Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker eyeballsmccat: "I think we've had variations on this one, but it's been on my mind lately: If you could time travel and give your tiny self one thing that was missing from your childhood, what would it be?"

Most of the things that were missing from my childhood are things that I couldn't provide, even given the benefit of time travel. But of the things I could, the first that came to mind was: The promise of a future in which there was more than one woman in Star Wars.

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Discussion Thread: Good Things

One of the ways we resist the demoralization and despair in which exploiters of fear like Trump thrive is to keep talking about the good things in our lives.

Because, even though it feels very much (and rightly so) like we are losing so many things we value, there are still daily moments of joy or achievement or love or empowering ferocity or other kinds of fulfillment.

Maybe you've experienced something big worth celebrating; maybe you've just had a precious moment of contentment; maybe getting out of bed this morning was a success worthy of mention.

News items worth celebrating are also welcome.

So, whatever you have to share that's good, here's a place to do it.

* * *

Recently, my favorite swim cap, which was a purple monster face, snapped as I was putting it on, and I was so sad! But then I found this swim cap, and I wasn't sad anymore! Yay!

image of a swim cap featuring a pop-art Rosie the Riveter and text reading WE CAN SWIM!

I love it so much, and I've gotten several compliments on it in the locker room, from women who make the most amazing expressions when they exclaim, "Oh, I LOVE your swim cap!"

I have resisted trying to high-five them, because I don't want to be a weirdo. Instead, I just say, "Thank you!" and give them a Rosie the Riveter arm.

Okay, maybe I'm a weirdo either way, lol. I'm okay with that.

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Please feel welcome to discuss Dr. Dipshit's remarkable report about Donald Trump's amazing health. I just personally don't have a goddamn thing to say about any of this garbage.

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Help Me Out, Shakers

Question for readers who rely on alt-text for images: When I include alt-text for images in embedded tweets, as I did in today's Daily Dose of Cute, does that follow through to the page from Twitter, or do I need to include an in-page image description here?

Thanks for any guidance you can give me, as I'm having trouble figuring this out on my own!

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Daily Dose of Cute

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 362

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by Fannie: The Hell That Misogyny Has Wrought. And by me: Steve Bannon to Testify Today and The Good Guys Who Have Betrayed My Trust and Broken My Heart.

After Hawaiians were wrongly sent a warning that an attack was imminent, today a very similar thing happened in Japan:

Maybe that's just a startling coincidence. Or maybe it isn't. And, if it isn't, then we need to know who the fuck is messing with warning systems in a way that could end up starting a goddamned nuclear war. I think we all know who the likely culprit would be, in that scenario. Which the U.S. government definitely wants us to think is nothing but the conjecture of tinfoil-hatted conspirists.

[Content Note: White supremacy] In other news, we're still talking about how the President of the United States called Haiti, El Salvador, and unspecified African countries "shitholes," and those conversations are definitely terrific and on-point, as usual.

Thank Maude at least Jonathan M. Katz at the Washington Post wrote something sensitive and smart on this subject: This Is How Ignorant You Have to Be to Call Haiti a 'Shithole'. "To rail against poverty in countries such as Haiti and argue that it's some naturally occurring, objective reality ignores why that poverty exists and what the United States's role has been in creating it." YES.

Meanwhile... Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo: Senate Dems Grill DHS Chief on 'Shithole' Meeting with Trump.
The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday faced intense questioning from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding whether [Donald] Trump disparaged certain countries during a meeting on immigration last week.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen did not deny, however, that Trump used vulgar language while referring to certain countries, as has been reported.

...During an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-NH) asked Nielsen, who was at the meeting in question, about the reports.

"You were in the room," he told Nielsen. "You're under oath."

"Did [Donald] Trump use this word or a substantially similar word to describe certain countries?" Leahy asked.

"I did not hear that word used, no sir," Nielsen said.

"That is not the question. Did he use anything similar to that describing certain countries?" Leahy asked. Various reports days after the fact cited unnamed White House officials who claimed Trump may have been using the word "shithouse."

Nielsen responded: "The conversation was very impassioned. I don't dispute that the President was using tough language. Others in the room were also using tough language. The concept, and the context, I believe, in which this came up was the concept that the President would like to move to a merit-based system. He would like to not — no longer look at quotas—"

Leahy interrupted her: "Did he use what would be considered vulgar language referring to certain countries?"

"The President used tough language in general, as did congressmen in the room, yes sir," she said.

..."What did the president say about immigrants from Norway?" Durbin pressed. He told CNN's Jake Tapper, in an interview clip aired Tuesday, that Trump had said "We need more people from Norway. Norway, they don't even take refugees in Norway. And I just met with the Norwegian Prime Minister. We need more Europeans!"

