Two VERY Different Worlds….

Whenever I post about the growing body of research connecting America’s political polarization to bigotry, I can count on at least a few reproving comments from readers who are nicer than I am, insisting that attributing racist attitudes to a majority of Trump voters  is unfair, or at the very least, painting with far too broad a brush. 

But I keep coming across additional evidence.

The hyperlink will take you to an article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, written by a social worker involved in one of the many yearly efforts to provide a decent Christmas to children whose families lack the resources to provide a happy holiday. She has been doing this for several years during which, she reports, she has found the charitable impulse of donors and the gratitude of recipients heartwarming.

Now, however, she writes that she can no longer “deny the chilling reality that I’ve become accustomed to, the new nature of how we treat our neighbors in society.”

As COVID-19 has pushed our organization to a peak in numbers of first-time applicants as well as those who were in need of human services (more than 20,000 this year alone in Allen County), it also gave me the highest number of demands from donors insisting that before they assist a family or help a child, they be given the political affiliation of their parents.

You read that correctly.

Donors insist that before they help, they know who the people they’re helping are voting for.

The first few requests I shrugged off as singular instances, until gradually they became a new norm for me to ready an answer for. All seem to be like-minded, that if they’re assisting children whose parents are voting a certain way, they are not worthy of basic necessities.

I’ve listened to endless defenses of this line of thinking, mostly ranting about how these anonymous people are lazy and unjustly entitled, all the while ironically insisting that “if I’m kind enough to give out of my own pocket, I have the right to make sure it’s not one of those people!”

The author never comes out and says which side of the political aisle has nurtured these attitudes, but her recitation of their nature leaves little room for doubt.

This year marks also the highest demand for “non-ethnic” names of children on our Angel Tree. Granted, no one says “only give me Caucasian-sounding names.” It’s a request for “traditional names” or “names we can actually pronounce.”

When you receive stacks of certain tags back, or watch the names on the online tree disappear, you quickly realize which names are consistently overlooked.

I’ve watched an influx this year of hateful comments as we kick off our campaign for the red kettle, urging people to give during a time when cash is scarce but the need is great. The animosity, the anger, the venom as people eagerly post how they refuse to help an organization that assists “system suckers” with their “welfare babies” (direct quotes).

The author reaches into her experiences as a social worker to enumerate the various kinds of hurt she’s seen–domestic abuse cases, childhood illnesses and deaths, soldiers with PTSD…the gamut.

This hurt, however, is new. And heartbreaking.

But for the first time, my heart has opened up to an entirely different kind of hurt. One that sees these people and in response clenches its fists. One who mocks and shames, who judges and scorns, then empowered, turns to rally others behind them to spread the sickness of hate.

Another data point: The Atlantic ran a post-election story with the headline “A Large Portion of the Electorate Chose the Sociopath.”The Atlantic article, by Tom Nichols, focused on the same question that has occupied the readers of this blog: who, after four years of Donald Trump, would vote for another four?

Nichols’ answer is the one I have reluctantly come to–as he says, the 2016 Trump voters who chose Trump because they thought he was “just like them” turned out to be right. They weren’t repulsed by brown children in cages, or attacks on “shithole” countries, or winks to Neo-Nazis and other “fine people” because –given the chance– they would do the same. 

There were seventy million of them. This isn’t the America I thought I inhabited.


Have a Merry

If you are celebrating Christmas today, Merry Christmas.

If you are celebrating Chanukah, Happy Chanukah.

If you are a secular soul celebrating some time off work, Happy Holidays!

If you are one of those culture warriors hysterical because everyone isn’t using the language you have prescribed–the language that you believe acknowledges the superiority and “true Americanism” of your particular faith– bah humbug to you!

I’m not a Christian, but I have great respect for the many Christians I know who spend their time (all year–not just in December) trying to model Jesus’ teachings about love and compassion, modesty and charity. As you might suspect, I have little or no respect for the “stiff-necked,” ostentatiously pious folks who brandish the label as a weapon in their fanciful “war on Christmas.”

I admire and value those good people who are Christian in the true sense of that word–those of you who look to your theology for guidance on how to live a meaningful and moral life. I hope your Christmas day is filled with love, family,  friendship and cheer.

Something tells me that those in the “stiff-necked” category–those who believe their religion is a badge of superiority entitling them to denigrate and discriminate against those they view as “lesser”– will ultimately find the equivalent of coal in their stockings.(I’ve noticed that they all seem to be unhappy–and unpleasant–people.)

Happy Holidays, everyone. Have a great day.


Season’s Greetings

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice or just the blessing of a couple of days off work: Have a great one!

Or–as my favorite holiday greeting this year put it–Heathen’s Greetings to you and yours!


Maybe the Gingrich Stole Christmas??

Okay–there isn’t going to be much of a post today, because I am waging my  own “War on Christmas.” And unlike the one manufactured by the professional rabble-rousers on Faux News, mine is personal.

I have been crawling on the floor under our pre-lit “keep it simple, save a fir” tree all morning, trying to figure out why some of the lights don’t work. I’ll spend most of the rest of the day–assuming we’ve accurately diagnosed the problem (I’ve sent Bob to the hardware store for replacement fuses–those teensie little fuses that are hidden in the plugs that are hidden in the needles and are impossible to remove without the eagle-eyed vision of the young and the skinny talons of a small but vicious bird) wrapping gifts.

I was raised Jewish. We don’t know how to wrap. I’ll try my best, but I’ll undoubtedly end up with the sad and lumpy-looking packages that are so unlike the beautiful, beribboned gifts you see on television.

When I’m done grousing, I’ll admit that Christmas–the way my husband celebrates it and the way I’ve learned to approach it–is a lovely family holiday. In our “multi-cultural” home, the tree has a yarmulke on top and among the ornaments are dreidles and other decidedly non-traditional elements. There’s a menorah on the fireplace next to the tree, and we send gifts to a Buddhist cousin and give and get others from atheist family members. It really IS a “wonderful time of the year”–as the song goes. (Well–at least it’s a festive occasion that makes a generally cold and unpleasant time of the year SEEM wonderful.)

For those who celebrate the holiday as a “holy day” (which, by the way, is what “holiday” means Mr. Dumb-ass O’Reilly), I have the utmost respect. For those who want to throw tantrums whenever they see someone’s enjoyment of the season deviating from their script, I  say “Bah, Humbug.”

What cracks me up about the “War on Christmas” folks is that they tend to be the same people who agree with Newt Gingrich that poor kids ought to do janitor duty in their schools. Listen, guys, I’m not a Christian, but it seems to me if you’re really into the religious meaning of Christmas, it might be appropriate to act a bit more…Christian.

Just sayin’