The New American “Other:” Why Islamophobia in America is Nothing New and Why We Must Stand Against It.

Following September 11, 2001, as we went to war to battle terrorism in lands many of us couldn’t have pointed to on a map before hand, we also began to battle another enemy here at home. It’s an internal struggle with an internal enemy that wields a weapon that, unlike terrorism itself, has the power to destroy the nation we all love. The enemy is hatred, its weapon is the manipulation of fear, and it’s a struggle that affects us all.  In the weeks, months, and years since that clear, cool September morning, we have allowed hatred to manipulate our fears and to turn American against American, reciting rhetoric about who is a “real American,”  and to strip of us of our Constitutional rights, passing such laws as the Patriot Act and NDAA. Since that unexpected and heartbreaking morning, we have allowed our fellow Americans to suffer hate crimes and discrimination at the hands of bigots, to have their Constitutionally protected religious exercise threatened by xenophobes, and to be propagandized as the epitome of religious fanaticism. Since that mournful day we have created a new “other,” a new group of Americans to scapegoat and shun: The Muslim. And it is a shameful violation of our heritage.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental principal of the US. The Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment, is the foundation upon which this nation was built; it is the reason the US became, and still is for many, the destination for immigrants from all over the world. When the Jews of Eastern Europe began suffering from the violent pogroms of the late 18th and early 19th century, those who fled chose America because they knew that here they’d find some measure of protection. When people, who dared to speak out against the abuses of their leaders in places like the USSR, Cuba, or Sierra Leone, sought refuge they came to the US where free-speech was protected.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never been perfect. There have been times in the past, much like now, when we have forgotten what makes us a great nation; when a religious, ethnic, or political group was singled out, marginalized, and persecuted. For example, fear of Catholicism was one of the driving forces behind immigration quotas against  the number of certain European groups who could emigrate to the US; it was called National Origins Act of 1927, and it targeted Southern and Eastern Europeans, like the Italians, the Greeks, and the Polish, who were predominately Catholic. In fact, for much of our history Americans, who have been predominately protestant, willingly marginalized Catholics; hatred and distrust was so strong that JFK had to publicly promise that his allegiance lay with the US and not with the Pope. And during WWII, following the attack of Pearl Harbor, we allowed fear of being attacked again to give the government the power to round up over 100,000 Americans of Japanese decent,  across the West Coast, and place them in internment camps, violating their civil rights. Several times in our history we have, out of fear, allowed our free-speech to be limited; for example, during WWI, the fear of communism was so strong that we caved to it and allowed the US government, under the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act, to round up US citizens for simply voicing criticism of the government.

So, as you can see, this is not the first time we have faced this foe as a nation. It is not the first time that we have relented to it in the face of fear. But that does not make it ok, in fact it makes it worse. Why? Because we have been here and done this enough times to know better, to be better than what we have become. We have allowed xenophobia against Islam to erode so much of what makes this nation something of which to be proud, chief amongst them being the provisions of our First Amendment. Of this we should be ashamed and we should fight against it. This is why knowing our true history — the good, the bad, the triumphant, and the shameful — is so profoundly important. In learning from those times past we have the tools necessary to build an even stronger nation. In knowing the past we are less likely to repeat those mistakes with a new “other;” rather, we would be encouraged to strive even harder to protect the rights of *all* Americans and to endeavor to marginalize bigotry and hatred instead of our fellow citizens.

The Manipulation of Victimization: How to Use Police Brutality to Build a Populous Movement

September 24, 2011~ Unarmed protesters, already trapped within a police barricade, are sprayed in the face with pepper spray.

October 11, 2011~ Over 50 people, many of whom were violently treated by police, are arrested.

Late October (24-28), 2011~ Police in full riot gear launch an attack against unarmed protesters; firing flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. The attack lead to several injuries, including a skull fracture suffered by a war veteran.

November 4, 2011~ Unarmed, non-aggressive students are prodded and stuck with night-sticks, and many are violently thrown to the ground by police.

