Things That Make Me Proud. Or Not.

I’m a New Yorker and proud to be one. I’m proud to call people like Mayor Michael Bloomberg fellow New Yorkers; even moreso when, faced with divisive subjects like the Park51 mosque, they give speeches like this:

This is a test of our commitment to American values. We have to have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years.

What I’m not so proud of, on the other hand, are idiots like this:

Michael Enright … was charged with felony attempted murder as a hate crime – among other crimes – after [he] slashed [NYC cabbie Ahmed] Sharif across the face, arm and hand after asking the Bangladesh-born cabbie if he was Muslim and then saying ‘As-salaam alaikum’ – which means ‘peace be unto you’ in Arabic

Luckily Enright was from upstate though. 🙂

On Prop 8

Prop 8 Rally

So a Federal court has struck down CA Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional. 🙂

At this point it’s obviously just a matter of time before Prop 8 winds it way to the US Supreme Court. So today’s ruling is just one more waypoint on that long journey and, thanks to the stay Judge Walker granted almost immediately after issuing his ruling, nothing has really changed.

What’s bugging me tonight are not so much the outright anti-gay bigots, but the ones who choose to wrap their bias in the cloak of their “activist judges are stepping on the voice of the PEOPLE!” outrage.

It’s really simple. The US Constitution sets the rules by which this country is run. If “the people” vote on something that’s against the tenets of the Constitution, it is completely appropriate to use the courts to deny “the people” their wish.

Don’t like it? You have options. Amend the Constitution. Or go live somewhere else. But this is America and these are the rules by which we operate. Getting upset when those rules go against you is, well, un-American.

I don’t know how this will all end. For all I know the Supreme Court will eventually decide that banning gay marriage does not violate the 14th Amendment and Prop 8 will stand. And I’ll be pretty unhappy if that does come to pass (G-d forbid!). But that’s how America works.

It would be nice if more Americans understood that.

When You Point One Finger, Three Point Back At You

It’s easy to be outraged when you read about recent racist going-on in states like Arizona and South Carolina. The offenses are so egregious that they’d be laughable if thy weren’t real — Lightening the faces of schoolchildren in a mural? One serious candidate for governor calling another candidate (and President Obama) a “raghead“?

Really? This is what America has come to?

Looking around the Internet you’ll find a lot of pixels spent decrying how terrible it is, wondering why people feel it’s OK to do this sort of thing today, and generally exuding an air of smug superiority that they are so much more enlightened than those awful racists.


I wrote this a few years ago. Exactly how much has changed?

Racism exists even in the deep-blue zones of San Francisco. We do better than most, but even here we still struggle. Look around your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You probably can point to a bunch of people whose families come from India, China, Japan, Europe, and similar parts of the planet. Blacks and Latinos though? Not so much.

And no, I am not naive enough to think that there’s a simple solution to the problem. Just saying that before you point a finger, think a bit abut how it could be pointed back at you.

We are Americans

We did not come here to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.

Because that is who we are.

President Barack Obama
Address to Congress
September 9 2009

Labor Day Post: Personal Observation on Socialism & Slurs

Lately in American political discourse, there’s been an increasing tendency to use the word “Socialist” as a bogey-man threat around policies people don’t like, or even as a slur against people.

This rampant fear-mongering would be bad enough, but using the word “Socialist” as if it were the worst thing you could ever call a person makes me even more annoyed.

My late grandfather, Harold Luxemburg, was a Socialist. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of his name in the New York Times was June 2, 1934, when he and some of his fellow Socialists got arrested for forming a picket line in front of a Brooklyn bakery they were trying to unionize.

Scary stuff, right? Um, no.

Grandpa worked all his life for the rights of people who didn’t have many. He could have had an easier time of it had he chosen some less contentious profession, but instead he saw poverty and discrimination and unfairness all around him and decided to do something about it. He worked to improve the lives of milkmen and restaurant workers and janitors, and he always rooted for the underdog.

In his private life he was a kind, intelligent, and caring man with a strong work ethic who valued education and cultural literacy extremely highly, and loved spending time with his family. And sadly, he left us in 1990. To this day I miss him and am proud of him.

So to the Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh loving troglodytes who think that “Socialist” and “Socialism” are a slur and gleefully hurl those words around as if they actually had the power to hurt (if any of you should happen to find your way to this little corner of the Internet) — with all due respect I say, you don’t have a clue. My grandfather the Socialist was a better man than any of you.

The Lion Sleeps

Ted Kennedy

Sad news of Ted Kennedy’s passing.

An imperfect man, whose life was marked by tragedy. And yet he managed to take it all in and transmute those flaws into the energy to drive a historic Senate career with a far-ranging legacy.

I like to think that finally he is reunited with his martyred brothers, and that they greeted him with a welcoming hug and told him, “well done”.

Photo Credit: jonathanpberger on Flickr.