Morning Jew: Hitler’s Jewish Wife, Circumcision debate and Sheldon Adelson

15 Apr


Comics Heather Gold (@heathr) and Katie Halper (@kthalps) look at the headlines and ask: Is it good for the Jews? This week we look at major political funder Sheldon Adelson’s dislike of Chris Christie, whether Hitler is rolling over in his grave over a recent revelation, and debate circumcision after a new study says it has health benefits.

14 Apr

This is the story of how Mexican organizers and lawyers were able to free six women incarcerated for homicide for terminating their pregnancies. 

In 2008, I attended the School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico as a student for the first time. Last week, I attended the school for the 5th time and for the 4th time as a teacher. Every year I’ve attended, I’m blown away by the people I meet. Karina Gonzalez and I met when we were both students in 2008. And as we caught up this year, I was thrilled to learn about what she had been up to.

1977478_748933588470314_273431848_n Karina works for Las Libres, an organization which educates and   advocates for women’s human rights in Guanajuato and greater Mexico. One of the organization’s projects has been the fight to free six women — four from Guanajuato and two from Guerrero — who were imprisoned for homicide after terminating their pregnancies. The women were sentenced to between 20 and 30 years in jail.

In addition to facing a cruel and unusual punishment, the two women from Guerrero, Virginia Cruz and Adriana Manzanares, literally had no idea what was happening to them. They couldn’t even communicate, because they didn’t speak Spanish when they were prosecuted and imprisoned. They only spoke a Tlapaneco dialect and were not provided with an interpreter. It was only after serving two years and learning Spanish that the women learned what they had been accused of.

The case of Adriana Manzanares is a especially frightening example of the way different forms of sexism interact. Adriana didn’t actually terminate her pregnancy. She miscarried. And when her community found out, they threw stones at her. Even more perverse is the fact that Adriana miscarried because she had already been hit with stones and rocks for committing adultery. Adriana’s husband had been gone for years working in the United States, so she started a relationship with a man who would become her boyfriend and became pregnant. When her husband came back he beat his pregnant wife. Then Adriana’s father beat her. And finally, members of the community beat her. So some of the very people who beat Adriana and caused her miscarriage would later throw stones at her for miscarrying.

Luckily, Las Libres publicized the cases in the media and worked with lawyers at the CIDE (Center for Research and Teaching in Economics) who represented the women. Thanks to their hard work, as well as the resolve of the imprisoned women, the government released the six from jail.

Filmmaker Gustavo Gustavo Montaña made a documentary about the struggle called Las Libres, (The Free). Karina says the film — as well as members of her organization and some of las libres — will be coming to show the film in New York City this summer. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer above.

10 Weirdest Things the Christian Right Thinks Will Turn Your Kids Gay

1 Apr

Did you know that the pro-gay agenda is being promoted by penguins? Fox News? You’ve been warned.

According to some, the Oscar-winning animated kids’ film Frozen is not the charming, comedic musical critics have universally praised, but rather Hollywood’s latest sinister venture in gay propaganda. Moreover, Disney’s latest blockbuster, based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, is not an isolated assault on the civilized world’s core principle of heterosexuality, but one of the countless (10, if we’re counting) examples of seemingly child-friendly cultural and social entities that are actually gay conversion tools. Let’s take a look at the dangers the Christian Right has alerted us to.

1. Frozen: Let it go gay. Let’s start with the most recent discovery. The gay agenda was spotted by Kathryn Skaggs, who blogs at A Well Behaved Mormon Woman. What makes Skaggs’ investigation so brave, besides the righteous headline, “’Frozen’: Not Gonna Let It Go When Movie Advocates Gay Agenda,” is that Skaggs actually enjoyed the film. So, it wasn’t easy for her to write about how “the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into….Frozen not just as an underlying message—it is the movie.”

In her post of over 4,000 words, Skaggs fails to actually prove her point, but she does make creative leaps. She writes that “Elsa has a great power that she has been taught by her parents from the time she was a child, is not publicly acceptable and that she must fear its expression, at all cost, thus hide it from people, even her own sister who could be hurt by it—even killed. Shame is at the core of Elsa’s feelings about her magical powers: same-sex attraction.”

