Doug Jones and the Republican Soul

As I write this at 6am on a Wednesday morning, several major news organizations have called the Alabama Senate special election for Democrat Doug Jones. The Republican candidate, the odious Roy Moore, has yet to concede.

This is a big deal for American politics. Early exit polls and anecdotal evidence suggests this is more a demographic victory than a Democratic one. Minority, younger, and urban voters faced off against entrenched white, older, and rural voters, amid a blatant barrage of vote-suppression tactics engineered by Alabama Republicans.

How bad was it? Mother Jones Magazine has this report. The Alabama Supreme Court set in motion measures intended to immediately destroy paper ballots and erase electronic traces, acts intended to ‘protect’ a Republican victory from claims of vote-rigging. Anti-Moore voters persisted and gave enough of a victory to (probably) be safe from a recount.

The Democrats and associated #Resistance folks are understandably jubilant. Donald Trump has so far offered an uncharacteristically mild congratulation to Doug Jones, followed by a tepid claim that Luther Strange would have been the better candidate (instead of Moore).

The Republican majority in the Senate has shrunk by one more vote, making their legislative effectiveness even more questionable. Moreover, this election can only be seen as a warning to Republicans: their party direction under Trump could tarnish their ‘brand’ for generations.

Do they care?

Understand that, to the Evangelical Christian bloc, Donald J. Trump was always an unsavory but useful tool. As long he is useful to their Culture War efforts, he’ll be tolerated. Mike Pence has spent decades grooming himself as a logical Evangelical choice for POTUS. The year he’s spent kowtowing to Trump has undoubtedly been hard for him, but he probably views it as a divine test of his faith.

Mike Pence is one heartbeat or one impeachment consensus from being President of the United States of America. This is right where he wants to be.

And right where his right-wing allies –from KKK and alt-right Nazis, to ultra-devout Evangelicals and ultra-rich donors, to even Russian interests — want him to be.

The new Republicans understand they are at a crossroads: control of the US hinges on demographics and voter engagement, pitting largely older whites against largely younger minorities. Freezing out those younger, poorer, easily disillusioned voters with suppression and misinformation was *the* core goal of the 2016 Presidential Election. It worked then.

Will the election of Doug Jones signal a new era of engagement and cooperation among liberal voting blocs in the US? It’s a promising start, but only one battle in a long and dangerous war.

President Pence is not where sane Americans, or the world, want to be on the eve of global recession, nuclear threats , and climate disasters. Donald J. Trump can be reliably said to only be out for himself (with his blood family a distant second). Pence has a Mission from God, and it’s not the one from the Blues Brothers movie.

What is so bad about a President Pence? His allies, for one: a world-spanning collection of oligarchs and devout thugs who will stop at nothing to cement political and economic power. The ‘tax reform’ bills making their way through consensus in the US House and Senate are proof enough of that. These bills take away earnings, freedom, and security for most poor and middle-class Americans, and reward the ultra-rich.

Pence’s Russian ally Vladimir Putin has led and refined a dangerous game of concealing his own incompetence and inadequacy by creating a false-equivalence narrative. ‘Everybody cheats, everybody lies, there is no moral high ground, and democracy is a lie.’ His ultimate goal is not the ennobling of Russia, but the degradation of its opponents. Donald J. Trump is undoubtedly Putin’s puppet, but Pence and the Republicans are his useful equals.

Far worse is Mike Pence & Co’s enthusiastic acceptance of End Times beliefs: the idea that the world is ending in a series of events predicted in the Biblical Book of Revelations.

End Times is the *only* reason Christian Evangelicals support Israel. They don’t like Jews, but according to Revelations, Jews and Israel are necessary to kickstart the return of Christ. Christian Evangelicals of Mike Pence’s strain are likely to be anti-science, anti-tolerance, anti-climate change, and anti-alternative energy.

They don’t think the world is worth saving. They mask that belief behind a practical pro-business, anti-tax strategy that bills itself as good for the short-term economy. But at the root, most End Times believers (who can be every religion from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and far-right Hindu, among others) think the End is going to come in their lifetime, so why build anything for a secular future? They recognize their views are unpopular with liberal mindsets, so they’ve set out to minimize liberal challenges while they can.

My takeaway from the Doug Jones election is this: liberal voters and politicians need to be ready for anything, and committed to landslide victories and constant vigilance…or the resulting alt-right empires will make Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale look like Disneyland.

Trump = Fascist

Just so we’re clear.

