Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Colin Kapernick and Justice for All

We are a funny nation.  We seem to be comfortable holding two diametrically opposed views in our heads at the same time.  Freedom of speech, but the expectation not to use it.  Hear me out.  Colin Kapernick decided to remain seated or kneeing during the National Anthem at games his San Francisco 49ers are playing in to protest what he sees as unfair treatment of minorities by police. It is a quiet, non-violent and singular protest.  However many people, including some police, have attacked him saying it disrespects the flag, our military and the country itself.  In fact some have even called for him to be deported.  To where?  No one cares.  You see this emotional reaction is one fueled by ignorance and entitlement of those who do not feel the fear that comes from watching young black men and women killed in police custody or by police for apparently no reason.  Yes, I know, some of the most celebrated of the recent cases of police shooters are not as cut and dried as the Black Lives Matter movement said.  However, there is a serious pattern, or at least the perception of one, that seems to devalue the lives of black people, especially black men.  And Kapernick is drawing attention to that.

I don't want to debate that.  It is highly complicated and in fact there are some existential rabbit holes we could go down.  Black on black crime, gang fighting, absentee fathers have all be used to attack the movement.  That is for another time.  But I want to talk about the protest itself.

The National Anthem is an interesting thing we in America have.  That and the Pledge of Allegiance both have an ironic feel to them in a country built on the notion that we are a free people that the government is there to pledge allegiance to us, not the other way around.  One of the funny memes about this incident is the one that shows a so-called patriot saying "Stop disrespecting the government I am arming myself against".   But this is what we have allowed to be considered patriotism. Again the opposing views held by the same individual.  In some cases in the same sentence.  The idea the one can attack the President, members of the government, government institutions, (FBI, ATF, IRS) on the same website where they call for action taken against someone like Kapernick who just doesn't want to honor a song that he feels is hypocritical.  I would be more comfortable if he was avoiding the pledge than the anthem.  But still his protest, and the growing number who join him, are making a statement that is not disrespecting any individual, just calling for us to do a self-audit of what we are willing to live with in this country where famous and wealthy black men will tell you they have a visceral reaction to police and a fear if they are pulled over.

There was a time where I didn't say the pledge for example.  I still find it odd but I rarely am asked to do it.  I remember a nun, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement, who said once that she will say the Pledge of Allegiance when it wasn't a lie.  She felt there wasn't liberty and justice for all. That was a protest I could understand.  One of silence and conviction and that is in fact what Kapernick and the others are doing.  By the way, it is his right to do it and the flag we are pledging at that moment of his silence is a symbol of that right.  It is why we fought wars, it is why we can feel comfortable supporting a candidate that we want.  It is why the talk radio screamers who are making fun of those protesting can do just that.  And if Kapernick and others lose sponsorship contracts and even their jobs, well the same freedoms apply to that.  You see that is how the country is great.

Here is what I believe.  If Kapernick is so wrong to do it, don't call him names and ask him to leave the country.  Teach him why he is wrong or make what he is doing wrong. If you are right and his protest is in vain then he looks like a fool.  If you are outraged that this man is standing up for what he believes in then how can you defend someone standing up for what you believe in when you are considered wrong by the crowd?  Seriously. we are all Kapernick in some way.  We all have an unpopular but strongly held belief somewhere.  Thank the universe that we live some place where we can express it without fear of government interaction on us.  We should applaud him for doing so and if we think he is wrong, make him see the error of his ways.  But our culture moves too rapidly for that and so we sit, and jeer and burn his jersey, and call him names and in some cases prove his point. That there are two Americas.  And sometimes they exist in the same head.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

An Interesting Twist on Another Year

Twenty-nine years ago today was one of the worst days of my life, if not the worst.  As the sun set on August 31 in 1987 I was sitting alone in a police interrogation room when a brash detective, who I remember being a stereotype of a TV cop, told me Linda was murdered.  Most of the rest of the evening is a blur.  Linda and I were embarking on a life journey together and our plans were still embryonic.  We had been together for only year but that single tragic moment changed my life and the effects of that day stayed with me throughout the last 3 decades.  Certainly I tried to move on with life and did.  I married and had a child.  I made many mistakes.  I failed at marriage, more than once, but with time and understanding the death of Linda played a lessor role in my life.  However for me, Linda will always be part of me.  I remember resonating with images from culture that played on this theme of lost love.  On Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, we are introduced to the leader of the space station in the moments of losing his young wife in the Borg attack.  Later in the episode he is being examined by the Bajorian prophets, aliens who live outside of time.  They communicate with him through images from his past.  They keep coming back to the moment of his wife's death and when he asks why they keep showing him that moment they say, They respond by telling him he lives there, in that moment.  I know what that means, I often over the years lived in that moment of the cop telling me what happened.  Sisko hadn't moved on.  He was stuck in the past and the prophets showed him.  Moving on is normal.  But even if we do move on, sometimes the past still is present.  Robyn Hitchcock captured it in the song My Wife and My Dead Wife.  In the song, the story teller is a happily re-married widow, but the images of his dead wife continue to invade his life.  In the song one scene is powerful for someone living through grief:

I'm making coffee for two
Just me and you
But I come back in with coffee for three
Coffee for three?
My dead wife sits in a chair
Combing her hair
I know she's there
She wanders off to the bed
Shaking her head
"Robyn," she said
"You know I don't take sugar!"

And so it is.  But over time the love doesn't die but new love can develop and often does. Linda's death was the end of her life and our life together.  But my life still goes on and over the years I changed, I found joys and new tragedies.  I have laughed, loved and built a new life.  Linda's influence and the parts of her she shared with me are still part of me and that will never change.  But there is a whole new me, different from one that Linda ever knew, but that Dianne, my current, wife has helped create.  So at the death of Gene Wilder,when people started posting pictures of him and Gilda Radner, his wife for a few years and the person most people associate with him, I had mixed feelings.  Wilder lost Radner to cancer and he worked tirelessly to use his and her celebrity to raise money for cancer research in her name, as well as awareness of the disease.  It easy to continue to see them as a couple for eternity.  But what some people may not know is that through the work to promote this awareness and to raise the money he had a partner.  That partner was his wife Karen Boyer.  As people posted pictures of Gene and Gilda from 30 years ago, saying "together again", my mind went to Dianne, or any spouse who joined someone's life after a tragic death.  It must be difficult in general to be the person living in the shadow of the lost spouse, but in this case with Gene and Gilda, their life was public, large and we suffered with him when she died too early.  But we didn't follow his life afterward.  He moved forward, fell in love, built a life with Boyer, and in his dying days she shepherded him into eternity.   I imagine she would be hurt by the sentiments of those that are thinking of that eternity with Gilda and not Karen.  This question of who we spend eternity with in the life after death goes back to the Christian Bible as Jesus is asked this question.  This weekend  I celebrate my new home with Dianne. Next week we will celebrate Noah making the Dean's List at the luncheon.  Today I said my prayers in memory of Linda, I still feel her influence on who I am today.  But I see my life apart from her and maybe we should strive to feel the Gene Wilder, who never stopped loving Gilda, built a life with Karen.  May Karen find comfort in her loss and may Gene Wilder rest in arms of the eternal.  We can leave it at that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Man Goes on Killing Spree and Celebrates by Eating One of His Victims

A local man recently dawn camouflage and with a rifle and scope took off for a day of killing.  He found a spot to hide among his potential victims and was able to kill a handful by late afternoon.  As dinner time came he butchered one of his victims and used the flesh to flavor a stew while he secured the others for his ride home.  Each bite seemed to remind him of why he worked so hard to get the his prey.  So goes another successful day for the best hunter in the county.  

This fictional account is an example of how I have come to see much of the political reporting this season.  Recently an Associated Press story about Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is one of many examples.  A tweet read:
At least 85 of 154 people who met or had phone conversations with Hillary Clinton while she secretary of state, donated or made pledges to her family charity.

While this tweet, on its face is absurd, Sec. Clinton could have weeks of meeting or speaking with 154 people, the idea was those who were not part of a diplomatic meeting were that number.  They included such unsavory people as Bono and Elie Wiesel of blessed memory.  Now if this was a political pundit or opinion writer then it would be less of a problem.  The constant drone of opinion writing and broadcasting on the 24 hour so-called news stations and talk radio has us grabbing for the salt so regularly cable companies are doing promos with Morton's.  But this is the AP, a standard in journalism.  This is the problem this year.  Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump, Senator Cruz, Governors Christie and Bush, all had news stories with headlines and copy that told half-truths to make them look good, bad, or competitive in what can only be describes as massages the story.  In some cases news organizations, especially television, gave Donald Trump tons of air time because he drove ratings.  His brand of nonsense speak, anger challenging and dull witted ideas, coupled with his celebrity and ability to say what many people wish they could made him must watch TV for those who both loved and hated him.  Les Moonves, CEO of CBS admitted this to be true saying "it may be bad for America but it is good for CBS".  

