Thursday, April 28, 2016

A real life adventure at a Trump rally

Last week I took my boys and went to a Trump rally.

I just had to.

I really don't 'support' any of the candidates running for office.  I have often said I would vote for my wife and I am seriously thinking about it.  I went because I had to see the spectacle that is Trump.  What I got was an eyeful . . . and a lot of questions about who we are as a people.

First off - we have to remember that the Trump phenomenon is part of a larger global undertow that is taking place.  Friends of mine from Germany are wary of the charismatic leaders that are popping up attracting otherwise intelligent people to a way of looking at foreigners that is both overly simplistic and unhealthy.  Same thing is happening in France.  A couple of terror attacks in a few years does that to you.  In fact, all over Europe the threat of radicalized Islam is causing oversimplified and nationalistic personalities to seem very attractive.  And it is more than just Europe and America.  This semester I was teaching over twenty grad students from Uganda online and I heard the same complaints from them.

Low-brow humor and personal attacks.

Candidates saying the things we all wish we could say . . .

And apparently people are very taken with it:

This is what Trump rally looks like.  Well actually - this is what the line for the Trump rally looks like.  There were easily 10,000 people waiting to get in.  We never did.  Very poorly run.  He spoke to about 700 people and there were thousands outside who never got in because the security processing was so slow.

But we saw lots of this:

And really, that is the cleanest I can show you.  A lot of F-words printed on T-shirts and thrown around from the people hawking them.  Pictures of certain parts of the male anatomy and the idea that Donald Trump has the 'guts' to be president.  I was really shocked that the older people in the crowd were laughing at it all.  I explained to my kids that when I was a kid older adults told people like that to 'watch your mouth.'  But they just laughed along.

Honestly it was really sad to see people surrounded by a lot of filth and think that this is what we need to make our country great again.

Not to mention that a friend of mine almost got punched in the face inside the auditorium.

I didn't see racism and I didn't see bigotry - what I did see were a whole lot of people who are just fed up.  People wearing shirts with "We the People" and then underneath "are p-ed off."

Frustrated enough to exchange goodness and decency for swagger and anger.

As my mother says: "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Common Sense Part 2: What I Learned from the NC Law Debate.

I wrote a blog the other day about the law in North Carolina concerning transgendered usage of bathrooms/locker rooms.  I asked for help in understanding why the law is so bad - you can read it here.

The result from that blog is why I love social media.

I heard from a variety of sources -those who agreed all the way to those who adamantly disagreed.  I try to stress on my blog that we will engage difficult issues - just be decent and well-mannered.  For the most part I think we accomplished that.

So here is what I learned . . .

*  This is more than just about ideas.
     One of you gave me a scenario that made the whole thing human to me.  I was just thinking of the law instead of a person.  I saw how quickly I was to poke at an idea when it is all about people who are caught in a very difficult situation.  I kept imagining the protesters that are pushing for something when more realistically it is the person who just wants to pee and has to think through where to go in an airport.  The law doesn't seem like it tried to honor this person.  It didn't work with both sides to find a solution.

* The Law has more on its mind than bathrooms.
     I am not completely sure what else is going on - I read the law but it has a lot of legalese.  It seems apparent that some maneuvering is going on regarding minimum wage and the ability to regulate it at a state and local level.  

*  The best way forward is with an open mind.
     It is so easy to push for your way of looking at things.  I started with a question but it was slanted toward, "How hard can this be? Dudes go to the boys room . . ."  It is difficult because we are talking about the dignity of people who associate themselves with the opposite gender.  But open-mindedness goes both ways.  I learned that both sides on this issue are smacking their heads saying, "why don't they get it???"  Look, it is equally ignorant to say that people who don't want their daughter in a locker room with a biological male need to "get over it."  No.  Everyone needs a voice in this.  Just as we have to consider the human dignity of a transsexual, we have to consider the dignity of those who have a real problem with this.  I don't know what it feels like to be a woman in a locker room with a man physically more powerful than me, but I need to value that opinion rather than shout it down.  That is the best way forward.

* Politicians are predators.
     I love my brother's response.  He quoted a study that found that politicians were more likely as a group to do something nefarious with you in the bathroom than the transgendered population.  This both comforted and disquieted me.  If there really is an issue with predators, we should ban politicians from public bathrooms.  Great point.  It is probably why I will never use a public bathroom again.

