Konfounding Kwestions for Konservatives

Why do you oppose big government but think it is OK for government to restrict a woman’s right to choose whether, when, why, and with whom to have a baby?

How can you be pro-life but support the death penalty?

How can you be against government spending but in favor of limitless military spending?

How can you advocate family values but oppose paid maternity leave?

How can you be against government intrusion into people’s private lives and also OK with mass surveillance?

Why do you say you support the troops when you have never met a war you opposed?

Why are you so mad that the country’s most impoverished people pay no income tax yet praise a billionaire for doing the same?

How is it that you shout about individual liberty but don’t see anything wrong with mass incarceration?

Why do you blame unemployed people for not having jobs yet complain about immigrants taking your job?

Why do you complain about low-wage jobs and no-wage jobs yet support politicians who destroy unions?

Why do you preach rugged individualism and personal responsibility to minorities but blame them for your lack of prosperity?

Why do you talk about how much you value hard work but fawn over billionaires who have never done any?

How can you support a war to free women in Afghanistan and threaten to rape any woman who challenges you on Twitter?

The 10 Commandments, According to Donald Trump

  1. You shall worship no-one but me because I am wonderful . . . incredible . . . believe me, I am amazing.
  2. All idols must show just how amazingly large my testicles are. Amazingly large.
  3. You shall mention my name as often as possible.
  4. Forget the Sabbath. Only lazy people need rest.
  5. Honor your father for the small loan that allowed you to start your business. Your mother was a real dog.
  6. You shall not murder, unless you are murdering Muslims or ugly women.
  7. You shall not commit adultery with pigs, slobs, or disgusting women, especially when they are bleeding from their whatevers.
  8. You shall only steal from honest, hardworking carpenters and laborers.
  9. You shall not miss an opportunity to bear false witness against your neighbor, especially if your neighbor is Mexican. Or a Syrian refugee.
  10. You shall covet everything  because there is a gaping void in your chest where your humanity once was.

Thank You, Donald Trump!

Can somebody PLEASE explain to me what the hell is happening in the G.O.P.? The Bush clan and Mitt Romney just announced that they will not be attending the Convention this summer. So did former presidential candidate John McCain. And Paul Ryan just announced that he can’t get behind Trump’s policies.

Let me get this straight. When angry racist White people – anyone remember the Tea Party, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh and their supporters? – were voting for candidates on the basis of such idiotisms as bootstrapism, prolifism, homophobia and xenophobia (has EVERYONE forgotten Orange Alerts?), these “mainstream” “moderate” Republicans saw nothing wrong with the party?

When angry White xenophobes, racists, homophobes and misogynists were voting to deny marriage equality and cut social-welfare spending for impoverished and minority communities, this was ok? Voting to deny millions of “illegals” basic things like state-issued identification documents and health care was ok?

But now that angry White racists, xenophobes, and bigots are voting on the basis of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry, suddenly there’s something wrong with the party? Um . . . did the Bush clan, Romney, John McCain, and the rest of these “mainstream” Republicans ever wonder why so few Black people supported their party? It’s because their party has ALWAYS been the party of bigots, racists, xenophobes, and homophobes! Sure, they were a more polite sort of racist, homophobe, xenophobe, and misogynist but racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists they have always been. So thank you, Donald Trump, for helping the G.O.P. show its A.S.S. to the world.

Long Overdue Alphabetical Retrospective on the Bush Years

A is for Axis of Evil
B is for blowback
C is for compassionate conservatism
D is for decider
E is for Enron
F is for freedom fries
G is for Guantanamo
H is for Hurricane Katrina
I is for insurgency
J is for Jesus
K is for Kanye West
L is for liberators
M is for mission accomplished
N is for New Orleans
O is for orange alerts
P is for Patriot Act
Q is for quagmire
R is for recession
S is for shock and awe
T is for “they misunderestimated me”
U is for unknown unknowns
V is for Valerie Plame
W is for waterboarding
X is for extraordinary rendition
Y is for Yellowcake
Z is for xenophobia

Open Letter to Ahmed Mohamed

Dear Ahmed,

I heard with great sadness about the awful experience you had after you brought a home-made clock to school. I cannot imagine how embarrassing — humiliating, even — it must have been for you to be singled out from your classmates and led away in handcuffs. I want to join the many people who have spoken out in your support and protested the way you were treated.

I also want to tell you, Ahmed, that you have nothing to be ashamed of because you did nothing wrong. You used your curiosity and intelligence to create something wonderful, and you should be very proud of that. It is the adults — the teacher, the principal, and the police — who are in the wrong and who acted disgracefully. They are the ones who should feel ashamed for letting their ignorance and prejudice guide their actions. Where normal, decent people would have seen a technological achievement by a talented teenager, they saw only threat and reacted with fear instead of admiration.

Perhaps they were jealous that never in a million years could they have created a working electronic timepiece. Or perhaps they resented you for your intelligence and creativity and felt the need to shame you by pretending your clock was a destructive weapon. Whatever their reasons, their actions show that their small minds and limited imaginations could come up with only one scenario; one in which the boy with the Muslim name is a villain.

Ahmed, do not let the stupidity of these adults change who you are or how you see the world. You see, Ahmed, people with small minds and limited imaginations need to make the entire world — and everyone in it — small enough to fit into their limited vision. They are like the blind men from the children’s story who, unable to see the full majesty of the elephant, saw it simply as a collection of ordinary objects. To the small-minded adults who work at and were called to your school, a Muslim boy cannot build a digital clock because in their small minds, Muslims only make weapons. Their limited imagination cannot allow them to see you for who you really are; a curious teenager with an interest in electronics and a talent for building things.

