Category Archives: Current Affairs

Breaking: Friends Central School Officials Issue New Statement; Backpedaling?

The Head of Friends Central School (FCS) & its Board Clerk issued a statement this afternoon (Feb. 14) on the building controversy about cancellation of a talk by a Palestinian professor from Swarthmore College. (The full text is below. The initial post on this controversy is here.)

As is often the case in Quaker controversies, the officials blame “a fundamental breakdown in process,” adding “We simply did not approach this very sensitive topic with adequate community dialogue.”

In a departure from what has been earlier reported, the  statement says “To be clear, our intention has always been to pause – not cancel – any speaker engagement on this topic.”

This “pause” was needed, the statement says, because “We felt it was important that more facts and input from community members be gathered to develop a thoughtful, respectful, and intellectual approach.”

However, “During this period of pause, two teachers were given explicit directives, which they ignored. As a result of their actions and their expressed intentions, these teachers have been placed on paid leave while we continue a more thorough review.”

[Note: I am not aware of any public comments by the two suspended teachers. And with their jobs hanging in the balance, they are likely being advised to keep quiet.]

The FCS Board held a called meeting yesterday to address this situation. And as Quaker bodies do in the face of almost all emergencies, they formed a committee,  here called a “Task Force” tasked “to determine how we move forward.” Pledging to be “proactive,” further updates are promised. The rest of the statement is a set of broad generalities, concluding with:

“Our challenges reflect the world we live in. This moment presents an opportunity to demonstrate what defines Friends’ Central as a Quaker school.”

Indeed.

Full text of the statement:

Important Message from the Head of School and Clerk of the Board
Posted 02/14/2017 02:59PM
 
Dear Friends,

As Head of School and Board Clerk, we write to you today with an update on recent events within the Friends’ Central community involving students’ learning about the Middle East, campus speakers, and our path forward. While many have expressed concern, we believe this is an opportunity to live our Mission and emerge a stronger community.

We understand these are delicate issues and want to assure you that the physical and emotional safety of our community is our first priority.

There was a fundamental breakdown in process. We simply did not approach this very sensitive topic with adequate community dialogue. To be clear, our intention has always been to pause – not cancel – any speaker engagement on this topic. We felt it was important that more facts and input from community members be gathered to develop a thoughtful, respectful, and intellectual approach. During this period of pause, two teachers were given explicit directives, which they ignored. As a result of their actions and their expressed intentions, these teachers have been placed on paid leave while we continue a more thorough review.

Members of our community have reached out to share their views, while offering suggestions on how to proceed. To those individuals, we have heard you and we will invite participation shortly. At last night’s called meeting, the Board of Trustees began forming a Task Force to determine how we move forward. To lead this effort, Board members and current parents Fariha Khan and Elizabeth Cohen ’83 will serve as Clerks. The Task Force will broadly engage our community – including students, parents, faculty, administration, and alumni/ae – and bring together a wide variety of viewpoints. Our goal is to move toward and embrace the challenges of intellectual discourse with respect and empathy.

We commit to communicating more proactively. In the days and weeks ahead, you will receive more information about our Task Force and opportunities available to participate. Some may still have concerns and issues you would like to address directly with the School. Craig is available to meet with any member of our community who would like time to discuss these issues in further detail. This is a priority, and Craig is available in the coming days.

Our challenges reflect the world we live in. This moment presents an opportunity to demonstrate what defines Friends’ Central as a Quaker school. We must come together on how we teach our children, to ensure they meet challenges from a place of knowledge and constructive engagement.

Sincerely,

Craig N. Sellers
Head of School

Philip Scott ’73
Clerk, Board of Trustees

Resistance Rising: Turmoil, Tumult & Trouble in Congressional Town Meetings

East, West, North & South– Something’s Happening Here (& There . . .)

[On February 4] Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), one of the relatively few members of Congress who has held public town hall meetings in 2017, was beset by protesters in the city of Roseville, Calif. More than 1,000 people gathered in front of a venue that could seat 200, and many of those who got inside protested McClintock, a conservative who represents one of the state’s few safe Republican seats, for favoring the president’s executive orders on refugees and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Tom McClintock, (R-California) hears the message.

Continue reading Resistance Rising: Turmoil, Tumult & Trouble in Congressional Town Meetings

About Dismantling Health Care: This Is Personal

Before Congress Repeals & Destroys My Family’s Health Care–

Let me say a bit about it.

