Do you want to benefit from a Muslim Society?

A Guest Blog

What would you think if a top ally of a candidate for a major government office said that he represents a major movement which is for Muslims only. What would be your reaction if he said, “We don’t want people who are nonbelievers. They don’t have to leave, they’re not going to be forced to convert. But you’re going to enjoy the fruits of living under a Muslim Society under Muslim laws and under a Muslim culture and you can thank us later.”?

Would it be any better if it were a Hindu society, with Hindu laws and Hindu culture?

Buddhist society, with Buddhist laws and Buddhist culture?

What if he said that we are living in an “explicitly” Jewish country?

An explicitly Atheist country?

I would think that you, like me, would be appalled. I should say, for the record, that I happen to be Jewish. And being told that I, a natural-born citizen of the United States of America, live in an explicitly Jewish country would send shivers of horror down my spine.

Of course, you say, no one has said that.

What Andrew Torba, major supporter of Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Mastriano and founder of far-right social media site Gab, has said:

“We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country. We’re not saying we’re going to deport all these people or whatever. You’re free to stay here. You’re not going to be forced to convert or anything like this because that’s not biblical whatsoever. But you’re going to enjoy the fruits of living in a Christian society under Christian laws and under a Christian culture and you can thank us later.”

Explain to me how changing that to “Christian” instead of “Muslim” or “Jewish” or “Hindu” or “Buddhist” or anything else makes anything about that statement better. Makes anything about that statement right or acceptable in any way.

That’s the point of the United States, isn’t it? That we are a country that accepts ALL faiths? All creeds?

As the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

I would hope that those people who are so vocal about defending their interpretation of the Second Amendment would be equally vociferous in defense of the First Amendment.

I therefore extend a welcoming hand from the left to all those who still believe in ALL Amendments, not just the Second.

And then there’s rape and incest

Rape happens in several ways. One category is stranger rape. One category is date rape. One category is gang rape. One category is that a woman thinks she might want to have sex with this young man or woman, but as things move along, she changes her mind, whether from fright or disgust or any other reason that comes to her mind. The last form of rape is incest. Incest is a horror performed by a monster; the worst type of horror is perpetuated against a child by a parent, an aunt or uncle, a sibling or a cousin.

In all of these situations, a female, be it an adult woman, a teenage woman, or a child, can get pregnant. And the female has been victimized. She has the right to choose to make a decision if she wants to give birth to this baby or if she doesn’t, and she chooses an abortion.

What has been done to him or her was without their consent. That translates into he or she did not “ask for it”. He or she did not “want it”. He or she was not strong enough to fight the rapist off. He or she was told, “If you tell Mom, I’ll beat you up.” Or, “if you tell Dad, I’ll tell everyone at school that you wanted it.”

So, on a day that began like every other day in this person’s life, a stranger, a date, multiple strangers, or a family member, forces themselves into their body for power, control, pleasure, or just because they can.

That victim will never be the same.

If she’s a woman, she has to go the hospital. They’ll do a rape test. She has to be examined, which is kind of like being raped again. She has to go over the event for the police, step by step, including description — what did he do next? What did he do after that? What did you do? Did you fight? What did you think about while he was inside of you? And if he’s found, which is a good thing, she has to go to court and do it all over again, with his defense attorney asking her questions, too. Well, why didn’t you do this if you didn’t want it? When he was testifying, he said you smiled at him, and he thought you were asking him for it. Question after question after question, while a jury of her peers, strangers that she doesn’t know, will convene in a room and decide if she’s telling the truth, or if he’s telling the truth.

In the meantime, her primary care doctor calls, and wants to see her in a couple of weeks. No, it’s nothing, just wants to check on her, make sure everything’s going all right; so she says yes and she goes.

The jury finds him Not Guilty.

Her doctor does a pregnancy test, among the other tests, but she’s so fragile, he doesn’t tell her. He has her make a follow-up appointment to make sure that her bruises and sores are healing properly, and when she goes in to see him next, he tells her that she is pregnant.