"I heard him repeating what he learned in a meeting before, that they are industrious, that they are a hard-working country," Nielsen replied. "They don't have much crime there, they don't have much debt. I think in general, I heard him giving compliments to Norway."

Leahy had asked about Norway, as well. "Being from Norway is not a skill," he noted, referring to the White House's professed preference for high-skilled immigrants. "What does he mean when he says he wants more immigrants from Norway?"

Nielsen said she did not believe Trump used that exact phrase "specifically," but that "he was using Norway as an example of a country that is — what he was specifically referring to was the prime minister telling him that the people of Norway work very hard. And so what he was referencing is, from a merit-based perspective, we would like to have those with skills who can assimilate and contribute to the United States, moving away from country quotas and to an individual merit-based system."
Sounds legit. (It does not sound legit.)

But the president can't be a racist, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, because he had a TV show! [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Toluse Olorunnipa at Bloomberg: Sanders Says Trump Isn't Racist, Citing The Apprentice. "White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said claims that [Donald] Trump is racist are 'outrageous,' citing his success as a public figure and his star turn on television as a host on NBC's reality show The Apprentice. 'Frankly, if the critics of the president were who he said he was, why did NBC give him a show for a decade on TV?' Sanders said Tuesday."

LOLOLOLOLOL these fucking people. They've been calling "Hollywood" a bastion of liberal elitism for so long that they've started to believe it. The only problem is that the film and television industry is rank with racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, disablism, fat hatred, ageism, and every other bigotry. It looks less like conservatives' conjured fantasy of a progressive hellscape and more like the Republican platform.

* * *

Brian Fung at the Washington Post: The Senate's Push to Overrule the FCC on Net Neutrality Now Has 50 Votes, Democrats Say. "Fifty senators have endorsed a legislative measure to override the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision to deregulate the broadband industry, top Democrats said Monday. The tally leaves supporters just one Republican vote shy of the 51 required to pass a Senate resolution of disapproval, in a legislative gambit aimed at restoring the agency's net neutrality rules. ...The resolution aims to overturn the FCC's decision and prohibit the agency from passing similar measures in the future. It has the support of all 49 Democratic senators as well as one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine."

Surely there is one more Republican who will support this measure! COME ON.

If you've got a Republican Senator, MAKE YOUR CALLS. Let's get this number to 50, dammit. It still won't make for a veto-proof majority, but if we're gonna lose Net Neutrality, let's make Donald Trump sign his fucking name to it.

* * *

[CN: Nativism] Esther Yu Hsi Lee at ThinkProgress: Justice Department Report Blames Immigrants for Terrorism, But Doesn't Have the Data to Back It Up. (Spoiler Alert: That's because such data doesn't exist.) "On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security released a scary report claiming that three out of four individuals convicted of international terrorism or terrorism-related offenses were 'immigrants.' 'This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality — our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,' U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a press statement. ...As other journalists and national security analysts skeptically pointed out, the DOJ broadly defines 'immigrants' as both the people extradited to the United States for trial and immigrants arrested in the country."

[CN: Nativism] Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press: Too Old for DACA, Man Who Spent 30 Years of His Life in U.S. Is Deported. "His arms wrapped around his wife and two teenage children, Jorge Garcia's eyes welled up Monday as he looked into their eyes one last time near the entrance to the airport security gate. His wife, Cindy Garcia, cried out while his daughter, Soleil, 15, sobbed into Garcia's shoulder as they hugged, with two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents keeping a close eye on them. After 30 years of living in the United States, Jorge Garcia, a 39-year-old landscaper from Lincoln Park, Mich., was deported on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to Mexico, a move his supporters say is another example of immigrants being unfairly targeted under the Trump administration. An undocumented family member brought Jorge Garcia to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. Today he has a wife and two children, all of whom are U.S. citizens." Rage seethe boil sob.

[CN: War on agency] Amy Littlefield at Rewire: Indiana Denies Abortion Clinic License for 'Incredibly Offensive' Reason. "Amy Hagstrom Miller knew it wouldn't be easy to run an abortion clinic in Indiana. But she didn't expect to get a letter from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) denying her application to open a clinic in South Bend on the grounds that her organization is not 'of reputable and responsible character.' 'That sentence is incredibly offensive,' Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health Alliance, said in an interview with Rewire. 'Every single thing they have asked of us we have complied with and responded to promptly and accurately.' ...Hagstrom Miller said the organization would file an appeal, which the letter said they must do by January 23." Goddammit.

