The Power of Soft Power


Up in Arms
The Power of Soft Power
Sing On!
Healing Art
Punching Above Our Weight
THINK TANK
WELLNESS
PLANET TUFTS
NEWSWIRE
THE BIG DAY
DEPARTMENTS

Up in Arms
THE BATTLE LINES OF TODAY’S DEBATES OVER GUN CONTROL, STAND-YOUR-GROUND LAWS, AND OTHER VIOLENCE-RELATED ISSUES WERE DRAWN CENTURIES AGO BY AMERICA’S EARLY SETTLERS

BY COLIN WOODARD, A91
ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN STAUFFER
Last December, when Adam Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with a rifle and killed twenty children and six adult staff members, the United States found itself immersed in debates about gun control. Another flash point occurred this July, when George Zimmerman, who saw himself as a guardian of his community, was exonerated in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida. That time, talk turned to stand-your-ground laws and the proper use of deadly force. The gun debate was refreshed in September by the shooting deaths of twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard, apparently at the hands of an IT contractor who was mentally ill.

Such episodes remind Americans that our country as a whole is marked by staggering levels of deadly violence. Our death rate from assault is many times higher than that of highly urbanized countries like the Netherlands or Germany, sparsely populated nations with plenty of forests and game hunters like Canada, Sweden, Finland, or New Zealand, and large, populous ones like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. State-sponsored violence, too—in the form of capital punishment—sets our country apart. Last year we executed more than ten times as many prisoners as other advanced industrialized nations combined—not surprising given that Japan is the only other such country that allows the practice. Our violent streak has become almost a part of our national identity.

What’s less well appreciated is how much the incidence of violence, like so many salient issues in American life, varies by region. Beyond a vague awareness that supporters of violent retaliation and easy access to guns are concentrated in the states of the former Confederacy and, to a lesser extent, the western interior, most people cannot tell you much about regional differences on such matters. Our conventional way of defining regions—dividing the country along state boundaries into a Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest—masks the cultural lines along which attitudes toward violence fall. These lines don’t respect state boundaries. To understand violence or practically any other divisive issue, you need to understand historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.

The original North American colonies were settled by people from distinct regions of the British Isles—and from France, the Netherlands, and Spain—each with its own religious, political, and ethnographic traits. For generations, these Euro-American cultures developed in isolation from one another, consolidating their cherished religious and political principles and fundamental values, and expanding across the eastern half of the continent in nearly exclusive settlement bands. Throughout the colonial period and the Early Republic, they saw themselves as competitors—for land, capital, and other settlers—and even as enemies, taking opposing sides in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.

The precise delineation of the eleven nations—which I have explored at length in my latest book, American Nations—is original to me, but I’m certainly not the first person to observe that such national divisions exist. Kevin Phillips, a Republican Party campaign strategist, recognized the boundaries and values of several of these nations in 1969 and used them to correctly prophesy two decades of American political development in his politico cult classic The Emerging Republican Majority. Joel Garreau, a Washington Post editor, argued that our continent was divided into rival power blocs in The Nine Nations of North America, though his ahistorical approach undermined the identification of the nations. The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Hackett Fischer detailed the origins and early evolution of four of these nations in his magisterial Albion’s Seed and later added New France. Russell Shorto described the salient characteristics of New Netherland in The Island at the Center of the World. And the list goes on.

The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps—including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history. Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities, a phenomenon analyzed by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing in The Big Sort (2008). Even waves of immigrants did not fundamentally alter these nations, because the children and grandchildren of immigrants assimilated into whichever culture surrounded them.

Before I describe the nations, I should underscore that my observations refer to the dominant culture, not the individual inhabitants, of each region. In every town, city, and state you’ll likely find a full range of political opinions and social preferences. Even in the reddest of red counties and bluest of blue ones, twenty to forty percent of voters cast ballots for the “wrong” team. It isn’t that residents of one or another nation all think the same, but rather that they are all embedded within a cultural framework of deep-seated preferences and attitudes—each of which a person may like or hate, but has to deal with nonetheless. Because of slavery, the African American experience has been different from that of other settlers and immigrants, but it too has varied by nation, as black people confronted the dominant cultural and institutional norms of each.

The nations are constituted as follows:

YANKEEDOM. Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public’s shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.