This guy is not heroic, he’s not smart, and he’s not honorable. He got where he is in life by being the exact opposite of those three qualities. He’s gold-plated pewter proof that if you have enough money, you can steamroll your way through life, aided by people who want to scamper after your crumbs.

He didn’t win the popular vote, and he’s the most unpopular President-Elect in 40 years. He’s also a patsy.

I’ll quote again from a joke I heard on Twitter: ‘There’s a new fable going around. You heard about the scorpion who hitches a ride across a river by riding on a frog’s back, and halfway across makes America great again?’

Yeah, right.

The really sad thing is that a majority of the people who voted for him, are going to be the ones hurt by the misguided and rapacious actions of his administration.

How Electors can redeem their honor

This is a long shot, for actually doing anything…but you can sign a petition to the US Electoral College to recast or overturn their votes for Trump. They have a little over a month. Try this site, for more information.

Clinton won the popular vote, but not the Electoral. Hmm. When have we seen this before, recently? Oh yes, in 2000. And it was a Republican-engineered takeover then, too.

And we ALL saw how eight years of the Cheney/Bush White House worked out.

Trump is magnitudes more unfit for office than George W. Bush. He’ll not only make America more of an international pariah state and laughingstock, he’ll endanger our livelihoods and our lives. His mere victory has emboldened the alt-right thugs who helped drive his campaign, and he’s shown no sign, willingness, or ability to repudiate them.

Maybe our voices can’t coax the members of the Electoral College to save America from a Trump regime…but it can signal that we’re here, we’re not going away, and we can play the obstructionist long game, too.

Sign the petition for that reason, at least, and pass it on to people who feel the same way.

Election Day

I wear this right angle weave necklace every election and most national holidays.

The seed beads are old stock Czech. The blue and white chevron beads are Chinese or Indian, circa 2006. The glass millefiori button is Japanese from around the 1950s, I think.

20161108_093152I made it right after the 9-11 attacks in 2001. It reminds me of hope, healing, cosmopolitan ideals, and civic responsibility in the face of dystopian chaos.

It also reminds me that our world is going to face much worse things. How we heal from and adapt to them, is a referendum on humanity itself.


Make your vote count!

Warning: I will say some unkind things next.

If you’re a US citizen, are you registered to vote? Will you vote tomorrow? Why haven’t you already voted? (It’s going to be a mess at the polls, and early voting by absentee ballot is so much easier, if your state allows it!)

Some quick notes:

If you are still ‘Undecided’ at this point of this election, there is no hope for you. You shouldn’t be voting, and you probably don’t deserve citizenship.

For anyone under the age of 30: No, you cannot vote by text. That is a scam created by the GOP to disenfranchise (cheat) younger, more liberal and phone-prone folks of the vote. Depending on your state, you must vote the way the rules are set up: at your designated precinct, usually. Seriously, look into absentee ballot by mail and early voting, for the next election. If we get one.

If you are a Democrat or Independent voter, especially a POC, and you feel intimidated at any way at the polls, the ACLU has some helpful guidelines here. The Washington Post has an article about voter intimidation here.

Don’t go alone to a polling place you think might be subject to GOP harassment. Take a friend or family member. They can’t vote with you, but they can watch your back before and after.

Depending on your state rules, you may not be able to take a cellphone picture near or inside the polling place. But have your phone charged up, and set up a method of instantly uploading photos. If someone (a GOP/Trumpster pollwatcher) intimidates or harasses you, bring it to the attention of the people in charge of the polls. If people accost you once you are away from the polling place (on the way to a car or bus) be ready to challenge THEM. Be ready to take pics!

If you feel in real danger, call 911 immediately and get to a safe place if you can.

Don’t believe poll numbers or gossip. In a close election, every vote counts, right up to the moment the polls close. Don’t get angry, don’t get discouraged: go vote!

Take time off work to vote: your employer has to give you that time, and most of them don’t want a major bad press/criminal case over it.

No matter what happens tomorrow, try to be kind. Be reasonable and vigilant. Be better informed in the future: get your news and information from sources that have actually been vetted for truth (hint: that wouldn’t be Breitbart, InfoWars, FoxNews, or any of their surrogates.)

The best that America can be…can still rise above this nonsense.

We called it: Trump TV

I suspected a long time ago this election bid of Trump’s was mostly a marketing stunt, until he fell in love with adulation and started saying anything to keep getting it.

Now, in an effort to counter the ‘lying media’, he’s started a ‘news channel’ on Facebook. Guess what it looks like?