She doesn’t have a boyfriend, and all her mind can think is oh, no, oh, no. Oh my god, this can’t be happening, how can I have his child growing inside me. Oh, no.

She’s crying but she wants to scream. She says, “I’ve got to get rid of this. I can’t have this inside me. You don’t understand, it was so awful.”

And the doctor uses his most gentle voice and says to her, “If this was before 2022, you could’ve had an abortion. But you can’t, now.”

She says, “I can’t? But I was raped!”

He sighs and says, “I know. But the laws got changed. You can have the baby and give it up for adoption. I can look and see if there’s a state nearby where an abortion in the case of rape is legal, but you can’t get a legal abortion here, for any reason.”

She stares at him, quietly, for a moment, stands up and walks out of the office, to her car, not sure whether she hates the rapist more, or the government more. The government who has taken over control of her body.

She was 10. It was a cold night, her mommy tucked her all up in bed with her favorite doll Anabell. She whispered some funny things to Anabell, who laughed very hard, and the warm bed was starting to make her very sleepy.

Her daddy came in. She hated it when her daddy came in to her bedroom at night, because it meant that he wanted to play games, and he said to her “How’s my little honeypot? Let’s play a game tonight.”

A tear slid out of her eye and down her cheek, and she said, “No, daddy, no. It hurts me, daddy.”

He said, “Don’t be such a baby. It’s not going to hurt you.”

The next morning, it took a long time for mommy to get her out of bed for school. She was in the bathroom for a long time, and she was still in her pajamas when she came out, and said “Mommy, I don’t feel good.”

As her mother’s hand felt her forehead for a fever, she said, “Well, tell me what’s wrong.”

The little girl did not look into her mother’s eyes. She mumbled, “I just don’t feel good. Can I stay home from school?”

Her mother gave in and let her stay home. She didn’t feel good the next day either.

When her mother did the laundry, she noticed a little bit of pink on her underpanties, and called the pediatrician to make an appointment. After an examination, the pediatrician sent the child out with the nurse to play, and he and the mother had a conversation.

“What men are in your family?”

“Just my husband. And, you know, my year-old son.”

“Someone has been trying to penetrate your daughter. That is what has caused the bloody discharge, and her not wanting to go so school. It’s painful.”

The doctor had the nurse bring her back in, and the three of them talked about good touches and bad touches, and found out that daddy had been playing games in the night. Games that were bad touches.

When daddy came home after work, all of his clothes and possessions were packed up and waiting for him in the garage, where his car usually was parked. He started yelling and screaming.

Mommy said, “I know what you’ve been doing, and this is it. You’ll never touch her again.”

In six weeks, there was a follow up with the doctor, and he did a pregnancy test, and the little 10-year-old girl was pregnant.

Mommy said, “She can’t have a baby, she can’t be pregnant.”

And the doctor shook his head and said, “Yes, I’m so sorry, but she is pregnant.”

“Well, we’ll get her an abortion.”

“We could have, last year. But not this year. It’s illegal for her to have an abortion this year.”

And the mother just sobbed her heart out. “My baby. My baby. Doctor, what will we do?”

He said, “The best we can do, is for me to find a state where they will do abortions for incest on children, and you take her there and get an abortion for her.”

“Isn’t that going to be hard?”

The doctor replied, “Yes, it will be hard. And yes, this is yet another reason why taking your husband to court is so important. I’ll do my best to find a good clinic for your daughter. Now, go home, and hug her and tell her how much you love her.”

These are hypothetical situations, that could begin happening around our country, as women and girls begin to face the consequences of what is done to their bodies.

Undoing Roe v. Wade is horrifying, but to include no abortions for instances of rape and incest will destroy the lives of these women and children.

Write to your Congressmen and women. Tell them it’s not what you want.

March and picket, whether you’re a thumb or not.

Abortion protesters in Atlanta




Are you a thumb? Am I a thumb?

Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz might think so. He has presented a new theory that some women look like a thumb, and need therefore not concern themselves with advocating for abortion rights. Yes, you read that right.