NEW NETHERLAND. Established by the Dutch at a time when the Netherlands was the most sophisticated society in the Western world, New Netherland has always been a global commercial culture—materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience. Like seventeenth-century Amsterdam, it emerged as a center of publishing, trade, and finance, a magnet for immigrants, and a refuge for those persecuted by other regional cultures, from Sephardim in the seventeenth century to gays, feminists, and bohemians in the early twentieth. Unconcerned with great moral questions, it nonetheless has found itself in alliance with Yankeedom to defend public institutions and reject evangelical prescriptions for individual behavior.

THE MIDLANDS. America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.

TIDEWATER. Built by the younger sons of southern English gentry in the Chesapeake country and neighboring sections of Delaware and North Carolina, Tidewater was meant to reproduce the semifeudal society of the countryside they’d left behind. Standing in for the peasantry were indentured servants and, later, slaves. Tidewater places a high value on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics. It was the most powerful of the American nations in the eighteenth century, but today it is in decline, partly because it was cut off from westward expansion by its boisterous Appalachian neighbors and, more recently, because it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.

GREATER APPALACHIA. Founded in the early eighteenth century by wave upon wave of settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Appalachia has been lampooned by writers and screenwriters as the home of hillbillies and rednecks. It transplanted a culture formed in a state of near constant danger and upheaval, characterized by a warrior ethic and a commitment to personal sovereignty and individual liberty. Intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike, Greater Appalachia has shifted alliances depending on who appeared to be the greatest threat to their freedom. It was with the Union in the Civil War. Since Reconstruction, and especially since the upheavals of the 1960s, it has joined with Deep South to counter federal overrides of local preference.

DEEP SOUTH. Established by English slave lords from Barbados, Deep South was meant as a West Indies–style slave society. This nation offered a version of classical Republicanism modeled on the slave states of the ancient world, where democracy was the privilege of the few and enslavement the natural lot of the many. Its caste systems smashed by outside intervention, it continues to fight against expanded federal powers, taxes on capital and the wealthy, and environmental, labor, and consumer regulations.

EL NORTE. The oldest of the American nations, El Norte consists of the borderlands of the Spanish American empire, which were so far from the seats of power in Mexico City and Madrid that they evolved their own characteristics. Most Americans are aware of El Norte as a place apart, where Hispanic language, culture, and societal norms dominate. But few realize that among Mexicans, norteños have a reputation for being exceptionally independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and focused on work. Long a hotbed of democratic reform and revolutionary settlement, the region encompasses parts of Mexico that have tried to secede in order to form independent buffer states between their mother country and the United States.

THE LEFT COAST. A Chile-shaped nation wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade and Coast mountains, the Left Coast was originally colonized by two groups: New Englanders (merchants, missionaries, and woodsmen who arrived by sea and dominated the towns) and Appalachian midwesterners (farmers, prospectors, and fur traders who generally arrived by wagon and controlled the countryside). Yankee missionaries tried to make it a “New England on the Pacific,” but were only partially successful. Left Coast culture is a hybrid of Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration—traits recognizable in its cultural production, from the Summer of Love to the iPad. The staunchest ally of Yankeedom, it clashes with Far Western sections in the interior of its home states.

THE FAR WEST. The other “second-generation” nation, the Far West occupies the one part of the continent shaped more by environmental factors than ethnographic ones. High, dry, and remote, the Far West stopped migrating easterners in their tracks, and most of it could be made habitable only with the deployment of vast industrial resources: railroads, heavy mining equipment, ore smelters, dams, and irrigation systems. As a result, settlement was largely directed by corporations headquartered in distant New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco, or by the federal government, which controlled much of the land. The Far West’s people are often resentful of their dependent status, feeling that they have been exploited as an internal colony for the benefit of the seaboard nations. Their senators led the fight against trusts in the mid-twentieth century. Of late, Far Westerners have focused their anger on the federal government, rather than their corporate masters.

NEW FRANCE. Occupying the New Orleans area and southeastern Canada, New France blends the folkways of ancien régime northern French peasantry with the traditions and values of the aboriginal people they encountered in northwestern North America. After a long history of imperial oppression, its people have emerged as down-to-earth, egalitarian, and consensus driven, among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy. The New French influence is manifest in Canada, where multiculturalism and negotiated consensus are treasured.

