Connect with us

On The Eve Of Christmas, A Navy Rabbi And Lesbian Army Captain Reunite To Bear Witness To DADT’s End

Published

on

Navy Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff:  A Trumpet for Justice

There is a synchronicity to the rhythm of life when justice finally arrives. And so it was that my favorite rabbi in the world, and dear friend, Arnie Resnicoff, would deliver the invocation at the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill signing, marking the beginning of the end of DADT–a “beshert” moment–the Hebrew word meaning destiny in all its perfection, and a story come full circle.

One week after Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1992, in the absence of less developed policies, Clinton’s campaign pledge to allow gays to serve openly in the military dominated all news headlines and broadcasts–the news media had gone into a berserk frenzy about homosexuals in the ranks.

Less than two weeks later, by the time I took my seat as a discussant on a panel about diversity in the military at the Naval War College, (in my debut representing the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,) Clinton’s proposed policy to reverse the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military transcended all other issues to be discussed — including racism in the ranks and the controversial topic of women in combat — with an audience of several hundred senior Navy leaders in attendance.

On this auspicious occasion I met Navy Chaplain Rabbi Arnie Resnicoff, whom I would come to know as a strong supporter and advocate for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. He has been morally brave over the course of many years by directly confronting the opinions of many of his peers and superiors and by challenging the military’s chaplain corps to always serve the troops first, without regard to a service member’s sexual orientation.

During the nearly three hours of “discussion,” I was personally attacked and relentlessly harangued by the Navy’s finest senior leaders, until its conclusion, when I mustered enough strength to push myself away from the table and walk to the back of the stage where I cried my heart out. Rabbi Resnicoff comforted me, as he put his arms around me and said, “You were so brave. I am so sorry this happened to you.”

In this awful moment, Rabbi Resnicoff, Arnie by this point, conveyed the compassion and generosity of a stranger, and affirmed the dignity of my personhood during an experience of profound cruelty and humiliation. It was a connection of a lifetime.

Arnie has always felt guilty about the way his fellow Naval officers treated me that day. On the eve of this week’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal act signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., which we would both attend, he wrote to me once more about this incident 18 years ago:

“I have been thinking about the conference at the the Naval War College where I first met you: the shabby way you were personally treated, and the way the ugly face of discrimination and prejudice showed itself in the words and actions of so many people around me…

“And, just as I believe that changes in the military had an impact on the larger issues of race relations in our nation, I feel that same can happen now…I think back at how hard it must have been for you to participate in that conference. There are combat zones away from the battlegrounds overseas, and that was one of them, back then.”

As I said, there is a synchronicity to the rhythm of life when justice finally arrives. In his beautiful prayer, Rabbi Resnicoff applies a healing salve to the psychic wounds we have sustained as second-class citizens, and reminds us of the greatness of America in believing that life can improve, as he calls upon divine wisdom to lead us into an unknown future of change.

“O Lord who made a world of change, You challenged us to mend, repair and change the world.

“Some lose faith and think that things will never change, But we Americans–of every faith–religious faith or not–Refuse to give up hope or abandon that most American of dreams: That we can make a difference, and that the future can be better than the past.

“Today we make a change as President Obama signs this bill into law, Today we recall that unity, not uniformity, is our goal, That we need not fear differences, Among those united to defend our nation’s freedoms and its dreams.

“Today we honor ALL brave men and women, Including those who served so long without the honor they deserved.

“O Lord our God, and God of generations past, Help us move forward, Toward a nation a little more united, more indivisible, A union a bit more perfect, founded on a great deal more respect.

“Let us pray that if the day has not yet dawned, When we can see the face of God in others, Then we see, at least, a face as human as our own.

“Lord, help us keep faith the day will dawn, When justice flows–for ALL–like mighty waters, When liberty will be proclaimed throughout the land, When every man and woman can stand tall, And none shall be afraid.

“And may we say, Amen.”

And so it is today, as we stand on transformed ground of our own making: Having realized the first dream of justice in America for gay and lesbian people–by the sheer dint of our effort, ingenuity and intelligence; by our anger and rage and by revealing our true hearts and dreams, others can and do see who we are–many, like Rabbi Arnie Resnicoff, are with us on this journey.  I celebrate him today and share the wisdom and compassion of a true friend in our struggle.

May we always be so generously blessed.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs atColumbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Instituteaffiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

(photo by Sammie Moshenberg: Rabbi Resnicoff and Tanya Domi at the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill signing.)

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

‘National Security Nightmare’: Experts Concerned Melania Trump Was in Situation Room During ‘Major Military Operation’

Published

on

National security and legal experts are expressing concern over a report revealing that then-First Lady Melania Trump had been present in the White House Situation Room during a “major military operation,” according to a new book by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.

Melania Trump in October 2019, “sat in and watched the U.S. raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a compound in Syria,” The Hill reports Miller’s book reveals. At the time, Miller was special assistant to the president for counterterrorism and transnational threats.

In addition to the First Lady, present in the Situation Room were President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

READ MORE: Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Miller wrote. “I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation.”

It was the First Lady who suggested the administration promote the “hero dog” involved in the raid. That became a fiasco when it appeared later that President Trump, trying to play up the pup, either got the dog’s gender wrong, or had the wrong dog in the Oval Office.

