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

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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.)

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‘Making Up Numbers Now?’: Grassley Scorched for Saying Moving All-Star Game Out of Atlanta Cost ‘100 Million Jobs’

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U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is claiming Major League Baseball‘s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta will cost the city “100 million jobs.” There are just over 150 million Americans who are currently employed, so the Iowa Republicans Senator is claiming that effectively, two-thirds of working Americans will lose their jobs because of the move, which is false.

Major League Baseball pulled the game out of Atlanta in response to Republican Governor Brian Kemp signing what has been called “one of the most restrictive and dangerous anti-voter bills in the country.”

But the game is moving to Colorado, so there would be no jobs lost.

Senator Grassley is wrong. He might have been listening to an April 5 Fox News report, which claimed pulling out of Atlanta cost the city $100 million, but actual experts disagree, with one saying the amount is “a whole lot closer to zero than the $100m number Atlanta was throwing.”

The Guardian reports “Georgia’s $100m figure surely makes for a juicy cable-news chyron, the consensus among sports economists is these estimates are routinely exaggerated.”

“The rule of thumb that I always tell everyone,” economics professor Victor Matheson told The Guardian, “is just take whatever number the boosters are telling you, move the decimal one place to the left and you’ve probably got a pretty good guess.”

Grassley is getting scorched.

 

 

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WHY?

‘Riding Bikes While Black’: New Jersey Cops Under Fire for Confiscating Bike and Arresting Teen

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Police officers in Perth Amboy, New Jersey are under fire after video clips of them appearing to harass a small group of Black teens who were riding their bikes through town went viral. Perth Amboy has a law requiring a bicycle “license tag” but the teens say they live in Edison, and were just riding home.

At one point six police cars were involved. The officers ordered the teens off the bikes, confiscated at least one, and arrested one teen who was arguing they shouldn’t have to give up their bikes.

Later, at the police station, one officer told the teen he was lucky to get his bike back, asking if he had the purchase receipt for the bike, and if it is registered with them. The officer also says the teens were told “to stay on the sidewalk,” but they were also told to stay on the road and ride with traffic. She says they did all this for their safety.

Part of Perth Amboy’s extensive bicycle law reads: “An application for a license to own and operate a bicycle shall be made to the Chief of Police in writing upon a form approved by the City Council. Upon approval of an application, the Chief of Police shall provide, at the expense of the city, a proper license tag which shall be attached to the frame of the bicycle in a substantial manner. The removal of such tag, except by proper authority, shall be a violation of this chapter. A license fee of fifty cents ($0.50) shall be charged per year for each bicycle. Such license shall be issued as of the calendar year and shall be effective for such period.”

It also bans “fancy riding”:

“The rider of a bicycle shall not allow it to proceed in a street by inertia momentum, with his feet removed from the pedals, nor remove both hands from the handlebars while riding the bicycle, nor practice any trick or fancy riding in a street or carry another person upon the bicycle.”

Many are outraged:

 

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Ted Nugent Tests Positive for Coronavirus He Called Fake: ‘I Thought I Was Dying’

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Rocker and COVID-19 denier Ted Nugent has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The right-wing rock musician revealed in a Facebook video that he is seriously ill with the potentially deadly virus he has insisted is fake or not very serious, reported Consequence of Sound.

“Everybody told me that I should not announce this,” Nugent says in the video. “I have had flu symptoms for the last 10 days. I thought I was dying — just a clusterf*ck.”

“I was tested positive today, I got the Chinese shit,” Nugent added. “I’ve got a stuffed-up head, body aches. My God, what a pain in the ass. I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days… So I was officially tested positive for COVID-19 today.”

Nugent downplayed the pandemic and various mitigation efforts as recently as last week, and even after his infection questions the safety and necessity of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Yet, even after his own infection, Nugent isn’t about to change his stance on COVID-19, especially when it comes to vaccines,” Nugent says. “Nobody knows what’s in it. If you can’t even honestly answer our questions of exactly what’s in it and why are you testing it on human beings and forcing it on people in such a short period of time.”

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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