Hmm. Anyone remember how long the Sarah Palin Channel lasted?

If Trump weren’t such a dangerous gasbag, I’d almost feel sorry for him. The guy is not well, and no one around him is helping him understand that. I’d think at least his kids cared about their old man, and how this is tarnishing his (their) already brassy legacy.

But no, they’re all riding this thing down like Dr. Strangelove.



Dear Hillary

I’m a registered Independent voter. I’ve been watching your political career since 1992. Your good points are also your bad points: you are a career politician and you show many signs of being a paid corporate shill. Okay. At the worst, that means you know that politics and business are nuanced affairs.

You are also the only adult in the room, when it comes to this American Presidential election. So don’t make Barack Obama’s mistake, of pandering to the sensibilities of racist, homophobic, anti-science, isolationist ‘bitter clingers’ who would rather give blowjobs to a Communist dictator than truly make America Great.

Don’t apologize. Don’t back down. You were right in mentioning that half of Trump’s supporters were well-meaning but desperate people who feel the world has let them down and left them behind.

They aren’t the ones in the basket of deplorables.

Faith and Freedom Coalition Survey, Part 1 (political rant)

Part 1 of 2.

Summary and warning: I get harsh with certain evangelical Christians.

Why did Dr. Ralph Reed and his evangelical Christian Faith and Freedom Coalition send me an advertising pitch disguised as a voter survey? Maybe because I was a registered Republican for many years? I’m a 50ish female Independent voter in Arizona, which is shaping up to be something of a battleground state?

They’re casting their net wide to include me. I haven’t been even a casual Republican for almost 2 decades. I never saw 100% eye-to-eye with many Democratic Party issues, so I became an Independent. I see only the worst tokens of old Republicanism in the Trump cotillion. I also see disturbing parallels to the Nazi Party and Mussolini’s fascist expansion of the late 1930’s.

Even if I were somehow still ‘undecided’, the testimonial letters included in this mailing would be likely enough to push me away. When the likes of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, Ben Carson, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal endorse your movement, I know I’m not welcome in your Big Tent.

So, I thought, I should at least look at this survey, and see what my adversaries are saying. This is new and unscripted: I just opened the thing, and am alternating reading it and typing this post.

Please bear in mind that most of the grammatical and punctuation errors are simply what I’ve copied from the mailing. I’m not editing it beyond paraphrasing when necessary for brevity. The Faith and Freedom folks have a loose idea about grammar and punctuation, I’m afraid.

  1. The survey itself almost exactly mimics a paper ballot in its layout, paper thickness, and size. I’m in marketing, I know this game. Create expectation and anticipation. Fake reality until enough people believe your lie. Frame your narrative to make your conclusion seem correct and inevitable.
  2. The survey opens with a plea to conservative Christian voters to get out and vote in November. It reminds voters that up to 30 million Christian voters stayed home in 2012. In 2014, the coalition prides itself on reaching out to Christian voters, who were only 32% of the electorate but voted 86% Republican, allowing massive sweeps in that midterm election. (Their numbers. I’m not playing fact-check right now.)
  3. The survey aims to energize registered Christian voters and convince the stragglers to register and vote.
  4. The survey expounds repeatedly on the theme that America is doomed unless Christians ‘take it back’ the ‘Left’s radical anti-Christian, anti-family, socialist agenda to transform America.’
  5. The underlying Vote or Die! meme is continued at lower right of the first page, with the direction ‘Continue Official Ballot Inside’ and a large black arrow. I remind my readers this isn’t a real ballot. It’s a fund raising tool aimed at getting millions more dollars for Donald Trump and lesser Republican candidates.

On the inside, again flipped vertical exactly as a legitimate ballot, the survey embarks on 13 questions. Bear with me, as I grab a black ink pen and go through each one.

Question 1: If the election were held today, for whom would you vote? I get a choice of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or a blank spot for a write-in candidate.

Even with my skepticism about Clinton’s ties to big business…and as tempting as it might be to write in ‘Giant Meteor’…I choose Clinton. Why? Because Donald Trump appears to show signs of several psychological disorders, and can’t be trusted with a New Jersey casino, let alone what I think is still one of the greatest countries on earth.

Question 2: How do you rate Barack Obama’s performance as President? I get the choice of Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Abysmal, or Undecided.