So, whenever you feel something that isn’t socially acceptable, that something is your gayness. I’m not sure exactly how homosexuality could kill relatives, like Elsa’s sister, but apparently it does. Heart attack from shock, I guess? Death by dehydration following non-stop vomiting? But anyway…

Right-wing radio hosts by day, culture studies critics by night Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughn go even further, wondering if the film, and Disney as a whole, isn’t the work of the devil: “If I was the Devil,” asked Swanson, “what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?… I would buy Disney.” Vaughn agreed, saying, “Then you would start making all these nice little movies that throw little things in there that make sin look enticing.”

2. Hot for Harry Potter. If only Frozen were the only kids’ entertainment attempting to turn your kids gay. But, alas, Harry Potter was making gay cool long before Frozen was even a twinkle in Satan’s eye. Now, you probably already know that the books, written by J.K. Rowlings, were pro-satanic and advocated all sorts of witchcraft. But you may have missed that’s it’s also propaGAYnda. Though the gays are notoriously sneaky in their messaging—one of the many things that make them so dangerous—the Harry Potter campaign was unique because author J.K. Rowling was atypically straightforward and honest when she officially announced “Dumbledore is gay.”

Berit Kjos, a Christian author who rejects Rowling and the Christians who read her, was ecstatic about this smoking gun: “My first response was, `Thank you, Lord,’ because this helps us show others that these books should not be used in the churches to illustrate Christianity. Because Dumbledore has been revealed as a homosexual, it helps me communicate my message… It helps Christians who are concerned about the use of Harry Potter books in churches, because it makes it very clear that these books are not intended to be Christian, that Rowling isn’t speaking as a Christian. She has introduced values that are contrary to the biblical message.”

Kjos wasn’t the only one praying that the outing of Dumbledore would serve as a wakeup call. Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Georgia who worked to get Harry Potter banned from school libraries said, “My prayer is that parents would wake up, that the subtle way this is presented as harmless fantasy would be exposed for what it really is: a subtle indoctrination into anti-Christian values…. A homosexual lifestyle is a harmful one. That’s proven, medically.”

Putting aside the lack of medical proof suggesting homosexuality is harmful, let’s look at the proof that the books are, indeed, gay propaganda. As someone wrote on, “a community of people who like to think,” Harry Potter is “about a boy who lives in a cupboard (i.e. ‘in the closet’). His Aunt and Uncle are ashamed of him because his parents were quite eccentric (i.e. ‘flaming’) and they are deeply concerned and afraid that he will turn out just like them.”

So, Harry was the spawn of a flaming homosexual-heterosexual union. Interesting. That’s not all: ”On his 11th birthday (i.e. roughly at the onset of puberty), the boy discovers that he is actually a ‘wizard’, different in both style and substance from normal people, or ‘muggles’ (i.e. ‘breeders’). The boy is groomed into his new existence by a large, hairy bear of a man who shows Harry a hidden underground community of ‘wizards’ living right under the noses of the general population (i.e. the gay subculture). Harry’s first trip to this subculture involves traveling through ‘Diagon Alley’, a play on the word diagonally (i.e. not straight).” If the last sentence doesn’t prove how diagonal Harry’s character is and how pro-diagonal the books are, I don’t know what will.

Perhaps this? In her understated plea “Christian Parents: Stop Trusting Harry Potter” Linda Harvey, the president of “Mission America, which monitors both the homosexual agenda directed at children as well as paganism among American youth” writes, “But Dumbledore is a made-up figure, and as such, he’s up for critique, review and remodeling. Why make him ‘gay,’ one wonders? Why now? An agenda seems to be lurking. The link between pagan/occult spirituality and outlaw sexuality has always been strong, one more reason to keep impressionable kids away from the increasingly weird genre of ‘fantasy’ books and movies. These spirits are real and seek to intrigue, deceive and sidetrack the children handed to them. And that’s exactly what we are doing—handing them our precious children, believing there’s no harm.”

3. Penguins. The gay agenda folks do not limit themselves to film or television. One of their most dangerous recruitment tools is a children’s book (with a pretty racy title): And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap (I don’t know what this is, but it sounds pretty gay to me) penguins, who lived in the Central Park Zoo in the very gay city of New York. Zookeepers observed that Roy and Silo had made a nest together and were seemingly trying to hatch a rock, which looked like a penguin egg. So, what did these zookeepers do after observing this deviant behavior? Did they separate the two? Did they initiate ex-gay-conversion therapy? No. They enabled the behavior by giving them the egg of another penguin couple, Porkey and Betty, who had two eggs they could not hatch at once. Roy and Silo took turns sitting on top of the egg until it hatched a female chick, which the zookeepers named Tango, after the very hedonist, sexual dance.

