Trump is un-American

I would say that Donald Trump has gone too far this time, were it not for the fact that he has gone too far so many times before.

Yesterday, he proposed that no Muslims be allowed to enter the United States, even if they are US citizens, or tourists, or diplomats, or refugees, or young children, or US military personnel.

Apparently, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who became the first Muslim in Congress in 2007. wouldn’t be allowed to drive back into the US if he traveled across his state’s border into Canada. Would Trump try to have him removed from his seat?

The United Nations would have to re-locate, as many of its Ambassadors are Muslim.

Muslim members of our military deployed overseas would not be allowed to then post back to the US or to come home on leave.

He has also said that all Muslims in the US would need to register as Muslims and that mosques would be surveilled.

It is ridiculous and against our values as a country.

This flies in the face of our Constitution, which promises free exercise of religion.

It harks back to some of the shameful actions of the United States during World War II, when Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were interred in camps based only on their ethnicity, along with some Italian- and German-Americans in the East.

The only positive aspect of this is that leaders across the political spectrum are publicly condemning Trump for this viewpoint.

It is hard to say whether or not Trump’s supporters will leave his camp over this.  Many of them are scared and believe that Trump would protect them by this action.

I can only say that Trump’s supporters are a very small proportion of the population. With so many candidates in the Republican primary, having 30% support looks like a large percentage, but because Republicans are only a fraction of all US citizens, it only equals about 8% of the voters in the United States, some of whom may not support all of Trump’s platform.

To Mr. Trump, I say, “NO!”

Just NO.

 

Again

This is not the post I wanted to write today.

But the 355th mass shooting in the United States this year happened yesterday.

Mind-boggling. Averaging more than one a day.

And that horrible toll is dwarfed by the total number of those killed and wounded by guns in the United States through gang violence, organized crime, domestic violence, road rage, all manner of crimes using guns, hunting accidents, suicide, and at-home accidents, including a heart-breaking number of incidents of children accidentally killing a sibling or friend when they find a loaded weapon in their home.

We need to stop this level of violence.

There needs to be much stricter licensing of guns so that people who use them for hunting or target shooting or other legitimate purposes and who know how to properly store and secure a firearm continue to have access, but people who are violent, mentally unstable, or engaged in criminal activity do not.

Some kinds of weapons and ammunition should not be available at all. Guns designed to only kill people, like assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bullets that are designed to inflict extra damage on human victims should be off the market for the general public.

I know that some readers are probably saying, but the second amendment of the US Constitution says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. I would ask those people to consider the whole amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The sentence structure isn’t used much in modern English, but it is a translation of the Latin ablative absolute structure, which means that the first clause is the basis for what follows it. At the time it was adopted, the United States did not have a standing army, so the militia was meant to defend the country in case of attack. For this reason, keeping and bearing arms was not to be infringed.

That is not our current situation in this country. We have a large standing military force, as well as National Guard units and local police forces. Gun regulations for the average citizen do not violate the Constitution.

We have restrictions on gun ownership now in place, based on age, criminal record, and other factors. We restrict the types of weapons people may own. No one thinks they have the right to have an anti-aircraft battery in the backyard or a nuclear weapon in the garage, just in case they need it.

It is time – well, past time, but better late than never – for Congress to act to restrict gun violence.

Too many people have already lost their lives. We must not stand by and watch even more killing.

an open letter to Speaker Boehner

Dear Speaker Boehner,

Thank you for your service in what has become an increasingly untenable job.

I implore you in your remaining days as speaker to lead in a new direction. Please search through the Republicans in the House and identify those who want to govern, rather than obstruct.

Speak to House minority leader Pelosi about forming a governing coalition so that the legislation that the country and all of its people need passes, among these being a clean debt ceiling raise and a just budget, which puts human needs first.

Nancy Pelosi, as a former speaker, would be the natural choice to lead this new coalition, although another person outside of Congress would be a possibility.