Hard news outlets, in print, TV, radio or new media are supposed to be the referees of our political fights, holding those involved to decorum befit their institutions, or at least to the truth.  I am aware politics in a contact sport.  There is a story that once about 100 years ago a man who his Congressional seat in part by calling his opponent a practicing HETEROsexual.  At one point in our history we even had duels, with pistols, but when Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton the press wasn't holding his coat.  Today we see news reporters who seem more interested in ratings than facts and always trying to be the ones who can take down someone more than inform the people.  This is bad.  It is bad for America because in the information age what is real, true and meaningful is hard to find in a world where an accusation that Sen Ted Cruz's father was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald and that Sec. Clinton has brain damage becomes headlines without context.  If the AP, CBS, NBC et. al are simply trying to outdo each other and leaving the truth in the ditch on the side of the road, there is no informed voter base and thus all our elections are from ignorance.

I know there will be a din of liberal bias accusations in the responses.  If you see that as true you help make my point.  I actually think the bias is there, just for ratings, as Mr. Moonves points out.  But what is fascinating is that I have discovered a whole new source of facts, from a highly unlikely source.  Both certain opinion writers, television personalities and even some talk radio hosts have become voices of reason, even with the later also continuing the classic radio antics like count-downs to President Obama's last day in office and calling for Sec. Clinton to be in jail.  There is a thoughtful left who traffics in facts-based opinion and a right-wing voice that is more interested in reality than the ever increasing sizzle or the meatless steaks.  They choose to express their ideas with a clear bias, because it is their job.  And while their opinion can be based on a faulty premise they see or an interpretation, they seem to strive to be above the nonsense of so much of the media these days.  
We all want to hear people who agree with us, and for many to hear people we could never agree with to argue with.  Social media has allowed that to be an instant process as well, sending an accolade to someone who shares your views or an insult to someone who doesn't has never been easier.  So we live in our little cloistered political bubbles and stay ignorant.  So take my advice.  See who is on another station, turn the dial, read a new column or website.  Broaden your political opinion.  You will likely find a lot of dreck.  But maybe you will find one or two people who you don't agree with but can help you better see a new perspective on an issue.  Perhaps you will learn a piece of a story you didn't know.  Maybe you will find that your hard-held political beliefs are mutable with facts.  I don't know.  What I do know is that this year the people who are running for President are disliked more than ever and I would argue that a lot of that dislike is unearned and the product of media hype. Major political races have come to look like Wrestlemania and too often the sources of our news are Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan.  That is not how democracy should work.  


Friday, July 8, 2016

The Sun is not quite so sunny today

As I think about my last days at camp and two hours from the start of Shabbat festivities I am carrying around the pain and anguish that has become too common in my life as of late.  Two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot by police in what most people feel were situations that did not require deadly force.  I hope that a transparent investigation brings justice.  I fear that too often it appears that justice is not easily found, because the situations are not easily understood in light of media outrage and platitudes.  These two, the last in a long line of African Americans killed by police in situations that have raised questions.  So last night, as I tried to sleep I checked my phone to find some people had decided to attack police officers in Dallas, TX.  Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, and Michael Krol are among the names as I have not read the other two.

What has brought us to this point?  I am not sure.  I have seen people blame President Obama, Black Lives Matter, and even Israel.  Seriously that last one threw me.  I have seen people blame the gun culture, the failure of understanding others who are different, systemic racism and even male aggression.

This cultural disease cannot be boiled down to one thing, and while we see patterns, we must see each case on its own.  Trying to push blame on someone or one ideology is ridiculous.  We make up the culture, we choose what to let be the topic of the day and we choose what we will work on.

What strikes me hard is that the Dallas Police Department has worked hard in recent years to address the issues raised by the apparent injustice against African Americans.  Through training, promotion of black officers and community engagement they have reduced charges of excessive force and have built bridges into the black community.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican member of the House of Representative who now has a radio tweeted that he declared war on Black Lives Matter and the President of the United States.  This ignorant fool who has his own personal problems in life, shared a voice seen by many, from the White Supremacists to angry suburbanites looking to lash out.

In both cases the anger is misdirected and in both cases dangerous.  The first took the lives of 5 officers and the second could inspire the same.  But that is not the answer and nor should it be.