Co-writer and senior penguin keeper Rob Gramzay claims, “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.” But, conveniently, the writers failed to follow up on what ultimately happened to Roy and Silo. After a six-year-long sinful relationship with Roy, Silo was able to come around to the light side. He left Roy for Scrappy, a female penguin. The two forged a healthy heterosexual union, as god designed.

Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family Action, calls the book, “very misleading”: “it’s a very disingenuous, inaccurate way to promote a political agenda to little kids.” The breakup did occur after the book was published. But surely, responsible children’s book writers would have written a sequel like And Scrappy Makes God Happy. Sadly, Tango was obviously damaged by being raised by two penguin daddies and she entered into an unhealthy lesbian-penguin relationship with another female named Tanuzi.

Luckily, this outrageous attempt at indoctrination was met with protest from the right. Between 2006 and 2010 Tango Makes Three was number one on the American Library Association’s “Ten Most Challenged Books” list. Across the nation, righteous parents have attempted to ban the book.

4. Fox News!? Though not all children watch Fox News, many of their parents do. A report  called “Unfair, Unbalanced and Afraid: Fox News’ Growing Pro-Homosexual Bias and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA),” released by the just-as-loony-as-it-sounds website America’s Survival, Inc. explains how the media company is endangering our children: “With pro-‘gay’ attitudes dominating newsrooms, few journalists seem willing to pursue stories that might offend America’s powerful and well-funded homosexual activist lobby. This would include investigating how escalating ‘gay power’ represented by pro-LGBT ‘nondiscrimination’ laws subject even very young children to inappropriate pro-homosexual ‘lessons’ in school, thus undermining both children’s innocence and parental rights.”

Fox News is a particularly dangerous harbor of homosexual propaganda because people expect so much more from it: “Why concentrate on Fox? Because Fox News has inordinate influence with conservative Americans and with the Republican Party—which is also retrenching its opposition to ‘gay rights.’ And because Fox holds itself to a high standard of being ‘Fair and Balanced’— i.e., not sharing the notorious bias of the dominant liberal media.”

How do we know the homosexual agenda has managed to infiltrate Fox News? The dearth of coverage of ex-gays who were converted into straightdom is one telltale sign: “Homosexual activists are desperate to keep happy FORMER homosexuals out of the media. Why doesn’t Fox’s Sean Hannity or ‘Fox & Friends’ do a segment on happy ex-‘gays’?” Answer: because they are taking orders from these desperate Homosexual activists. More proof? “Pushing Sean Hannity out of the 9:00 p.m. slot, to make way for pro-homosexual advocate Megyn Kelly, is another sign of the channel’s left-ward drift and decline.”

I guess Hannity, who caves to gay pressure by not having at least one ex-gay guest per episode, is better than FOG (Friend of Gays) Megyn Kelly, who once actually used the phrase “marriage equality” (instead of gay marriage) on LIVE NATIONAL TV! Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly claims that the whole gay marriage “thing” will cause unions with a “goat,” “duck,” “turtle,” and “dolphin.” And Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes is obsessed with President Obama’s alleged homosexual relationship with Reggie Love. And Shannon Bream had a special segment called “The Fight for Faith” in which she warned that anti-discrimination ordinances were “reverse discrimination” and a “First Amendment rights issue.” And Tucker Carlson does consider laws mandating that businesses serve gay customers “fascism.” And Megyn Kelly herself does fear that if businesses can’t discriminate against gay people, Catholic Churches will be forced to perform gay weddings. But none of that can outweigh the pro-gay bias of Fox News. It’s that bad.

5. T&A TSA. Not surprisingly, the government is part of the gay recruitment agenda. Now, many conservatives are hip to the way the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) combines scanning, pat-downs and non-discrimination policies to subject travelers to homosexual inspection. For instance, Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), asked, “Is it fair to travelers who may end up getting ‘groped’ by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process….The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint.”

But Eugene Delgaudio (R), who represents Louden County, Virginia, on the Board of Supervisors, was one of the first people to spot the special effect it would have on children. He explains himself and his mission in this fundraising letter he sent to his supporters:

I took a stand against the TSA and their “porno scanners” and blatant groping. And I took a stand against their policy of “non-discrimination” which subjects you and me to humiliation and dehumanization at the hands of practicing homosexuals. How it exposes those most precious to us—our children—to being photographed by naked scanners or explicit sexual touching by practicing homosexuals…. These TSA policies force terrified parents to choose between salivating radical homosexual employees viewing pornographic images of their child or a full-on molestation.

