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Socio-Economic Collapse in the Congo: Causes and Solutions

Posted: July 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

by Marie Rose Mukeni Beya

The history of the Congo is long. Some historians think that Early Congo History began with waves of Bantu migrations moving into the Congo River basin from 2000 B.C. to 500 A.D. and then gradually started to expand Southward. The modern history of the Congo may be divided into four periods starting in 1885, after the Conference of Berlin divided Africa into separate states which were then ruled by Europeans imperial powers.

Colonization. King Leopold II of Belgium acquired control over the Congo territory in 1885. He named it the Congo Free State, and ruled it as his private property from 1877-1908. The Belgian parliament took over the colony from the king in 1908. The Belgian Congo achieved independence on June 30, 1960 under new leadership representatives of various political parties. Mr. Joseph Kasavubu of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) party was elected the President; Patrice-Emery Lumumba, the leader of the National Movement of the Congo or MNC, became prime minister, and Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Mobutu (Mobutu Sese Seko) was appointed as chief-of-staff of the new army, the National Army of the Congo (ANC), and became the also Secretary of State. The new nation was given the name Republic of Congo.

Adjustment and Crisis. The Congo spent the first half of the 1960s adjusting to its independence. In 1961, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] was destabilized by army mutinies, unrests, riots, rebellions and the secession of the countrys richest region, Katanga, soon followed by a similar move in the Southeastern Kasai Province, which declared itself the Independent Mining State of South Kasai. The United Nations played a critical role in managing this crisis, which was further compounded by the trial of strength at the center between President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba, culminating in Lumumbas assassination at the hands of the Katangan secessionists in January 1961.

Dictatorship. In 1965 Mobutu, by then commander-in-chief of the army, seized control of the Congolese territory and declared himself the countrys president, head of the sole political party. In 1971 he renamed the country the Republic of Zaire. Once prosperous, the country markedly declined. Rampant corruption and abuse of the civilian population ensued. The need for change was widely understood; various political parties were organized, presidential elections were held and social justice programs initiated. The Sovereign National Conference in 1992 brought together more than two thousand representatives from various political parties and NGOs.

The Congo is Rich in Human and Natural Resources. It has the third largest population in Sub-Saharan Africa: 65.8 million. It has the second largest rain forest in the world. Precipitation is ample; it rains six to eight months of the year. Agriculture was profitable before the economy failed. It was 56.3 % of the GDP. Main cash crops include coffee, palm oil, rubber, cotton, sugar, tea and cocoa. But the revenue collected from the agricultural work and farming has greatly diminished in the past decade and is now only 15 % of the GDP. The DRC is rich in a variety of minerals: copper, cobalt, diamond, gold, zinc, oil, uranium, columbite/tantalite (coltan, an essential material for cell phones and other electronics) and other rare metals. Traditionally, one mining company in upper Katanga named Gecamines has dominated mining. Copper and cobalt accounted for 75% of the total export revenues, and about 25 % of the countrys GDP. The DRC was the worlds fourth-largest producer of industrial diamonds during the 1980s. Despite the abundance of resources, the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world. The countrys official economy has collapsed in the last few decades due to hyperinflation, mismanagement and corruption, war, conflict and general instability, political crisis and economic dislocation. Moreover, the spread of HIV/AIDS has contributed to an overall deterioration. As the DRC is hit by the global economic downturn, exports (lumber, oil, diamonds and other ores in particular) have declined, whereas the high costs for imports of most basic needs remain unchanged. The consequence is an acute deterioration of the balance of trade and the collapse of foreign investments. The DRCs foreign debt stands at over $10 billion. M. R. M. B.

Decade of Conflict. In May 1997, Joseph Kabila, leader of a rebel movement supported by neighboring countries, challenged Mobutu and forced him to leave the country. Kabila seized control, declared himself president and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. After Kabila was assassinated in January, 2001, power was transferred to his son Joseph Kabila II by appointment. On December 18, 2005, for only the second time in 46 years the Congolese voted in a presidential election. Kabila won the elections against his opponent Bemba. This has sparked off riots and civil war.