[CN: Trans hatred] Rebecca Klein at the Huffington Post: Trump Admin to Transgender Kids: We Won't Deal with Your Civil Rights Complaints. "In Texas, a transgender teenager said his high school discriminated against him for almost two years. He was not allowed to use the bathroom that corresponded with his gender identity. When he traveled overnight with one of the school's teams, he wasn't allowed to room with his male peers, he alleged. But Donald Trump's Department of Education did not think it could help this student. The teenager's case is one of at least three involving transgender students' experiences navigating school bathrooms or gender-specific sports teams that the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has dismissed in the past several months, with the explanation that these issues do not fall under its jurisdiction, according to documents obtained by HuffPost and a source familiar with the matter." Fucking hell.

* * *

[CN: Sexual harassment and assault. Covers entire section.]

Aditi Juneja at Medium: Allegations Against Aziz Ansari Are Forcing a Reckoning Around Intersectionality in the South Asian Community. "The defenses of Ansari that I have seen from within the South Asian community, in more casual settings, similarly fail to consider the experiences of South Asian women, and focus on the way these accusations stain the reputation of our culture as a whole. ...We cannot have conversations about how Ansari's behavior was problematic when we don't discuss healthy sexuality in our communities. I am not blaming South Asians, or the broader Asian American community, for Ansari's behavior. Rather, I am suggesting that it is an opportunity for us to actively participate in the broader American conversation happening about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and healthy sexuality through an intersectional lens that considers the experiences of South Asians who are not heterosexual cisgender men."

Eliza Dushku on Facebook: When I Was 12 Years Old, While Filming True Lies, I Was Sexually Molested by Joel Kramer, One of Hollywood's Leading Stunt Coordinators. "I remember, so clearly 25 years later, how Joel Kramer made me feel special, how he methodically built my and my parents' trust, for months grooming me; exactly how he lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parent that he would take me for a swim at the stunt crew's hotel pool and for my first sushi meal thereafter. ...And I remember how soon-after, when my tough adult female friend (in whom I had confided my terrible secret on the condition of a trade that she let me drive her car around the Hollywood Hills) came out to the set to visit and face him, later that very same day, by no small coincidence, I was injured from a stunt-gone-wrong on the Harrier jet. With broken ribs, I spent the evening in the hospital."

Erin Nyren at Variety: Eliza Dushku's Alleged Assailant Subject of Two More Allegations of Sexual Misconduct. "Joel Kramer, the stunt coordinator accused of sexually assaulting Eliza Dushku when she was 12 years old, is the subject of two further allegations of misconduct. According to Deadline, stuntwoman Laura Albert said in a statement that Kramer coerced a 16-year-old girl, the friend of Albert's younger sister and who wanted to remain unnamed, into having sex [sic] while Albert was working on 1997's Virus in North Carolina. ...Another stunt woman also came forward with a new allegation against Kramer, telling Deadline that while getting a ride with Kramer from one location where the stunt crew had met for drinks to another in the late 1970s or early '80s, he drove her into a quiet residential area. She says he then forced her to perform oral sex on him, grabbing the back of her head."

Amanda Arnold at the Cut: Condoleezza Rice Is Wary of the #MeToo Movement. "While former U.S. secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she's supportive of the #MeToo movement and believes it to be 'a good thing,' she's worried that it could lead to the infantilization and exclusion of women, CNN reports. Therefore, she warns advocates to be 'a little bit careful' about sexual-harassment allegations. 'Let's not turn women into snowflakes,' she told CNN's David Axelrod on The Axe Files. 'Let's not infantilize women.'" That's pretty rich coming from someone who served in the administration of a Republican president, given that a central plank of the GOP platform is treating women like we are children who can't be trusted to make decisions for ourselves.

Benjamin Lee at the Guardian: Alec Baldwin Criticizes Stars Renouncing Woody Allen: 'Unfair and Sad'. "'Woody Allen was investigated forensically by two states (NY and CT) and no charges were filed,' Baldwin tweeted. 'The renunciation of him and his work, no doubt, has some purpose. But it's unfair and sad to me. I worked w WA 3 times and it was one of the privileges of my career.' He then proceeded to retweet a number of people sharing the story of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen's adopted son Moses Farrow, who claims he was 'brainwashed' by his adoptive mother." Shut the fuck up, Alec Baldwin. Some of us still remember that you treat your own daughter like garbage. Asshole.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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The Good Guys Who Have Betrayed My Trust and Broken My Heart

[Content Note: Descriptions of sexual assault; rape culture.]