So… there’s that.

6. Homosexuality-fostering foster care. California’s (AB-1856) Bill requires that the existing training programs mandated for foster parents and caregivers include “instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care” to LGBT youth. Focus on the Family was concerned that the bill would “drive Christian couples away.” If this happens, how many children will be denied the gift of unloving and homophobic foster parents who would opt out of foster care before undergoing sensitivity training?

But it’s much worse than that.

As Dale O’Leary, author of The Gender Agenda and One Man, One Woman explains, “A child who’s been sexually abused by a person of the same sex, (particularly if the child is a boy), is going to have doubts about his identity. And he needs help to get through that. If we push homosexuality on him, or these gender-identity ideas, it’s just going to confuse him… One of the outcomes of sexual child abuse is concern about one’s sexual attractions and identity.”

Luckily, Dale isn’t the only one with a good head on her shoulders. Phil Burress, president of the Ohio-based anti-gay group Citizens for Community Values, says, “This is the way the homosexual activists continue to build their numbers — is to get people confused about their gender identity and start acting out….”

Every time someone goes through sensitivity training countless otherwise straight youth become confused into being gay.

7. Anti bullying-bullying. Of course the gay agenda targets schools, where they can directly indoctrinate children by teaching tolerance and, even worse, discouraging bullying. Self-described “historian” David Barton argues that bullying of LGBT kids is a figment of the liberal imagination and that the bullies are in fact gay agitators who lob spitballs of tolerance at the schools: “It’s not the schools that are doing bullying, it’s the people from outside the schools coming in and saying ‘oh you got a bullying problem and we need to teach a course for you.’ The people living there didn’t see any problem.”

Liberty Counsel’s public policy analyst Shawn Akers calls out anti-bullying education for what it really is: “a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and communist countries.” And for Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel, anti bullying is nothing less than a “homo-fascist tactic.” One of the tools these homo-fascist-bullies-in-anti-bullies’-clothing use is the Day of Silence, “a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.”

But such efforts to call attention to the physical and emotional abuse of LGBT youth is too much for many Christians to bear. So, some right-wing organizations like Save California, Liberty Council and American Family Association are speaking truth to… silence, by organizing “Day Of Silence Walkouts,” in which kids are encouraged to stay home from if their school participates in the anti-bullying day. An anti-bullying message is clearly radical sexual propaganda. According to Liberty Council, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which organizes the National Day of Silence, “promotes a radical sexualized agenda, including the promotion of books that encourage sex between adults and minors. The Day of Silence has been turned into a homosexual and transsexual promotion agenda. The Day of Silence is not about tolerance or bullying. It is about pushing a sexual agenda. Students and staff who disagree with a radical sexualized agenda are demonized and made to feel like outsiders.”

Save California’s Randy Thomasson describes the Day of Silence as “another day of brainwashing for children. To have an entire academic day to be hijacked and disrupted is just a wasted school day… They should be taken into detention. They shouldn’t be allowed to make a school day a day of sexual political activism.”

As for the whole higher depression and suicide rates among youth bullied over their perceived sexual orientation thing, that just goes with the territory of homosexuality, according to Barber: “Kids who are engaging in homosexual behavior often look inward and know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, is immoral, and so they become depressed and the instances of suicide can rise there as well.” In other words, it’s the homosexuality, not the homophobia and the bullying that are at fault.

8. Public miseducation. The indoctrination doesn’t stop with the anti-bullying or the Day of Silence. It seeps into the very school curriculum. As David Barton warns, “I guarantee you [your kids] are getting homosexual indoctrination…. I don’t care whether you’re in a rural area or not, because this is so much a part of textbooks, so much a part of curricular stuff, so much a part of what goes on with other kids.”

California’s SB 48 Bill mandates that curricula and textbooks include “the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups” to California and society, in general. It’s bad enough to be forced to recognize women and minorities. But talking about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is just un-American! Before the bill was passed, Save California’s Thomasson warned it “would mandate new role models— homosexual, bisexual, transsexual role models,” who “kids as young as kindergarten would have to admire.” Thomasson was particularly worried that children would be forced to learn about Elton John. Thomasson predicted, “This is the kind of garbage that will be taught to kids” as the kids are led “like lambs to the slaughter.”

