Sunday, October 3, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This is part 5 of 6 on the Texas GOP Platform. Arizona, a state away from Texas, has passed the strictest immigration policy to date (they are actually being sued by the Federal Government because of it), and it seems as though the Texas GOP wants to follow in their footsteps.
“Legal Immigration – One nation, one flag, one language, one loyalty; America is a country of immigrants, we should insist that any immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself/herself to the United States. He/she shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else. This is predicated upon the fact that the person is in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance. Anyone who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American Flag. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the American people. (Teddy Roosevelt, 1907) ''
Alright, so this sounds all hunky dory for the first couple of lines.. then things get serious. What they are asking is that all immigrants erase their past, their native cultures, language, and lose any connections to their homeland. Is it possible to be an American and still honor your roots? You bet. How do you explain all the various German or Polish festivals we have all over the country to honor our ancestors? The way they are defining citizenship, 90% of the people I know aren’t legal citizens because they still speak their ancestors’ tongue, they root for other countries in the World Cup, and they don’t like baseball. That is afterall, trangression from the notion that every legal citizen has to uphold every facet of a real American.
America is great BECAUSE of the differences in culture, pasts, and experiences of immigrants. Yes, immigrants should learn English if they plan on being successful in the US, but should they forget about their home countries, traditions, and languages? God no. I don’t support an elitist country and the efforts to erase cultural diversity. What are they going to do next, require every immigrant to have their skin bleached in order to fit into our “picture perfect” country? Not on my watch.
“Birthright Citizenship – We call on the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of these United States to clarify Section 1 of the 14th amendment to limit citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States: with no exceptions.”
This is also bogus. So a child who is born on our soil, grows up here, knows no other country nor society other than ours, can’t be a citizen if their parents are immigrants without citizenship status? You want to deport children who grow up here because of their parent’s nationality. Some might argue that that last statement I just said is an overgeneralization, but how do you think they they are going to assume someone’s parents are citizens thus making them one? Two words, racial profiling. I have no doubt this is another ploy to dispose of non-white people, in particular those of hispanic or Middle Eastern origin. This will put more people in danger than help current citizens. If on a child’s 21st birthday they are discovered to have non-citizen parents, they risk being deported to a land they’ve never set foot on before. Not to mention it takes YEARS and YEARS to actually attain citizenship, a process children will know little to nothing about.
“American English – We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.”
There are hundreds of dialects and languages spoken every second here in the US. Declaring American English (which has many different dialects for the record) as the official language is one more way of saying anyone whose first language isn’t American English is less of a person in this country, not legitimate nor wanted. This has dangerous implications. Our country was founded on diversity, we should be celebrating it rather than fighting it. Our demographic is always changing, and it has been since the human existence came to be. We took over the US from the Native Americans, altering the demographic. Humanity is fluid in shape, size, and color. It’s time to stop fighting it and start embracing it.
Immigration is an extremely controversial topic in the United States and virtually everywhere else in the world. If we only want documented immigrants in the US (which I think to an extent is a reasonable request) then we need to start expanding resources and make it easier for people to move here. When we screen people based on income, we leave thousands of people to their deaths in tyrannical, unlivable conditions. As humans we all should have the right to better our lives, that’s the American dream is it not? We need to start making this possible.
Some argue the reason it’s so hard to obtain a visa or legal immigrant status is because of all of the illegal immigrants. Well think about that, the harder it is to be a legal immigrant the more illegal immigrants there will be. People risk their lives to provide for their families or give there children futures by coming to this country. No level of security is going to prevent people coming in. We need to get off our high horses and embrace these people, allow them to be documented so we can be aware of their existence and integrate them more effectively into society.
All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.
Peace and Love,
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
I hope you can all get out and enjoy one another's company on our Nation's birthday. I will personally be spending it in a parking booth because apparently the university like to observe holidays the day after they happen. Oh well. Anywho, I am finally posting part 4 of 6 on Education and how it is impacted by the Texas GOP Platform.
"Ten Commandments – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols."
This one is pretty obvious, they want to let the Ten Commandments be said in everyday school settings without punishment. While I 100% support freedom of speech, I see this as a ploy to get parents and church goers emphasized permission to encourage their children to evangelize in schools. This I do have a problem with, public schools are a place for learning, protected by the Separation of Church and State. I don't mind if kids talk about their religion, but when they start pressuring other students that's when I get frustrated. Every child deserves to go to public school without fear they are going to have a bible pushed at them.