November 15, 2011~ An unarmed 84-year old woman and a pregnant 19-year old are among a crowd of people pepper sprayed.

November 18, 2011~ Unarmed students are pepper-sprayed at near point-blank range, as they sit, arms locked on the ground.

(The list is rather extensive, you can read more here and see more here and here)

Police violence in the news is nothing new, sadly. Since this past April we have watched as citizens around the globe, from Egypt to Greece, have been brutalized by the very forces whose sole purpose is to protect them. What is most shocking about the afore mentioned attacks, is that they are occurring right here in the US. All across the nation, American citizens from all walks of life and generations are being tear gassed, pepper sprayed, shot by rubber bullets, thrown to the ground, and arrested. Their crime? Nothing. Unless you consider it a crime to speak your mind and protest against an oligarchy that has impoverished the people by manipulating the system to enjoy exponential gains in wealth as we the people continue to lose income,  and robbed us of our political power (see this video, and this one); if so, I suggest you read the Constitution and learn a bit about the American Revolution.

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled, “Is America Experiencing a Looming Police State,” in response to the ludicrous attacks against lemonade stands that occurred nationwide this past summer.  Since then, as I listed above, police across the country have become increasingly forceful against the people whom they’re supposed to serve and protect. People who pay their salaries via the taxes they pay. People who are exercising their Constitutional rights to free-speech and peaceful assembly, and who are, themselves, unarmed.

I still maintain that not all police would behave in this manner; not only because I have known a few cops personally in my life, but because it would be a logical fallacy to claim that the behavior of some police is indicative of all. In fact, some of the protesters who have been brutalized are/have been police officers themselves. Nevertheless, there is a warning in all of this that must be heard and heeded: The Republic is in danger and how we the people choose to respond will make all the difference.

We must be careful to not return violence with violence. As you may have noticed from the videos linked above, as the students of UC Berkeley were battered by batons and those of UC Davis were pepper-sprayed at close range, they held their ground. They locked arms, they shouted for the police to stop, but they did not hit back. I know there are some of you who would want to hit back, but I tell you: DO NOT ENGAGE. They want you to lash out. They want you to hit back. Why? Because no one likes a bully. Instead, you must be willing to be the victim, people tend to love the victim.

I know, it sounds crazy to some of us, but this is how movements are elevated from being seen as a group temper tantrum to being a populous movement for social change. It’s a tactic that I like to call Manipulation of Victimization. The tactic is simple and, if you look back upon most of the movements that changed American history, it is a tactic that works. For the Manipulation of Victimization to work requires a bully and a victim. The goal here is to use the actions of authorities to paint them in the role of the bully. How is this done? Easy.

DO NOT RETURN VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE and DO NOT INCITE VIOLENCE.

The minute the people begin to hit back or act out is the minute we lose popular support. Notice how the Occupy Movement has grown as reports of police brutality and excessive force against unarmed, non-violent protesters increase. As more and more instances of abuses of power surface, Americans who were previously ambivalent or completely apathetic toward the Occupy Movement have begun to show support. Like I said above, no one likes the bully and right now the police, and better yet the system (and the oligarchs who run it) that the police are defending, are the bully. It is essential that they remain as such if we hope to continue to grow this movement and achieve the socio-political and economic change that we seek.

Passive resistance is the method we must use. And Manipulation of Victimization is the tactic we must employ. There are several historical precedents in which these were utilized from which we can learn. For sake of time, I will briefly discuss three:

1) The Women’s Suffrage Movement. For over a century women struggled to gain the right to vote to no avail. In 1911, under the leadership of such women as Alice Paul, Women’s Suffragists began to organize mass demonstrations. For the next six years popular sentiment toward the women was predominately negative; like today’s Occupiers, these women were accused of making trouble where none was needed. It was not until reports of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of authorities were reported in the papers that public sentiments began to change. Then, in 1917, public support exploded when news that a group of women, who had been arrested for protesting at the White House and sent to the Occoquan Work House, were being abused and force-fed by prison authorities. Despite the many abuses endured by the suffragists, they maintained the method of passive resistance and used the abuses to their advantage by employing the tactic of Manipulation of Victimization. After being released from the workhouse, the women proceeded to share their stories with the newspapers; a number of them even went on a national tour on the “Prison Special” to share their experiences with their fellow Americans and grow support for the cause. The result of all of this, as we well know, was the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