It was one of the best moments of my 15-year-old life. The boy on whom I had a crush had noticed me. Really noticed me. We had spoken before, but only because we were both on the school newspaper, so he had to talk to me. But now, at an overnight party thrown every year by one of our teachers, he was lying beside me in a dimly lit room, both of us under a brown plaid blanket, facing each other, deeply immersed in what felt like a profound conversation about astral projection.

I felt as though I were wrapped in electricity. He had finally seen me and was listening to me, this brooding boy with his dark clothes and his black eyeliner and his philosophy books. I was lost as much in his green eyes as I was in our conversation.

And then, as I was talking, I felt him take my hand. To a dorky, earnest girl like me, I thought it was the most romantic thing ever to lie in the dark and hold hands while having a serious conversation.

But he didn't want to hold my hand. He wanted to put my hand on his hard dick.

I stopped mid-sentence. He told me to go on, but the panic that seized me had stolen my voice altogether. I was frozen, but he didn't care. His hand firmly placed on top of mine, he manipulated my hand to rub himself. I pinched my eyes shut and turned my head away from him, and, with just that small movement, I became unstuck.

I pulled my hand away and told him I needed to go find my friend. He emitted a great, heaving sigh and looked at me with disgust. Or maybe just disappointment. What I remember more is the sound of that sigh, and how it conveyed so clearly that he was annoyed with my noncompliance. That I had wasted his time.

Later, I would date a friend of his, to whom he introduced me. That boy would rape me.

* * *

I haven't thought about that night under that blanket for a very long time, but it came back to me as I read the account of Grace, a young woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari and spent a harrowing few hours being pursued and coerced and assaulted by him.

There are already a number of reprehensible thinkpieces in response to Grace's account, to which I won't be linking, and an outpouring of rape apologia and victim-blaming, predominantly along the lines of demanding to know why Grace didn't leave — despite the fact that she did, and, if she hadn't, the story almost certainly would have ended much differently — and/or mischaracterizing the events she details as "a bad date" or "a date gone wrong" or some other equally minimizing euphemism that makes it sound like Ansari spilled soup in her lap.

Suffice it to say, I find the (entirely unsurprising yet thoroughly enraging) defense of Ansari cruel and unwarranted. Many of these defenses don't even bother disputing the details; instead, the defenders simply say that they don't constitute anything worth a public accounting.

That apologia, however, necessitates ignoring one significant detail that reveals what's described isn't just "a misunderstanding." It's here, in the juxtaposition of these two moments:

Grace says she spent around five minutes in the bathroom, collecting herself in the mirror and splashing herself with water. Then she went back to Ansari. He asked her if she was okay. "I said I don't want to feel forced because then I'll hate you, and I'd rather not hate you," she said.


Ansari instructed her to turn around. "He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did. I think I just felt really pressured. It was literally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable."

Soon, he pulled her back up onto the couch. She would tell her friend via text later that night, "He [made out] with me again and says, 'Doesn't look like you hate me.'"

When I read Grace's story, I remembered all the calculations I had to make in a moment, when a person I liked did something I hated, and how difficult they were to process as my brain was overwhelmed with vibrating alarm: Do I want this? No. Can I stop it? Yes. Can I stop it safely? Not sure. What should I do? Don't know. Do I still want him to like me? Yes. No. I don't know. Can I move? No. Maybe. Is he going to get mad at me? Probably. Is he going to hurt me? I don't think so. Not here.

I was 15, and I already knew deep in my bones that women who disappoint men are at risk of being harmed.

It wasn't until many years later that I considered how much he had disappointed me. And it took much longer still to believe that my disappointment mattered.

I don't know if, among the many things she is feeling and has felt, Grace feels disappointed. If she does, I hope she feels like that disappointment matters. It certainly matters to me.

I am disappointed, too.

* * *

I published that tweet in May, after I watched the second season of Ansari's critically acclaimed show Master of None, for which he just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Series (Musical or Comedy).

I'm disappointed that I even have to have a Please Don't Turn Out to Be a Fucking Creeper list, and I am disappointed that Aziz Ansari is just one of many men who have been on it, only for me to find out that they are terrible to women.

They are men who explicitly invited my trust, who often said the right words about seeing women as fully human, and who leveraged the trust those words engendered, my trust and the trust of many others, in order to hurt women.

They are politicians — John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner. They are entertainers — Aziz Ansari, James Franco, Louis CK. They are members of the media, and professional athletes, and writers, and chefs, and "woke celebrities" of every iteration. They are men who are "internet famous," or men who aren't famous at all — the men who insinuate themselves as The Good Stepfather, The Caring Priest, The Cool Teacher, The Male Feminist, someone who cares, someone who is special, and who use the good faith they've been afforded to make their victims doubt themselves when they inevitably abuse them, and then exploit that carefully cultivated doubt to protect themselves from accountability.

