only ones with egg on their faces here are the GOP who worked to ensure the language got included in the NDAA, which authorizes payment to our troops on the ground.

I can’t do justice to the justifiable indignation, the gut wrenching prose and points Jim Wright has written in his latest Stonekettle Station post, but I can sure boost the signal.

We have just five months left before the 2014 elections and you have an OBLIGATION to do something about these sanctimonious, lying, manipulative bastards.

Show these obstructionist GOP bastards the door.

 

 

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

Posted May 28, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: 2nd Amendment, Culture, GOP, Gun Control, Mental Health, Politics, Violence, Women

Tags: , , , , , , ,

In this world, too many people see discussions as only about one topic or another, and these folks shun the idea that topics have many subtopics and sources.

The world of Elliot Rodger is by no means exclusive, but if his actions bring these multiple threads of discussion to a head, perhaps we can have the discussions we need to that will help us get past what corporate interests prefer not to discuss for the sake of continuing to generate revenue at the cost of human lives.

In this discussion, but by no means an exhaustive list: Misogyny, misandry, gun control, mental illness, autism, entitlement, politics and more. Every single one of these topics has something to do with the murders and injuries in Santa Barbara, but not the way you might think. And for me, this post has been coming since Sandy Hook and Aurora, but until now I couldn’t wrap my mind around the pile of implications and threads without being afraid either of outing myself or offending someone else, so I’ll say this first and get it out of the way, because you need to know.

It all starts with

#YesAllWomen

And it ends with

#NotAllMen

Now before you blow up all over me and say I’m interested in taking away ALL TEH GUNZ, as some now-unfriended people have done in the past, let me share some facts with you:

1. I have been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager. Losing a parent early is bad enough, but I also suffered bouts of depression and headaches and cramps that were bad enough to put me out of commission for a couple of days. Add to that being unable to get organized because I would start one process and then ten hours later find I’d gotten sidetracked and only partially finished the original goal, but forgot those 15 other things that also needed doing (along with the food I was supposed to eat regularly), well, that’s ADHD in a nutshell. Add to all this a separation from my husband and how to handle his behavior and the aftermath of the break-up, and death of a parent, and it’s not a surprise. I have been on medication but am not now and have not been for the better part of a year, and in that year I’ve accomplished Dean’s List two semesters running. My ability to cope has been tested sorely and I’ve come out okay on the other side.

Mental illness comes in all forms and so do other mental issues. I’ve never considered myself a danger to others. I used to think it was all on me, that I was broken, but no more. Having watched my ex-relationships and how they handle their current relationships, I’ve come to realize my biggest fault is in the relationship choices I’ve made and not so much with me. Some of the problems I’ve had could be chalked up to immaturity, narcissism flawed logic on the part of the opposite sex. I’m tired of playing romance roulette and I’m not looking anymore, mostly for this reason. And I’m mostly okay with that.

2. I grew up in a household with an NRA member who also smoked. I never picked up either habit, though I am a fair shot with a .22 rifle. I have spent time with people who were doing drugs, but never knowingly took drugs on my own or sought out more than alcohol and I don’t drink much now because I don’t like the effect or (in many cases) the taste.

3. I have suffered sexual abuse, above and including the “dirty phone call” variety. In more than one instance I was not a consenting adult. Only one time did someone of the opposite sex hit me, and he’s been out of my social circle for an extended period of time. No, I won’t go into details. The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago.

4. I like movies quite a bit, but am increasingly uncomfortable with what I see in them, especially when they revolve around relationships between men and women. The Bechdel Test is weighing particularly heavily on my mind just now.

So, when the news broke about Santa Barbara over the weekend, I had plenty of thoughts on the subject, but until I started seeing responses on my Facebook feed, I was willing to ignore them until I could get my thoughts to gel.

What follows are a number of articles and videos, in what I think are appropriate order. You can feel free to follow my path down through the material or just take my word for it: We have a major problem on our hands and we don’t even know how to talk about it because these issues are coming up and getting in the way of the conversation.

We can start with Ann Hornaday’s response to the critical feedback she received on her scathing article published May 25, 2014, in which she indicts the Hollywood movie machine as a foundation for the problem of male entitlement.

What follows here are four reactions, every one of them written by men. I want you to read what these four men have to say on the subject. I am excluding from this conversation the father of one of the male victims in the Santa Barbara rampage because he’s addressing his questions to congress. In the end, this is what you must do, as well, or the conversation will not change.

First, regarding the shooter’s mental health condition, a subject that should really be investigated further because we do NOT treat mental illness the way we should and we never ever have. Worse, assumptions by the police that it isn’t as bad as observers have seen has much to do with lack of training, coupled with a lack of beds in hospitals and the lack of trained medical staff for dealing with violent mental illness.

