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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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

US Senator Blames CRT, ‘Liberal Indoctrination’ and Lack of Religion for Mass Shooting in Small Texas Town

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Uvalde, Texas is a small town of just over 15,000 people. Almost all its elected officials, from the governor on down, are Republicans. That includes its Republican mayor who used a slew of curse words this week to attack Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. Congressman who is now the Democratic gubernatorial candidate challenging incumbent GOP Governor Greg Abbott.

There are still many facts to be uncovered about the 18-year-old who legally bought two AR-15 style assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the three days after his 18th birthday, then went on to commit the third-worst school shooting in the United States this week.

While one lawmaker claims Salvador Ramos was born in North Dakota, various reports make it seem clear he grew up in Uvalde, where he has a mother and father, the grandmother he lived with for the past few months who he shot in the face before slaughtering 21 people at Robb Elementary School, and at least one cousin, an uncle, and a sister in the Navy.

The Texas Tribune describes Uvalde as a “tight-knit community” that “prays.”

Reports say he was a loner, bullied for a stutter and lisp, and had a difficult relationship with family members.

Although he was 18 he had not graduated high school, apparently ineligible after missing too many days of class.

But according to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), the real problem, why 21 people including 19 elementary school children, are dead, is critical race theory, “wokeness,” “liberal indoctrination,” and a lack of religion.

Rejecting Fox Business host Neil Cavuto’s suggestion that “maybe stiffer background checks” would help reduce gun violence Senator Johnson, who is running for a third term in office this year despite pledging to serve only two, rejected any legislative solution to the explosion of mass shootings in America.

“No matter what you do, people fall through the cracks,” Johnson, appearing exasperated and shaking his head, told Fox Business. “You can’t identify all these problems. You can’t arrest somebody for a crime they haven’t committed yet,” he argued, something no one has suggested.

“These are difficult issues, but again, the solution lies in stronger families, more supportive communities. I would argue renewed faith. We’ve lost that. We’ve stopped teaching values in so many of our schools,” he added, despite most conservatives demanding schools stick to the basics.

“Now we’re now teaching ‘wokeness,’ we’re indoctrinating our children in things like CRT, telling, you know, some children they’re not equal to others and they’re the cause of other people’s problems,” he continued, falsely explaining what critical race theory is.

“There’s a sickness,” Johnson tried to get in as Cavuto jumped in to correct his CRT claim. Republicans have been once again pushing mental health as a cause for gun violence to distract from the fact that there are now more guns than human beings in America.

“These shootings were going on long before CRT,” Cavuto said.

“Well, I think I think CRT’s been going on under the radar for quite some time as well,” he claimed, which is false. Johnson has been one of the greatest spreaders of falsehoods and conspiracy theories in the U.S. Senate. CNN labeled him the “Senate’s leading conspiracy theorist.”

“Wokeness has been” going on, Johnson claimed. “Liberal indoctrination has been,” he added, baselssly opining that liberalism leads to more gun violence when liberals are more likely to oppose guns.

“This is a much larger issue than what a simple new gun law’s gonna – it’s not going to solve it. It’s not gonna solve it,” Johnson insisted.

No one has ever suggested a single gun control law would solve all gun violence, but the facts are clear. After Republicans allowed the assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 a 2019 study found: “Mass-shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period.”

 

 

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Defiant Trump Brags About His Upcoming NRA Speech as Cancellations Mount: Have to ‘Protect’ Second Amendment (Video)

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For more than half a century “American Pie” has been an integral part of American culture, but Don McLean – the 76-year old singer who brought the nearly nine-minute song about the death of Buddy Holly and other rock and roll stars to life – has canceled his appearance at the NRA’s annual convention this weekend in Houston. Out of respect for the families of the 21 slaughtered children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, McLean says it would be “hurtful” and “disrespectful” to appear.

Also canceling this weekend are country music stars Lee Greenwood, Larry Gatlin, and T. Graham Brown.

Even the manufacturer of the AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifle used by the Uvalde shooter has canceled their appearance at the NRA’s convention, “due to the horrifying tragedy,” Daniel Defense said in a statement.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has managed to appear as if he’s canceling out of a show of respect. The Republican currently in a tight re-election race is facing not only the horrific Uvalde mass shooting of 19 elementary school children and two teachers but the mounting evidence that lives may have been lost out of law enforcement’s apparent horrific handling of the attack.

