Solutions to bullying needed now

Iowa Safe Schools executive director Nate Monson has been hearing more reports of bullying incidents in Iowa schools since the 2016 election. -promoted by Laura Belin

The end of August means the start of another school year. For many students, it is a time of reconnecting with their peers, teachers, and engaging in the educational process.

But for some students, school can be a terrifying experience because of bullying.

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Hate speech ain't free (except in the U.S.)

Ira Lacher: Lawmakers in Canada, the UK, and Germany “have accepted the premise that if you drop a hammer from the 15th floor of a building, you don’t need to look down to know the hammer has fallen.” -promoted by Laura Belin

There’s a new law in Iowa. Under the guise of promoting free speech, it’s intended to give free reign to those who, under cover of the First Amendment, deliver hate language on college campuses.

The legislation reads, in part: “[I]t is not the proper role of an institution of higher education to shield individuals from speech protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which may include ideas and opinions the individual finds unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive.”

The law permits colleges to restrict hate speech only if that speech contains “a threat of serious harm and expression directed or likely directed to provoke imminent unlawful actions.” But there’s the problem: America, unlike other countries, does not define such language, much less outlaw it.

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Steve King voted "present" on anti-bigotry resolution (updated)

Representative Steve King (IA-04) was the only member of the U.S. House to vote “present” on March 7, as the chamber passed a broad resolution condemning various forms of bigotry. Every Democrat, including Iowa Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) supported the measure, along with 173 Republicans (roll call). Another 23 Republicans voted no.

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"Wall" and white fear - a step-by-step guide to understanding racism

Gwen Hope examines the deeply-embedded racism surrounding President Donald Trump’s “Wall” and those who typically advocate for and support it. -promoted by Laura Belin

The president’s emblematic “Wall,” while envisioned to become physical, is more accurately a political symbol – an ideological device. It is a symbol of power and might for the traditionally quintessential U.S. citizen – the white Protestant.

This especially goes for men, who have traditionally led the patriarchal U.S. society. This illusory power is summoned and bolstered to defend against what that quintessential citizen typically fears the most – diverse, multicultural society, and those they see as the harbingers of their fall from power most typically – the Latinx and the Muslim. This originates from an ethnocentric and racist mindset of a group of people would would prefer a homogeneous society.

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The line against hate is drawn in Oakland, Iowa

Thanks to Glenn Hurst for sharing this inspiring story of local activism. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Not long after Charlottesville, the Nazi menace attempted to slither into peaceful rural Iowa; Oakland, Iowa to be precise. As I laid fingers to keyboard, another ugly head attempted to sprout in northwest Iowa’s heavily Republican Sioux County. We took the same tactics spelled out here and successfully reproduced the protest in this Republican stronghold.

I had just emceed the vigil for Charlottesville held in Omaha a few weeks prior to the Oakland event. I was also providing the media coordination for the upcoming DACA event (scheduled for the following week) when murmurs about an anti-Islamic group snaking into Pottawattamie County started to get louder. Rallying against hate was becoming all too common.

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Well-meaning bigotry, Midwest-style

Jason Clayworth published a big feature on Christian Fong in Wednesday’s Des Moines Register. I recommend clicking over to read the whole thing before it disappears into the Register’s pay-to-download archive. Fong’s campaign strategy has always interested me, especially his efforts to sound inclusive while remaining faithful to conservative Republican views on social issues.

I was tempted to write a post here making fun of Fong’s balancing act on gay rights. He told Clayworth that after passing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage,

Iowa lawmakers need to make sure such rights as hospital visitation and estate planning are equal for same-sex couples, he said.

“If a constitutional amendment were passed, it would be irresponsible to throw up our hands and say, ‘We’re done.’ ” Fong said. “There are going to have to be steps that are taken to make sure we treat all Iowans fairly and compassionately. Gay people, too.”

So I’m thinking about how “fair” and “compassionate” it is to let conservatives’ religious views override a minority group’s civil marriage rights, and I’m laughing at Fong’s continuing attempts to advocate for discrimination very respectfully.

And then a sidebar (available only in the print version) stopped me in my tracks:

Christian Fong says he feels a special responsibility as a racial minority candidate.

Growing up, Fong used his middle name, Shun-Bok, given to him by his Chinese father.

When he was considering medical school at the University of Iowa, he was told he should consider going by something other than Shun-Bok because the industry did not need more Asians in medicine.

He’s gone by Christian–his first name–ever since.

That kick in the gut (dressed up as a helpful hint) got me thinking about the mixed messages minorities get from nice, polite Midwesterners.

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