2) The Civil Rights Movement. For much of the movement’s history, public support was limited. Most Americans were pretty much ambivalent to the plight of blacks; in part because of racism, but mostly because they were ignorant to the realities of the conditions in which blacks lived; especially in the South where Jim Crow laws forced American citizens to live in institutionalized segregation simply because of the color of their skin and voter restriction laws, such as poll taxes, prevented them from voting. Although we generally think of the Civil Rights Movement was having begun in the 1950s, it really began in the 19th century. Like women’s suffrage, Civil Rights took some time, mostly because of the restrictions placed on the free speech and movement of blacks, to become a unified movement. Initially the movement was comprised of isolated instances of resistance which only incensed hostile and racist sentiments toward blacks and resulted in the assassination of several leaders, church bombings, lynchings, and other acts of violence.  The aim of the attacks was to end the movement once and for all by  scaring blacks into submission; instead, it only caused the movement to grow as stories, such as the bombing of  the 16th Street Baptist Church and the murder of four innocent little girls, horrified the nation.

From 1954 to 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was finally passed, Civil Rights leaders and protesters utilized both passive resistance,  from the Montgomery Bus Boycotts to the “sit-in” at “white’s only” lunch counters to the march across the Selma, Alabama bridge,  and Manipulation of Victimization to encourage social change. For more than a decade Civil Rights Activists struggled against violence and resistance, mostly at the hands of police and law makers; all the while making only small to moderate strides, such as Brown vs the Board of Education (1954 case that ended segregation in public school) and Browder vs. Gayle (the1956 supreme court ruling that ended bus segregation). It wasn’t until America witnessed, via their television sets, the excessive force and brutal attacks wielded against young, unarmed, peaceful activists,  in Birmingham that national sentiments toward civil rights turned from ambivalence to support. Unable to ignore it any longer, President Johnson and Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

3) Vietnam Protests and the Kent State Shooting. Like the afore mentioned movements, the anti-war movement was predominately a non-violent one, at least on the side of the protesters. Likewise, the activists and protesters were generally depicted in a negative light; labeled as “hippies,” they faced much hostility and opposition from older, middle-class Americans who, despite also not supporting the war, viewed the activists as trouble-makers.  Nevertheless the movement, thanks to the violent actions of police against protesters being reported on the news, in both televised and print media,  continued to gain the support of Americans, mostly among the young. Images of police brutalizing and beating students and protesters at Columbia University (watch footage from 1968, parts 1 and 2) and of the infamous shooting at Kent State that left four students dead and nine others wounded when the National Guard fired on the unarmed, non-violent demonstrators, increased anti-war sentiments nationwide. The high cost, in both money and lives, and the growing resistance and violence at home forced the US government to withdraw from Vietnam. By avoiding, for the most part, returning violence for violence, the anti-war movement not only engaged in passive resistance, they manipulated police violence to their advantage, thus painting themselves as the victim and the police as the bully, which only helped the movement to grow.

Each of these movements shares many common elements with today’s Occupy Movement.
1)They challenged to status quo and demanded an end to institutionalized  marginalization based on race, sex, and class.
2) They challenged the power of the “authorities” and proved that, when united, the power of the people can overcome anything.
3) They raised awareness of the plight of the “other” by forcing the American power majorities to acknowledge and rectify the system to ensure that the nation lived up to the promises of its founding documents.

Each of these movements also have something to teach us. AVOID ACTING VIOLENTLY. Instead, return each blow, each spray, and each kick, with steady resolve. Manipulate the victimization to our favor at every turn. When they demand we disperse, stay. When they throw us to the ground, lay still. When they spray us in the face, scream but do not flail. When they try to arrest us, sit down and make them drag us away. But, no matter how angry they make us, we must remain the victim.