Gaetz gave a speech at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa over the weekend. In his speech he said “women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions,” at “pro-abortion, pro-murder rallies”. Gaetz remarks were his latest dig at reproductive rights activists, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that once protected a person’s right to choose reproductive healthcare without excessive government restriction. In other words, to choose an abortion, instead of giving birth. Pro-Choice was the term we used to indicate that whatever a woman would choose to do with her pregnancy would be legally supported by her government.

Gaetz has suggested, that instead of marching at rallies, unattractive women should “march for like an hour a day” and “get the blood pumping”. Gaetz said, “have you watched these pro-abortion, pro-murder rallies? The people are just disgusting. Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions. Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb. These people are odious from the inside out. They’re like 5′-2”, 350 lbs., and they’re like ‘give me my abortion or I’ll get up and march and protest’.

“A few of them need to get up and march. They need to get up and march for like an hour a day. Swing those arms. Get the blood pumping. And mix in a salad.”

Gaetz’ remarks were swiftly condemned for his sexist and misogynist commentary.

Matt Gaetz crystalizes right wing policy platforms 100 days from the midterm elections: “only hot women will have rights.”

How did it become acceptable in the United States of America, whatever your views on abortion, whatever your gender or size, for this comment to be said in public to a crowd of Americans who laugh uproariously?

It’s not okay to say these things. Sex, intercourse and pregnancy don’t just happen to beautiful men and women, they happen to people who are attracted to one another and care for one another. It happens to people who respect one another, are attracted to each other’s minds, their goals and ambitions. It happens to people who share common ground, and it happens to people to have respect for the same ideals, not just for her body measurements and his physique and how well he played sports when in school.

This is the most disgusting, unAmerican and misogynistic words that I have ever heard come out of the mouth of an elected official, and I have been working for the rights of women and children since the 1970’s. I have heard some pretty misogynist remarks come out of the mouths of elected officials, but this takes the cake. This shames him, his parents, his family and shames what America stands for.



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Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The Dangers of Flying When Handicapped

A Florida woman suffers from a condition that periodically flares and lands her in a wheelchair. She was just trying to get from her Broward County, FL, home to Denver, CO. 24-year-old Gaby Assouline booked her flight on Southwest Airlines, but never arrived in Denver. Instead, she ended up in the hospital and on a feeding tube, paralyzed from the neck down, because employees of Southwest Airlines refused to push her wheelchair down the jet bridge corridor, according to the New York Post. She tried to navigate the jet bridge herself, but in the process was “thrown” from her chair. She landed on her head, and cracked her vertebrae.

When I saw this story, I was horrified, as I’m sure you are. I am certain your horror is based on empathy, but my horror comes from a different place. My horror is based in one thought: it could have been me.

In fact, on several occasions, it almost was.

I don’t know how many of you are aware, but I, myself, am one of the 1.4 million Americans who are handicapped. I am not in a wheelchair, but I must use a cane to get anywhere, and I cannot take stairs, nor walk long distances. As you can image, this causes some issues when I travel.

I have never, since I got the cane, traveled Southwest, but I have had my own experiences with other airlines.

I used to live in Cleveland, OH, while my daughters and grandchildren were living in North Carolina, or Arkansas, or Texas. I used to fly to see my children and grandchildren regularly, a few times a year. And I used to have to fly alone, like Gaby Assouline.

Because I cannot take stairs, and I cannot walk long distances even with my cane, I require a wheelchair when I am in an airport.

Airports all over the country have personnel who help people like me get around, pushing us through the airport, and down the jet way. By and large, they are helpful and kind.

However, the experiences I have had have not always been pleasant. And the unpleasant experiences are not what I would call rare. Part of the difficulty is that the flights I end up on are frequently smaller planes which cannot accept a jet bridge — or a plane is directed to a gate where a jet bridge is not available. Often, entering or exiting these planes requires the use of stairs that are either built into the plane, or rolled up to the door.