We can be angry today, but that anger should be channeled into changing how we think.  There will always be people who will try to destroy order for their own gains.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who hate a group or individual because of their races, ethnicity, religion, who they love etc.  They must be shunned.  There will always be people who think the answer to a problem is violence.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who cannot and will not reason things out, they must be isolated from others.  We have the power.  Stop praying about it and do something.

If you have problems with the police, make an appointment and have some talk to  you.  If you don't understand why someone is wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, ask them.  If either are too angry to be helpful, find someone who isn't.  Build community connections between you and people who you currently see as different, other, or outside of your comfort zone.  You will be surprised what  you learn and what might happen when you build bridges.

The answer to violence is not more violence.  The answer to violence is to create a culture where violence is shunned and suppressed.  It is our responsibility.  All of Us.  All we I have been talking about Korach who wanted to over-throw Moses and Aaron as leaders of the Israelites.  We worked with the children on problem solving and the values of a good leaders and how to protest injustice.  It makes me want the whole country to go to camp.  To create these mini-diverse communities where you can learn about others and let your person expression be who you are.  Maybe then today I would be able to see more colors in the sky and feel more ready for Shabbat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Don't Say Moderate Muslims

I had planned to write about the string of events that made up my weekend.  An Iftar dinner on Friday night, where I shared a table with an Evangelical pastor and a Mormon family and the President of Al Salem, a mosque community in Carmel, IN.  An interfaith community sharing the breaking of the daily fast with 300 people in a school gymnasium that for the evening served as an Islamic community center.  Our Congressman, Andre Carson came and spoke briefly about his continued commitment to diversity and prophetically mentioned the LGBT community as an expanded view of how Muslims in America should strive to continue to embrace diversity.  On Saturday night my 10th grade performed their cantata on diversity in the microcosm of their class with a variety of differences that can both be seen and not directly in the class.  Part of our Shavuot celebration the students rose as one but expressed their joy of being individuals among the oneness of their class, their Judaism and their country.  So Sunday morning came as a kick in the head.

Sunday was our anniversary and so I made breakfast for Dianne.  I take my time with it and so I didn't even check my phone until later when I expected to watch the Sunday morning news shows. (a guilty pleasure for me when I don't have Religious School).  I was shocked at what I saw and continued to be shocked by as I processed the fact the so many had been killed by a lone gunman, attacking people at their most vulnerable and at a place of fun and joy.  But that was the start of it all.

From the jump there was a clear attempt to get political gain from this tragedy and I watched as people like Donald Trump seemed to wish it was a Muslim who did this.  When it turned out it was he took a virtual victory lap.  Now that is sickening in and of itself but since he has lied about the gunman saying he was a foreigner, (he was born in New York) that he was sent by ISIS, (he wasn't even on their radar though they claimed him in hindsight) and he went so far as to suggest that the President of the United States was somehow involved.  His despicable rhetoric is terrible and rightfully attacked but that wasn't the worst of it.  He is a foul-mouthed bigot who while the leader of the GOP for the next few weeks, (Cleveland will be interesting) it is the others who try appearing anti-terrorist and say ridiculous things out loud, in front of people.

So a little tutorial.  The fundamental nature of ISIS or ISIL or DEISH is not religious but political and it is not Islamic.  Let me be clear, they use Islam in the same way that the kings of the middle ages in Europe, Slavers in the Americas and the Apartheid governments of South Africa used Christianity. Twisted and turned to the point where it is believable that it comes from a place of faith but we all know that they are simply deranged by the lust of power and control.  Actions they take do not adhere to the teaching of Islam though often fit the cartoon notions of the uninformed masses who fear the other.

Now, days after the attack in Orlando, we are finding out more about this supposed militant Muslim. It turns out he may have been struggling with his own inner demons as a closeted gay man.  He may well have been more motivated by his own self-hate and saw the last minute allegiance to the ISIS ideology as a way to give his life meaning.  We don't really know but he was certainly not a trained fighter for the cause.  But that won't stop the nonsense that will fill our Facebook feeds and  Twitter streams and more and more the daily news.