The country cannot afford to be made ungovernable by a few dozen representatives who refuse to do their job, which is to govern for the good of the country, not just their district, not just the people within their district who voted for them.

Pope Francis eloquently called on the Congress to work together, in keeping with the ideals of our Constitution.

I know you believe these ideals and ask you to put the common good above partisan politics to craft a solution that will move the Congress and the nation out of its current dysfunction.

Sincerely,
Joanne Corey

My nomination for House Speaker

So, the US Republican party is in disarray.

The current House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation goes into effect on October 30. House majority leader Kevin McCarthy has just withdrawn his name from consideration as the next Speaker, as a sizable chunk of the party would not support him.

The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone that the whole Republican caucus agrees on for the post, which is incredibly important to get legislation passed into law and is also third in line for the succession of the presidency after the vice president.

My solution is that Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker and current House minority leader, should be the next Speaker, supported by the Democrats and those Republicans who actually want to govern rather than be obstructionist.

There is vital legislation for the debt ceiling and for the budget that must be passed to avert severe negative economic consequences. If the Republicans can’t get their act together to govern effectively, they don’t deserve the speakership.

On being a US Catholic in the days of Pope Francis

While the United States is a very pluralistic country, with its people following hundreds of different spiritual, religious, philosophical, or secular belief systems, seventy million of us consider ourselves to be Roman Catholic.

With Pope Francis travelling in the Northeastern United States these past few days, there has been extensive media coverage, with reporters and interviewees acknowledging that they are Catholic, which is often not brought up in journalism or entertainment here. It has been touching to hear US Catholics talk about their faith and to hear Francis reach out to all people, regardless of their belief in the Divine or not, in keeping with the meaning of the word “catholic” which is “universal.” It is heartening to hear so many respond in kind, saying, “I’m not Catholic but I want to see Francis and hear what he has to say.”

I am Catholic, but do not in any way promote my faith as being any better than another path. It is simply the path that has meaning to me and which is integrated into my being and through which I hope to live out Divine Love in the world. I believe that the vast majority of people are of good will and decry those few who misuse ideology to do violence to or oppress others. Sadly, there have been many instances in which the power structure of the Catholic church has sinned and been guilty of horrible crimes against entire ethnic groups or religions as well as individual persons. These are human failings and not a reflection of God who is good and always loving.

This visit from Pope Francis is a good opportunity to talk about the public perception of the Catholic church and the lived experience of being a US Catholic. People, even many Catholics themselves, think of the Catholic Church as being a set of beliefs and rules that must be adhered to uniformly to belong; much of the Catholic hierarchy has advanced that view in my lifetime, but it is not really what the church teaches. There are a core set of teachings called dogmas which must be accepted in order to be Catholic. These are God-related and articulated in important teachings such as the creed.

There are many other teachings, usually more centered on human activity. The most important of these are doctrines. Catholics are asked to believe these teachings, as well as other teachings at lesser levels of authority, but dissent is possible after considered study and reflection.

The Catholic Church believes in the primacy of conscience, which means that we are called to act in accord to our individual, well-formed conscience. We sin if we violate our conscience and damage our relationship with God and other people. Dissenting from a teaching or breaking a rule is not wrong if we are following our conscience, having seriously considered church teaching on the topic.

Probably the most common experience of this in the United States is dissent from Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which prohibited the use of artificial means of birth control while allowing natural ones. Even though a commission that studied the issue recommended that the church allow contraception, Paul VI was persuaded to continue prohibiting it. Since it was first promulgated in 1968, this teaching has not been accepted by the vast majority of US Catholics, who have the right and responsibility to follow their own consciences on this matter – and on the related issue of using fertility assistance, several means of which, such as artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization, are also against official Catholic teaching.

