Featured

Steve Bannon Says Catholic Churches Need “Illegal Aliens” to Fill The Churches

Steve Bannon, leader of the conservative right, and most recently known as the man who whispered in Donald Trump’s ear as his Chief Adviser, explained his feelings on DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – and the Catholic church.

In a recently published interview, Bannon told CBS that Trump’s recent decision to end DACA – which would lead to the deportation of children and young adults who were brought to this country at by their parents – would not go over good with Catholics. Not because the decision is a terrible and insensitive one, but because the church need “illegal aliens” to fill their pews.

Education #Featured

The New School Year: History Will Guide the Future

New school years always bring new challenges for children, parents and teachers. This school year, though, promises to be much trickier, because we are now debating United States History.

Remember history? That’s the class that isn’t tested at the end of the year by the great national testing monopoly, Pearson. The PARCC tests focus on non-fiction readings, which allows for more use of historical documents on the test, but there’s no real history or context that a student has to master in order to answer the questions.

For decades we’ve focused on language arts and mathematics as the key components of K-12 education, relentlessly testing students in those subjects. And what has your school district likely spent a good deal of money on over the last few years? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or STEAM (ibid., but add Arts). Coding classes are now part of the curriculum in many states as required business and personal finance courses. They get lots of press. And, yes, United States History is required in all states, but far too many of them require only one year of it. And with no summary test, save for a final exam at the end of the class, history has lost a good deal of influence in the curriculum.

We are now paying the price.

As this new school year begins, teachers will be asked to address the explosive issues that are daily in the media concerning our history and what it means. How should we treat Confederate statues and monuments? What place do hate groups such as the KKK and the American Nazi Party have in a country with a strong First Amendment? What should we do about immigration and children who were brought here by undocumented parents? And of course, we seem to be debating President Trump’s behavior, tweets and spur-of-the-moment policy declarations on a minute-by-minute basis, not to mention his speculative knowledge of historical events.

This is the environment in which America’s school teachers must operate this academic year. We are the ones who will be the first point of contact for many children who are feeling the anxiety and divisiveness that has taken hold in our society. Remember that as much as any adult is trying to make sense of what’s happening in our society, children experience these events on a magnified scale. They have less of the emotional regulation necessary to confront explosive debates that adults have and they have little context by which to weigh the consequences of what they’re learning. Great teachers recognize these deficits and conduct their classes so as to support students, to teach them civil behavior, to make sure students respect differences, and to calmly appeal to their students’ intelligence, humanity, and sense of justice.

Of course, some would argue that if teachers had done this in the past, then we wouldn’t be at this place in our history where there is so much disagreement and division. This would be a tragic conclusion. Did any of your teachers teach you to hate? To insult your classmates? To steal? To plagiarize? Of course not.

The simple truth is that teachers can only be as effective as the communities in which we teach, and if a community, or the country, is dysfunctional, then that will be reflected in the schools. We see students for only a portion of the day. The media, social and otherwise, takes over from there. Together with parents, teachers can only plant the seeds of knowledge; society and common sense have to do the rest.

That’s why this school year will be more of a challenge than most years, but I have no doubt that America’s school teachers will do their best, keep their emotions in check, teach from the heart and the head, advocate for every one of their students, and proudly represent themselves as doing one of the most important and difficult jobs in this country.

I wish all of my fellow teachers a happy new school year full of joy and wonder. May we learn as much about our students as they learn from us.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Featured #Racism

Pardon Our Appearance While We Crash and Burn

In the Trump Administration’s best approximation of Friday Night Lights, the president (shudder) treated two of his main constituencies to a Shabbat treat. First by throwing civil rights and equal opportunity to the floor when he banned transgender Americans from serving their country in the armed forces, and then when he pardoned convict Joe Arpaio, a move that sent a solid message to those who believe that medieval treatment of prisoners is not just for the 14th century.

Trump’s defense? That Joe was following the law. We should note that Joe was convicted of contempt for not following the law

The silver lining is that in order to receive a pardon, the person has to admit that they committed a crime. So Arpaio is now an admitted crook. Just the kind of guy that Trump admires.

These actions would be bad in any administration, but for one that is committed to really turning the clock back to 1946, before the armed forces were desegregated, these new twists are simply the method by which this country, ruled by white men, informed by white men, and acculturated by white sensibilities, will be…returned to white men.

Pardon my confusion as we slowly twist in the wind.

While the media focuses on the president’s foibles and twitter follies, he and his minions have done real and present damage to the country. They have sent the message that it’s fine to exclude people from participating in and benefiting from our democracy, opened up public land for economic exploitation, set us back at least 75 years as far as pollution and the environment are concerned, rolled back civil rights protections, and essentially made us a non-player in world affairs. And they’ve shown that they have no shame in perpetrating these policies. In fact, if it’s what the ultra-conservative base of the Republican Party wants, then Trump is eager to give it to them.