Washington Post: Sheriff: Calif. shooter Rodger flew ‘under the radar’ when deputies visited him in April

That the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies restrict access to care and shunt everyone to drugs first is a failure to address the fundamental problem: We are not equipped to handle mental illness because it’s not in the interests of drug companies to fix a problem that nets them billions of dollars annually.

These situations exist because we have failed both the families of our most fragile citizens who know better and try to warn about the dangers and those victims who likely never knew what hit them or why. There is but one target for this: Our laws fail us and our lawmakers fail us because they answer to the industry and not the people.

But then, there are those in congress who prefer to blame the mentally ill and regulatory failures instead of looking at why those gaps exist:

Washington Post: GOP’s Rep. King calls for more background checks in wake of Calif. killings

Rep. King’s views aren’t new, but they are politically motivated, and it’s still easier to point a finger at background checks without recognizing that without a universal database to check, such a system will fail, and such infrastructure simply doesn’t exist because of the taboo discussion regarding mental illness in the first place. So sure, go ahead and talk as if a background check might have kept the violence from happening, but it’s a smokescreen on a much larger problem.

And on top of all this, there’s the dreaded “Autism = Murder” issue that came up with Sandy Hook. I read the article below when it came out, and I think it bears rereading. I know at least a dozen people in my social circle who fall somewhere on the spectrum. Everyone wants something to blame to try and explain the actions of murderers. Consider these words before you become part of the problem:

Psychology Today – Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder: Let’s stop the rush to judgment.

Two more articles, and I’m done for now. I’ve posted at least one of these on my Facebook feed already, but both bear reading and further reflection.

First:

Slate – Not all men: How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

and second:

Patheos.com – John Beckett: Dude, It’s You

If you want to have the discussion here, you’d best spend the time and read these last two articles because I will boot you otherwise.

You can feel free to share this information. We can’t have the discussion if we don’t recognize the foundation for the problem.

And the subject was “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…

Posted May 25, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Politics, Religion, Slavery, War

Tags: , , , , ,

Months ago, my Unitarian Universalist minister asked a bunch of us to provide meaningful songs on which she could base sermons throughout the year. Mine, as it happens, was the subject of today’s service.

I chose (off the top of my head) the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A few weeks ago, she followed up with a request that I provide some words to explain why the song had such meaning for me. I thought about her question for days, coming close to the answer and then getting distracted. I went online and searched for a copy of the book I remembered, to no avail.

This morning, after a bad dream in which someone told me my father had died (he’s been gone since 2010), I woke up around 6 and proceeded to diddle around some more, trying to figure out how to approach the subject.

See, when I was a kid, I didn’t understand the meaning of pacifism. I knew the tune and it made me happy that I could read the song’s lyrics and put the music to the words, because I fail at reading music on a regular basis. Music for the musically illiterate, that’s what the Battle Hymn was to me as a kid.

Now, though, it’s got a different meaning.

Here’s the full text of the song. Somehow, the third verse had disappeared from the reproduced version for the service which I discovered when I got there. I added an introductory paragraph to the verse, just before the service started, because I had included it in my words and removing the reference took away from my point.

The original:

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

Here, then, is what I wrote and delivered to my congregation (more or less):

Good morning.

If I could have stolen one book out of the library where I first attended Elementary school, it would have been a small, brown hardcover book of music and lyrics, tucked away on the shelves in the dark recesses toward the back of the room.

I don’t think anyone else ever checked the book out, but I did, repeatedly, because of this one song.

Honestly, I wish I had my hands on the book. I’d show you the illustration of grapes, the multiple verses.

The tune was easy to plunk out on my mother’s piano, even if I couldn’t read the music.

For a kid who was raised without religion, the flowery, grand language of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” spoke to me in a way no other song did. But I don’t remember why.

I remember all the other things…The smell of the library and that book, at least a couple of decades older than I was at the time (and that’s a solid 40 years ago, now), the location of the shelves, searching for the book, finding it and opening to the song again and again.

Nowadays, I think more about Julia Ward Howe’s words and what they did to galvanize a nation in righteous pursuit of freedom at the price of almost 213 thousand lives. It makes me sad to think such bloodshed was necessary. How easily the words of a supposed peacemaker who entreated his followers back then to beat their swords into plowshares could be used to encourage his more modern followers

to do precisely the opposite in that pursuit.

[Not in the song we just sang, but in the original, these words appear:]

“I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”

We do so many things in the name of righteousness, for the sake of freedom or economy, and we sacrifice so many lives to protect these things, I have to wonder: Is there a better way?

I wish I had answers. I have none. Only the memories of a small brown book with lyrics that nobody checked out of the library except me.

As I post this, the sky has gone a fiery shade of pink, which I find oddly fitting.


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