FIRST NATION. First Nation is populated by native American groups that generally never gave up their land by treaty and have largely retained cultural practices and knowledge that allow them to survive in this hostile region on their own terms. The nation is now reclaiming its sovereignty, having won considerable autonomy in Alaska and Nunavut and a self-governing nation state in Greenland that stands on the threshold of full independence. Its territory is huge—far larger than the continental United States—but its population is less than 300,000, most of whom live in Canada.

If you understand the United States as a patchwork of separate nations, each with its own origins and prevailing values, you would hardly expect attitudes toward violence to be uniformly distributed. You would instead be prepared to discover that some parts of the country experience more violence, have a greater tolerance for violent solutions to conflict, and are more protective of the instruments of violence than other parts of the country. That is exactly what the data on violence reveal about the modern United States.

Most scholarly research on violence has collected data at the state level, rather than the county level (where the boundaries of the eleven nations are delineated). Still, the trends are clear. The same handful of nations show up again and again at the top and the bottom of state-level figures on deadly violence, capital punishment, and promotion of gun ownership.

Consider assault deaths. Kieran Healy, a Duke University sociologist, broke down the per capita, age-adjusted deadly assault rate for 2010. In the northeastern states—almost entirely dominated by Yankeedom, New Netherland, and the Midlands—just over 4 people per 100,000 died in assaults. By contrast, southern states—largely monopolized by Deep South, Tidewater, and Greater Appalachia—had a rate of more than 7 per 100,000. The three deadliest states—Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, where the rate of killings topped 10 per 100,000—were all in Deep South territory. Meanwhile, the three safest states—New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota, with rates of about 2 killings per 100,000—were all part of Yankeedom.

Not surprisingly, black Americans have it worse than whites. Countrywide, according to Healy, blacks die from assaults at the bewildering rate of about 20 per 100,000, while the rate for whites is less than 6. But does that mean racial differences might be skewing the homicide data for nations with larger African-American populations? Apparently not. A classic 1993 study by the social psychologist Richard Nisbett, of the University of Michigan, found that homicide rates in small predominantly white cities were three times higher in the South than in New England. Nisbett and a colleague, Andrew Reaves, went on to show that southern rural counties had white homicide rates more than four times those of counties in New England, Middle Atlantic, and Midwestern states.

Stand-your-ground laws are another dividing line between American nations. Such laws waive a citizen’s duty to try and retreat from a threatening individual before killing the person. Of the twenty-three states to pass stand-your-ground laws, only one, New Hampshire, is part of Yankeedom, and only one, Illinois, is in the Midlands. By contrast, each of the six Deep South–dominated states has passed such a law, and almost all the other states with similar laws are in the Far West or Greater Appalachia.

Comparable schisms show up in the gun control debate. In 2011, after the mass shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen others in Tucson, the Pew Research Center asked Americans what was more important, protecting gun ownership or controlling it. The Yankee states of New England went for gun control by a margin of sixty-one to thirty-six, while those in the poll’s “southeast central” region—the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi and the Appalachian states of Tennessee and Kentucky—supported gun rights by exactly the same margin. Far Western states backed gun rights by a proportion of fifty-nine to thirty-eight.

Another revealing moment came this past April, in the wake of the Newtown school massacre, when the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill to close loopholes in federal background checks for would-be gun owners. In the six states dominated by Deep South, the vote was twelve to two against the measure, and most of the Far West and Appalachia followed suit. But Yankee New England voted eleven to one in favor, and the dissenting vote, from Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, was so unpopular in her home state that it caused an immediate dip in her approval rating.

The pattern for capital punishment laws is equally stark. The states dominated by Deep South, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater, and the Far West have had a virtual monopoly on capital punishment. They account for more than ninety-five percent of the 1,343 executions in the United States since 1976. In the same period, the twelve states definitively controlled by Yankeedom and New Netherland—states that account for almost a quarter of the U.S. population—have executed just one person.

Why is violence—state-sponsored and otherwise—so much more prevalent in some American nations than in others? It all goes back to who settled those regions and where they came from. Nisbett, the social psychologist, noted that regions initially “settled by sober Puritans, Quakers, and Dutch farmer-artisans”—that is, Yankeedom, the Midlands, and New Netherland—were organized around a yeoman agricultural economy that rewarded “quiet, cooperative citizenship, with each individual being capable of uniting for the common good.” The South—and by this he meant the nations I call Tidewater and Deep South—was settled by “swashbuckling Cavaliers of noble or landed gentry status, who took their values . . . from the knightly, medieval standards of manly honor and virtue.”

