Women’s Equality Day

It’s Women’s Equality Day in the U.S., celebrating the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote. That was in 1920—a hundred and one years ago today.

Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and American women finally won full voting rights. While Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18th it was not until August 26th that the ratification became official. The right for women to vote was first proposed in 1848, but did not become law until 1920, 72 years later.

#WomensEqualityDay #WomenRightToVote #NineteenthAmendment

The Match Girls’ Strike

In July 1888, 1,400 women and girls walked out of the Bryant & May match factory in London, in what came to be known as the Match Girls’ Strike. British socialist Annie Besant used her newspaper, The Link, to publicize the 14-hour workday, toxic materials, and the unfair difference between shareholder profits and the poverty wages paid to employees.

Workers complained of fines that cut into their wages, and of unfair dismissals. They also suffered breathing difficulties and other health problems because of the phosphorus fumes in the factory.

Bryant & May attempted to crack down on public criticism by making their workers sign a written denial of any ill-treatment. This, combined with another unfair dismissal, set off the strike. The public sided with the workers, and Bryant & May relented. The success of the match girls inspired a wave of similar strikes in the UK and boosted the rise of trade unionism.”

Sources : The Feminism Book (DK)

Homicide Rates Up

“How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died.”
~ Bob Dylan

Mass shootings Friday:

~ Austin, Texas: 14 wounded, two critically
~ Savannah, Georgia: one killed and seven wounded
~ Chicago, Illinois: one killed, nine wounded

Homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year:

~ Homicides in Portland, Ore., rose to 53 from 29, up more than 82 percent
~ Minneapolis, they grew to 79 from 46, up almost 72 percent
~ Los Angeles the number increased to 351 from 258, a 36 percent
~ Philadelphia are up almost 28 percent, with 170 through May 9, compared with 133 in the same period last year
~ Tucson, Ariz., the number jumped to 30 from 17 through May 13, an increase of 76 percent.

#HomicideRate #MassShootings

Joe Biden Declares Ottoman Empire Committed Armenian Genocide

Joe Biden has officially termed the mass killings and death marches of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, which occurred in 1915 and 1916, as a “genocide.” Historians estimate that a million or more Armenians died during this atrocity. There is simply no longer any doubt that this took place, though Turkey has denied it for a century and even at the time took steps to hide the murders. Biden’s gesture is an admirable stand for human rights, and of course endangers the U.S. relationship with our NATO ally Turkey. But Turkey’s odious President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is ruining his great country with his religiously-based autocracy, deserves no coddling. He’s declared that Biden has neither the historical nor moral authority.

Above is a photo labeled “The corpses of Armenians beside a road, a common sight along deportation route.”

Christopher Hitchens

On this date in 1949, writer and columnist Christopher Hitchens was born in Portsmouth, England. He attended Cambridge and graduated from Oxford in 1970, reading in philosophy, politics and economics. From 1971-1981 he worked as a book reviewer for The Times. In 1981 he emigrated to the United States. Hitchens wrote “Minority Report,” a column for The Nation, from 1982-2002. He then wrote for Slate, The Daily Mirror, as a contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly and Vanity Fair, and also wrote for Harpers and many other U.S. newspapers and journals. As a foreign correspondent, he covered events in 60 countries on all five continents. Hitchens wrote a host of books, but is best-known in freethought circles for authoring God Is Not Great (2007). His criticisms of Clinton and pro-Iraqi war views made Hitchens increasingly controversial among progressive readership, but he remained a stalwart atheist and iconoclast. In “Papal Power: John Paul II’s other legacy” (Slate.com, April 1, 2005), Hitchens pointed out that the pope “was a part of the cover up and obstruction of justice that allowed the child-rape scandal to continue for so long.” Hitchens became a U.S. citizen in 2007. D. 2011.

“Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life—except religion . . . Why are we praised by godly men for surrendering our ‘godly gift’ of reason when we cross their mental thresholds? . . . Atheism strikes me as morally superior, as well as intellectually superior, to religion. Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”

~ Christopher Hitchens, “The Lord and the Intellectuals,” Harper’s (July 1982), cited by James A. Haught in 2,000 Years of Disbelief (1996)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) “Worst Colleges for Free Speech”

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) awards its yearly “Worst Colleges for Free Speech”

University of Tennessee, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, TN. A doctoral student in pharmacy was investigated for her excessive “sexuality” in her social-media posts, even though she didn’t identify herself as a student in the program. She’s sued the university.

St. John’s University, Queens, NY. A professor was removed from the classroom indefinitely for asking students whether the transatlantic slave trade had any positive effects on biodiversity. He didn’t try to justify slavery; this was part of a course on the effects of transatlantic ship traffic on biodiversity. He’s sued the University.

Collin College, McKinney, TX. A history professor criticized Mike Pence on Twitter during the Vice-Presidential debate, saying that the moderator “needs to talk over Mike Pence until he shuts his little demon mouth up.”  The college issued a statement condemning her tweets and gave her a written warning despite the fact that her tweets were protected by the First amendment. Collin College then refused to renew her contract. Collin College did several other questionable things that are detailed in the piece.

Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, KS. This is a publicly-funded school. It kicked out a student during the pandemic, forcing him to sleep in his car, for criticizing a university official. It also tried to order the student newspaper not to criticize the University.

New York University, New York, NY. NYU’s school of medicine tried to prevent its doctors from making any public comments about the coronavirus without consulting the University. This constitutes “prior restraint”. (NYU is a private school but swears to uphold free speech.)

Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. A professor gave a student permission to say the n-word during a class discussion about why it’s inappropriate to use the word. The prof didn’t say the word, but allowed a student to do so pedagogically. The professor was removed from the class and then suspended for seven months without pay, including mandatory training.  The prof has hired an attorney.

Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD. Like NYU, this school told its employees not to speak to the media about how the school was handling the pandemic. (That’s illegal, as this is a public school.) It then investigated and harassed a reporter for the student newspaper who criticized the school’s pandemic response.

Northwestern University in Qatar, Doha, Qatar. This Qatari branch of the Chicago school canceled a rock band concert because the lead singer was openly gay, citing “safety concerns.” They had the event on the U.S. campus, but violated freedom of expression overseas.

University of Illinois at Chicago. A law professor asked a hypothetical question on a law-school exam using redacted words. The question included an assertion that a person said they were called “a ‘n______’ and ‘b_______’. (profane expressions for African Americans and women”  Yes, the words were censored on the exam. And how could he have posed a hypothetical any more sensitively? After all, to judge the case you need some idea how the words were used. Nevertheless, UIC opened an investigation into the professor’s exam. This is chilling of speech, pure and simple.

Fordham University, New York, NY. Fordham has repeatedly refused to recognize a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine because “its sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group.” This has been going on for four years. As I’ve said, I consider SJP an Islamist organization, but it’s both illegal and unethical to not recognize it when it recognizes other organizations with political agendas. The school also suspended a student for legal postings on his Instagram account.

And. . . . a school gets a Lifetime Censorship Award for repeated violations of its free-speech code! Voilà:

There’s too much to recount, but here’s one paragraph:

Even inaugurating a new chancellor in 2014 did not stem the tide of student rights abuses — Kent Syverud oversaw the dismantling of an entire engineering fraternity and the expulsion of several members in 2018 over their private satirical “roast.” Syracuse claims that the voluntary skit constituted “conduct that threatens the mental health” of others once it was leaked to the public — an assertion so preposterous that it led to lawsuits in state and federal court, where university attorneys attested, under oath, that the school’s speech promises are, in fact, worthless. Syracuse concluded the decade by rejecting a Young Americans for Freedom chapter over its conservative viewpoints, banning all fraternity social activity despite no evidence of misconduct by any of the students, and, most recently, placing a professor on leave for writing “Wuhan Flu or Chinese Communist Party Virus” on his course syllabus.