I would expect more pardons, more executive orders and more erratic and unpresidential behavior in the weeks and months to come. President Trump’s approval ratings are low enough that he doesn’t have to care about what the opposition thinks. After all, how much worse can things get?

Exactly my point.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Democracy

Why Are We Debating Hate?

Finally, the president has united much of the country. Unfortunately for him, most of the country opposes what he stands for.

Yes, there are still many people who support the president and believe that his equating violence on both sides was appropriate, but a larger majority sees the danger in his saying that the Nazis and the counter-protesters in Charlottesville were morally similar. That the opposition to his words came from around the world and across the political spectrum tells you that this was no victory for Trump. And his decision to stay away from the Kennedy Center Honors program this year is not just a tactical retreat; it’s a rout. He’s not the first president to skip the ceremony, but the reason is different from why other presidents didn’t go: because his appearance would be a major distraction.

At this point, the president has been rebuked by corporate leaders, members of his arts council, and even James Murdoch, who is so afraid that American Jews, and even Israel, will see the president’s words as doing major damage, that he threw a million dollars at the Anti-Defamation League to stanch the bleeding. And where is Benjamin Netanyahu? The right-wing protector of Israeli and Jewish values has been remarkably silent on Trump’s atrocious choice of words. The company you keep, you know.

The point is that Charlottesville will likely be one of those turning points in our history. It will lead to major changes across the political spectrum and in the way that ordinary people view and talk about race. They will have to do this without moral leadership from the White House unless Trump decides that he needs to be more magnanimous and makes a prime-time speech calling for a more united country. OK, I’ll wait until you stop laughing. But I do really wish it would happen.

It is clear that we cannot expect President Trump to act presidential or to stand up and defend all of the citizens of this great country. In such a leadership vacuum, we run the risk that other noxious voices will try to fill the silence. And we also run the risk that violence will be seen as the tactic of choice.

Don’t let that happen. Be the moral voice that says the right words, the courageous words, the words that embrace instead of repel. Do not equivocate. And of course, agitate, agitate, agitate.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Featured #Racism

President George Bush on Donald Trump – “I Don’t Like The Racism”

Former Republican president, George W. Bush and his wife were interviewed in their home by PEOPLE magazine. Asked for his thoughts on his republican counterpart, Donald Trump, Bush answered the only way he could, by referencing the obvious racist factor of the Trump’s presidency.

“I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,” Bush, 70, tells PEOPLE in an interview for the new issue of the magazine on newsstands Friday.

“Nobody likes that.”

The former president, joined by his wife  Laura, spoke with PEOPLE in the third-floor painting studio of their Dallas home to launch his first art book, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. The collection of portraits of the wounded warriors of America’s war on terror aims to raise awareness and funds for the post-9/11 veterans’ health care and employment programs of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Featured #Racism

Trump’s Adviser Being Sued for Hiring Whites to Beat Up Blacks

Donald Trump was “elected” with the help of people like the KKK, who said that Trump represent the type of things they believed in. And since his “election,” Trump has put in power numerous people of questionable racial beliefs. Among these people is Trump’s new adviser, Reed Cordish, an executive of the Cordish Companies and being sued for hiring white men to beat up black people.

On Wednesday, Trump tapped Reed Cordish as assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives. Cordish is an executive of the Cordish Companies, his family’s Baltimore-based real-estate business, and the president of Entertainment Concepts Investors, a subsidiary that owns and manages bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout the U.S.

ECI’s largest holdings are in Kansas City, Missouri, where Cordish partnered with Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner on a building in the city’s Power and Light District.

But the Power and Light District, a half-million-square-foot downtown shopping and entertainment center, has a dark reputation among the city’s black community. Two separate lawsuits against the companies say the area is commonly referred to as the “Power and White District” for its owner’s alleged record of racial discrimination.

In 2014, Dante Combs and Adam Williams sued as the lead plaintiffs in a $5 million class-action racial-discrimination case. Cordish’s business won an initial ruling in a federal district court, but Combs and Williams are appealing the decision.

The two plaintiffs say they were beaten and harassed by white men employed by the Cordish company to “lighten up” its clubs as part of a long-running campaign to keep away black people.

Cordish is the latest Trump pick with an alleged racist past.

Featured #Racism

INSANITY – White Trump Supporter Says Black Worker “Discriminated” Against Her – Video

When Donald Trump stood in front of an audience and proclaimed, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and not lose a vote,” he was talking about people like this Chicago woman!

Video