9. SpongeBob NOT so SquarePants.Sea sponges may reproduce asexually. So a show whose main character is a sponge is the perfect cover for a homosexual agenda. The animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” about a sponge who spends an awful lot of time holding hands with his starfish “friend” Patrick, proves this. James C. Dobson, the founder of the conservative evangelical organization Focus on the Family, outed the sea creature for appearing in what he called a “pro-homosexual video.” It turns out, SpongeBob, along with Barney and Jimmy Neutron, and other creations, were in a video that promoted… hold on… tolerance.

According to Dobson, the tolerance-peddlers behind this project were going to send copies of the video to thousands of children’s schools, where children would be forced to take a “tolerance pledge” that included tolerating “sexual identity.” Actually, and shockingly, Dobson got the facts wrong. The video featuring SpongeBob was made by the We Are Family Foundation, which Nile Rodgers (who wrote the disco anthem “We Are Family,”) founded after 9/11 to teach children about cultural tolerance. There is no pledge mentioned in the video. Rodgers assumes that Dobson confused his foundation, which doesn’t bring up sexual orientation, with “We Are Family,” a group supporting LGBT youth.

But Dobson would not be swayed by facts. As his assistant Paul Batura explained, “We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids….It is a classic bait and switch.”

10. Teletubby TWINKy Winky.The Teletubbies who star in the show aimed at pre-schoolers may be adorable. But they are far from innocent. In a not-so-subtle article called “Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet,” the late Jerry Falwell, of Moral Majority and Liberty College, exposed the show’s “subtle depictions” of homesexualism. Falwell analyzed the visual cues found in the particular character of Tinky Winky: “He is purple—the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle—the gay-pride symbol.”

Falwell must have been too busy suppressing his gag reflex to mention that the character also rubs his sexuality in the face of innocent pre-schoolers who have no idea what sexuality is by wearing a bag. But he did state, “As a Christian I feel that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children.”

Originally published March 27, 2014 on AlterNet.

10 Insane History Lessons that Private, Religious Voucher Schools Are Teaching America’s Kids

31 Mar
With public dollars, kids are being taught that the Great Depression was a hoax.

School voucher programs are being debated everywhere you turn — in courtrooms, in state governments, and even in popular culture. Just Thursday, Republicans in Florida tried and failed to expand their state’s voucher program.

On Friday, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that using state funds to pay for children’s education at religious and private schools was constitutional. And perhaps most importantly, “True Detective,” which was already one of the best shows ever to be on TV, became the best show ever to go after vouchers when a villain explained his desire to use the school voucher system to achieve his nefarious ends:

The whole idea was to provide an alternative to the kind of secular globalized education that our public schools were promoting. When we get the school voucher program instituted we’ll reintroduce the idea. People should have a choice in education, like anything else.

So why are vouchers so justifiably vilified? Where to start! As I have written previously, school voucher programs, which allow parents to use public dollars to pay for private education, are not only ineffective but they fail to address the rampant inequality that plagues our nation’s schools and weaken the public school system as a whole. Despite these facts, voucher schools are on the rise — and many of them are religious schools using public money to teach a distorted version of reality, which I had thought only existed 50 years ago or in over the top parodies of the right wing.


Where do these religious voucher schools get their so-called “facts”? One place is Christian publisher A Beka Book. Founded in 1972 by Arlin and Rebekah (aka, “Beka”) Horton, A Beka churns out a significant number of the textbooks used by such schools. Forty-three percent of the religious voucher schools that responded to a 2003 Palm Beach Post survey based their curricula on texts published by either A Beka Books or Bob Jones University Publishing. A Beka Book estimates that around 9,000 schools utilize their books.


And just what does A Beka Book — which in 1998 paid a $44.5 million fine to the IRS for masquerading as a non-profit while reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profits — teach students about, say, the creation of the world, or modern American history?


In an article I wrote for AlterNet late last month, I highlighted the “ 7 Most Absurd Things America’s Kids Are Learning Thanks to the Conservative Gutting of Public Education.” But these 7 examples didn’t even begin to do justice to the way textbooks published by A Beka Book empower religious schools engaged in voucher programs to distort the truth in order to further an extremist political agenda. And I would be remiss if I failed to include additional disinformation campaigns being launched in schools around the nation.