Since the beginning of its independence in 1960 to date, instability has prevailed in the DRC. Although significant attempts have been made to stabilize the political and military establishments, the Congolese people still live in an all-pervasive state of insecurity. This has made a shambles of the economy and social conditions for the Congolese people. The poorest, as always, are the most affected.

Since 1998, an estimated 3.3 million people, mostly women, children and elderly have been killed as a result of armed conflicts. Another 2.3 million, according to NGOs reports in 2003, are homeless. The wars caused a drastic increase in the number of orphans, helping to create the gruesome phenomenon known as child soldiers.

The wars also exacerbated ethnic tensions over land and territory in Eastern Congo, posing a long-term challenge for the transition to peace. Because of domestic conflicts in the neighboring countries Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, Central Africa and Angola many civilian refugees and displaced soldiers fled to and infiltrated the DRC. Some insurgent groups attacking contiguous countries use the DRC as their base. This created regional tensions, and deteriorated the DRCs relationships with neighboring countries. In the Eastern DRC, violence erupted between Congolese and the newcomers. This conflict is exacerbated by ethnic tensions in Eastern Congo. In the Kivu Region, Congolese militia (MaiMai) still fights to protect their land. During the wars, the spread of HIV/AIDS has drastically increased, and this affects all aspects of the social, economic and political life. Many factors have contributed to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the DRC, including poverty, lack of education, cultural norms, and war. Women and girls are raped and sexually exploited by the military in their own homes. Poverty drives some girls into prostitution, which increases their risk of becoming infected. Although some NGOs are focusing on the situation of women and girls, especially in the post conflict period, little has been done; women and girls remain defenseless. Recently international resources have become available to fight HIV/AIDS, but funds are not being used properly.

It is crucial to establish a new order. This means a new, uncorrupted and disciplined government, capable of improving the living conditions of the average Congolese. As a precondition the DRC must hold fair democratic elections. The future government must focus on education. Child education should become the number one priority. Be educated or perish. It is mandatory to shift the priorities from military security to peoples social welfare and development. Political corruption must be removed, and human rights violations must be dealt with, but everything depends on the eradication of poverty.

Commitment of all parties is needed: The DRC government, leaders of political movements and civil society, administrators, professionals, workers, in brief the Congolese citizenry on all levels. Men and women, adults as well as youth must be involved in the process of change. Local services, churches, NGOs, and international organizations must cooperate in support of political change.

The fight against poverty starts by properly managing available financial resources, and discouraging corruption. The available resources must be used properly. The annual budget must be voted upon, the budget plan respected, and the expenditures must be disciplined and limited. Auditing all economic activity on a regular basis should be mandatory.

Corruption occurs because the individuals cannot satisfy their basic needs (food, health care, clothing, education, employment, wages, etc.). In order to prevent corruption the government should proceed with the following steps:

The private sector and the national organizations must be encouraged to create more jobs.

Workers in both private and public sectors should get paid on a regular basis. The wage rates should be based on the work experience and educational background of the worker. The minimum wage must cover expenditures for basic needs.

Salaries must be readjusted and periodically augmented, regardless of boom-bust cycles.

Taxes must be used to rebuild infrastructures. People need to be educated to pay their taxes, which should be understood as constructive contributions to social welfare.

Taxes should be increased on natural resources and unearned incomes, and decreased on earned incomes from production.

Finally, the government should address the tragic violation of human rights. People must be taught their human rights, and trained apply these rights in the appropriate situations. For example, people need to report human rights violations, discrimination and injustice, and to defend themselves against sexual harassment. A strong, functional judicial system must be established. People must understand and believe that human rights abuses will not be tolerated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Marie Rose Mukeni Beya, Ph.D. is a psychologist specializing in child development. Prior to coming to the US, she was head of the Psychology Dept. at the University of Kinshasa. She currently teaches Georgist economics at the Henry George School in New York. She is fluent in French, English, Swahili, Lingala, and Tshiluba.