"Support of Parental Authority - We support parental authority and the teaching of moral values in the home. We oppose school–based clinics and/or youth impact centers located at, sponsored by, or funded by any state agency or public school district, whether or not they dispense condoms and contraceptives or refer, aid, or advise minors to have abortions."
Yes, I believe parents should be involved in teaching their children about sex and their feelings about it. I do however resent the idea that there should be no services or help offered to these kids. They are at the ages of curiosity, raging hormones, and peer pressure. You can't expect that every kid is going to be "good" and stay abstient. STI's happen, pregnancy happens, and rape happens. If you don't have places for kids to go, you're basically isolating them, putting them on an island to get information from unverifiable sources, and leaving them to a potentially doomed fate by not giving them the resources to prevent against HIV and other STI's, among other things.
"Basic Standards – We favor improvements on the quality of education and a return to the traditional basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic with sufficient discipline to ensure learning. We support standardized testing to ensure minimal standards are met. Bilingual Education – English is the language of commerce, therefore a successful tiered language instruction program with the following provisions is recommended:
• Year 1: 70% English / 30% Native language (Year 1 indicates first year of U.S. based education)
• Year 2: 80% English / 20% Native language
• Year 3: 90% English / 10% Native language
• Year 4 and thereafter: 100% English (No bilingual education after year 3)
All students must pass recognized standard tests that verify each student’s English ability for their grade level before advancing. No research based evidence exists that a dual language program promotes the language of commerce."
As a English as a Second Language teacher, this really frustrates me. First off, standardized testing is a sham. It's geared to native English speakers and puts unnecessary pressure on students and teachers. The school years are so rushed and packed with information that students don't get much attention to really firmly grasp all the topics.
Secondly, bilingual education isn’t as simple as tiered percentages. Every individual learns language differently and at different paces at that. When you limit education based on a rigid structure, you leave students behind resulting in higher drop-out rates. Especially if you prohibit a student from moving forward a grade (even if they did well in all their classes) just because their English isn’t to a level you deem appropriate. But maybe that’s the goal, get all the immigrants out of our schools so we can reign with our American-born glory. News flash, your ancestors immigrated here, and chances are they didn’t speak English.
“College Textbooks – We support Texas’ colleges and universities use of the same or substitutable textbooks for ten or more years in order to bring costs to students down and maintain some residual value for used books. We oppose restrictions on use of textbooks for multiple years, such as requiring annual access codes.”
This is one of the few stances I actually for the most part support. I do think it’s ridiculous to force students to buy new books because of access codes. I do think that if a new textbook comes out that is infinitely better than the previous edition, it is important to switch to that book. But I like that they are advocating for cheaper textbooks for students.
“Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”
I think this is beyond ridiculous. Yes, parents should help their children grow and develop in their early (and later) years. However pre-school and Kindergarten are extremely important. This stance is focusing on middle and upper class families who can afford to have a parent not work in order to teach their children. What about single parents, low-income families, and everyone else inbetween who need to have their children in these programs because they work two full-time jobs just to make sure that their kids can eat? By taking away these resources you will not only see a drop in literacy skills in lower-income households, but also potentially greater poverty due to childcare costs and tuition to private pre-schools and kindergartens.
“Educational Entitlement – Given that education is reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, we encourage legislation that prohibits enrollment in free public schools of non-citizens unlawfully present in the United States. We encourage the Texas Attorney General to challenge the Federal provision of residency verification.”
Again, this is ridiculous. Yes, these illegal immigrants need to pay taxes that will help fund schools. But it is not in the best interest of the children to deny them schooling because the citizenship process takes YEARS (sometimes more the 10). Most of these immigrants are here because their people were being slaughtered in their country, poverty destroyed their lives, or they are being persecuted by big corporations or their government. They are here to better their lives, and seeing how that’s what all OUR ancestors came here for, we best live up to our civic duty to help these people.
“Multiculturalism – We support teaching the principles articulated by Republican Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that we be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character and we celebrate positive contributions to our society by members of all cultural groups without emphasizing their differences. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of multiculturalism that emphasizes differences among racial and ethnic groups.”