So let's start pushing back.  Let's hold people fully accountable for what they post, say and do online. Let's call, write and respond to news people who pass along nonsense as fact and give forums to the conspiracy nuts, even if they are a major party's nominee.  Let's start with putting to bed the term MODERATE MUSLIM.  There are Muslims, and there are Muslims who act out in non-Islamic ways that pervert the culture and religion of Islamic people today.  Much like there are Christians who kill and applaud killing of certain people, and Jews and probably Hindus and Wiccans etc. etc etc.  No one I know calls the local pastor a moderate Christian because he isn't part of the Christian Identity movement so why should we call the local Imam a moderate simply because he isn't a terrorist.  It is unacceptable for that to be the narrative.  It presupposes that any Muslim you meet is a terrorist unless they prove otherwise.  That, by definition, is bigotry.  Yet there it is.  Language defines culture, it always has.  When we name something then it gives it the power of the name. By the way, that is why President Obama chooses carefully how he refers to terrorist organizations but that if for another time.  We will not solve the problems of those using Islam as a sword unless we have Muslim help and we won't get that if we live in an us/them culture.  One of my good friends is a devote Muslim and another is a man whose practice of Islam means giving up alcohol during Ramadan.  Neither is a terrorist and both are funny, wise, family men and on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  I would never say the way they walk in this world is moderate.  They are truly part of the many faces of Muslim Americans who cannot and will never be part of any organization that thinks killing is the answer to differences.  Though both have sharp tongues when needed and one makes a living off of his.

Remember, the attack in Orlando, tragic, worst of its kind in our history and devastating because the attack was on a community that regularly suffers the bigotry of many was not the only attacks even in Orlando.  A man shot and killed Christina Grimlee a few days before in Orlando and was armed to take out others but was stopped and killed himself.  Another man was traveling with explosives and guns from Indiana and when arrested said he was going to LA's Gay Pride parade.  Hate comes in many stripes so we should be aware that when we choose to look at only one kind of hate, we choose not to see all the others.

The world is more connected than ever before in history and with the power to reach out we must push back against the perpetual rage machine that promotes the bigotry that has become mainstream. So let's start by challenging those that seem to think that if you are Muslim and not a terrorist then your Islam's description must some how be modified.  Let's start calling those Muslims who pervert the faith with a moniker that steals away the Islamic title they so desperately want to own as the only form of Islam.  I am open to suggestions but for me they are simply bloodthirsty thugs.  And Friday night, as people welcomed me, thanked me for joining them, fed me and acknowledged my presence from the stage I was with the real Muslims.  The Muslims who matter and make up the vast majority of the world's Muslim population.  That is what matters.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Are We Finally Going To Be Able to Talk About Rape

Brock Turner, a former Stanford student and athlete, was convicted of felony sexual assault.  A possible prison sentence turned into a sentence of six months of jail time and three years probation because the judge thought prison would be too difficult and screw up the rapist's life.  The rapist's father referred to the assault as "20 minutes of action" as opposed to the rest of his life when he wasn't raping unconscious women.  This has sparked, rightfully so, outrage.

Let me be clear, 30 years ago as a peer sexuality educator I did workshops on campus rape.  This has been an on-going problem.  Young men will tell you that it is difficult to know sometimes when a woman means no, that they send confusing signals, that they appear to be asking for it.  Men are also taught it is their job to get her ready and to convince her to have sex. (think about how society teaches men about their role in sexuality or listen to Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke) But here is a simple rule. If the person you are having sex with can't respond to simple questions, open their eyes, or enjoy it because he or she is unconscious it is rape.  What this rapist did is not something that can be mitigated by circumstance, he was in the middle of raping a woman behind a dumpster and was caught.  His so-called 20 minutes of action was crime, a terrible crime, and the judge in this case basically said to the world and especially to women that men are gonna rape you and you should get over it.

You can argue that alcohol was involved and the rapist's judgement was impaired.  In college the drinking age was not yet 21 and there was a lax attitude toward drinking on campus.  My first job was pouring beers as campus events.  I, and none of my friends, ever were drunk enough to not see a passed out girl as someone who was consenting and if we were the alcohol would be an inhibitor to actually being able to engage in sexual intercourse.  Frankly the few times that rumors came up that a guy was trying to get with a drunk girl my friends clearly saw it as wrong. But for others, it is part of the college life that we have come to expect.

So why don't we talk about it more?  I think because we don't want to acknowledge or give energy to the fact that young people, living together, unsupervised will find each other attractive and engage in sexual behavior that is often outside the context of a relationship.  Should they or not is not for this discussion.  They do.  How they interact with each other and respect each other in the process is what is key.  But when we talk about rape prevention so often we talk about it in the context of women learning self-defense, not walking alone at night, even not drinking alcohol at a party.  We have to start talking about the fact that women are not the problem here.  This rapist took advantage of a woman who was doing exactly the same thing he was, having fun at a party.  Did she drink too much?  I don't know.  Was she dosed with something?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I want to live in a society where a person can make a mistake and get drunk and that doesn't make him or her available to anyone who wants to sexually assault him or her.