Abbott will not appear in person, instead using the time to hold another press conference. He will appear via pre-recorded video.

Donald Trump, the former president who is widely expected to be staging another run for president not only will attend this weekend’s NRA convention, he is bragging about it.

“I’m making a speech tomorrow at the NRA in Huston and it’ll be very interesting,” Trump told far-right radio host Sebastian Gorka, who served in the Trump administration in 2017 and has ties to the alt-right.

“And so yeah, interesting time to be making such a speech, frankly.”

Trump then launched into an attack on Congresswoman Liz Cheney, one of the few Republicans who has openly and repeatedly opposed him.

“But on Friday night, I’ll be in Houston. And we’ll be making a speech and discussing a lot of the things which you would agree to, and you know, you have to protect, you have to protect your Second Amendment. You have to give that Second Amendment great protection, because without it, we would be a very dangerous country frankly.”

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‘Font of Misinformation’: Reporter Explains ‘Major Discrepancies’ in Texas Police Account of Uvalde Shooting

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MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday examined the “major discrepancies” in the police account of the roughly one hour that a teenage gunman spent at the Texas elementary school where he killed at least 19 children and two teachers.

The Texas Department of Public Safety defended the response by Uvalde police, but “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist said the changing narrative of what happened and how officers reacted was jaw-dropping, and he asked NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian to explain what was so troubling about the law enforcement account.

“It’s really astonishing,” Dilanian said. “Let’s remember, the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is conducting the briefings, they did not respond to this incident. Their whole job here was to investigate and find out what happened and tell the public. They’ve really been a font of misinformation, including from the head of the agency, who sat next to the governor of the state and told the world in a very confident voice that there was a school resource officer who encountered the subject as he came into the school. Then yesterday, we learned that that person didn’t exist. There was no such school resource officer.”

“Then we learn other, new information, that the shooter actually exited his grandmother’s truck, which he crashed outside the school, then fired shots at onlookers across the street, and then essentially was lingering outside the school for 12 minutes, firing shots, before he entered through an unlocked door, also new information, unimpeded, unobstructed, nobody confronted him,” Dilanian continued. “Then we learned in this new — and, again, all this information is coming from the same agency that has provided misinformation. We should take it all with a grain of salt. But according to the latest account, some local police officers, Uvalde police officers, immediately rushed in, which is what the doctrine of mass shooting says they should do. They were met with a hail of gunfire from the 18-year-old with an assault rifle, AR-15, a weapon of war. They were armed, presumably, with handguns. A couple were shot and wounded, the police are saying.”

READ MORE: CNN reporter refuses to accept Texas official’s claims about Uvalde shooting: ‘Why don’t you clear all of this up now?’

“Victor Escalon said they made entry, didn’t make entry, retreated,” Dilanian added. “Bottom line, they were out-gunned, treated, then we have this mystery. We have this decision by the police to wait 60 minutes for a Border Patrol tactical team. There’s a lot we don’t know and don’t understand about that, so we should be a little careful. There were police inside the school, we were told, evacuating children, in other parts of the school. But the account is, somehow, the gunman had barricaded himself. They use the word ‘barricade.’ It was two adjoining classrooms.”

“Now we’re learning … that dead children were found in four separate classrooms,” he said. “That’s a thing we don’t understand but, as you know, the doctrine for police response to mass shootings really changed after Columbine. The rule now is go in with whatever force you can. This is a policy from the Texas Police Chief Association, a manual says the first two to four officers should form a team and immediately enter the building. That’s what they did initially. Then, for whatever reason, they didn’t follow up with that. They waited for essentially federal agents, a group of Border Patrol and other police who formed a team, a stack as they put it, went in with a ballistic shield in front, took fire from the shooter — incredible act of bravery — and killed the shooter. There were local police officers involved in that, we’re told. These videos we’re seeing and the accounts of parents screaming for the police to go in while they were standing outside, that has to be explained. There is just no good explanation for why they waited 60 minutes when the doctrine calls for them to go in immediately.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

 

 

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