It’s sadly ironic that the university itself argues that its promises of free expression are worthless. Parents, don’t let your children grow up to be Syracuse students!

As a palliative, here are FIRE’s top five for free speech:

  1. The University of Chicago
  2. Kansas State University
  3. Texas A&M University
  4. University of California, Los Angeles
  5. Arizona State University

Masters of War – Bob Dylan

Masters of War

Bob Dylan / 4:31

Musician: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Recording Studio: Columbia Recording Studios / Studio A, New York: April 23, 1963

Bob Dylan wrote “Masters of War” during the winter of 1962–63, right after the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. He sang “Masters of War” in public at Gerde’s Folk City for the first time on January 21, 1963, and published the lyrics soon after in February in Broadside (number 20) along with drawings by Suze Rotolo, two months before the official recording session with Columbia.

Ironically, when the readers of Broadside read the lyrics and when the public at large discovered it, the repercussions were considerable. Very rarely—perhaps never—had Americans ever heard such a bitter and determined condemnation of war.

For many people, this was a misunderstanding. “Masters of War” is not an ode to pacifism—even if students quickly turned it into a hymn against American involvement in Vietnam, but rather an aggressive attack on the warmongers, on those who have vested interests in seeing the world explode into conflict and, as the song says so eloquently, “hide behind desks.” The songwriter was alluding to the American military-industrial complex, which was first denounced by Dwight D. Eisenhower himself in his farewell address from the Oval Office on January 17, 1961. In an interview granted to USA Today on September 10, 2001, Dylan was explicit: “[‘Masters of War’] is not an antiwar song. It’s speaking against what Eisenhower was calling a military-industrial complex as he was making his exit from the presidency. That spirit was in the air, and I picked it up”

Come, you masters of war

You that build the big guns

You that build the death planes

You that build all the bombs


You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks


You that never done nothin’

But build to destroy

You play with my world


Like it’s your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther


When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won


You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water


That runs down my drain


You fasten all the triggers

For the others to fire


Then you sit back and watch

While the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

While the young peoples’ blood


Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud


You’ve thrown the worst fear


That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatenin’ my baby


Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins


How much do I know

To talk out of turn?

You might say that I’m young

You might say I’m unlearned


But there’s one thing I know

Though I’m younger than you

That even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do


Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good?

Will it buy you forgiveness?


Do you think that it could?

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made


Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death will come soon

I’ll follow your casket

On a pale afternoon

I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand over your grave

‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Source: Bob Dylan: All The Songs

Time to take back Viking history and Symbolism from racists and white supremacists

“All manner of Viking symbols and misconceptions about a golden age of Nordic racial purity have been appropriated by racist extremists looking to justify their xenophobia and acts of violence, according to the University of Alberta researcher.

Van Deusen said the age of racial purity never existed and she is determined to debunk the corrosive myth at every turn, especially in the classroom.

Viking symbols are everywhere among the ultra-right. When the Unite the Right rally took place in Charlottesville in 2017, some protesters carried banners featuring the Norse god Thor’s hammer, popular among the Nazis and neo-Nazi groups.

The perpetrator of New Zealand’s Christchurch massacre last year wrote, “See you in Valhalla”-referring to the great hall where heroes of Norse mythology go after they die-at the end of his manifesto.

Closer to home, the Soldiers of Odin-a Finnish white supremacist movement named after another Norse god in 2015-have recently emerged in Alberta and throughout Canada.

“The precedent was set with the Nazis,” said Van Deusen. “National Socialism and Hitler idealized the Norse people-those who lived in the Nordic areas. Even the swastika is based in part on a symbol based on Viking artifacts.”

Source: https://www.ualberta.ca/folio/2020/07/white-supremacists-are-misappropriating-norse-mythology-says-expert.html