If we continue to play our cards right, there is a bright-side to all of the police violence: We now have a weapon; it is a weapon more powerful and more persuasive than any projectile or stick in their arsenal. Their abuse is our greatest weapon. And if we wield it right, if we employ the method of passive resistance and utilize the tactic of  Manipulation of Victimization, then we shall overcome.

A Message to Congress

Dear Congress,
For far too long we have been ignored, marginalized, and exploited. We have watched as our homes have lost value or been taken away. We have watched as jobs, via free trade agreements designed solely to benefit the rich, have been sent overseas. We have watched as our schools, natural environment, and infrastructures have taken a back seat to subsidies and other economic breaks for the richest amongst us. We have seen the cost of living skyrocket while earnings for the majority of us have plummeted. As we, the 99%, struggle to make ends meet, send our kids to college, pay our medical bills, and buy food and other necessities, the rich have continued to make exponential gains. And, to add insult to injury, we have watched, despite all of our hopes, as you, our elected officials, have sold out us to the highest bidder.
It ends now. This is, as per the US Constitution, the very document that you are sworn to uphold and protect, a nation of, by, and for the people. You are our public servants. Act like it, or be replaced.

Please, feel free to send this letter to your own Congressperson (Senator or House Rep., as well as to your state reps in your state’s General Assembly).
Also, please visit and participate in 
Take Back America’s Facebook event, “Occupy Congress and General Assemblies.”

Occupy USA: The American Dream is over.

By now we have all seen the media coverage of Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together. With few exceptions, like Rachel Maddow, members of the mainstream media, who dare to call themselves journalists, have either completely ignored the Occupy movement or have, like Erin Burnette, mocked it.  The mainstream media has, for the most part, treated this long overdue citizens movement with thinly veiled disdain and indifference. Why? Simple, they are owned by the very entities against which the Occupy movement is protesting, corporations and banks. So, naturally they are going to paint the protesters as if they are nothing more than whining, disorganized hippies, who lack a clear message and have nothing better to do than harass hard-working CEOs (for a brief montage of what the media has been saying, watch this clip).

While the latter part might be somewhat true, I mean without jobs and hope for a future of course they have ample time on their hands; however, they are far from whining and disorganized and there is a clear message. What is that message? In short it is this: America belongs to the people, not to the banks or the corporations, but to the people and we want it back where it belongs…in our hands. In detail, the message is multi-faceted because there is more than one issue and the problems we face are complex. Although, much of it boils down to that fact that we, the 99%, are facing economic hardships and a wealth disparity rivaled only by that seen before the Great Depression.

We, the 99%, are falling deeper and deeper into debt for daring to seek an education and/or own a home. Young Americans are going into tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt just to get as much as a Bachelors or a Masters degree. To put it into perspective how ridiculous this is, most teachers possess at least a Bachelors and their average starting salary in the US is only $39,000. As the economy in the US shifted from manufacturing that paid very well to services that tend to pay little, obtaining a college degree has become the only way by which most Americans can hope to secure a sound financial future; yet, in order to obtain it we’re being forced to choose between the exorbitant debt of a college education or the abject poverty that comes with working for places like Walmart. But, as this article from AlterNet discusses, as corporate America finds new ways to do business over seas, young Americans find that their college degrees are sometimes no guarantee for employment.

We, the 99%, are facing rising rates of poverty while the 1% enjoys ever increasing prosperity. Presently, the top 1% of Americans control 40% of the wealth, leaving the other 99% of us to split what remains. As the present meme goes, “It’s the Inequality, Stupid.” Just look at those numbers again: 40% of all wealth in the US is concentrated in the hands of a mere 1% of the population, while the remaining 60% is distributed, unevenly, amongst the remaining 99%. Doesn’t sound right, does it?
According to page 14 of the US Census Bureau’s 2010 report entitled “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010,”  poverty in the US is currently 15.1%. This figure is an increase from that reported in 2009, which was 14.3%. According to the Census Bureau’s reports, the poverty rate in the US is increasing consecutively each year and has risen 2.5 percentage points since 2007. At this moment, 46.2 million Americans are living poverty, last year it was 43.6 million. This means that at any given moment any one of us could become part of that ever growing number.  We can’t keep going like this.