This is really a disgusting standpoint living in this masquerade of equality. If we are going to say everyone is the same, we’re all American and thus have the same experiences we are setting ourselves up for bigotry and lack of sensitivity. It is a fact that different racial and ethnic groups experience the world differently. When we fail to acknowledge these differences we falsely say we can relate to eachother on levels that we really can’t. This lack of sensitivity will lead eventually lead to the end of affirmative action, lack of cultural understanding, and eventually, it is this author’s belief, white supremacy to a greater degree than it exists today. In this country we are not all created equal. It’s only through education that we can change that, and if we ignore it, the gaps between races will grow larger and true equality will never be had.
“Sex Education – We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.”
So I have a huge beef with sex education in the United States. When over 53% of middle school children are already having sex, you know abstinence-only education isn’t working. There has been studies done that prove that absitence-only education doesn’t decrease sexual activity in youth, but it does prevent a majority of them practicing safe sex or using contraception. Comprehensive sex ed doesn’t increase levels of sexual activity, but it does improve the numbers of of participants using contraception and practicing safe sex.
I do agree that parents should be notified if their child is going to be taught sex-ed, and they should be able to decide what’s best for their child. However this idea that heterosexual abstinence-only education should be the only thing taught is appalling. With teen pregnancy on the rise we need to be preparing our children to protect themselves, rather than hearing myths from their friends.
“Traditional Principles in Education – We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems. We support curricula that are heavily weighted on original founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and Founders’ writings.”
Let me break this down for you.... They want to TEACH our children the Ten Commandments in school. Last I heard, this was crazily illegal. I’ve written at length the implications of announcing that our country is a Christian nation in Part 3: Separation of Church and State. If we want to alienate our non-Christian students, this is the way to do it. And I in absolutely no way support this method of teaching.
“School Health Care – We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support the parents’ right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children. We oppose medical clinics on school property except higher education and health care for students without parental consent.”
No counseling... So what happens if a child is raped by their father and they have no one to talk to but the school nurse or counselor? We want to take away the only resource they have available to them? This is disgusting and just plays into the culture of silence.
Like I said above about sex education, students need access to protection. At the very least condoms are important. If kids are going to have sex (which, they are, nothing you say or do is going to prevent it) do you want them to have the option to prevent disease and pregnancy? I would hope you would. There is really no other place for these kids to get these products, and it’s important that they are available to them AND they know how to use them.
Education in this country is already severly lacking. This platform is calling for regression, not progress. We owe it to our youth to fight this and ensure that they receive the education they deserve. I think it’s also important to note that this isn’t just a Texas issue. Texas is the largest distributor of text books in this country. That being said, what happens in Texas is what happens in schools everywhere. If you don’t want your children being taught that our country is a strictly English-speaking, Christian nation, you need to help rally against this platform. Urge your local senators to take up bills like California did, asking your state government to have restrictions on what can go into these textbooks so unfair, biased sentiments aren’t woven into your children’s texts.
All the above stances were taken in full context and can be found here.
Peace, love, and the Right to Equal Education,
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Greetings to Internet Land,
Part 3 of the 6 part series on the Texas GOP Platform is dedicated to the implication of the Separation of Church and State. For those of you who might not be familiar with this, it's basically where the constitution says that religion and the Church have no power or influence in legislation or court rulings. While this is a fundamental part of the founding of our nation, it is trampled on in countless ways. This platform does a good job of taking it and dragging it through the mud.
"Remedies to Activist Judiciary – We call Congress and the President to use their constitutional powers to restrain activist judges. We urge Congress to adopt the Judicial Conduct Act of 2005 and remove judges who abuse their authority. Further, we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights."
Alright, there's a lot wrong with this stance. The first being that the fastest and most efficient (note, by most I don't mean it is that efficient, it's just better than proposing a bill) way changes in government are made are through cases in that occur in federal and state supreme courts. Their ruling judge what is or isn't constitutional and how the law should be enforced. What they are wanting to do is get rid of any progressive judges that help this country progress, hence leaving room for digression and removal of personal rights for anyone who isn't a white middle-class male.
To go farther, they want to take away the reason we have the Supreme Court. If you cut out anything having to do with abortion, religious freedom (which we do indeed technically have according to our founding fathers), and the Bill of Rights. Those three categories cover almost all of the cases that would be seen in cases that make it to the Supreme Court. They want to eliminate progress and make sure rights aren't granted where they don't think they are deserved (when more than likely they are).