Another common misunderstanding is that divorced Catholics can’t receive communion. This isn’t true. The problem comes in when a Catholic who has a civil divorce remarries without an annulment from the church. (More misunderstandings arise over annulments. A Catholic annulment does not mean that there was no marriage; it means that there was a serious impediment to the marriage from the start so that it was not a sacramental marriage. If an annulment is granted, the individuals are then free to enter into a sacramental marriage with another spouse, but the first marriage is still recognized as a civil marriage. Some people are afraid to pursue an annulment because they think their children will then be considered born out of wedlock, but that is not the case.) The reason behind the prohibition against receiving communion in a second marriage without an annulment is that it is considered a public scandal to be living in adultery. So, yes, this is about sex. Someone who is living in a second marriage without an annulment but who is living what the church calls “a chaste life” can receive communion.

Yeah, the officialdom of the Catholic church doesn’t understand sexual behavior very well at all. Unfortunately, this has become an overwhelming focus and attempted means of control by the hierarchy in the United States and elsewhere. It is hopeful that Francis has changed the emphasis to larger human problems, like poverty, environmental degradation, war, violence, and failure to work for justice and the common good.

Francis has already endorsed some procedures to make annulments less cumbersome to obtain and there is hope for further reform. There is also the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will offer some other opportunities within the church. The larger impact, though, is Francis’s example of outreach, caring, and concern for all people and for creation. He will empower people toward justice, love, and peace, whether or not all the other bishops follow his lead.

We are taught that the church is the people of God. Some in the hierarchy have acted as though they themselves are the core of the church, more important than the millions upon millions of the laity.

With Francis, we may finally have the opportunity to be truly catholic, that is universal.

Scott Walker leads?

“People are called to be leaders in unusual ways,” Walker said. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said this yesterday in his speech suspending his campaign for the Republican party’s nomination for the presidency.

It is one of the most unusual leadership calls I have ever seen.

Leading by quitting? And inviting others to follow you in quitting, too?

In one way, I am relieved that he has abandoned his presidential bid because I think his policies would have been a disaster for the country,  but there are a number of other candidates in the field who are even more destructive and they are not about to “follow his lead” in leaving.

I guess the bright side is that the next debate may be able to fit all the candidates on stage at once, instead of having a small sideshow debate before the main event.

Seriously. I’m trying to find something positive to say about the mess that is the Republican nominating process.

It’s a difficult assignment.

Francis in Cuba

Pope Francis’s core message of his first full day in Cuba has been “Serve other people, not ideology.”

People in the United States could very well receive the same core message when Francis arrives here later in the week.

SoCS: Pope Francis

I heard this morning that Pope Francis is en route to Cuba, where he will spend a few days before arriving in the US.

His route here will take him to Washington, New York City, and Philadelphia. There will be high profile speeches to the US Congress, UN General Assembly, and at a conference on the family in Philadelphia. There will also be several public Masses with attendance in the thousands for the indoors ones and hundreds of thousands when outdoors.

I have been eagerly anticipating his arrival and plan to watch the coverage, including a group “watch party” for the Congressional address.

I was reading an article by Father Tom Reese in NCR the other day, asking if people would really hear what Francis has to say while he is in the US.  I know that I will be listening carefully. I also know that, while I will agree with many of the Pope’s points, I will disagree with others. For example, Francis, though he means well, does not understand women’s lives. While he is wonderful about acknowledging social justice issues with those in poverty or on the margins, he fails to notice that this group is disproportionately female and that sexism and sexual violence/exploitation play a large role in their plight.

I am especially interested in how the Congress, many of whose leaders are Catholic, will react to what is sure to be a challenging speech to them, probably on the grounds of climate change, militarism, lack of care for the country’s and the world’s most vulnerable, rampant consumerism, and greed.

I am hopeful that Pope Francis’s voice on environmental issues and systemic marginalization of those with the least economic resources, especially in the global South, will spark conversation that will lead to a strong US voice for the climate and environment and for justice, for “integral ecology” as the Pope terms it, so that there will be a strong international accord coming out to the Paris climate talks at the end of the year with full US participation in the implementation.