Continuing to treat the South as a single entity, Nisbett argued that the violent streak in the culture the Cavaliers established was intensified by the “major subsequent wave of immigration . . . from the borderlands of Scotland and Ireland.” These immigrants, who populated what I call Greater Appalachia, came from “an economy based on herding,” which, as anthropologists have shown, predisposes people to belligerent stances because the animals on which their wealth depends are so vulnerable to theft. Drawing on the work of the historian David Hackett Fisher, Nisbett maintained that “southern” violence stems partly from a “culture-of-honor tradition,” in which males are raised to create reputations for ferocity—as a deterrent to rustling—rather than relying on official legal intervention.

More recently, researchers have begun to probe beyond state boundaries to distinguish among different cultural streams. Robert Baller of the University of Iowa and two colleagues looked at late-twentieth-century white male “argument-related” homicide rates, comparing those in counties that, in 1850, were dominated by Scots-Irish settlers with those in other parts of the “Old South.” In other words, they teased out the rates at which white men killed each other in feuds and compared those for Greater Appalachia with those for Deep South and Tidewater. The result: Appalachian areas had significantly higher homicide rates than their lowland neighbors—“findings [that] are supportive of theoretical claims about the role of herding as the ecological underpinning of a code of honor.”

Another researcher, Pauline Grosjean, an economist at Australia’s University of New South Wales, found strong statistical relationships between the presence of Scots-Irish settlers in the 1790 census and contemporary homicide rates, but only in “southern” areas “where the institutional environment was weak”—which is the case in almost the entirety of Greater Appalachia. She further noted that in areas where Scots-Irish were dominant, settlers of other ethnic origins—Dutch, French, and German—were also more violent, suggesting that they had acculturated to Appalachian norms.

But it’s not just herding that promoted a culture of violence. Scholars have long recognized that cultures organized around slavery rely on violence to control, punish, and terrorize—which no doubt helps explain the erstwhile prevalence of lynching deaths in Deep South and Tidewater. But it is also significant that both these nations, along with Greater Appalachia, follow religious traditions that sanction eye-for-an-eye justice, and adhere to secular codes that emphasize personal honor and shun governmental authority. As a result, their members have fewer qualms about rushing to lethal judgments.

The code of Yankeedom could not have been more different. Its founders promoted self-doubt and self-restraint, and their Unitarian and Congregational spiritual descendants believed vengeance would not receive the approval of an all-knowing God. This nation was the center of the nineteenth-century death penalty reform movement, which began eliminating capital punishment for burglary, robbery, sodomy, and other nonlethal crimes. None of the states controlled by Yankeedom or New Netherland retain the death penalty today.

With such sharp regional differences, the idea that the United States would ever reach consensus on any issue having to do with violence seems far-fetched. The cultural gulf between Appalachia and Yankeedom, Deep South and New Netherland is simply too large. But it’s conceivable that some new alliance could form to tip the balance.

Among the eleven regional cultures, there are two superpowers, nations with the identity, mission, and numbers to shape continental debate: Yankeedom and Deep South. For more than two hundred years, they’ve fought for control of the federal government and, in a sense, the nation’s soul. Over the decades, Deep South has become strongly allied with Greater Appalachia and Tidewater, and more tenuously with the Far West. Their combined agenda—to slash taxes, regulations, social services, and federal powers—is opposed by a Yankee-led bloc that includes New Netherland and the Left Coast. Other nations, especially the Midlands and El Norte, often hold the swing vote, whether in a presidential election or a congressional battle over health care reform. Those swing nations stand to play a decisive role on violence-related issues as well.

For now, the country will remain split on how best to make its citizens safer, with Deep South and its allies bent on deterrence through armament and the threat of capital punishment, and Yankeedom and its allies determined to bring peace through constraints such as gun control. The deadlock will persist until one of these camps modifies its message and policy platform to draw in the swing nations. Only then can that camp seize full control over the levers of federal power—the White House, the House, and a filibuster-proof Senate majority—to force its will on the opposing nations. Until then, expect continuing frustration and division.