"Free Speech for the Clergy – We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors."
So tax benefits should be given to organizations who openly promote discrimination, hate, and violence. Yeah, that seems really appropriate. I'll pay my full taxes, and the West Borough Baptist Church can squeeze by tax free, because after all, they stand for everything the Texas GOP loves. And maybe, just maybe, they can get rid of all those fags and people of color without financial or criminal consequence.
Whether people like to admit it or not, churches are businesses. The fact they are tax-exempt in the first place is beyond me. When they don't have to provide information on who and what is giving them money, there is no way of truly knowing what they are doing (from a governmental standpoint). If you have a terrorist organization feeding millions of dollars into a super church in the faith that they'll promote hate, you have problems. If hate organizations can fund churches, churches don't deserve tax breaks. Enough said.
"Religious Freedom in Public Schools – We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment, which provides: “Neither the United States nor any State shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.” We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents, and encourage discussing those documents."
If you're speechless after reading that, you're in good company. For starters they are promoting open Christianity in schools. Reading this, you would think any religion could have their rights to prayer in school, but after reading the entire platform, I have no doubt in my mind that they would encourage schools to quiet any students who express faith in a religion or lack of religion that wasn't an acceptable form of Christianity. By openly supporting religious speech in schools, they are essentially promoting evangelism or spreading the word.... no matter how much hate that word involves.
Now don't get me wrong, I firmly support freedom of speech for everyone in all settings. I just think if they want to emphasize freedom of speech, they best emphasize allaspects of it, not just religion. Perhaps what upsets me the most is that they want our government to say "We are a Christian Nation and all our laws reflect this." While it is possible that Judeo-Christianity helped inspire some of the documents, our country was founded on the basis that anyone can worship or not worship any religion they please.That means we are NOT a government of faith, and should not be proclaiming such things in order to alienate a large percentage of our population.
"Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice."
Again, they are saying that everyone can choose to worship whatever religion they please, but they best keep in mind that the only religion that the US really accepts and promotes is Christianity. Not to mention that "under God" wasn't added to the Pledge of Allegiance until World War II and in this author's opinion, done wrongfully so. I see this as nothing more than a scare tactic to push other religions (or lack thereof) underground for the fear of persecution. Cool texas, real cool.
"Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations."
Huzzah, they sure like to end things with a big shabang. I can't tell you how upset this last stanza makes me. First, they're saying that if we don't acknowledge the fact that their Christian God (which, I remind you is not everyone's God) is the driving force in the founding of this nation, our freedom and futures will be in jeopardy. The way I see it it's just the opposite. If our government gets bullied into taking such a stance, our nation will go from being an already big bully on the world front, to an evangelist nation that plans on starting wars to protect the sanctity of the Christian God. Who's going to get hurt by this? Any nation that doesn't have an official religion that can't be considered Christianity, oh, and all the people here in the US who don't believe in the Christian God.
Furthermore, they want to completely eliminate the separation of church and state, claiming it's a bunch of poppy-cock. While I agree the separation of church and state has been trampled all over, it is still potentially the most important document that exists in our constitution. It's what is supposed to guarantee that people of all believing natures are represented in the law and not discriminated against because of their choices in faith.
In addition, reducing regulation of religious organizations that help the needy would produce devastating effects. In New York (I'm pretty positive it was New York, if not it was Washington DC) a Catholic organization cut all of its services to the homeless in protest of a bill that was going to be passed to give same-sex couples the right to marry. That sent 10,000 people out on the streets without food or shelter. When we don't regulate these organizations, they use their influence to persuade voting. As many of you know, the bill was rejected.
The Separation of Church and State is a fundamental block in our government. If we choose to cast it aside, it is my firm belief that everything is going to be going to the figurative fires of hell in a hand-basket. Discrimination will be able to run rampant with full permission and little remorse or consequence. If we really want to secure freedom and morality (humanity even) for our nation, we need to fully enforce the Separation of Church and State and elect more officials that aren't of a strictly Christian background. I want to see people of every faith in our government. It's up to us to make it happen, we have the voting power, time to start using it.
And as always, all the above stanzas of the platform were taken in full context and can be viewed here.