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Latinos For Tennessee | Faith, Family, Freedom, and Fiscal …

Posted: at 3:58 pm

Donate Supreme Court Affirms Rule of Law; Separation of Powers in DAPA Ruling

June 23, 2016

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 23, 2016 Supreme Court Affirms Rule of Law; Separation of Powers in DAPA Ruling Nashville, Tennessee The Supreme Court of the United States handed down President Barack Obama a major defeat by deadlocking on the United States v Texas, No. 15-674, a case concerning the legality of an

March 29, 2016

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 29, 2016 Latinos for Tennessee Urges Passage of HB2414 Nashville, Tennessee Today, Raul Lopez, Executive Director for Latinos for Tennessee, a statewide organization dedicated to promoting and defending faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility to the Latino community in Tennessee issued a statement concerning Tennessee House Bill 2414,

March 23, 2016

President Barack Obama made history this week by becoming the first sitting United States President in nearly nine decades to visit the communist island of Cuba. As a Cuban that fled to the United States seeking refuge from Communism, it has been tough to watch images of the president shaking hands with Cuban President Raul

March 17, 2016

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 17, 2016 Media contact: Israel Ortega izzy.ortega@gmail.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Salutes Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey Nashville, Tennessee For over two decades, Tennesseans have been able to rely on Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey as a tireless advocate for freedom, limited government and the free enterprise system. Latinos

February 27, 2016

Even as the number of Latinos in Nashville and elsewhere around the country grows, misinformation abounds about the fastest and youngest growing demographic community. The biggest misconception is that Latinos all speak in one voice. This is patently false and does a great deal of disservice to the millions of individuals who are unique and

February 11, 2016

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 11, 2016 Media contact: Israel Ortega izzy.ortega@gmail.com (202) 345-9130 Tennessee House Honors Tommy Vallejos, Latinos for Tennessee Board Chairman Nashville, Tennessee Today, the Tennessee House honored Clarksville, TN County Commissioner Tommy Vallejos, a gang-member turned U.S. Army Gulf War Veteran and now Pastor, for his contributions to the

October 12, 2015

September 16, 2015

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega iortega@crispcomm.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Makes Appeal to Policymakers for Greater School Choice to Help Close Educational Achievement Gap Nashville, Tennessee Latinos for Tennessee, an organization dedicated to providing the Hispanic community in the state with information

August 24, 2015

When the job numbers came out early this month, they were not pretty especially for the Latino community. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for the Latino community had risen to 6.8% well above the national average of 5.3%. These numbers suggest that in spite of claims that

July 14, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega iortega@crispcomm.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Co-Hosts Nashville Mayoral Forum on Tuesday Six candidates for Mayor confirmed to attend; Metro Council Candidates also confirmed Nashville, Tennessee Six of the seven candidates vying to become the next mayor of Nashville are set to appear before

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Principality of Sealand – Uncyclopedia – Wikia

Posted: at 3:58 pm

The Principality of Sealand (not to be confused with SeaWorld, who ignores our annexation requests) is a glorious country off the coast of England that is loved by many, and feared by all; at least it would be if not for the fact that no other nation recognizes its true sovereignty, probably out of envy. This land of hope and glory conveniently occupies the space of an abandoned sea fort, standing above the English Channel, and is ruled by the honorable Bates family. Prince Roy and Prince Regent Michael Bates shield the young nation from dangers foreign and internal alike. Though the Principality of Sealand has experienced innumerable hardships and trials, it has since emerged as a powerful and respected governmental entity, despite what everyone else says. They’re just jealous, the overbearing twits.

Not pictured is the massive, sprawling underwater city home to thousands of royal servants and citizens.

It isn’t proven that the Principality of Sealand didn’t originate from the very nethers of Venus herself, so we have to presume that this is so. History says that Sealand was originally an old WWII sea fort that was occupied by a less than sane Pirate Radio broadcaster in the late 1960’s, but we all know that history is a confusing, unclear subject, and any dissenter could fabricate fallacies to discredit others. It is in fact well known that Sealand was the true homeland of its now prince Paddy Roy Bates [1].

For several years, the nascent nation prospered, bringing in an era of peace and prosperity within all 0.55km2 of its land. Other than a few ramblers foolish enough to trespass its borders to spy under the guise of “fishing” or “buoy repairs”, Sealand was peaceful, thanks to the rule of the Bates family, and the hard work of its citizens (all two of them). Sadly, this peace was to be short lived; it was only a matter of time before someone tried to invade the country. While the Bates family was in a diplomatic trip in London, a group of German and Dutch mercenaries, led by the generally unpleasant Alexander Achenbach, self proclaimed Prime Minister of Sealand, temporarily occupied the fort, and took Roy Bates’ son Michael hostage[2]. Through what we can only assume as a daring rescue mission involving spectacular heroics, Roy Bates retook his land and saved his son. To this day, the vile invaders still wait patiently for the day when Roy Bates dies, running their government-in-exile in their mother’s basement.