We have many problems facing this nation, many issues that must be solved, most of which directly and negatively affect the lives of the 99%. Our infrastructures and our public schools are in dire need of attention, yet our tax dollars go toward wars and subsidies for entities bent on breaking us. But we see now that we are in this together, and that together we are stronger than they are. We are the 99%. We are the unemployed, the under employed, the uninsured, and the evicted. We are the college graduates, the nurses, the teachers, the police, the postal workers, the firefighters, the soldiers, the laborers, and the homemakers. We have been thrown into debt by the callous greed of corporations and banks that dare to manipulate the “American Dream” for outrageous profits. That dream is dead. It’s over. And, perhaps that is ok because we, the 99%, are awake now and we have a message for them: You can keep your American Dream, we’re ready for an American goal.

Something that makes me go, “Hmmmm?”

Below is a brief highlight of what was a rather lengthy conversation about homosexuality and societal acceptance. The conversation took place between a couple of random chicks and me in my Lit class after the Professor posed a question about coming out in the workplace when one lives in an area in which being gay *will* get you ostracized:

Chick 1: I think that gay people should just kinda, you know, deal with it…Society is changing and things are getting better, but I think it’ll just take time…Why do they have to come out at work? It’s like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I feel like they’re there to do a job and should just do the job and then be themselves at home…

Me: Wait a minute…You’re asking people to deny a part of who they are simply because some people in society might think it’s icky? You expect the gay person to pretend to conform, never allowed to discuss their relationships with their co-workers?

Chick 2: Well, I personally think people shouldn’t discuss their private lives at all at work. It’s unprofessional.

Me: I agree, but that point is moot because people *do* discuss their private lives at work. The question is, should gays be forced to keep silent out of fear of repercussion?

Chick 2: *shrugs*

Me: (directed at chick one) Going back to your statement about the military, why should soldiers in the military be expected to keep their relationships hidden? Especially when they’re stationed far from home, most likely in a combat setting? What about when they’re overseas and everyone around them is having conversations with their significant others, but the gay persons have to pretend they’re just talking to a friend? What about the civil rights issue? Is it not a violation of their first amendment rights? You realize that under DADT, a gay person cannot come out at all, right?

Chick 1: Well, they don’t have to be in the military. They could do another job…

Me: You know, they used to say the same thing to women…Not just in the military, but to women who wanted to do anything that was considered *men’s work,* this included voting…Should women have just dealt with that?…

Dude in class: (interjecting) I think it’s wrong to keep gays quiet…I, for one, think they’re born gay…

Chick 1: Well, I agree. I think they are, too…

Me: So, then why would you put the burden of “just dealing with it” on the person who is born the way that they are…they have no choice, it’s literally who they are…and not on the bigot who has chosen, via willful ignorance, to be a judgmental tool?

Chick 1: *nods and shrugs*

I still want an answer to that last question: Why is the burden of acceptance always placed upon the marginalized and not upon the marginalizers? Why is it that the oppressed are always expected to just “deal” with it? Should it not be the other way around? Moreover, in keeping silent do those who disagree with bigotry not lend a measure of credence to that bigotry?

Originally written by Karen Lyn and published on Elephant Ocean on September 16, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

From Thoughts to Action

A few people wanted to know, what made us start Take Back America ? Well, here’s what motivated it:

This citizens’ movement, which is still a very small, fledgling movement, began  just a few months ago as an idea. Well, as a series of complaints, really, which evolved into an idea. I was sick and tired…of so many things really.