I choose Fair because I think that we did not get Candidate Obama or even The Rock Obama…we got someone who waffled a lot, was under the delusion he would get any kind of compromise from this new psychotic GOP, and allowed the Republicans to pretty much frame the national narrative over the last eight years. A typical Democratic flaw, alas.

Question 3: If Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected President in 2016, do you think she would be an improvement over Barack Obama, about the same, or worse for America’s future? (Nice leading language on that last point, folks. Frank Luntz should be proud of you.) I get the choice of Worse, A Slight Improvement, No Opinion, About the Same, A Big Improvement, and a large write-in spot for Other. (I’m estimating it’s large enough for one of several Fox Talking Point rants.)

I chose About the Same and write it in, because I see no reason she would change. But then I realize there is one good thing about Clinton’s nearly 30 years of experience with GOP adversaries: she already knows their tricks and probably won’t tolerate as many of their tantrums as Obama has. But I’ve already written in ‘About the Same’. And while Barack Obama has disappointed me in many respects, he and Hillary Clinton share an important trait: they’re both intelligent, rational adults.

Before we get to the next question, we have a block of highlighted text announcing an Issue Summary. Why? Because the Coalition wants to make sure we survey takers understand the Terrible Peril We Face if we answer the next question wrong.

Partial summary text: ‘The next President is likely to have three new Supreme Court Justices and will set the direction of the Supreme Court for generations.’ Then follows some dog-whistle language about gay marriage and other ‘outrageous and unconstitutional rulings’. Imagine the liberal orgy if more left-wing judges get appointed! I have two words to answer that: Citizens United. Liberal-leaning judges did not jam that one through the SCOTUS. Nor did Dems screw with the Voting Rights Act.

After all that, the next question is almost anticlimactic.

Question 4: How important to you is it that we elect a President who will appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges who will follow the Constitution of the United States and NOT just make up their own laws in accordance with their own personal ideological views?

Room here for a comment here about psychological transference, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas. I’m given the choices of Essential to America’s survival as the “land of the free”, Very Important, Not Important, Important, No Opinion, or that pesky big blank line for Other (another slot for a Talking Point, yay.)

I’m choosing Essential to America’s survival as the “land of the free”, though not for the reasons these alleged patriots might want. For all his faults, Obama is a constitutional scholar. I think the Supreme Court has been hampered (and its reputation harmed) by the actions of Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas…who all played fast and loose with their take on the Constitution.

Not to mention the deep horror I feel while contemplating who and what Donald Trump might appoint as a SCOTUS judge. A business crony? A horse? His wife? A Putin or Erdogan puppet? If he appoints Christian theological judges, we’re up for the Christian version of Sharia Law. No thanks.

Oh, look, another Issue Summary. More spoon feeding leading statements.

‘It’s now obvious that Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Democrat Party are trying to transform the voting electorate in America by granting amnesty and ultimately citizenship to the estimated 20,000,000 illegal aliens now living in America and inviting tens of millions more illegal immigrants to break into America to become voters. This is how they aim to “fundamentally transform” America (as Obama put it) into a one-party socialist country. According to a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies, 76 percent of immigrants in America who have children are now on at least one welfare program.’

My reaction: What? I think your numbers are far higher than they really are, and I wouldn’t trust any think tank you reference.

I live in the Southwest, I see immigration issues all the time. There are some real problems, but honestly it’s not as bad as you’d think. The real issue, hidden behind all this coded language, is flat out racism, fear of the future, and fear of a Zero Sum Game in which poor white people are last onto the life rafts. Lyndon Johnson pointed out decades ago that as long as poor white people have someone else to piss on, they feel better about their own faults and failures.

Immigrants made the America we love. My Cherokee ancestors might have something to say about all those white people who rolled into Georgia and the Carolinas, and thanks to Andrew Jackson sent my folks on the delightful gallivant known as the Trail of Tears. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure some of those Cherokee ancestors (and English, and German ones) also owned slaves.

I would like to believe in a changing world adapting to terrible pressures, through better social instincts and better science. We are actually in a much less violent world than the one our ancestors knew. We just see more of the awful stuff because of the 24 hour news cycle and the internet. This isn’t a Zero Sum Game in which one group’s gains mean another group’s loss. We can rise together.

So give me what is sure to be your travesty of a next question:

Question 5: How concerned are you about this invasion of illegal aliens that is now overwhelming America’s health care, welfare, and public school system? I’m given the choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or No Opinion.

I pick Not Concerned, because this is a straw man issue hiding a lot of other very real problems with health care, welfare, and the public schools. Most of those problems I can lay at the feet of my once-brethren in the GOP, plus a few idiotic Democrats.