After the Achenbach Debacle of ’78, Sealand was again at peace. Benefiting from the lack of dirty foreigners poisoning the mother land with their “hopes” and “aspirations for the future”, the Principality expanded, eventually reaching the dark underbelly of Cyberspace! HavenCo, which was co-owned by Prince Regent Michael Bates and Ryan Lackey, was a titular haven of unregulated data and other technobabble terms, free from the chains of rules and petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small. And with the sweat of your brow, HavenCo could’ve became your Data Haven as well if not for its sudden closure in 2008.

A large number of counterfeit Sealand passports were in circulation, used by criminals to aide in their crimes and, worst of all, not serve the motherland. Because of this, the Royal Bates family had to revoke all Sealand passports, including ones officially issued by them over the past twenty two years.

On July of 2006, a fire which was allegedly caused by an electrical failure, almost threatened the existence of the young nation. The situation got so bad that a helicopter was needed to ferry citizens to safety. Luckily, the fire was stopped, and the fort was completely repaired by November of that year. Some fishermen were found within a mile of the fort right before the fire, and were executed following a thorough, one-hour investigation.

Unbeknownst to most, the Magna Carta was actually based on Sealand’s constitution, despite the mild time differences.

The Principality of Sealand is ruled by the Royal Bates family under a constitutional monarchy. All of the power is vested on the Royal Family and their associates. Anyone who says otherwise will be thrown off. Though this system of government may be somewhat similar to another certain island nation to the north, Sealand actually invented the concept of monarchy, and anyone using it owes Sealand large amounts of money. Claims that the Principality of Sealand is a fascist state are unsubstantiated and will be met with severe punishment from the police force. Currently, Michael Bates is Prince Regent, the head of state and the de facto ruler of the Principality, although Roy Bates still holds the title of Prince. The fact that Roy Bates would name himself “Prince” instead of “King” shows that he still considers humility a principal virtue, as do all of subjects that bask in his glory.

The Sealand Royal Family is to be addressed with utmost respect, and any signs of disrespect, such as not calling Roy Bates’s wife, Princess (she likes that, you know) will be met with deportation via defenestration.

No government has recognized Sealand’s state as a country. In fact, they believe that the Principality is merely a micronation run by a deranged pirate broadcaster that managed to evade the law by living in international waters, despite the fact that these claims are extremely silly and not-at-all true.

Since the only thing that Sealand has an abundance of is patriotism and sea watertwo things most people already have too much ofthe Principality of Sealand currently has nothing to export; the only things Sealand imports is porta-potties and food, and both items are only to be used by the royal family (royal servants are fed barnacles and sea water). Despite the setbacks in the economy (or lack thereof), the Principality of Sealand still issues currency for use in buying and selling goods within the country’s borders.

To help with the monetary costs of the maintenance needed to support the Principality, Sealand has recently begun selling T-shirts, mugs, pens, and other trinkets to online buyers. While supplies last, see store for details. The country has also started selling the titles of Lord, Lady, Baron, and Baroness to people, to fill the high demand of internet users wanting to be part of royalty. Tourists are occasionally welcomed into the motherland, mostly for sightseeing and good PR. Other times, we allow certain allies into the fort, but due to the Achenbach debacle, Sealand has much more strict immigration laws than other countries. Sealand has been attacked by terrorists before, and if the rest of the world had followed Sealand’s example, the Earth would’ve been completely free of suspicious foreigners.

Sealand has had amicable relations with its allies all around the world: all two of them!

Sealand has had a long and complicated history with the motherland, ranging from mild annoyance to unsympathetic apathy. Like all other nations, it does not recognize Sealand as a true country, but it does make sure not to trifle with Sealand’s business: the country lies in international waters, and it is much easier to ignore someone than to be completely hostile with them if they don’t directly antagonize you. The Royal Bates family originally hailed from England, and still has citizenship there, but during diplomatic visits to their previous homeland, they don’t seem to be treated with the same dignity and respect as other diplomats. Yes, it’s true that being a diplomat allows you free food at any restaurant franchise for life, regardless of what the manager says.