That debacle led The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen to pen a piece on “Conan, the Gender-Fluid Hero Dog.”

“Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the President, refused to commit to a gender for Conan,” Gessen wrote. “Pressed by reporters on Tuesday, she said, ‘I won’t do that, because then you’ll say that I was talking about somebody’s sex or gender, so I’m not doing that.'”

READ MORE: House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers

Larry Pfeiffer, who served as President Barack Obama’s director of the White House Situation Room and previously as Chief of Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, expressed outrage at the First Lady having been in the Situation Room during a critical mission.

“Hmmm…what would I have done if President Obama had brought Michelle into a sensitive meeting there? Don’t know. Never had to think about it cuz it NEVER would have happened,” he said via Twitter.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, MSNBC legal contributor and a podcaster, responded saying: “Melania in the situation room, top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago that Trump knew were there & refused to return. Private meetings with Putin where Trump insisted translator’s notes be destroyed. The Trump administration was a national security nightmare.”

At Vanity Fair, politics correspondent Bess Levin asked, “What other overseas military operations did the former first lady play a role in?”

Levin also notes Trump’s strong “disdain” for dogs, which made the Conan catastrophe such a farce.

READ MORE: Melania Trump: I Was ‘Unaware’ of Jan. 6 Violence Because I Was ‘Fulfilling My Duties as First Lady’ for ‘Our Nation’

She writes, “according to Miller, it was Melania who came up with the idea about how to tell the American people about the mission. ‘You should talk about the dog,’ Miller said she told the president. ‘Everyone loves dogs.'”

“Everyone, of course, except Donald Trump,” Levin notes, “who has a well-established disdain for animals in general and dogs in particular. (The only president in more than a century to live in the White House without a pet, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana wrote in her 2017 memoir that ‘Donald was not a dog fan,’ and that her poodle, Chappy, would ‘bark at him territorially’ whenever he got near her closet. Trump also has a long history of denigrating ex-employees and other perceived enemies by comparing them to dogs, tweeting that his enemies have ‘choked like a dog,’ been ‘dumped like a dog,’ been ‘fired like a dog,’ and, our personal favorite, been ‘kicked out of the ABC News debate like a dog.’)”

Another fiasco for the Trump White House that day was the photo (above) which was taken during or after the operation that led to al-Baghdadi’s death. Some at the time noted it appeared staged, and an attempt to replicate the famous photo of President Barack Obama actually taken during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

 

Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Continue Reading

RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

The ‘White Power Movement’ Is Ramping Up Its Attacks on Energy Infrastructure – Anti-Terrorism Expert Explains Why

Published

on

Professor, historian and author Kathleen Belew, one of the United States’ top experts on white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism, has often stressed that violent, racially motivated attacks shouldn’t be viewed as isolated incidents, but as part of a broader movement. And when Belew made a Monday night, February 6 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” she explained how a Maryland woman’s alleged role in a plot to attack five energy substations in the Baltimore area fits into the overall “white power” game plan.

Earlier in the day, law enforcement officials had announced the arrest of Maryland resident Sarah Beth Clendaniel, who, they allege, conspired with fellow white supremacist Brandon Russell in that plot. Clendaniel and Russell, according to officials, hoped to completely disable energy infrastructure in Baltimore and deprive the city of electricity for an extended period of time.

During her conversation with Maddow, Belew emphasized that this was not an isolated incident. White supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, according to the professor, are targeting energy infrastructure in general — not just in Baltimore, Maryland.

READ MORE: Why the power grid is an ‘attractive target’ for domestic terrorists and white supremacists: report

Belew, author of the 2019 book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” told Maddow, “The electrical part may be new, but infrastructure attacks by this movement are not new. This is a strategy that was pioneered by a group called The Order in 1983…. Infrastructure attacks are one kind of violence among several others that are all laid out in a strategy in common in order to bring about what the movement seeks, which is the overthrow of the United States and the creation of a white ethno-state — mass violence against communities of color and even genocide against non-white peoples.”

According to Belew — who teaches at Northwestern University in the Chicago suburbs — attacks on energy infrastructure and the January 6, 2021 insurrection are both part of the “white power” game plan.

Belew told Maddow, “Infrastructure attacks sit next to a show of forced violence like the January 6 attack on the Capitol and mass casualty violence like the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these exist together within one broad ideology in the white power movement.”

READ MORE: Terrorism expert explains why the Great Replacement theory is so central to white racist ideology

Watch the full video at this link.

Image via Wikimedia and a Creative Commons license

Continue Reading

COMMENTARY

Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

Published

on

For decades White House press secretaries, military officers, and reporters have used the words “tick-tock” to denote an overview of a conversation, or a chronological telling of a series of events – and not the now-popular Chinese app “TikTok,” which some allege has major national security implications.

And yet, the far-right-wing website Daily Caller, a veteran Fox News host, and many others on the social media site Twitter attacked Karine Jean-Pierre Monday afternoon, after the White House Press Secretary told the press: “I know there was a tick-tock that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything broke down for the past week.”

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin mocked The Daily Caller, (which was founded by Tucker Carlson,) for getting something so basic so wrong.

READ MORE: Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

Longtime journalist Keith Olberman blasted several people on Twitter who assumed the worst, including veteran Fox News reporter David Asman.

He didn’t stop there.

 

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.