So here are 10 further examples of totally dishonest lessons brought to you by “school choice” (aka, your tax dollars). This time I focus on five of the scariest history lessons kids are learning thanks to the popular A Beka Book title, America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective, plus five of the publisher’s most notable profiles of historical figures, taken from a variety of its books.

1. The Great Depression: Made Up to Spread Socialism

In a section titled “More Rumors,” America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective takes on the origins of the Great Depression. The book explains that,

“Some people wanted to create an imaginary crisis in order to move the country toward socialism. They spread rumors of bank mortgage foreclosures and mass evictions from farms, homes and apartments. But local banks did all in their power to keep their present tenants. The number of people out of work in the 1930s averaged about 15 percent of the work force; thus 85 percent continued to work. Most had to take a pay cut, but prices also declined during the Depression, enabling people to buy more for their money.”

See! The Great Depression was really a great hoax!

In the “Propaganda” section, under the subhead “Exaggerated Fiction,” students learn that,

“In 1939, John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. This novel described the plight of the Okies, farm families from Western Oklahoma who went to California in search of jobs. Most families who went west did not experience the hardships that Steinbeck presented in his novel. Steinbeck openly supported labor violence and strikes instigated by socialist groups to keep the Okies from earning a living as migrant farm laborer in California…. Socialist photographers and artists produced misleading pictures of the… mountaineers of Appalachia. These mountaineers did not have the modern conveniences of homes in the town or cities but they did not consider themselves to be poor. The Depression actually had little effect on their lives.”

So, the Great Depression was a figment of the liberal, socialist, artistic imagination… a figment that happens to be supported by indisputable empirical evidence of a severe economic crisis.

2. Nazis: Brought to you by Karl Marx and Charles Darwin

The book also teaches students that “as a socialist, Hitler believed that the government should own the nation’s industries and take responsibility for its people.” Through socialism, the book tells us, Hitler became “the absolute dictator of Germany. By embracing socialism, the German people lost their freedoms to a tyrant.”

Not to mention the role evolution played in selling the Germans on the whole Holocaust thing: “Hitler combined Marxist socialist thought with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Because many Germans believed the notion of evolution, they accepted Hitler’s ideas.”

So in short, we have Charles and Karl to thank for the massacre of 9 million people.

3. The Post-WWII Era: A Time of Crusades and Constant Praying

According to the book’s authors, preceding the 1960s, the “moral values of biblical Christianity provided a just standard of law, order, and mutual respect, which in turn increased material prosperity…. School days often began with prayer and Bible reading, and parent-teacher meetings and civil organizations usually opened with prayer.”

Furthermore, “families were strong during the 1950s. Most couples considered divorce a tragedy and made every effort to stay together and work through their difficulties…. in the larger cities, crime was primarily restricted to back alleys. People considered the occult, illegal drugs, pornography, homosexuality, and other immorality to be disgraceful sins.”

It is during this exciting time in our national history that so-called “crusades” (as in, military campaigns launched by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, and apparently, by evangelicals in the middle of the 20th century) are carried out. As a result, evangelist Billy Graham becomes the world’s biggest superstar ever: “Evangelists conducted crusades through the nation….Graham received national news coverage, which led to large televised crusades, making him one of the best known and respected persons in America and the world.”

In other words, Billy Graham was the Kim Kardashian of the 1950s. But with a smaller butt.

4. The ’60s and ’70s: Everything Goes to S***, Mainly Because the State Stops Killing Born People and Starts Killing Pre-Born Babies and… Freud.

We also learn from America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective that when the death penalty was suspended in 1972, “crime began to increase across the nation. In 1973, just one year later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion, the killing of babies before birth.”

Coincidence? More likely God’s plan: “A lesson taught continually throughout history is that, as prosperity and new found enjoyments increase, people ‘forget’ God. As morals lessen, culture will definitely take a turn for the worst [sic].”

Which it did, according to A Beka, with an “increase in white-collar crime [and] the legalization of gambling….” But the worst part? “Many psychologists,” the authors note, began advocating “the teachings of Sigmund Freud.”

Just like it says in the scriptures: the suspension of capital punishment will be followed by the legalization of abortion, and then the return of Freud.

5. Freedom of Speech: Gateway to Porn

Though freedom of speech may sound good, it is in fact a dangerousgateway freedom. As the authors of America: Land I Love point out: “Pornographic films and books were legalized under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’.”

