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Gay Pride: Embroiled In Flag Flap Space Needle Finds Charitable Solution

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Last year, in an historic tribute to gay pride month, Seattle’s iconic Space Needle flew the gay pride flag. This year they declined — and met extreme disappointment and anger. So, they came up with a unique solution. Guest author and Seattle-area resident Stuart Wilber explains.

 

THE RAINBOW FLAG

Last year the Rainbow Flag flew atop the Space Needle on Pride weekend for the first time. It was a significant moment for Seattle, home to what is said to be the second-largest LGBT community in the country. People literally wept, posed for photos with the be-rainbowed Space Needle in the background, and sent hundreds of thank you messages to the corporation that owns it.  And of course, the expected complaints about special treatment for ‘The Gays’ also emerged.

 

THAT WAS LAST YEAR

On June 3, word got out that Seattle Out & Proud (SO&P), the organization responsible for the annual Pride Parade, had accepted the flag to use instead of it being flown atop the Needle. Within minutes a polite petition thanking the Space Needle Corporation (SNC) for flying the flag last year and asking them to re-consider their decision to not fly it again was initiated on change.org, and in eleven days, over 9700 people signed it and members of the City Council and columnists in both the alternative and mainstream media joined the clamor to fly the rainbow flag.

After all, when you see photos of the Eiffel Tower you think Paris, when you see the Needle you think Seattle. The Rainbow Flag flying on our iconic structure was a statement of inclusion and welcome. Not flying it seemed a rejection as hurtful as unrequited love or being turned down by a cutie at last call – it stung!

I confess, I was part of the kerfuffle – I e-mailed, I posted, I re-posted, I tweeted and re-tweeted, I harangued friends and strangers, activists and neighbors to join the fray and sign the petition. For the most part the reaction I received was positive and I am responsible for getting more than a few of those 9700 signatures. But I was also confronted by some stinging remarks. After all, marriage equality, DADT, ENDA, homeless LGBT youth and transgender bashing, not to mention the economy, famine and war, are more important than a piece of colored cloth flying on a corporate structure.

Then the Seattle Gay News (SGN) upped the ante by calling on all local businesses to fly the Pride Flag.  Healio, a local café, offered free pride flags to any business that would fly one. A flag-sewing party was proposed to take place at a counter-protest of the Westboro Church, which will be protesting the Pride Picnic. The image of drag queens dressed as Betsy Ross sewing strips of brightly colored cloth while the Phelps Gang shouts “God Hates Fags!” made it into my dreams last night.

 

A PR NIGHTMARE

Now the Space Needle Corporation had a PR nightmare on their hands. Seattle Gay News reported the Space Needle had committed “to sponsoring a fundraiser on-site in the fall to benefit the community and create the program that would take the flag on tour and use it as an education and inspirational message.”  SO&P had announced the giant flag would be leading the Pride Parade carried by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Abbey of St. Joan who said in a statement to the press, “we are delighted and honored” to march with the flag. “As we carry this beacon of hope through downtown Seattle, we will perpetuate our mission to support and represent our community in all its magnificent glory. The past and future of a particular flag we carry is of less import to us than ensuring that this powerful symbol is present on the parade route.” Even I in my enthusiasm to get that flag atop the Needle know better than to try to take it away from the Sisters.

 

A CORPORATE SOLUTION

SNC came up with a solution that allows the Sisters to carry the flag, SO&P to have their fundraiser and Seattle to see the Pride Flag fly again. Their press release states, “In response to a ground swell of support requesting the Rainbow Flag being raised again on Seattle Pride Weekend, the Space Needle has issued an exciting new fundraising challenge. If the community can raise $50,000 for 4 local charities, the Space Needle will raise the Rainbow Flag on Sunday of Seattle Pride weekend in Seattle. The Space Needle will also kick off the challenge with an inaugural donation of $5000.00.”

“According to Jeff Wright, Chairman of Space Needle LLC, ‘We want to harness the enthusiasm that has built up to raise the flag for the encore performance. Our entire community gets involved in whatever issue is at hand and we think that is what makes us so strong. This challenge can reap great benefits for these worthwhile organizations.’

Four charities have been selected to be the recipients of the fundraising challenge. Greater Seattle Business Association Scholarship Program, Lambda Legal, It Gets Better for The Trevor Project, and Mary’s Place, a homeless shelter for women and children. The $50,000 will be divided equally between the four organizations, SNC states.

 

COMMUNITY REACTION

For those not familiar with Seattle organizations, The GSBA Scholarship Program supports LGBTA students. Often such students, most belonging to a marginalized group, had no family support or financial aid from more traditional sources. Mary’s Place is a shelter that, unlike most, is LGBT welcoming and inclusive. All are worthy causes – ones I personally support. And I believe the challenge will probably be met.

Comments on the Space Needle Face Book page are mixed — most are hostile. Protests are being threatened. What was a PR Nightmare has become a PR catastrophe. Why didn’t SNC just agree to fly the flag and issue the challenge? There should have been ropes attached to that flag, not strings. I still hope they will change their corporate mind.

 

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

I have been asked why it matters so much if the rainbow flag flies over the Space Needle again this year. My partner reminded me that our domestic partnership is only recognized in a few states and our marriage only in Canada and scolded me, saying I had more important issues to address. Some activist friends complained I should be devoting my time lobbying my senators and representatives as if I couldn’t multi-task. Some told me that the Space Needle is privately owned so the decision to fly the flag is a corporate one and their decision should be respected. But a gift once given becomes more precious when it is taken away.