Question 6: How concerned are you that, because of this invasion of illegal aliens, we are coming to a point when a conservative pro-freedom candidate will never win another Presidential election in America? I am given the choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or No Opinion.

To be fair, I pick Not Concerned, although I would much rather have a write in spot for I SEE YOU, YOU OLD SCARED ASSHOLES! I SEE EXACTLY WHAT THIS IS ABOUT.

This is an issue about freedom, to this coalition: Their freedom to worship and live as they chose, and deny anyone different that same choice. No tolerance. Their way or none. They and ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram are all the same mindset. It’s just that the Islamic terrorists have gotten away with it by violence, and the evangelical Christians have learned to play the game with politics over the last 50 years. It’s more subtle, but it spells the same doom for the vibrant progressive America that I love.

Donald Trump’s latest angle is repealing some tax-restrictive policies that supposedly inhibit and threaten free worship today…but were once enthusiastically championed by Republicans, when those provisions were drafted to hamper socialist organizations.

You know what, Coalition? I think those tax policies don’t go far enough. I’d like to see NO TAX EVASION from churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship. Get a crowbar into those coffers. Pay your share. Render unto Caesar, and all that jazz. Many churches do wonderful, responsible social safety-net work with their tithes. Many others allow their pastors to have gold toilets and Lear Jets. We’re talking billions of dollars in cash, bonds, stock, precious metals, and property.

What next? Oh, stars, another Issue Summary:

‘We have reached a point in America that government will crack down hard on you if you adhere to Christian moral teachings. Christian bakers, photographers, and wedding service providers are being fined by the courts and threatened with prison for declining to participate in gay wedding ceremonies. One Christian baker in Oregon was fined $135,000 for declining to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage ceremony.’

Ugh. I can’t even ponder the GIF I should use for my reaction. Other than a big fat link to all the fact check sites that tell the real versions of these stories. This is just more dog-whistle code.

So-called ‘moral’ viewpoints on gay issues are sharply generational: if you are under 35 you are much more likely to see gay marriage and other gay issues as norms and non threatening. And that scares the crap out of older white conservatives.

I’m not threatened by gay marriage. I don’t think that conservative businesses should be railroaded as much as they might have been, but some of the Culture Wars anti-gay stuff I’ve seen has been ridiculous. If I were a gay person, I wouldn’t ask a conservative to bake my wedding cake. I wouldn’t sue the baker, I’d just agree to disagree and go elsewhere.

But the baker’s side won’t back down, because their entire moral viewpoint is shaped by shutting down and shunning anything that is not their ‘norm’. They not only do not want me to have their cake if I’m gay or somehow ‘other’, they don’t want me to have any cake, or any wedding, or any legal protection against harassment and violence.

Time and again, I see language from the Christian right that conflates ‘compromise’ with ‘criminalize’. Like this next question, which I saw coming several paragraphs ago.

Question 7: How concerned are you that Christianity (which includes Christian moral teachings) is quickly becoming criminalized in America? I’m given a choice of Very Concerned, Not Concerned, Concerned, or I Want Christianity Criminalized.

Sigh. The choices ignore the nuances of compromise and coexistence. I’m an agnostic at best, atheistic to a degree, and always a skeptic. I would not mourn if the more virulent forms of *all* fundamentalist religions were contained or eradicated. I’ve been reading some fascinating and chilling social studies articles about early human societies and the possible links between religiously motivated human sacrifice, authoritarian government, and oppressed populations. Big religion almost always seeks out incestuous relationships with power and privilege. The Trumps and Putins of the world will always court legitimacy with craven or naive religious leaders.

I’m fairly certain that Putin made his deals with the Russian Orthodox Church not because he believes, but because it’s a useful alliance. In Turkey, Erdogan wants a less secular society because the pro Islamist factions are more likely to prop up his personality-cult style of government. Trump is not a moral person by many of the measures Christian conservatives know. By rights, many more of them *should* be labeling him an Anti-Christ. But they and he think they can each control and use the other.

Like any religion, the moderate expression of Christianity is not a bad thing. I have fond memories of the staunch hardworking Calvinists, gentle Presbyterians, and level-headed Methodists I knew growing up. Instead of the ancient Mediterranean cultures’ focus on individuals as cogs in destiny or a state machine, early Christianity gave revolutionary precedence to individual human beings and their personal relationship with the Divine. (That it also encouraged slaves to meekly accept their earthly lot in exchange for exalted rewards in Heaven is a bit bogus, I’ve always thought.)