Colin Woodard, A91, is the author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. An earlier book, The Republic of Pirates, is the basis of the forthcoming NBC drama Crossbones. He is currently state and national affairs writer at the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, where he won a George Polk Award this year for his investigative reporting.

 

 

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Remembering the Names


I wasn’t going to publish the names…there were so many. Then I decide that they deserved to be remembered, indeed honored. Each of then was young, at the beginning of this sojourn. Careers and school waiting for each of them. The name I won’t say is the perpetrators because I don’t want to encourage those unstable minds who commit crimes so history will remember them. I am sorry that their families and friends are experiencing this overwhelming grief and sorrow. Though a widow, I can only express a tiny bit of the hell you must be suffering. I am sorry.

 

 

For those on the fence about LGBT members of society, each of these people were in school or working. Let us remember the injured also. There is a large list of people who need your healing prayers. Their doctors need prayers for steady hands, wise decisions, and an angel on their shoulder. It will take the loving hearts of many people to get the injured up and about. They may face some discrimination. Pray that people will look at them and just see an injured human being. For their families and friends, I pray for you that you will have the strength to give them all the care they will need. May people remember that you will need care also. May you be able, in time, to forgive the shooter and the NRA.

 

May God bless and heal you.

May your lives be surrounded

with love, harmony and peace,We live in peace and harmony

May your hearts

 

strengthened and goodness come

to you for the remainder of you lives.

—The Rebel

 

 

We need harmony

How Many More?


 

 

 

I don’t have an answer for the question, How Many More?, and I wish I did. What I do know is that we need more music, art, conversation, love, compassion, caring, random acts of compassion. We need to take care our ourselves and our own issues remembering there is not one of us that is perfect. We need to heal our own blemishes first before even beginning to think about someone else’s problems.

 

Kindness should come before boasting, healing hands before violent ones, medicines to cure diseases should come before guns. Food for every person should come before Christian Dior bags (and I love them). Housing should come before a luxury car. Trees to improve the air we breathe should come before chemicals in our food. Clean water should come before stock dividends. Helping someone should come before what color their skin is, what their sexual preference is, or what spiritual path they follow.

 

Peace should come before war, being a part of the family of man should be more important than how different someone seems to be. Action is more important than talking about mass shootings and doing kindnesses is more important than thinking these events should never have happened. Perhaps most important, those who have been taught not to think for themselves and not to speak must learn to speak once again or for the first time.

 

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Unlearning not to speak

 

Blizzards of paper

in slow motion

sift through her

In nightmares she suddenly recalls

a class she signed up for

but forgot to attend.

Now it is too late.

Now it is time for finals:

losers will be shot.

Phrases of men who lectured her

drift and rustle in piles:

Why don’t you speak up?

Why are you shouting”

You have the wrong answer,

wrong line, wrong face.

They tell her she is womb-man,

babymachine, mirror, and penis-poor,

a dish of synthetic strawberry ice cream

rapidly melting.

She grunts to a halt.

She must learn to speak

starting with I

Starting with we

starting as the infant does

with her own true hunger

and pleasure

and rage.

—Marge Piercy, feminist poet and novelist

World Peace everywhere for everywhere

World Peace everywhere for everyone

What Happens when you Teach Hate


Police: 7th-grader calls Muslim schoolmate ‘son of ISIS,’ threatens to shoot and kill him

 

December 14 at 2:30 PM

An Ohio middle-school student has been accused of threatening to shoot and kill a Muslim schoolmate, calling him a “terrorist” and a “towel head,” police said.

A seventh-grader at Morton Middle School in Vandalia, near Dayton, got into an argument with another student Dec. 7 on a school bus, asking the boy if he was going to bomb him and calling the student “son of ISIS,” according to a police report. The seventh-grader faces a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion, according to the school district. Police said he also faces charges of aggravated menacing and ethnic intimidation.

The seventh-grader was arrested and transported to a juvenile detention center.

“First and foremost in our minds is the safety and security of our students,” Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Brad Neavin said in a statement. “It is important for our students and their parents to understand we take them at their word when they make these threats. We will treat all threats seriously, taking immediate and decisive action to protect the safety and welfare of our students, staff and community.”

