I like Thomas Jefferson’s stance on church state separation. And I loathe and detest everything else about the man. When I read about Jefferson, the saying about a broken clock being right twice a day comes to mind.
Yesterday morning the local UU hosted a discussion on how to reach out to people warped by intolerance and help them to become tolerant. It is a vital discussion, especially given the current climate, but the whole time I was there I felt a critical component was missing. While the information was good and vital, such as don’t mock people’s beliefs, try to find the common ground, etc, several people talked about how they just couldn’t have these conversations without them deteriorating. As I was driving home it hit me. It’s easy to talk about calmly having these discussions with people who hold intolerant viewpoints in a safe setting filled with people who agree with you. It’s another thing to hold them when you hear someone spout hatred, especially if you are, like I am in the southern US, surrounded by people who hold these views.
Right now I am in shock at just how quickly Trump’s war on liberty is advancing. I feared it would happen, but I foolishly thought it would advance over a period of months. I did not imagine it would be this bad a week out. The assaults on liberty are numerous that before I can write on one, another happens.
There’s a lot going on this week that is alarming. The news that Trump is planning to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by undocumented workers is one of them. As someone with a background in psychology, let me explain.
You know how flying an airplane is the safest way to travel but people think it’s dangerous or get nervous flying? Well, the reason is because of the availability heuristic. We think airplanes crashes are common because when they happen, we hear them about them on the news, when in actually, airplanes crashes are rare, which is why they make the news. Meanwhile, car crashes which are extremely common and happen everyday, don’t make the news and people don’t worry about getting into a car, even though it is the most dangerous thing each of us will do on a daily basis.
When I was teaching psychology I would have my students raise their hand if they’d ever been in a car accident versus a plane crash. Most would raise their hand for car crash, but no one had ever been in a plane crash. Even with this, my students would still have a hard time accepting that planes were safe because they could all remember hearing about plane crashes on the news, and not car crashes.
Now, the data tells us that undocumented workers are no more likely to commit crimes than other people, and that they don’t bring waves of crime into the US. Yet if Trump publishes a weekly list singling out undocumented workers, well, think about this in the context of the availability heuristic and put two and two together.
Here it is spelled out. The list goes out, people here about it on a weekly basis, so contrary to what statistics and other evidence tells us, people think undocumented workers cause more crime than they do, and you basically build a scapegoat. Undocumented workers don’t cause crime. The causes of crime are complex and stem from multiple sources. Creating scapegoats will not do anything about crime, but it will create a vulnerable group of people for others to target their anger at.
Bottom line, this is wrong, and the consequences are horrendous to contemplate on.
Yesterday, 28 constituents, tired of being unable to leave messages with Senator Cruz, visited his office to talk with him directly. Not only were they denied permission to see him, go into his office, or talk with his staffers, but they called police to ask them to leave the property. You can see the video here.
After they left, Cruz actually shut down his office for the day.
This is only feeding my belief that my government does not care about my voice or what I think and does not represent me. And that elected officials are doing this is extremely concerning to me. It indicates they feel they do not need to answer to the people.
I have major phone anxiety, but I have been calling my representatives, begging them not to confirm Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. Among many things, she has stated she feels whether to implement IDEA, which is what guarantees children with disabilities and education, should be left to the states. This is done in the so-called name of school choice. Yet private voucher schools don’t have to accept children with disabilities. So what sort of choice is that for families like my own?
Even with IDEA, schools in Texas try to do as little as possible for children with disabilities. They were actually investigated by the Feds at the end of last year for putting illegal caps on how many children could be diagnosed with a disability. I have no doubt that if it is up to the states whether or not to enforce IDEA, then my son’s right to an education goes out the window.
While Buddy is not currently in public school, we are hoping to get there with him someday. And the thought that we may not have that option scares me. Further, I actually care about families with children with disabilities who can’t afford/don’t have the training to pursue alternative methods and will be left with nothing if public schools refuse to take their children.
And bluntly, Cruz’s actions are telling me he does not care what I think and about families like mine. This is not the behavior any elected official should adhere to. The people of Texas are paying his salary and for his office. We deserve to be heard.
On Friday, a group of volunteers from Planned Parenthood visited Paul Ryan’s office to hand deliver over 87,000 signatures asking Ryan to not defund Planned Parenthood. Not only did Ryan refuse to see them, but he sent six armed security guards down to prevent them from even delivering the petition.
This is the message I am getting from Ryan: I don’t give a damn.
Back in 2008 I was in graduate school when President Obama was running for president for the first time. One of my professors talked a lot about current events, and would remark on how amazing it is that in America, people let go of power and hand it to someone else. As a born and raised American, this was unremarkable to be. It’s the way it always has been.