So no, I emphatically do NOT want to outlaw Christianity. I would like checks and balances on irrational Christian persecution complexes before they lead to the next American Civil War or World War III.

I vote Not Concerned on Question 7, simply because you assholes didn’t give me a reasonable choice.

Ramping up the persecution complex is the next Issue Summary: ‘Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is telling Christians that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” In other words, she is saying Christians need to change their beliefs to agree with gay marriage and abortion-on-demand (including partial birth abortion) and even threatens saying, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” [against those who subscribe to Christian moral beliefs].’

Okay, wow, let me unpack that for a moment. Cultures change. Secularism and humanism is on the rise, and that terrifies some Christians. Not all, I might add: Reed’s coalition and his like-minded allies certainly do not speak for all Christian-identifying folks in America. Demographics shows that younger Americans are far more likely to be un-Churched if not nonreligious than older citizens. Reed and his coalition know they are on the losing side of history, and this is their last attempt to hold onto their cherished moral beliefs.

Some of which are good, and some are awful. I’ve read my Bible through multiple times, I’ve seen the sublime passages, the ridiculous, the unsavory, and the horrifying.

The conservative right has made demons out of the liberal left. The liberal left has typically passively ignored or mocked many of the right’s complaints. But if conservatives push too far the other way, they risk utterly alienating not only this younger generation, but many more to follow. Moderation and compromise are not utter defeat. If that’s the only language you understand, so be it.

(Continued in Part 2.)


Orlando (infuriating content)

So this was going to be a narrow-focused publishing rant about Peter Thiel, Pixar, Diverse Voices, and hypocrisy…

But then Orlando happened: first the senseless death of a harmless, gifted young woman, then the carnage last night, more innocent lives lost at the Pulse nightclub. The latter apparently caused by a young Muslim man with access to assault weapons and a deep disgust of gay people.

I have friends in Orlando who are still trying to find their loved ones, this morning.

So now this is going to be a very nasty, confrontational rant with a somewhat larger focus.

My premise: there is no fundamental difference between the flavors of religiously motivated violence. ISIS or Christian, Hindu Nationalist, Jewish Orthodox, African animists, the militant form of Buddhism growing in Myanmar…these groups are only distinguished by what their most violent adherents can get away with. 

I do not contest that religion itself can be a useful social construct probably equally important as trade, to the development of civilization.

But I also propose that *every religion* carries the lurking seeds of its worst aspects: of social oppression, human sacrifice, slavery in many forms, terrorist attacks against its ideological opponents, theocratic tyranny or oligarchy, and the chilling indoctrination that creates a placid or cowed population. If we are to elevate the better parts of religion, we must as a species commit to pruning back the poison weeds that threaten it and us.

I put forward that while ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda are guilty of horrific crimes against humanity, they are only achieving what many other religious groups appear to fantasize about. ‘Good Christian’ senators and pastors regularly invoke vicious wish-fulfillment prayers against political opponents and targeted minorities. Donald Trump is a master at whipping his largely white, racist supporters into near-violence, then stepping back, then claiming butt-hurt and innocence when fights break out.

We need tolerance, if we are to continue as a species worthy of surviving. If gay people kissing in front of us disgusts us, we need to not take it personally, and look the fuck away.

We need to not care so much what a person looks like, how they dress, or what personal pronouns they use to self-identify.

We need to not tie our daughters to petrol-soaked beds and set them afire, for the crimes of marrying for love, controlling their fertility, or learning to read.

We need to not be hysterical about where people pee and poop…unless it’s to make sure that people can eliminate in peace, in safety, in clean places where they will not be subject to sewage-borne diseases or sexual assault. All people.

We need to rely on logic, teamwork, police work, and yes, even bureacracy to solve crimes like Orlando, instead of mob rule and overreaction. To understand that most of our Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, etc. friends and co-workers just want to live their lives in peace, too. Most humans are not horrible, and can be pretty decent to each other. We actually live in an era where social and military violence have been decreasing. Terrorists of any stripe are terrified of losing their status, so they’re lashing out.

Unfortunately, when they lash out they not only claim innocent lives, they endanger humanity as a whole. We cannot afford to backslide from science, rationality, and tolerance, not when the next few hundred years are already going to be hard enough.

If humanity can’t figure that out, then I don’t think we deserve to survive.