The seventh-grader told police that he got into an argument in a school bus last week with a sixth-grader, who is Muslim, because, he said, the student never wants to sit down and plays his music too loudly, according to the police report. The seventh-grader admitted to using racial slurs and telling the sixth-grader he was responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers during 9/11 because he was Muslim, according to the report.

Another student who said he witnessed the incident reported it to the school, which alerted authorities, the district said in a statement. A witness later told police that the seventh-grader said something about bringing a .40-caliber handgun to school the next day to end the argument, according to the police report, though the seventh-grader told police he did not remember saying anything about the gun.

When asked whether he might have said it out of anger, “he said he probably did,” according to the report.

“When I was finished with my interview,” Vandalia Police Det. Jennifer Chiles wrote in the report, “I asked him if he wanted to write an apology letter to [the other student], and he said he did.”

The seventh-grader wrote a letter telling him “he was sorry for what he did and sorry for scaring him.”

Ahmad Murab, the sixth-grader’s father, told The Washington Post that his son came home scared, saying: ” ‘I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to go to school.’ ” The family, he said, found out from other students what had happened.

Murab said he considers the threat a hate crime but does not blame the older student for it. Instead, he said, he blames the news media and possibly the boy’s parents for shaping his world view.

“Call a criminal a criminal; don’t call a Muslim a terrorist,” Murab said. “It gets this seventh-grader to think all Muslims are bad. I don’t blame him. You put us in a dangerous situation.”

He added: “I don’t blame the other kid. How does he know about the world? Adults are telling him to call people those names.”

Murab said his children were born in the United States and don’t deserve to be singled out.

“This country has Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and people who don’t believe in anything,” he said. “The U.S. is a melting pot.”

He added: “I don’t want to get killed because of my name. … We work; we do everything good.”

U.S. Muslims have been on edge in recent weeks, saying they are living through an intensely painful moment and feeling growing anti-Muslim sentiment after the Islamic State attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings, carried out by a Muslim husband and wife. Last week, Donald Trump — the GOP presidential front-runner — called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Murab said his son is fine and has returned to school.

It was unclear Monday whether the seventh-grader was still in custody. The juvenile justice center would not release information because he is a minor.

When The Post called a number listed for the seventh-grader’s mother, she claimed she didn’t know anything about the accusations.

Vandalia-Butler City Schools said in a statement that an expulsion hearing will be set for a later date; police said a court hearing will also be scheduled.

People need to stop hating. Religion should not divide us. Dress should not divide us. Teach the children compassion,  gentleness and kindness. 
Stop the hating.

Namaste, 
Barbara, the Idealisticrebel


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This is what you can do

This is what you can do


			

Guns and Domestic Violence


Originally posted at Ms.Blog, msmagazine.com

The impact of gun violence on victims and survivors of domestic violence cannot be overstated. The statistics are chilling: Approximately 2 out of every 3 domestic violence homicides are committed with firearms; the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of homicide by at least 500 percent. At least 44 percent of mass shootings are domestic violence-related, and 61 percent of all femicides committed by men wielding guns in 2013 were related to domestic violence .

These statistics are only the most publicized, easily quantifiable manifestations of the intersection between domestic violence and firearms. Guns are used to terrorize far more often than they are used to kill. A survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found 16 percent of respondents’ abusers owned firearms. Of respondents whose abusers owned guns, 67 percent percent believed their abusers were capable of killing them.

These statistics are staggering, yet they are more than numbers—they are people. My colleague, Rob Valente at the Hotline, quotes two survey respondents. One respondent disclosed that her husband owns over 100 guns. She never knows where the guns are, or how many guns he is carrying at any given time. Another respondent tells of repeatedly waking up at night to the sound of her abuser releasing the safety on the gun he is holding to her head.

Recognizing the role of firearms in domestic violence, Congress passed the Lautenberg Amendment prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or people subject to permanent domestic violence protective orders from owning firearms. In enacting this prohibition, Congress took into account two important factors that differentiate domestic violence from other forms of violence: 1) Domestic violence misdemeanors are frequently pled down from felony charges and involve felony-level violence; and 2) Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors rather than a single incident, so there is a high likelihood an abuser will reoffend.