I’m sure if PornHub had existed in the 18th century, the Founding Fathers would have nixed that whole freedom of speech thing.

A Beka Book also offers a great who’s who of American History throughout its catalogue.

1. Clarence Thomas: Greatest Example of Black American Achievement Yet

The History of Our United States, Teacher Edition instructs us that,

“By the 1990s, black Americans had made many significant political and economic gains. One great example of Black-American achievement was the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court by President George Bush in 1992. Thomas was born to poor sharecroppers in the hills of Georgia. Through his own hard work and God-given ability, he earned a law degree and achieved several important government positions.”

I’m sure if the authors had more room they would have included a note on Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice and a champion of civil rights. But since they only had room for one example of “Black-American Achievement,” A Beka decided to go with the black Supreme Court justice whose success stems from (where else?) bootstrapping and god.

2. Ronald Reagan: Finally! A Non-Loser Patriot for President 

America: Land I Love In Christian Perspective teaches, with extreme objectivity, that, “President Carter had failed both in foreign and domestic affairs, and the nation was ready for a change.”

Luckily, Ronald Reagan was there to assume the presidency, to deliver the nation “a return to peace through strength” and “a patriotic revival.” And best of all: “He expressed a special concern for the problem of abortion.”


3. The Clintons: Draft-Dodging, Economic-Crisis-Creating, Joint Presidents

A Beka Book teaches students that “The Liberal Media,” Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and the… economy joined forces in the 90s to create the myth of an economic crisis:

“President Bush sought reelection in 1992 on a platform of traditional values, free enterprise, patriotism and a strong military defense. He also promised to lower taxes if re-elected. Democratic candidate William Clinton… and independent candidate Ross Perot, a billionaire from Texas, campaigned on an imaginary economic crisis. In reality, the economy was strong and healthy, but the liberal media helped Clinton and Perot create a ‘climate of economic crisis,’ warning the American people that only a major change in leadership could save the nation from economic disaster.”

(Sounds a lot like that fake Great Depression.)

As for the Clintons themselves: “Bill Clinton had dodged military service and participated in anti-war demonstration in Great Britain. His wife Hillary was an outspoken advocate of feminism and abortion rights.” As if that’s not enough, Hillary was also one uppity woman: “Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had campaigned with her husband, declared that she intended to share the responsibilities of the presidency with him. She promised to be as influential as Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped bring about FDR’s New Deal.”

As far as the folks at A Beka are concerned, the Clintons’ victory sounded the death-knell of everything that was good: “With the election of Bill Clinton, the children of the rebellious 60s came to political power, and their values began to influence the lives of many Americans.”

We still haven’t recovered.

4. George W. Bush: Awesome President Invades Iraq and Saves Mid-Born Babies

A Beka has much love for President George W. Bush and his efforts to keep America safe from harm. According toAmerica: Land I Love,after launching a bombing campaign in Afghanistan and failing to capture Osama Bin Laden,

“the Bush administration turned to another nation known to have harbored and supported Islamic terrorists—Iraq. Governed by dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq had been under suspicion since it was discovered in the early 1880s to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction….By March 2003, the White House, convinced that Saddam Hussein was still hiding weapons of mass destruction, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Notably, the book omits the fact that no WMD were ever found in Iraq. But, again, there were more important things to include—like a “pro-life victory” section, which states:

“Of particular concern to pro-life Americans was the barbaric abortion method known as partial birth abortion, in which the abortionist kills the baby as it is being delivered. In November 2003, pro-life groups rejoiced as President Bush signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003.”

In other words, Bush was as thorough at wiping out non-existent WMD as he was at wiping out non-existent abortion practices.

5. Barack Obama: Great for the Homosexuals

Finally, America: Land I Love pinpoints 2008 as a particularly bad year for American tradition, though it’s unclear precisely why. It’s probably because Barack Obama, a Marxist-Nazi-Muslim-atheist-homosexuality-approving Kenyan, was elected president:

“In 2008, the American culture stressed tolerance for people who choose to live an alternative lifestyle, a ‘lifestyle’ the Bible calls sin.”

Speaking of sin, I wonder what Jesus would have to say about taking funds intended for public use and using them for private purposes. I guess A Beka Book forgot to ask itself: What Would Jesus Do?

Originally published March 20, 2014 on Alternet.

Morning Jew: Gwyneth, Hobby Lobby, Sheldon Silver, and Jewish School Boards!