I am disappointed — and very, very angry — that so many men have appealed to my trust in order to harm other women.

Aziz Ansari let me down, like so many other men before him, by betraying my trust. And he broke my fucking heart by using my fondness for his work, for the feminist words he said, to protect himself from having to live up to the expectations he invited me to have.

I am tired of men making me an accomplice in their abuse, because I trusted them.

* * *

It is horrendous when a man I don't even know breaks every boundary of basic decency to sexually assault me. But mostly the men who have abused me, and scared me, have been men whom I trusted — men who leveraged my trust in order to hurt me.

And that is even worse.

Between the men who have personally harmed me, and the men who have made me an unwitting accomplice in their harm of other women, I am profoundly reluctant to trust men at all.

I have had my trust in men exploited for harm too many times.

I have encountered too many men who insist that they are Good Guys, or who implore me to believe that they are by the things they say from their very visible platforms, who are not Good Guys at all, but men who betray my trust and and break my heart.

Even, and perhaps especially, the men who most loudly insist that they are Good Guys prove quickly and unmistakably that they are not, if expected to actually behave like a guy who is good.

And yet. If I say that I cannot trust men, easily or at all, I am immediately deluged with men (and not a few women) who demand to know why I hate men, who tell me that I'm the problem, who accuse me of misandry, who call me a cunt.

It is always on me to keep trusting men, and never on men to make themselves trustworthy.

* * *

I don't want to not trust men. To the absolute contrary, not trusting people forces me to act in opposition to my nature. I am constitutionally trusting, and I am a person who wants very much to like other people.

It does not come easily to me to not trust men. Even after 43 years on this rock filled with disincentives, my trusting nature overpowers all the very rational reasons I have to withhold my trust.

But I cannot do it. I won't. Because I am exhausted from being hurt, and because I see clearly how my trust is misused to access other trusting women and hurt them.

"Good Guys" have disappointed me into chronic distrust.

I can imagine that makes some men very angry. Oh well. Imagine how it makes me feel that constant betrayals of my trust obliges me to behave in a way that is contrary to my nature; turns me into someone I am not naturally and don't want to be; requires energy I can ill afford to expend.

Trust that I don't want to be a person who reads an interview or hears a song lyric or watches a film or reads a book, and finds something valuable, and decides to keep it to myself, because I can't be sure that my public fandom of a man won't be exploited by that man; because I can't be sure he isn't an abuser who will trade on his celebrity to hurt women.

That is not the person I want to be. But it is the person I have become.

And if any man feels affronted by that, they can take it up with the men who have made it impossible for me to be any other way.

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The Hell That Misogyny Has Wrought

[Content Note: Misogyny; rape culture.]

"A lost man is lost intelligence....There is no mourning for the lost intelligence of women because there is no conviction that such intelligence was real and was destroyed....[W]omen are despised when they refuse to be lost." -Andrea Dworkin (1983)

The hell that misogyny has wrought is knowing that media coverage of the first viable female presidential candidate in US history was brimming with an ugly misogyny that contributed to her loss, even though this fact was widely denied in real time by those across the political spectrum.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is Chris Matthews, who makes millions of dollars per year as a commentator at "liberal" MSNBC, joking about using the date-rape drug on the first viable female presidential candidate prior to his pre-election interview with her.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is that what every person means when they harass and assault women is, "You don't belong here."

The hell that misogyny has wrought is knowing that for every story of a rapist, harasser, or predator that has come to light, thousands upon thousands more have not.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is a nation, political system, and media bestowing the presidency upon a sexual predator not in spite of his implicit promise to uphold an unjust gendered hierarchy, but because of it.

The hell that misogyny has wrought has given men a disproportionate share of resources, an entitlement to bulldoze over women's boundaries, and the collective benefit of the doubt that they are somehow intellectually superior to women and yet incapable of understanding when women don't want to fuck them.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is watching person after person who has done nothing to end rape culture getting space at major publications to declare that an anti-rape-culture movement has gone "too far" simply because a handful of rich men have experienced temporary consequences and public embarrassment.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is knowing that shitty men rule the media world and that, because they are shitty, they promote punditry that normalizes misogyny and, if they allow feminist perspectives at all, allow only those perspectives (and bodies) they experience as most appealing, comfortable, and profitable.