I was sick and tired of listening to the crazy, yes I said crazy, extreme right, the Palins and the Bachmanns and the Becks and the Bartons, making outlandish and non-factual statements about America and what our founders intended. They know nothing about our history, and even less about what the founders intended. I wanted to find a way to help my fellow Americans understand our rich and complicated history. To understand that we cannot know for a fact everything the founders “intended” and that, for the most part, we should not completely care because it is one thing to learn from the past, it is another thing entirely to live in it.

What we DO know is that the founders did not intend for this to be a Christian nation, as the Christian right would have us believe, hence the First Amendment. They did not intend for the Constitution to be a dead document, static and unchanging as many on the right, like Ron Paul, would have us believe. What they DID intend was for this to be a nation of, by, and for the people, not a nation of , by, and for corporations; hence the wording of the preamble of our very own Constitution. What they DID intend was to build a nation that would grow and change with its people, not a nation trapped in time but a nation that was timeless; hence the Amendment process. What they DID intend was for Congress to put the needs and rights of the people, whom they’re meant to serve, before all else; hence the wording of Article 1 Section 8 of  our Constitution: “Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Our founders, though flawed, were wise enough to know and understand that society is not static, that its needs change over time and that a strong government changes and grows along with its people.

I was also sick and tired of those same extreme conservatives claiming to be the voice of America, the true patriots. Pro-corporate, anti-choice ideals are NOT the American legacy. At the time of its founding, The United States of America was the greatest experiment in political progressivism the world had ever seen, and, in many ways, we still are. We were built on the principle that all men, or as we now think of it, people, were created equal. That each citizen has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That every American is free to worship, or not, however many gods, be it one or many or none, that he or she sees fit; a promise which America is still among few nations in all the world to give. We are a nation founded by and built upon the idea of moving forward, always seeking a new outlook and new way of being, a chance to be have more and to be more. We have never been perfect, and we have made more than our fair share of mistakes along the way, but we have never stopped moving toward the next horizon. You don’t get more progressive than this.

I was also sick and tired of watching Americans, hard working and seemingly intelligent Americans, voting against their own interests: in with the Democrats, then out with them and in with the Republicans, over and over and over again. Yet, no matter which one we put in power, we still seem to lose. I wanted to find a way to inform voters that we HAVE other options. You are NOT throwing away your vote if you vote for the candidate whom you believe WILL best serve US.

Furthermore, I was sick and tired of watching voter turn-out shrink with each passing election season. I wanted to find a way to get Americans to understand that our votes are our voice! We must, each and everyone of us, vote in every election, from local to federal. Do not, for a second, underestimate the importance of political involvement. Politics, “of, for, or relating to the citizens,” is literally about the people, and it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From the goods and services to which we have access to the quality of our education to the fact that we can stand up and demand better.  So vote, but do not think your duty ends there…No, this is the moment at which it actually begins. We did not get where we are now by the greed of corporations and the corruption of our politicians alone, we got here by our own complacency, more so than anything else.

For too long we have remained silent, even lazy. If we want to take back our country, if we want the political system to work in OUR favor, then we must work for it. We must make the ultimate sacrifice, that of our time and energy. We must take responsibility and we must take action. The rich get the attention because they make the most noise; they have lobbyist who make phone calls, write letters, and make meetings. Yet, the rich make up only 2% of the population, this means that there are over 294 million of us and only about 6 million of them. Imagine the force we the people could be if all of us performed our duty as citizens, if we each voted, wrote letters, made phone calls, or sent emails to our state and federal representatives every month. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so lets be the squeaky wheel.

Which leads me to my final issue…I was sick and tired of watching us fail each other, of watching us allow ourselves to be divided. We sit and we finger point and we blame the “welfare mom” for sucking at America’s teat, we blame the Mexican immigrant for stealing our jobs, we blame our out of work neighbor for being lazy…Why? They are in the same boat as the rest of us…struggling to make ends meet, trying to survive while their hopes and dreams turn to smoke and fade away. We need to stop looking for scapegoats among ourselves and start acting like a united front. We need to stop fighting WITH each other and start fighting FOR each other.