Every time a rapist, like this guy, is treated like the victim of his own actions or I hear someone say that he has suffered enough doesn't understand the situation.  The judge and his father sound like monsters to most of the world.  As well they should.  I find the judge to be an accomplice after-the-fact, running cover for this rapist.  But maybe it sparks a better conversation, Maybe we can now see that we have to talk about this in a more holistic context.  Maybe we won't be so quick to judge women who drink, wear thongs, dance suggestively, or simply have a foul mouth when they are raped.  Maybe we won't try to prevent rape by simply trying to lock up women or forcing them to take on the responsibility of the actions and maybe we can see that the justice system has been so devastating toward women so often in rape cases.  Maybe we can have a national discussion.  Thirty years ago we did workshops to show this.  I fear we wasted a generation.  I am moved by the outrage over this miscarriage of justice and mercy.  But outrage feels good, action does good.  Talk to your children about appropriate behavior.  Talk to your schools, houses of worship, sports coaches, anyone to help change the narrative.  Women should not have to wear chastity belts to avoid being raped when they want to have fun at a party.  And men should know that if the woman can't talk she didn't say yes.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Where Do They Go?

Imagine you are a woman who pops into a public restroom only to see a person standing at the sink, a person in work boots, jeans, leather vest, and a well trimmed beard.    Or you are a man you walk in and see a long-haired, large breasted person in a flowing dress putting on make-up.  In both cases you make an immediate gender decision for that person and you will likely think they are in the wrong bathroom.  You would be right, but state laws are making their decision to go to the right bathroom a crime.  The laws actually go beyond that, but for my purposes I am just going to talk about the restroom law.  That is right, laws are passing that require transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were declared at birth.

For the vast majority of humans we are boy one of two sexes.  The culture we are born in defines how that biological state will play out in our express of our identity which is our gender.  However there have always been people who are born who feel they want to express themselves differently that their culture defines them.  In some cases those people are seen as a separate gender and often holy.  Other cultures demonize them and sadly kill them.  Now let's be clear, this is not being gay, this is someone who deeply and early on feel an internal identity to a gender that does not match their biological sex.

I don't fully understand it because I don't feel that way.  But I know it is real and while  it is a tiny percent of humanity but that does not mean it is insignificant.  I encounter regularly at least three people who are in various stages of transition about once a week, and those are the ones I know about.  How many more have transitioned who have not shared their story?  Just think if 1/2 of 1% of the American population is transgender that is still 1.6 million Americans.  That is more than the number of Japanese Americans.  So when people complain about that it is a tiny number of people who are seeking safety, rights and dignity just think about what happened when our country decided that the Japanese didn't deserve to keep their rights.  That was a painful part of our history.  Do we want to repeat it with another group?

The thing is that bathroom issues are not new.  I remember back in the 80s going to the Generic Bar in Syracuse and they had a men's room, women's room, and a restroom for those who didn't fit those categories. So people of different gender identities have been dealing with this discomfort and even back then the counter-culture of the G-Bar and many other places made their customers more comfortable.  Over the decades, as we come to recognize the reality of transgender and it is becoming more mainstream and retailers and government are responding to meet the growing need of our culture.

There is an argument that boys in schools and men in public will pretend to be transgender to use a bathroom to prey on girls and women in the ladies room.  This of course is a serious concern but a man could dress like a women now and sneak in and in fact many have, many more have not bothered and have hidden in women's bathrooms to attack women. There is no evidence of a transgender person attacking anyone in a public restroom or locker room and a boy who pretends to be transgender to get access to a girls' locker room would have to deal with the bigotry most transgender students see and would not be worth a peak at naked girls.  There would be an easier way.  In fact a transgender person is more likely to be attacked by someone who is driven by fear, hate, and anger be in a public restroom or a school yard.  Bigotry is a major motivator and since the start of this current rage and new laws several women who appear masculine have been attacked in public restrooms.

Our culture is becoming more accepting of difference and things we didn't know were happening are out in the open.  You have likely shared a public restroom with a transgender person.  It is safe.  Passing laws that attack a group of people because you are uncomfortable is cowardly, bigoted and anti-American.  We should be more vocal about it.