The hell that misogyny has wrought are pundits, media elites, and religious leaders being outraged when words like "pussy" are uttered in public while, because they don't see women as fully human, they remain indifferent to the millions of ways men have invented to violate women's bodily autonomy.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is male comedians acting like rape and sexual harassment are comedy gold, with the support of their male fan bases, while MRAs pretend feminists do nothing but make "men getting raped and kicked in the nuts" jokes all day long.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is being an intelligent feminist who has put quite a lot of thought into rape culture and nonetheless having a neverending avalanche of dipshits coming at you on social media demanding that you immediately take their laundry lists of random mediocre insights about gender seriously or else it proves you and all feminists are stupid cowards.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is being a woman, any woman of any political belief, and coming to a full recognition of the reality that you are truly hated by the dominant political, media, and religious cultures of your society.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is being a person who is hated for simply refusing to hate women.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is being a feminist and wondering how many more women will have to suffer because the people who advocate for women are hated, defamed, and regularly harassed out of this political work.

The hell that misogyny has wrought is a system rigged for men, exactly as intended, in countless ways large and small.

The hell that misogyny wrought is a rape-culture shithole.

It is metaphorically embodied by Donald Trump's permanently-puckered, predatory mouth. It is a wasteland of bully-coddling injustice whose very function is to annihilate women's humanity, intelligence, autonomy, freedom, and happiness. It has existed for millenia after millenia, always adapting, inventing new ways and justifications to suppress women's potential.

So, if I may. I posit that it is a mathematical impossibility for a movement which has existed for an infinitesimal fraction of the time that rape-culture patriarchy has existed to have gone far enough, already.

Ending rape culture will not be vanquished by a few months of simply "embarrassing" this or that millionaire man on social media. The issue at hand, rather, is not that the current revitalization of anti-rape-culture advocacy has gone "too far," it's that it has not even begun to go far enough.

I suggest everyone buckle in. Living in a deeply misogynist culture has made some of us relentless, angry, persistent, and impatient for justice. And that, for those beholden to rape culture and so very sad to see it go, is the hell that misogyny has wrought.

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Steve Bannon to Testify Today

Today, the House Intelligence Committee will question Steve Bannon as part of its inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The political press breathlessly reported his arrival at the U.S. Capitol. I know, because nothing is so important to report about Nazis as their sartorial choices, that he is wearing a shirt and tie.

I have no reason to trust Steve Bannon, and neither does the House Intelligence Committee. I care about his testimony only insofar as he could exploit this opportunity to further his own agenda of destroying the federal government — and I fear that some members of the House Intelligence Committee and most members of the chattering class might put stock in what Bannon says because it's too tempting not to believe him, rather than because it has any discernible veracity.

Donald Trump is a lying scoundrel who has surrounded himself with lying scoundrels. The Republican Party has shown it has no interest in finding the truth with these Congressional investigations, and consistently uses its majority status to undermine any potential for meaningful accountability to be their outcome.

So, I fear that we are more likely to end up on the other side of Bannon's testimony even further away from truth and accountability than when we are now.

Which is entirely the point, for many of the people involved.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

Hosted by a turquoise sofa. Have a seat and chat.

Open Wide...

Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail

[Content Note: Descriptions of racism.]

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
16 April 1963

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Open Thread

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Hosted by a purple sofa. Have a seat and chat.

NB: It will be a light content day today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

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[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by teal pleather.

Recommended Reading:

Tierney Sneed at TPM: Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Paid off Woman to Stay Mum on Trump Sex Allegations

Noreen Malone at the Cut: [Content Note: Rape joke; misogyny] Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His 'Bill Cosby Pill' Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton

Ijeoma Oluo at Elle: [CN: White supremacy; patriarchy] Does This Year Make Me Look Angry?

Thomas Frank at BuzzFeed: Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos to Unknown Buyers

Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Challenges Congress to Tackle Inequity in America's Schools

Verity Bowman at the Guardian: [CN: Misogyny; death] Woman in Nepal Dies After Being Exiled to Outdoor Hut During Her Period

Teresa Jusino at the Mary Sue: [CN: Straightwashing; homophobia] Dear NBC: Straightwashing Is Not Okay (and Maybe Hire Producers Who Aren't Myopic)

AFP/Towleroad: [CN: Homophobia] Billie Jean King Calls for Margaret Court Arena to be Renamed Over Tennis Legend's Anti-Gay Remarks

Paul Rincon at the BBC: Huge Black Hole Blasts out 'Double Burp'

Rae Paoletta at Inverse: [CN: Image of creepy-looking, toothy fish at link] Very Nice Kitty from Deep Sea Accidentally Found

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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Maxine Waters Is a National Treasure