So thank you for helping me understand the humanity of this issue.  Thank you for being the voice of Christ (regardless of where you are on the faith spectrum) - you have really helped me re-connect this issue to where it needs to be connected.  I was focused too much on an idea.

So can we please sit down with proponents from both sides and draft legislation that will honor both perspectives?  Close-minded people on both sides would not be permitted.  Only those that respect the other side enough to honor each other with an agreement that makes each feel valued.

And that would be how good faith works.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We need a law about the bathroom?

This is a blog aimed at trying to understand what is going on.

Like you, I heard that North Carolina passed a piece of legislation that caused an uproar.  Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen are not going to play their concerts in these states because of the anti-LGBT legislation that was passed.  Apparently Republicans in this state rushed through legislation in an effort to deny transgendered people basic human rights.

Well, that sounds really bad.  I don't care whether you are Bruce or Caitlyn, you can't deny someone basic human rights.  I decided to get to the bottom of it - what on earth are these bigoted people doing?

And then I read the legislation.

Hmmm . . . so it is a law that says if you are a anatomically a guy you need to go to the men's room (or men's locker room - or wherever else people are in their birthday suit).

Wait.  Let me read that again . . .

Oh and it also included a provision that said local authorities can't overturn this law.

So I am stating it here - I don't understand.  What is the problem with this law?  Please help me see what I don't see.  Or perhaps there is a section I haven't read?  Please show me where I am being thick on this issue (and please be nice - meanies will be deleted).

I don't see what Sarah Preston, representing the ACLU in this case said, "Legislator have out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with  these protections."

Fear?  Ignorance?
You mean, by saying you can't go to the girls room if you are a guy?

I mean, doesn't it make sense that girls go to the girls room and boys go to the boys room?  I realize that it would be uncomfortable for a person who looks like a woman to enter a men's room, but isn't that kind of what you sign up for when you decide to go the transgendered route?  

I know that sounds harsh - and by uncomfortable I don't mean abuse or hate.  It's just awkward to see someone who isn't your gender in the bathroom.  Without this kind of understanding, the awkwardness gets pushed on everyone else.

Look, someone is going to be uncomfortable with the arrangement.  Ladies will feel uncomfortable with transgendered men and men will feel uncomfortable with transgendered women.  For that matter transgendered men will feel uncomfortable in a men's room.

So - which arrangement causes the least amount of discomfort?

Well, women make up about half the population and men make up about the other half.

But our transgendered brothers and sisters make up under 1%.  

The math alone should steer us to common sense.  But it probably won't.  And that is the reason why Donald Trump is so popular.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bigger than the minimum wage

I am experiencing moral vertigo as I write this.

If you missed it, last week New York and California signed into law a $15 minimum wage law.

So my friend who owns a T-shirt printing business in El Centro California (where there is 20% unemployment) is in big trouble.  If he needs a high school kid to help him fold shirts he has to pay them $15 an hour - the equivalent of almost a full week's pay just ten miles away in Mexico.

Forbes thinks it is going to hurt us pretty badly - you can check it out here.

But these are first-world problems.  Have you even seen what is going on in the rest of the world while we wring our hands about $15 hourly wages, soda taxes and the Trump/Sanders/Hillary spectacle?

While we are over here trying to convince other state legislatures that we need to pay entry-level personnel the equivalent of a day's wage in Brazil or about a week in Russia (yes, you can check it all right here.)  - Isis continues to wreak havoc.

Today 300 people - mostly cement workers - were kidnapped by ISIS today outside of Damascus.  This follows on the heels of a report today that fifteen people were burned to death trying to flee Fallujah.  Burning people has become the Islamic State's favored dramatic way to execute victims.  Famine is so bad in Fallujah, Iraq that a woman made a video saying to the West, "bomb us or help us" - the conditions are so bad she either wants help or a quick exit from this life.

She was arrested and is being tortured.

I clicked on the link for the impassioned plea this woman was making.   Before I could view it I had to watch a short advertisement of a woman dancing around in next-to-nothing selling Proactiv for healthier skin.

What in the world is going on?

Seriously - God help us.