29 Mar

On today’s Morning Jew we…

talk about Gwyneth Paltrow‘s divorce and Jewish identity.s

discuss Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court and imagine what the Jewish equivalent of a Christian arts & crafts store would look like. (It would be called Hobbyla Lobbyla.) Plus we discuss how Katie almost became Orthodox.

commiserate over the shanda that is Sheldon Silver and William E. Rapfogel and how the Lower East Side is kind of like Israel, if the Palestinians were Puerto Rican and had been told they could come back.

Then, we have MORNING JEW EXCLUSIVE! Jesse Bacon, our mensch of the week, who is also our first stringer, reporting from Philadelphia about some huge news from a Jewish School board!

Morning Jew: Scarlett Johansson, White Man March, Bernie Sanders for Prez?

24 Mar

Comics Heather Gold (@heathr) and Katie Halper (@kthalps) look at the headlines and ask: Is it good for the Jews? This week Scarlett Johansson decides to comment on Dylan Farrow, Congressperson Bernie Sanders announces he’ll run for President and the White Man March is led by a pilates instructor doppleganger.  L’Chaim!


School bans boy from using My Little Pony bag because it’s a “trigger for bullying”

18 Mar
image via ThinkProgress

Image via ThinkProgress

This story is totally enraging. It’s almost funny but it’s heart-breaking. It’s the story about a school which overtly sanctions bullying and punishes the student who gets bullied; a school which condones violence but prohibits the use of a My Little Pony bag. It’s a story of official and institutionalized victim-blaming, gender-policing, cowardice and cruelty.

Nine year-old Grayson Bruce, of North Carolina, wore a backpack with a character from his favorite TV show, My Little Pony, a children’s cartoon. For that, Grayson was bullied, emotionally and physically. The eloquent and adorable Grayson told his local ABC affiliate, “They’re taking it a little too far, with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn’t happen.” But don’t worry! According to a school spokesperson, ”an initial step was taken to immediately address a situation that had created a disruption in the classroom. Buncombe County Schools takes bullying very seriously, and we will continue to take steps to resolve this issue.” So, what did the school do about it? Protect Grayson? Punish or speak to the bullies about why what they did was hurtful? No. They punished Grayson and protected the bullies. You see, it’s Grayson, and not the kids who punched him over a backpack choice, who are the problem. So, the school responded to the incident by prohibiting Grayson from bringing the My Little Pony bag to school. The bag, according to the school, is a “trigger for bullying.”

In other words, the blame for the disruptive behavior falls on Grayson. Grayson is inviting bullying by daring to use a bag from a TV show that the bullies consider to be a show for girls. He is disrupting gender norms, not that the school would ever use any language like that. And the school doesn’t want to disrupt the bullying because that would require some real work on their part and because the bullying, though abusive, respects gender norms. The school is more comfortable with physical and emotional attacks than it is with behavior it perceives as gender-non-conforming. Grayson’s behavior is deemed abnormal and is responsible for inviting the normal punitive response of bullying.

Does this sound familiar? One can’t help but hear the ultimate rape culture refrain translated into the realm of bullying: “If he didn’t want to get bullied, he shouldn’t have worn that backpack…Boys will be boys…He was asking for it.”

The echo of victim-blaming and rape culture is certainly heard by Grayson’s mom, who called out the school for its reprehensible response: “Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying, is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Luckily, Grayson’s story has served as a “trigger” for support. A friend made him a Facebook page, which 21,000 people have liked and where hundreds of people have left messages of support and encouragement. It is inspiring to see this reaction. But it in no way absolves the school.

Grayson has a supportive network of friends and family, in real life and online. But not every child who is bullied survives. A study released earlier this month, in fact, found that kids who are bullied are twice as likely to think about and attempt suicide than their non-bullied peers. The story of 11-year-old Michael Morones, for example, demonstrates just how dangerous school apathy is. Michael, also of North Carolina, was also teased and bullied over his love of My Little Pony. He attempted suicide and  had unknowable brain damage. Luckily, he is conscious and recovering. For bullying prevention expert Nancy Mullin, the school’s lack of response to Michael’s bullying was a contributing factor in his attempted suicide. Though Michael’s parents were supportive of his interests, “The missing piece here is what the school is doing about this.”

Schools fail their students (both the victims and perpetrators of bullying) and their communities when they shift the blame onto victims, and turn a blind eye to the root causes of bullying.


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