With a big old hat-tip to Eastsidekate, this is a real press release that Rep. Maxine Waters' office put into the world today:

January 12, 2018 | Press Release

Rep. Waters Statement on Donald Trump's Racist Slurs About Immigrants

LOS ANGELES — Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement in response to Donald Trump's comments on immigrants from what he referred to as "shithole countries" during an Oval Office meeting:

"Donald Trump is a racist and indecent man with no good values who is woefully unfit and undeserving of the office in which he serves. That this president, a deeply flawed human being with no understanding of public policy, would make such ill-informed and deplorable comments about Haitians, Salvadorans, and immigrants from African countries, merely underscores everything we already know about him: he is a hopeless and ignorant bigot.

"Donald Trump dog-whistled his way into the White House, running a campaign based on hate, bigotry, and fear. Upon taking his oath of office, he surrounded himself with alt-right white nationalists, such as Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, and nominated a well-known racist, Jeff Sessions, to lead his Department of Justice. One of his first actions as president was to institute a prejudicial and potentially unconstitutional 'Muslim ban', and since then, his administration has significantly increased its efforts to target minority communities and increase deportations. Furthermore, when the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white nationalist groups rallied and ultimately murdered an innocent woman in Charlottesville, he refused to rebuke them. While he won't denounce white nationalists from our nation's highest office, he has leveled attacks on journalists, athletes, private citizens, and even Members of Congress — many of whom, not coincidentally, are people of color.

"Donald Trump is crumbling under pressure from the ultra-right-wing conservatives. These radical conservatives elected Trump expecting him to use his presidential authority to deport thousands of innocent young people, many of whom were brought to this country as children and have since made positive contributions to our society. In true Trump-fashion, to compensate for his deficiencies and failure to grasp immigration policy, he has resorted to using an ignorant racial slur to denigrate people and countries about whom he knows nothing and for whom he has no care. Perhaps if these countries had white majorities, he might actually care about them. But they do not, and therefore he does not.

"What's even worse than his racist comment and divisive tactics, he is a hopeless liar who believes that he can make these comments in the presence of others — as he has done in this recent meeting with Members of Congress involved in negotiations about DACA — and then deny them, which only adds to the 2,000 lies that he has already told since taking office that have been documented by the media.

"Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a national disgrace. Members of Congress have a responsibility to the American people and our democracy to impeach him.

"Justification for impeachment of this president includes the obvious obstruction of justice; continuing revelations about his associates and members of his family who have questionable contacts and connections to Russia; the alienation of our allies abroad; the attacks on the media and the 1st Amendment of the Constitution; the name-calling and attacks on his political opponents; the disrespect of women, including a U.S. Senator who he implied would do anything for a political contribution; and all of the disgraceful, untruthful, and disturbing actions by this president that continue to prove that he has no respect for our country's most sacred values and traditions.

"No longer can Members of Congress, particularly Republicans, stand with such a dangerous, disturbed, and deceitful man who is a threat to everything for which America, the greatest democracy on earth, stands. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to impeach him without delay."

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Daily Dose of Cute

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Look at this sassy old rag, taking up a whole blanket for herself! LOL.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 358

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Here Is a Thing That Is Still Happening and Donald Trump Is a Racist.

[Content Note: Racism] Because Donald Trump is not only a racist but a liar, of course he took to Twitter to deny having called Haiti, El Salvador, et. al. "shithole countries."

Unfortunately for Trump, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who isn't known as a compulsive liar, disputed the president's denial in a very straightforward and powerful way:

As Senator [Lindsey] Graham made his presentation, the president interrupted him several times with questions, and, in the course of his comments, said things which were hate-filled, vile, and racist.

I use those words advisedly. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that, in the history of the White House and that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.

You've seen the comments in the press; I've not read one of them that's inaccurate. To no surprise, the president started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words. It is not true. He said these hateful things, and he said them repeatedly.
Wow. Thank you, Senator Durbin.

In other news, Trump has cancelled a visit to London next month to open the new U.S. embassy, fearing mass protests. But he's too much of a coward to admit that he's afraid for the world to see how hated he is, and he won't admit that his trip has been downgraded by the UK because of his bigotry, so he claimed it was because President Obama made a "bad deal" selling the previous embassy.

Couple of problems with that:

Worst. President. Ever.


* * *

Ashley Feinberg at the Huffington Post: Here Is a Draft of Trump's Nuclear Review: He Wants a Lot More Nukes.
In October, NBC reported that [Donald] Trump had told a gathering of high-ranking national security leaders that "he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal." While the report doesn't nearly go that far, it does call for the development of new, so-called low-yield nuclear weapons — warheads with a lower explosive force.