There was the time I was returning from North Carolina to Cleveland, after a lovely visit with my family. I arrived back in Cleveland to a snowy night. As usual, there was no jet bridge, but stairs were rolled up to the side of the plane. As usual, I was the last one off the plane. When the flight attendant brought the wheelchair on board for me, they began to take me off the plane, carrying the chair with me in it — head first. Thankfully, the co-pilot put a stop to that, as the blood was rushing to my head, and I was getting dizzy, in addition to being — I think understandably — terrified that they would drop me.

Getting (feet first) to the tarmac in the chair wasn’t the end of that particular ordeal, however. The attendant wanted me to walk, on my own, across the ice-covered tarmac to the terminal. I finally was able to explain that, no, I can NOT walk, and they did — eventually — push me to the terminal.

Another incident occurred when I arrived at the airport in Charlotte, NC, to visit my best friend in Asheville — and look for a place to live. I was already in the wheelchair provided by the airport, and my sister had asked at least 3 times for a ramp to brought out for my use, long before the plane arrived. The ramp did not arrive, and they expected me to walk up the stairs. When my sister and I both explained multiple times (and with, I admit, increasing volume) that I absolutely needed the ramp, and reminded them that we had requested the ramp hours before the plane had arrived, they left me outside in a rainstorm, at night. I was soaked to the skin before they finally brought up the requested ramp. I ended up spending the first week of my three week visit sick in bed after that.

I see the looks I get in the airport when I’m in a wheelchair. There are three of them, really.

The first is pity. That one is hard for me. I am not a person who takes pity easily. I don’t need pity — no handicapped person needs pity. They — and I — need empathy and understanding.

The second look is, believe it or not, envy. Because everyone who flies knows that the handicapped, elderly, and those with small children board the plane first, and people think that getting on the plane before everyone else is a great perk. Yes, we are the first people on the plane — which, while it sounds great, is really not a good thing, because until the plane is taxiing, there is no heat or air conditioning — but we are the last people out as well. Anyone who requires a wheelchair or assistance is asked to remain on the plane until the able-bodied passengers deplane, so as not to hold up the line. Again we are sitting for at least the 10-15 minutes it takes for everyone else to get off. We also cannot leave until the wheelchair or other assistance required arrives from the airport. My record is 45 minutes of waiting. I have nearly missed connecting flights waiting to get off the plane more than once.

The third look is not a look at all. Rather, people look away. So often, the able bodied want to pretend that those of us who are differently abled do not exist. I’ve never understood why. Whatever is wrong with the differently abled, it’s not contagious. You can’t get it by being nice to us, certainly not by catching our eye. Perhaps there is a bit of “there, but for the grace of god, go I,” and that thought makes people uncomfortable. Often, I think that people look away because, like the homeless, the handicapped are viewed as not just a different sort of person but, all too often, as not a real person at all.

Because of these issues, and the increasingly hostile environment for those of us who are different — and, yes, because I am now 72 — I no longer travel alone. Because my usual travel companion, my sister, works full time and has limited vacation time, I rarely travel at all. It has been years since I have seen my children and grandchildren who reside in Texas or Ohio.

All of this is to say that those of us who are handicapped don’t ask for much. We — I — just want to be treated with decency and consideration. This is especially true when we travel, when we are at our most vulnerable. It’s not much to ask, one human to another. Is it?



Gaby Assouline in the hospital after her accident

Book People

There are two kinds of people: Book People and Not-Book People.

Book People always have something to talk about. They are happy to talk about genres, characters, favorite authors. They are happy to talk about quotes, even if you have not read the book the quote came from. Book People will talk to you about it anyway.

They are rarely bored, Book People. They don’t mind being alone, because their world is full of at least a million people. Some of them are villians, some are just quirky, funny people. Much like the Book Person themself.

Many Book People are hooked on the experience of going to a bookstore, looking….looking. Walking up and down the aisles. Seeing a catchy name on the spine of a book, always checking out the table of New Arrivals. Always checking out the table of Clearance Books.