Ahmed, the truth is that the world is full of small-minded people with limited imaginations. They will always try to make you small enough to fit into their small minds. They will try to limit you so that you fit their limited view of themselves and of the world. You must not let this happen, Ahmed. Do not let them limit your potential. Do not let them change how you see yourself. Do not let them squeeze you into their small minds, Ahmed, because a small mind is the worst of all prisons. Instead, continue to be the curious, creative, and talented person that you are now and show these people that you refuse to be caged by their imagination or imprisoned by their minds.

Me Versus the Haters

Just walked past a trio of Christians denouncing “sinners” on the Strip. Naturally, I stopped to chat with one of them, who was holding up a sign warning “so-called Christians, baby-killing women, homosexuals, porno freaks, rebellious women, and drunks” (notice how they have women in there TWICE, coz women are TWICE as sinful!). I approached him innocently enough and asked where I could find drunk, rebellious women. His answer – “in hell,” followed by a warning that I was headed there as well – led me to believe an interesting conversation was afoot. After he explained to me why the Bible is against drunkenness – apparently it’s because intoxication impairs judgment, which leads to sin – I wondered aloud what the good book had to say about sins that are committed in the absence of alcohol-impaired judgement. By way of example, I used drone strikes against weddings which, for the sake of argument I had to assume are ordered and carried out by sober men. He conceded that a person who orders the killing of 30 innocent people would also end up in hell, but could not explain how or why drunkenness AND the mass murder of innocents would – in the eyes of the Almighty and All-Knowing – both merit the same punishment, i.e., eternal damnation in hell. He hinted weakly at the possibility of there being different levels of hell in which the drunk lady’s suffering may be less intense than the mass murderer’s, but did not challenge God’s reasoning on this because it, as he explained to me, was so written in the book he was clutching and trying to read passages from. There was some back and forth about repentance and forgiveness but the best part came when I asked him whether it was Jesus’s style to stand in a public place and call people freaks and killers (for, the record, Jesus instructed his followers to NOT be like the hypocrites who pray loudly and in the open, thereby making a public spectacle of their religiousity.) In response, he said that Jesus had called the Pharisees “a den of vipers,” but was unable to name anyone else who was name-called by Jesus. Then I asked him how come he had not named any modern-day Pharisees on his sign, choosing instead to direct his warning against individual people with whose personal choices he disagreed. The fun finally ended when the leader – who had been using a bullhorn to “warn” passers-by of their impending damnation – came over and instructed the follower to end the conversation.

Virginity for Sale

Well well well . . . It was only a matter of time!

Last summer, I blogged about a case in France in which a young engineer had divorced his new wife because she was not a virgin on their wedding night. How did he find out? She failed to bleed properly from her vagina when they consumated their marriage on that auspicious night.

The case brought up all kinds of issues dealing with religion, sexual and reproductive freedom, and gender roles—particularly within some Muslim communities in which virginity is a prequisite for women’s marriageability. The case also brought up the issue of hymen reconstruction surgery, a procedure that restores the hymen and essentially gives women their virginity back, thereby allowing them a degree of sexual freedom without the risk of being stigmatized as unworthy of marriage.

A Chinese company, it seems, went one step further. Bypassing the surgical option, Gigimo offers an “artificial hymen,” designed to be inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse. According to the Huffington Post, the product “leaks a blood-like substance when . . . broken.” On Gigimo’s Web site, the artificial hymen is described as easy to use, non-toxic, painless, and hypo-allergenic—although a 2008 piece in Salon called attention to potential side effects.

At first blush, the artificial hymen might seem like a win-win situation for everyone. Husbands would be able to present a bloody sheet to their guests on the night of the wedding; women would be able to enjoy premarital sexual freedom without having to worry about a wedding-night divorce; and families would be assured that they had chosen good spouses for their children (IBN Live reported back in 2008 that Muslim women in Britain were already using the product to “fake their virginity”). Alas! Nothing is ever so rosy in the world of sex and marriage. Although having been around for a while, the artificial hymen is now making international headlines because conservative Egyptian lawmakers are seeking to ban its importation and sale in their country.

This case can be seen as an illustration of the ongoing tensions between tradition vs. modernity, men vs. women, religion vs. secularity, and the impact of science and technology on them all. Take, for instance, the role of culture: culture creates a need—in this case for virgin wives—which demands that women’s hymens be intact on their wedding nights. On the other hand, how does culture address those women who choose to exercise the right to decide when, with whom, and under what circumstances to have sex? Similar questions could be raised about the relationship between religiously mandated women’s roles and the expectations of—to say nothing of the demands on—modern women. In other words, how do traditional sexual and reproductive values play out in a modern society in which women may find them outdated and overly restrictive?

This line of argument, however, misses the point. The sad reality is that many, many women in Egypt and elsewhere do not have much—if any—say about when, where, how, and with whom they lose their virginity. This latter group has to answer twice: the first time for the actual loss of their virginity; the second time when they get married. Whether in the form of a reconstructed hymen or an artificial one, technology could have been a saving grace that spared these women the stigma of having lost their virginity before marriage and thus being rendered unfit to marry. In other words, the artificial hymen—while not restoring to these women the dignity they may have lost along with their virginity—might have given them a chance to leave the past behind (assuming, of course, they had any say in whom they married).

But alas! There are too many ifs and if-onlys when it comes to questions of sex and what women do with their bodies. Besides, the artificial hymen would have, at best, been of use to only the minority of women who could afford its $30 price tag. If the ban goes into effect, however, even they will have to do without its salvation. Instead, they will have no choice but to live with the consequences of decisions they made ages ago or—even worse—spend the rest of their lives having to answer for events over which they may have had no control.