So, I took my complaints to some friends. And they agreed. And I asked them, do you think we have something here? Do you think our fellow Americans would agree? Do you think there is anything we can do? And they said, it’s worth a try. And so, together, we started Take Back America, and here we are. We don’t know where this group will go, but we know who we are, we know what we want: We want to reclaim our country!

We know that sitting back and hoping for change is not acceptable. We know that we are done waiting for our elected officials, our servants for all intents and purposes, to have a sudden change of heart and become ethical. We know that America is only as strong as its poorest, its least educated, and its sickest citizens. We know that we’re failing our children when possession of marijuana can land you in prison for longer than molesting them can. We know that access to healthy food, clean water, clear air, and health care are all  human rights. We know that public programs like social security and education have made America strong, and that they have improved the financial well-being of millions of Americans. We know that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of their civil rights and that our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens are no less American than your or I. We know that in order for America to live up to the vision it has of itself, a nation of liberty and justice for all, we must pick it up and carry it forward.

We know that change begins with the people. We know we must start with our votes…If our representatives, from our towns to our states to our nation‘s capitol, are not working for us then they must be voted out of office and never let in again. We know that it is up to us, the people, to make this nation work. “Of, by, and for the people,” should not just be seen as a promise for fair government, it should be seen as call to duty…a reminder that the power of politics lies within our hands. This is politics, all of us right here and now, living and working all across America…It is US, we alone have the power to make it work or let it fail.

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn, author post authors as listed on this blog, and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Personal Reflection on 9/11

Tomorrow marks the 10th Anniversary of one of the saddest days in our nation’s history, the day on which nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered in what is still, in the opinions of many of people, a senseless act of violence (although, it did have a root cause, but that is a discussion for another time). As I reflect upon that  day and recall what I was doing on the morning we were attacked, I cannot help but think about what we have become since: a nation plagued by fear, driven by revenge and misplaced hatred, and weighted down by a war of ever mounting costs, both in lives and money.

And I am sad.

I am sad because as I watched the second plane crash into South Tower as the North Tower burned, I held my infant son in my arms. I am sad because as the reports came in that it was in deed an attack on the United States, an act of war, I knew that the world into which I had bore him had just taken a turn for the worse…and, much to my dismay, I was right. I am sad because my child, now ten, has never known a world without war. I am sad because he has grown up in world in which right-wing extremists and political ideologues equate Islam with murder and hate as they use their media outlets to monger war and fear.

And I am angry.

I am angry because as the years have progressed we have not. As we throw more and more money at war and destruction, we have allowed our education system to decline, our entitlement programs to all but disappear, and our infrastructures to deteriorate. I am angry because as we are force fed lies about the importance of democracy and freedom, we are oppressing millions worldwide. I am angry because we are no closer to ending terrorism than we were when the war began. Why? Because the root causes of terrorism is hatred and poverty, which cannot be overcome with violence; in fact, violence only exacerbates them. It cultivates them like shit on a field of weeds. I am angry because after ten years of war, hundreds of thousands of casualties (US, Afghan, and Iraqi), and trillions of dollars we are still in mourning for the lives lost on that sunny September morning; lives that are still lost, and no amount of money burned, no number of lives sacrificed will ever bring them back. I am angry because the only thing the War on Terror has succeeded in doing is eroding everything that makes America great, chief amongst them is our religious freedom.  In the aftermath of 9/11, right-wing Christian zealots have used fear of terrorism as an excuse to limit the free exercise of religion for Muslim Americans across the country as they attempt to prevent citizens of this nation from building houses of worship simply because those citizens happen to practice Islam.

This is not the world I want for my child. A world plagued by fear, greed, and hatred. When asked what sort of world my child would make if given the chance, he said, “I would make a world where people matter because they are people, and everyone has enough money and food. Oh, and a river of chocolate in their yards…” Ok, profound and a little silly…He is a child, after all.

And so I am also hopeful.

© Karen Lyn and Take Back America, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author(s) and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Lyn, author post authors as listed on this blog, and Take Back America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.