I’m retired, age 74. Living modestly on Social Security and a bit more; breaking even, few luxuries, no complaints.

I have a partner, four children, five grandchildren, a great grandchild due next summer. I’m white, though my family is mixed.

Three-generations of us, Durham NC 2016

Overall, we’ve been pretty healthy. No big catastrophes–car crashes, cancer, or crystal meth. So far.

But stuff happens.” And some stuff has happened to us: two grandkids turned up needing serious surgeries. One of their parents collapsed & almost died from untreated hypertension.

And as for me, I’ve got stents in vessels around the heart. Been in three times for that. Plus a couple blood clots.

Some “stuff happened” in late 2011; got a stent, and did a stint in recliner activism.

And don’t get me started about kidney stones.

But it could be worse.

It could be a whole lot worse for me without Medicare. And for several family members without the ACA and Medicaid.

How much worse? Let me mention one number about Medicare: $5000. That’s what my “gravy train socialistic” Medicare already costs me per year; or rather, this year.

(Again, no complaints; but when the talk turns toward “takers & freeloaders,” can we just skip that part?)

Now suppose these arrangements all get upended, as is on the table in many high places in Washington and seems all too likely. Consider:

Several of us, including me, have “pre-existing conditions,” potentially serious ones. And if Medicare was turned into something like vouchers, these would make premium costs jump even higher–if the others and I could get any coverage at all.

Face it: without Medicare, I wouldn’t have a prayer. Or rather–wouldn’t have anything else.

And what about the kids, those unexpected surgeries? And what if that “stuff happens” thing, happens again?

I’ve seen the bills for some of it: the tab on my first stent was around $50,000, before Medicare got hold of it. And one ER visit for a kidney stone attack ran over $1000 per hour. And those were several years back; hospital cost inflation “stuff” happens too.

Yeah. Without Medicare it wouldn’t take much such “stuff” to completely ruin me. Health effects aside, I could be bankrupted by one serious round of it.

Same goes for ACA and most of my family members, who are, remember, overall a pretty healthy lot.

I’m talking personally here because this issue quickly becomes about as personal as it gets. I read there’s twenty to thirty million Americans depending on the ACA; even more on Medicare. I’m concerned about them on a policy level, and hope I feel compassion.

But this ACA & Medicare repeal talk –it’s not just “policy.” Not just about “them.”
 
It’s about “us.” Me. It will affect me & my family.

My not particularly unusual family.

Directly, and bigtime; not someday, but immediately, and probably catastrophically.

So the drive for repeal is toying with the fate of real people with real lives. All over the country.

Including me and my family. (And maybe yours too?)

The impact of any such repeal will be coming right at us. Directly.

And we’ll remember.

I hope some folks in Washington keep this in mind as they prepare to destroy what keeps me, and us, going now. I’ve tried to let them know. The lines seem pretty jammed.

(And if a picture is worth a thousand words, this short 2011 Youtube clip is worth many more.) Here’s a hint of what’s in it . . .

If this post is of value, please share it.

Quit Piling On about the “Bowling Green Massacre”!

That’s very good advice. After all, everybody makes mistakes, and this time, mirabile dictu, it was even admitted, eventually.

So shouldn’t we forgive and forget, show compassion, and move on?? I mean, it’s become an indelible part of our history now.

Yes, this is all excellent advice, which I fully intend to follow.

Starting tomorrow.

But today, I can resist anything but temptation. Even this tender admonition failed to  move me:

I mean, after all: if they had a candlelight memorial right there at the site Thursday night, can we do any less, in our own feeble way?

And offer tribute to the way the heart-stopping live coverage brought out the very best in our finest media veterans . . .

Including the incredible coverage of the work of the first responders . . .

How could we not join with the others in their tributes?

And the selfless rush to bring aid to survivors and families:

Let’s join the chorus that demands swift and determined justice for those responsible:

And cheer on the local historians who have important tragic details to add:

So, sure. Tomorrow all this goes down the Memory Hole. But fear not — another week also starts tomorrow. And I’m sure they’re ready for us.

 

 

 

 

John Lewis vs. Little Hands: Talk vs. Action

In light of recent events, permit me to share a photograph or two.

Selma, Alabama, March 1965. I stood on the church steps behind John Lewis, Hosea Williams & Andrew Young.

Then John & Hosea marched over the Pettus Bridge & were beaten & teargassed; John got his head busted, was almost killed. I got off easy.

John Lewis got up from his hospital bed and helped win voting rights for millions of Americans. He’s still fighting for those voting rights, which those who scoff & tweet are busy undermining.