The logic of those pushing for the development of smaller nukes is that our current nuclear weapons are too big and too deadly to ever use; we are effectively self-deterred, and the world knows it. To make sure other countries believe that we'd actually use nuclear force, the thinking goes, we need more low-yield nukes.

..."Making the case that we need more low-yield options is making the case that this president needs more nuclear capabilities at his disposal," said Alexandra Bell, a former senior adviser at the State Department and current senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, "regardless of the fact that we have 4,000 nuclear weapons in our active stockpile, which is more than enough to destroy the world many times over. So I don't think it makes a convincing case that we somehow lack capabilities. And, in fact, I don't think you can make the case that this president needs any more capabilities."
Not only do we have 4,000 nukes in our active stockpile, but, Feinberg notes, "we already have over 1,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal with low-yield options, to say nothing of the fact that the more nuclear weapons you introduce into the world, the more likely it is that they'll one day be used."

Especially when the sitting president is someone who [CN: video may autoplay] doesn't understand why we even have nuclear weapons if we don't he doesn't get to use them.


But Trump is busily accusing members of the U.S. intelligence community of treason. Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Tells WSJ That FBI Employees' Critical Texts Were Treasonous. "Donald Trump said Thursday that text messages critical of him shared by FBI employees amounted to treason, the Wall Street Journal reported. Journal reporters interviewed Trump for 45 minutes, the paper reported, in a conversation that touched on everything from North Korea to Steve Bannon. 'A man is tweeting to his lover that if [Democrat Hillary Clinton] loses, we'll essentially do the insurance policy,' Trump said. 'We'll go to phase two and we'll get this guy out of office. This is the FBI we're talking about — that is treason,' he added. 'That is a treasonous act. What he tweeted to his lover is a treasonous act.' Trump was referring to text messages between Agent Peter Strzok — once a member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team — and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked briefly on Mueller's team as well." That is not treason. FYI.

Foreign Staff at the Telegraph: U.S. Ambassador to Panama Resigns, Saying He Can No Longer Serve Under Trump Administration. "U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned, telling the State Department he no longer feels able to serve [Donald] Trump. 'As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,' Mr Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters."

James Hohmann at the Washington Post: Trump Has No Nominees for 245 Important Jobs, Including an Ambassador to South Korea. (Emphasis original.)
Next Saturday brings the anniversary of the inauguration. Over the first year, a fixation on the chaos and churn inside the West Wing has often overshadowed the less-sexy decay and neglect at the departmental level. There are a striking number of big jobs that have not been filled.

The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, have been working together to track the status of 626 top jobs in the executive branch. This includes assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, heads of agencies, ambassadors, and other leadership positions that experts believe are critical for the federal government to function effectively. These represent about half of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation.

The White House likes to blame Congress for dragging its feet, but that's only part of the story: As of this morning, there is no pending nominee for 245 of the 626 jobs we're tracking. Among them: Deputy secretary at Treasury and Commerce, director of the Census, director of ATF, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice, and commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

At Veterans Affairs, no one has been tapped to be the undersecretary for health or benefits.

At the Transportation Department, there is not a nominee to be administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Trump has not submitted nominees to direct the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Geological Survey. He has also not picked someone to be assistant secretary of Interior for fish, wildlife, and parks.

Many of these jobs have "acting" directors, but these people aren't fully empowered and cannot indefinitely stay in these roles without being confirmed by the Senate because of laws related to vacancies. The lack of permanence creates uncertainty and makes strategic planning difficult. It also makes it harder to manage career staff, who are less likely to follow orders they disagree with when they realize that their boss is a short-timer.
Fucking hell. All of these vacancies are alarming, but the fact that there is a vacancy for the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice is chilling.

* * *

[CN: Rape apologia] "Andrew Sullivan writes that it's time to resist the excesses of #MeToo." Oh.

[CN: Sexual harassment and vengeance]

[CN: Fat hatred] Kaiser at Celebitchy: Megyn Kelly: Some Women Want to Be Fat-Shamed Because Fat-Shaming 'Works'. "Megyn was doing a segment on her Today hour about 'Fit Mom' Maria Kang, the woman who posted a photo of her fit body with the caption 'what's your excuse?' As Megyn and Maria spoke, Megyn talked about how she kept weight off when she was in law school. Megyn said: 'Some of us want to be shamed! When I was in law school, I was gaining weight, I said to my stepfather, 'If you see me going into that kitchen one more time, you say, 'Where you going, fat ass?' And it works!'" Fuck. Off.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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