When a Book Person finds the book that they want to purchase and take home, it’s like falling in love. It’s an emotional, as well as an intellectual experience. So they take it home, and they go through whatever ritual they have for Starting a New Book.

For example, I hold it up and I smell it. My hands caress the cover. I gently open the cover, and begin to open the pages, stopping to visit on the Title Page, gleaning information from there; moving on to the dedication page, perhaps pausing to wonder — if the author hasn’t clearly stated — who the person of dedication was, and what they had done to earn such a lofty place; and I am finally at Page One, be it Prologue or the actual start of the story.

I’m not quite sure what Non-Book People do. This has caused the occasional social problem for me.

I remember asking a gentleman, as one does, “So what are your hobbies, what do you do?” And he asked me about mine. I told him I liked to do this and that “…and Read.”

“You read?”

“Oh, yes! Everything, history, novels, nonfiction of all kinds, really. What do you like to read?”

“I don’t read.”

Silence. I found myself saying the well-worn Book Person response: “well you must read something. Do you read the newspaper?”

“I read the sports section.”

“Do you read….”

“I’ll make this easy. I really Do Not Read. Not novels, or history, not the telephone book, or the newspaper — but I do occasionally flip through Field and Stream.”

I realized right then that this first date was not going any further. I pled a terrible headache, left and went home, to get out the book I was reading at the time.

I spent a lovely evening with my good friends in the book, and quite forgot about Mr. Does Not Read. The friends in my book were much more interesting.

When I got the idea to write this blog, it occurred to me that I truly don’t understand Not-Book People. They have the right not to read. And they seem to be of at least average intelligence, and happy, good people — the few I have met. I just don’t understand how you can do that. Or, Not do that.

Along the journey of my life as a Book Person, I then discovered Kindle. When I was first introduced to Kindle my initial reaction was: there’s no smell. There’s nothing to really hold or caress. How will you remember what you read, without a real cover, without real pages to touch? I said, “No, not for me, thank you.”

About a year later, a friend — a Book Person, certainly — was over visiting, and she was going on and on about Kindle and how wonderful it was. So I asked her to introduce me to this newfangled Reading Friend, Kindle. And she proceeded to open her Kindle, show me a little about how it worked; how easy it is to read, because you can control the Font Type and Size, and you can read it sitting in a darkened room, because it is backlit. You can read it anywhere, anytime, and not bother people. Better yet, you can take it anywhere, and no matter how long the book is, how many pages, how many chapters, the Kindle always weighs the same.

This was big for me, because I have a problem with my left shoulder, and sometimes holding a regular book caused me pain. At night when I read — I can read all night, when I’m being my insomniac self — my shoulder and hands would get tired. But maybe, not with a Kindle.

I purchased one. Then Book People — My People — started to give me a hard time for reading a Kindle instead of a “real” book. I wasn’t — couldn’t be — really a book person, after all. I was shocked at those responses, but thought to myself, “they can do what they want to do, I will do what I want to do.”

There are so many features on the Kindle that, for the money, it is so worth it. And I won’t belabour the point, but because I don’t like unorganized things, I now have categories of books within the Kindle. One for art, one for history, one for general nonfiction, biographies. I have one for spirituality, and of course, fiction.

The bane of the lives of every Book Person is that there are only so many bookcases you put in your home. Even in a mansion, there are only so many books you can put on the shelves. Kindle can hold thousands.

I have six bookcases, all packed with books I love, but I read on the Kindle most, I think. (If nothing else, Kindle makes it easy to find related books, or the next book in the series. And you don’t have to go to the bookstore in terrible weather, or wait until it opens the next morning. And you don’t have to carry a dictionary with you.)

So, I am a Book Person, and I have a Kindle. I love my Kindle. But, you ask, do I still go to bookstores?

Every. Single. Chance. I get. As often as possible. Because, as much as I appreciate all the Kindle does and helps me do, there is still nothing like picking that book up for the first time; smelling it; caressing the cover; and starting to turn the pages into another land.