John Lewis, foreground, after crossing the bridge, March 7, 1965.

And on that day, when hundreds including John & Hosea walked their talk through Selma, across the Pettus Bridge into the teeth of hate, where was the fool with the little hands who now says John Lewis was “all talk”?

He has said he was avoiding the draft & STDs. Is there any reason to doubt him?

But it all looks different from the bridge.

if you share the view, please share this message.

For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

Two Nights & a Lifetime with Dr. King

Next Monday will be devoted to the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was my good fortune to work under Dr. King in the great voting rights campaign he led with others in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Besides being historic for America, that experience was formative for me. It led me to jail, to a repudiation of war, and even to Quakers.

Monday evening at Pendle Hill, starting at 7:30 PM, as part of this remembrance, I’ll be talking about that experience, and you’re invited. Details are here, and it’s free.

In December 1964, I joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter I was sent by SCLC to Selma, Alabama, where I worked in the Voting Rights Movement organized by Dr. King and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Continue reading For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

Push & Pushback in the Northwest “Showdown”

Northwest Yearly Meeting is notorious for its institutional culture of secrecy; indeed, I think they could teach the CIA some tricks.

So imagine my surprise when a clandestine collective which can be  called “Quaki-Leaks” passed along some emails hacked from the listserve for NWYM pastors. There were other posts,but these offer an illuminating glimpse of what goes on behind one of the numerous veils that shroud much (too much, in my view) of NWYM’s proceedings.  It is a useful followup to yesterday’s post regarding the ‘Way Forward” ultimatum letter.

The posts dealt with the impending midyear sessions that begin this weekend, and the hot issue of what to do about LGBT-friendly meetings. The samples presented here offer three distinct views of the situation, with some qualifying comments by the NWYM Superintendent. We’ll finish with some brief comments of our own. Continue reading Push & Pushback in the Northwest “Showdown”

Deep State vs. Dupe State: Round One

Thinking over the Friday “revelations” about how the big intel agencies (CIA, FBI, NSA) are agreed that Russia hacked the election to favor the President-elect (Or P-E), I’m recalling that African proverb about how when  elephants fight, it’s the grass & the mice that get trampled.

And I’m taking a mouse-eyed view of what just happened.
Here’s how I think it looks from there: those with eyes to see witnessed an opening round in what could be a death struggle between the Deep State and the Dupe State.


“Deep State” is a term borrowed from Turkish politics. It was applied to the American body politic by Mike Lofgren, a longtime congressional staffer, in his book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. (A good summary is here. )

Continue reading Deep State vs. Dupe State: Round One

My Dark Reflection: Guest Post by Judith Dancy

Judith Dancy from Facebook:
It may have happened while Emma was sleeping so soundly last night, for surely she would have sounded the alarm as the Abyss, with its tank loaded with the fuel of Despair crept through the crack under the front door… the one I keep meaning to put another rubber strip on to keep out the cold wind. I’ve been meaning to do that for years, and now I wish it were only cold wind that crept through.

It’s not that it’s a gray and rainy day. It’s not the death of another precious friend. It’s not the pain that seems unwilling to leave. It’s a sensation I don’t remember ever experiencing ,even in the midst of long periods of deep depression.

I want to apologize, I think, for not recognizing the death of hope. Here I’ve been reassuring you that this is just a birthing process and that something beautiful will be born…not soon enough for some of us, but good will come of what seems like no-good. I’m pretty sure that is not true.

Continue reading My Dark Reflection: Guest Post by Judith Dancy

Another Story for an Era’s End: “I Hate Dill Pickles”

Spring 2007; or maybe tomorrow

Sara Rahman was my best friend then. “BFFs, Amber,” she often said to me.  And some of the best times we had were while walking home from school. We joked and laughed about everything – stuff in school, books she was reading, her dorky big brother Ahmed, even some of the sillier songs from “American Idol.”

 Maybe we were having too much fun. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone running up to the ice cream truck that came jangling by and pulled over to the curb.

But it was a warm spring Thursday, and Sara had five dollars in her pocket, a pre-birthday present from her aunt, and she loved ice cream.

“Especially butter pecan,” she said. “That’s my very favorite.”

 So we did stop at the ice cream truck. No butter pecan, but they did have big cones of cookies and cream, so Sara got one of those, and bought me an Eskimo pie. Continue reading Another Story for an Era’s End: “I Hate Dill Pickles”