Sealand has had a somewhat complicated history with Germany: Alexander Achenbach came from Deutschland, and so did a lot of his cronies. On the other hand, Germany did send a diplomat to Sealand to petition for Achenbachs’ release, so according to rules set by Sealand, this was a diplomatic mission, and counts as a recognition of Sealand’s nationhood, right?

Russia scares us. No further comments.

The future is one thing that most Sealanders are quite wary of (not Prince Roy though, he can smell time), but uncertainty has never stopped the Principality of Sealand from reaching its lofty goals. Sealand already has a film in the works, and the space program is already burgeoning, despite minor setbacks involving catapult malfunctions. Though some might cower at the face of tomorrow, we spit in tomorrow’s face, tell it to cry to its mother while making an effigy of tomorrow, and then lighting it on fire with the decomposing stomach gases of tomorrow’s close relatives.

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Libertarian Johnson defends Melania Trump on speech

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:24 am

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson defended Melania Trump during a stop in Chicago Tuesday, saying he could understand how the wife of soon-to-be Republican nominee Donald Trump could have mistakenly plagiarized parts of the speech she delivered to the GOP convention Monday night.

A few sentences of the address Melania Trump delivered in Cleveland were nearly identical to passages of first lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2008, a revelation that dominated coverage of the presidential race Tuesday.

And while Johnson has sought to appeal to middle-of-the-road voters fed up with Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he did not seek to capitalize on the latest Trump flub following an appearance before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.

“Here’s what I make of it, and it’s a defense of Melania: She’s brought into this, make a few comments, Melania, make it from the heart and I don’t know what the circumstances are,” said Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico. “But maybe she got online and ‘what did Michelle do’ … or some staff did for her. Anyway, no stones cast on my part.”

Asked if the mistake reflected poorly on the campaign and Trump’s leadership, Johnson punted. “There will be others to do that. I’ll refrain. I just can see how it could happen,” he said, before starting to laugh. “Whoever did it, should have done a better job of paraphrasing as opposed to (using) just the exact lines.”

Johnson was joined by his running mate, former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Bill Weld, as the two tried to make the case for their third-party campaign. They positioned their ticket as the campaign of the center conservative on fiscal matters but liberal on social issues.

“I’m maintaining in this cycle that most people are Libertarian, it’s just that they don’t know it,” said Johnson, who noted he first identified himself philosophically as a Libertarian in 1971, though he later ran for office as a Republican. It was that year when he read a short book on what it meant to be a Libertarian and decided he was one.

The name of the book or author? “I can’t even remember.”

But Johnson said he did remember voting Libertarian for the first time in 1984, when he said he cast a ballot for David Bergland over Republican President Ronald Reagan, because “Reagan had blown the lid off the deficits.”

During the hourlong session with the Tribune Editorial Board, Johnson often took a back seat to Weld, who spoke more and jumped to answer many of the questions as the presidential nominee looked on.

If elected, the two said they’d cut federal spending by 20 percent in their first budget and would eliminate the Department of Education, Department of Commerce and Department of Housing and Urban Development. They said they’d place states in charge of Medicare and Medicaid and allow them the autonomy to determine their own eligibility rules. And they said they’d cut back on unnecessary military spending and try to close unneeded bases.

Johnson said Clinton and Trump had their “heads in the sand” on Social Security and vowed to reform the system by increasing the retirement age and making income a factor in whether individuals qualify for assistance.

And Johnson said he was the highest-ranking elected official in the country calling for the legalization of marijuana back in 1999, a position he’s still pushing today.

As for his opponents, Johnson said the Trump agenda is fascism, calling his vows to round up and deport illegal immigrants “horrible” and “incendiary.”

Added Weld: “There has to be a change in tone. Mr. Trump is very much a part of the problem and not part of the solution. I make a point of saying in a Johnson-Weld White House, you’re not going to get any bullying and you’re not going to get any bluffing, you’re not going to get any sanctimonious lectures.”