 

ANOTHER KIND OF ACTIVISM – GENTLE PERSUASION

New media has transformed our ability to make things happen. With just a few clicks of a mouse we can sign a petition, post it to our Facebook page, tweet it and send our message to multiple recipients. The petition to the SNC was appreciative and polite. Some said it was too polite.

But when the Pride Flag flies on June 26 – there is no doubt in my mind that it will – more than 9700 people will see their activism rewarded. And emboldened by this success, they may again sign a petition with a few clicks of a mouse, or call their representatives or even take to the streets when the cause warrants it.

Those of us who live in Seattle and Washington State are fortunate — many of our representatives are supportive of our equality. And when we saw that rainbow flag flying over the iconic Needle, we for a brief time felt included and welcomed — a feeling many of us as LGBTQI folk never get to experience. Many of our youth are homeless and have no access to computers. Others watch the “It Gets Better” videos and wonder, “when?”

Our President and our Governor, the King County Council, the Seattle City Council and our Mayor again proclaim Gay Pride. The flag that flew over the Space Needle last year will lead the parade on June 26. But June 27, no one will remember that flag or those proclamations, but thousands would remember the disappointment of not seeing it fly over the Needle.

This year, when that flag flies over our Needle, everyone who sees it will know that it has already gotten a little better.

 

(image)

Stuart Wilber is a Seattle activist who skipped high school to watch the McCarthy-Army Hearings. Having seen it get better and worse and better again over the years, he continues to hope he will experience equality in his lifetime. The Space Needle Challenge can be accessed at Pride Needle.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Anathema to the Soul of Our Nation’: Trump Pilloried for Demanding ‘Termination’ of the US Constitution

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The White House on Saturday afternoon responded to former President Donald Trump’s demand for the “termination” of the United States Constitution over non-existent “fraud and deception” in American elections, which he continues to claim cost him the presidency in 2020 and that he is expecting Republicans to embrace in his 2024 reelection campaign.

Trump wrote on his struggling fake Twitter app Truth Social:

ELECTION INTERFERENCE AT A LEVEL NEVER SEEN BEFORE!!!

Trump followed up with:

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

He went on to add:

UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!

I wonder what Mitch McConnell, the RINOS, and all of the weak Republicans who couldn’t get the Presidential Election of 2020 approved and out of the way fast enough, are thinking now?

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the elections of 2022, or 2020, or any other major historical contest, let alone that which was pervasive enough to affect the results. And the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next – which Trump has attempted to upend through his lies and ultimately by mounting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 – is a key tenet that holds the American democratic experiment intact.

White House Deputy Press Secretary and Senior Communications Adviser for Strategic Response Andrew Bates touched on those points in a statement:

The American Constitution is a sacrosanct document that for over 200 years has guaranteed that freedom and the rule of law prevail in our great country. The Constitution brings the American people together – regardless of party – and elected leaders swear to uphold it. It’s the ultimate monument to all of the Americans who have given their lives to defeat self-serving despots that abused their powers and trampled on constitutional rights. Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned. You cannot love America only when you win.

The Democratic National Committee also fired back at Trump, as reported by Politico:

Donald Trump lost by 7 million votes in 2020 and his calls to undermine our democracy cost his party key races in 2022. The continued silence by Republican leaders, including his potential primary competitors, shows a MAGA party that is beholden to Trumpism, his divisive rhetoric, and his extreme positions.

Democratic lawmakers denounced Trump as well.

Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted:

Days after Trump dined with men who praise Hitler and the Nazis, he demands the ‘termination’ of the Constitution’s electoral process so he can be illegally reinstated. Trump’s words and actions are unacceptable, they stoke hatred and political violence, and they are dangerous. Every Member of Congress swore an oath to ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ Donald Trump has openly declared himself an enemy of the Constitution, and Republicans must repudiate him.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz said:

Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution and it is the final straw for zero republicans, especially the ones who call themselves ‘constitutional conservatives.

New York Representative Richie Torres noted that “January 6 was Donald Trump’s attempt at terminating the US Constitution. He’s a repeat offender.”

California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who regularly faces death threats, stated that “every congressional reporter should demand responses from Congressional Republicans about Donald Trump’s call for the Constitution to be terminated … how many of them called themselves ‘Constitutional conservatives’ during the Obama years???”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said that “Trump just called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 results. Georgia VOTE. You stood tall against Trump and his minions last time. A win for [incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael] Warnock is another win for democracy.”

While outrage over Trump’s “truth” was not exclusive to the left, few on the right have stepped up to rebuke Trump. One exception, however, was ex-United Nations Ambassador and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who posted that “no American conservative can agree with Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election. And all real conservatives must oppose his 2024 campaign for president.”

 

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‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

READ MORE: Trump plotted to trade Mar-a-Lago files for ‘sensitive documents’ about his 2016 campaign Russia ties: report

“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio: ‘Not a crime’ to break federal law by taking top secret national security documents from the White House

She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

READ MORE: Lauren Boebert to file defamation lawsuit against PAC claiming that she was once a ‘paid escort’: report

 

Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

READ MORE: 15-Year Old Campaigning Door-to-Door for Raphael Warnock Shot Through Door– ‘No Indication’ Politically Motivated: Police

Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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