Although the Lautenberg Amendment saved countless lives, it is no longer adequate; society has changed and the law must be updated to reflect these changes. Under existing law, the definition of domestic violence only includes abuse perpetrated by a current or former spouse, cohabitant or biological co-parent. Dating abuse does not trigger the firearm prohibition, despite the fact that current or former dating partners commit approximately half of all domestic violence homicides. Likewise, people convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from owning firearms, although stalking is a key indicator of lethality; a 10-city study found that 76 percent of women killed by intimate partners were stalked before being murdered, and 85 percent of women who survive murder attempts were stalked.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2015and its companion bill from Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Minn.) and Robert Dold (D-Ill.), Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, expand the existing domestic violence prohibitor to include dating abuse and stalking. These narrowly focused domestic violence bills could save countless lives without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. We at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, our colleagues at other organizations, advocates across the country, victims and survivors call on Congress to demonstrate their commitment to ending domestic violence by passing these two bills. The time for talk is over—it is time to take a stand!

 

 

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If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.

If a man or a woman stays in a violent home, their life will continually rotate around the cycle of violence. Help is available. Look at this cycle and see if it is familiar to you.

Freedom Project


Today, I was watching CNN International. I like getting the broader picture of the news. They ran a special program called Freedom Project. It was about young girls in sexual slavery. I wasn’t sure I could watch a program with girls my youngest granddaughter’s age. I did. I am glad I did. I want to share what I learned. Now, this program was focused on America. I feel if it is happening here, then it is also happening in Europe, Asia, India, Africa and South America.

 

There are, in fact, people who are working to get young girls out and to help them have a life off of the streets. It isn’t easy. But young women are being helped and are now free for the first time in years.

 

Sexual slavery is not a kind of job any woman would sign up for. But for young ones from very dysfunctional homes, victims of physical and emotional abuse and often familial rape, the pitch to run away and have money and a glamorous life is irresistible.

 

They are shown a world so far from the one they come from that it is overwhelming. The glamour doesn’t last long though. For this is the world of the pimp and the world costs a lot of money. The pimp or the gang is not going to go out and earn that money.

 

In the twenty first century, girls are introduced to drugs and often IV drugs. Once they are hooked, they are putty in the hands of the pimps. They are often on drugs 24/7 so they can service men without stop. They won’t live long like this but the owners will just steal another girl to replace them. Then the girls are tattooed with gang signs, initials of the pimp or dollar signs or other signs which indicate money. The world now knows they are owned. They are the property of some man or men.

 

Every time the girls look at their bodies, they see the tattoos and think this is their life, there is nothing else to look forward to. Just men handling their bodies. Several girls interviewed told how some of the johns would hold guns to their heads, one had a man hold a knife to her belly during the act.

 

Some girls are helped out of the street life. They meet people who have made it their life to look for and find these young girls and help them find the person they used to be. It is a big job for the girls and for the people who get them out.

 

One thing that happens is that when a girl is ready, they are taken to a few certain tattoo shops where the signs that they are property and belong to someone are turned into a beautiful tattoos that obliterate the original one. Butterflies, wings and other such tattoos remind the girls that they are now free. They belong to no one but themselves.

 

There are some companies that will hire these girls and help them to learn skills which will, in time, enable them to get a job in the real world. They gain confidence and learn how to interact with others in the ways that will help them fit into the real world.

 

This is all wonderful but there are still thousands of young girls out on the streets. This is part of the reason that family violence must be eradicated. Physical and emotional abuse can make street life look glamorous. Incest within families must end and rape of all kinds must end. There needs to be loving bonds within families and every member of a family needs to know how important they are and how much they are loved.

 

Survivors of sexual slavery have a new chance at life. But they often carry a criminal record with them as well as the horror of the memories which will never go away. Just like the fight many vets face when they return from war and have PTSD.

 

The present world is harsh and crippling. It has the ability to completely destroy young lives and to change people from the person they were meant to be to a contorted version of that person. This is an ugly subject and I know it is hard to read, but we can’t turn away and avoid reality. We need to find ways to help. Helping one person is saving that person from living in a hell on earth.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

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END SLAVERY NOW

US NATIONAL TIP HOTLINE        1-888-373-7888

A project of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

 

Sexual slavery can be stopped, if we all want it to stop

Sexual slavery can be stopped, if we all want it to stop

Gun Control Facts


After the many fatal shootings that have happened recently, I began looking for more information on Guns in America — looking for real facts, not just supposition.