That sounds like I’m asking for a miracle.

Maybe I am.

But I think there is hope through Francis, who speaks not only to Catholics but to “all those of good will” and maybe even may reach those who are not especially “of good will.”

Godspeed, Francis. May you have a safe and fruitful journey.
*****
This is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. This week’s prompt is route/root.  Join us! Find out how here:    http://lindaghill.com/2015/09/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-1915/  SoCS badge 2015

Immigration in the US and the world

Immigration issues have been in the news in the United States for the last several years. The current system is outdated and cumbersome and the last several presidents and some prominent members of Congress have worked on comprehensive reform packages.  In the summer of 2013, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a strong bipartisan majority, but the House refused to take it up and the rhetoric against reform has escalated.

Some of the Republican presidential candidates have been trying to outdo each other in their vehemence against undocumented immigrants, even going so far as to threaten denying birthright citizenship to babies born in the United States. There are also proposals to build walls on both the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, disregarding the fact that many currently undocumented people reached the US by air or were documented at the time of their arrival or were trafficked into the country or are refugees.

The real solution lies in comprehensive immigration reform with an earned path to citizenship for those who want to remain permanently and work visas for those who want to stay only for a limited amount of time. There also needs to be a better process for applying for visas that takes human needs into account, such as family unity and protection from violence and persecution. Why should someone fleeing Cuba be admitted while someone fleeing more dangerous conditions in El Salvador is not?

Adding to the picture is the current crisis in Europe regarding refugees from the war in Syria and Iraq and other unrest in the Middle East and northern Africa. Desperate people are taking to overcrowded and dangerous boats and rafts or are traveling overland to try to reach safety in Europe. While some countries, especially Germany, are being welcoming, others, such as Hungary, are denying safe transit through their countries.

It’s horrifying.

Part of my upbringing as a Christian is that one should welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and treat every person with respect.  I live in a country where the the vast majority of the population either are immigrants or their descendants and which often touts the strengths that our diversity lends to our democracy. (I also know our history and that our country has behaved unconscionably in dealing with the First Nations, those who were trafficked or enslaved, and various ethnic groups, including the Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned during world War II. None of this negates our current responsibilities toward those in need of refuge.)

I believe that all the nations need to work together to relieve the suffering of those displaced by violence and economic disruption. Some may be looking for permanent re-settlement in a new country, while others may need a safe place for a few years in hope that they can return to their country of origin. The United States, as one of the richest countries in the world, needs to do its part to help, accepting many more than the 10,000 places offered if more refugees wish to live here and offering financial and logistical aid to help in caring for refugees while they are being processed to go to their final destinations.

I know that many will argue that we can’t afford it, but we can. It’s all a matter of priorities. The United States spends huge amounts of money on our military, including weaponry and equipment that the military leaders don’t want or need. Billions more dollars could be spent on human needs programs both at home and abroad if military spending is brought in line with what is truly needed rather than what is embarked upon due to fear or pork-barrel politics. The tax code also is in need of major revision, re-instituting a more progressive tax system for both individuals and corporations, closing loopholes, eliminating tax havens, lowering taxes on the lower earners and increasing rates for high earners.

There is a lot to do. Enough with the grandstanding and fear-mongering. It’s time to get to work to address immigration in a comprehensive way.

Loyalty oath

So,  the Republican party is demanding that the seventeen major candidates for its nomination for the US presidency sign a loyalty oath to continue in the campaign. They must pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee and promise not to run as an independent.

It is perceived to be aimed against Donald Trump, who has refused to rule out an independent run if he doesn’t get the nomination.

I don’t think he should sign it.

I don’t think that any candidate should sign it.

No one should promise to support a candidate just because that person will appear on the ballot on the Republican line. Or the Democratic line. Or any other party line.

Voting is one of our most important civic duties. In order to take our votes seriously, they must not be pre-determined months before an election.

No loyalty oaths in the United States!

It’s un-American.