I found a website, justfacts.com, which contained an entire webpage on Gun Control.  I’ve excerpted some of the information, and several of the provided graphs, below, for your information.  There is a great deal more information on the actual page, https://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp, for those who are as interested as I am in separating gun fact from gun fiction.

 

I’ll be interested to see what you think of this, and if it falls in line with your beliefs — pro or con — regarding gun control

 

Namaste,

Barbara

 

 

 

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This research is based upon the most recent available data in 2010. Facts from earlier years are cited based upon availability and relevance, not to slant results by singling out specific years that are different from others. Likewise, data associated with the effects of gun control laws in various geographical areas represent random, demographically diverse places in which such data is available.

 

Many aspects of the gun control issue are best measured and sometimes can only be measured through surveys,[1]but the accuracy of such surveys depends upon respondents providing truthful answers to questions that are sometimes controversial and potentially incriminating.[2] Thus, Just Facts uses such data critically, citing the best-designed surveys we find, detailing their inner workings in our footnotes, and using the most cautious plausible interpretations of the results.

 

Particularly, when statistics are involved, the determination of what constitutes a credible fact (and what does not) can contain elements of personal subjectivity. It is our mission to minimize subjective information and to provide highly factual content. Therefore, we are taking the additional step of providing readers with four examples to illustrate the type of material that was excluded because it did not meet Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility.

 

General Facts

 

* Firearms are generally classified into three broad types: (1) handguns, (2) rifles, and (3) shotguns.[3] Rifles and shotguns are both considered “long guns.”

 

* A semi-automatic firearm fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, ejects the shell of the fired bullet, and automatically loads another bullet for the next pull of the trigger. A fully automatic firearm (sometimes called a “machine gun”) fires multiple bullets with the single pull of the trigger.[4]

 

Ownership

 

* As of 2009, the United States has a population of 307 million people.[5]

 

* Based on production data from firearm manufacturers,[6] there are roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States as of 2010. Of these, about 100 million are handguns.[7]

 

* Based upon surveys, the following are estimates of private firearm ownership in the U.S. as of 2010:

 

 Households With a Gun  Adults Owning a Gun  Adults Owning a Handgun
Percentage  40-45%  30-34%  17-19%
Number  47-53 million  70-80 million  40-45 million

[8]

 

* A 2005 nationwide Gallup poll of 1,012 adults found the following levels of firearm ownership:

 

Category  Percentage Owning

a Firearm

Households  42%
Individuals  30%
Male  47%
Female  13%
White  33%
Nonwhite  18%
Republican  41%
Independent  27%
Democrat  23%

[9]

 

* In the same poll, gun owners stated they own firearms for the following reasons:

 

Protection Against Crime  67%
Target Shooting  66%
Hunting  58%

[10]

 

Crime and Self-Defense

 

* Roughly 16,272 murders were committed in the United States during 2008. Of these, about 10,886 or 67% were committed with firearms.[11]

 

* A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 162,000 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all “military service, police work, or work as a security guard.”[12]

 

* Based on survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States during 2008. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders.[13] [14] [15] Of these, about 436,000 or 8% were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun.[16]

 

* Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology,[17] U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.[18]

 

* A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 3.5% of households had members who had used a gun “for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere.” Applied to the U.S. population, this amounts to 1,029,615 such incidents per year. This figure excludes all “military service, police work, or work as a security guard.”[19]

 

* A 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.[20]

 

* A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found:[21]

 

  • 34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”
  • 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun”
  • 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”[22]

 

Click here to see why the following commonly cited statistic does not meet Just Facts’ Standards of Credibility: “In homes with guns, the homicide of a household member is almost 3 times more likely to occur than in homes without guns.”

 

└ Vulnerability to Violent Crime

 

* At the 2013 homicide rate, roughly one in every 285 Americans will be murdered in the course of their lives.[23]

 

* A U.S. Justice Department study based on crime data from 1974-1985 found:

 

  • 42% of Americans will be the victim of a completed violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) in the course of their lives.
  • 83% of Americans will be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime.
  • 52% of Americans will be the victim of an attempted or completed violent crime more than once.[24]

 

* A 1997 survey of more than 18,000 prison inmates found that among those serving time for a violent crime, “30% of State offenders and 35% of Federal offenders carried a firearm when committing the crime.”[25]

 

 

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