Johnson said Clinton’s agenda is one of being beholden, predicting higher taxes and a mantra of “just give us the money, we’ll take on more of the problems.”

Much of Johnson and Weld’s work right now is to convince voters their ticket has legitimacy. There are a lot of what-ifs.

The federal debate commission requires candidates to receive at least 15 percent support in polls to be included in this fall’s televised debate, a policy Johnson’s campaign has challenged in court. Still, the two projected they’d reach the 15 percent threshold anyway, noting a recent CNN poll that had them receiving 13 percent of the vote. The Real Clear Politics average has Johnson receiving 8.5 percent.

Weld said “it’s possible” former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will endorse their campaign. He also noted the campaign’s fundraising could rise as high as $50 million to $100 million if they get that valuable debate airtime.

“If we get in the presidential debates,” Weld said, “we’re going to be dangerous to the other two parties.”

bruthhart@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @BillRuthhart

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political correctness – The American Prospect

Posted: at 2:14 am

From left, Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie participate in the CNN Republican presidential debate on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.

Like most people over a certain age, I first heard the term “politically correct” when I arrived at college (this was a couple of decades ago). At my small liberal arts school where almost everyone was a liberal, the PC folks were the ones who took things farther than the rest of us had the energy to go, turning their belief in social justice or environmentalism into a public performance of earnestness and commitment. At worst, they inspired guiltsure, you tossed your soda can in the recycling, but if you really cared about the planet you’d be weaving napkins out of hempbut back then nobody talked about being “politically incorrect” because the idea of bravely standing up to the politically correct was absurd. You can’t rebel against people who have no power.

We’ve come a long way since then, and today there is no mantle claimed more enthusiastically on the right than that of the politically incorrect, the courageous pathbreaker risking so much to oppose the sinister forces of political correctness. The idea has been around for some time, but 2016 marks the first election where so many presidential contenders are taking the crusade against political correctness as their rallying point.

It’s almost odd that it took this long, when you consider that our modern presidential campaign is mostly devoted to what we might call the utterance-outrage cycle. If you went back and looked over a month or two’s worth of campaign news, you’d see that the majority of it revolves around micro-controversies that begin when a candidate says something controversial (or at least something that can be made controversial if taken out of context), then his or her opponents express their umbrage, then reporters and pundits chatter about what the candidate really meant and whether it really was so awful, and we all have something with which to fill the news hole for a few days until somebody else says something terrible.

In other words, we spend the campaign in an extended meta-conversation, talking about talking. So it was inevitable that we’d end up talking about what we’re supposedly not allowed to talk about.

It also stands to reason that we’d see it among today’s Republican contenders, since more than ever before this a field that takes its cues from the rhetoric of conservative media, where political correctness has been a regular topic for years. In the telling of people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, conservatives live their lives in fear of the vicious mobs of liberals wielding political correctness like a nail-studded club. Speak the truth about anything, and the politically correct shock troops will swoop in to strike you down.

As they would have it, when somebody criticizes you for something you said, it constitutes proof that the thing you said was both courageous and true. What could be more appealing to a presidential candidate? So Ted Cruz says the Obama administration would have stopped the San Bernardino attacks, were it not so politically correct, and as a consequence, “Political correctness is killing people.” Ben Carson says that our military should just go ahead and kill civilians and torture prisoners, because “there is no such thing as a politically correct war.” Donald Trump justifies every appalling thing that comes out of his mouth by saying he won’t kowtow to political correctness. “Everybody wants to be politically correct, and that’s part of the problem that we have with our country,” he says.

Let’s be clear about something: when the candidates talk about political correctness, they’re seldom talking about things like campus speech codes. There’s a legitimate discussion to be had about whether in certain contexts, people have gotten too sensitive about hearing opposing views and too eager to create “safe spaces” where certain opinions aren’t allowed to be expressed. But that’s not what the candidates are referring to. Nobody is keeping them from saying what they want, and they don’t really care about what the atmosphere in the Oberlin student center is like. They cry “political correctness!” when someone criticizes them for what they say or what they believe.

The truth is that what conservatives call political correctness is often better described as “people telling you not to be such a jerk.” But for today’s Republican, if people think you’re a jerk then you must be doing something right, and the political correctness charge has become an all-purpose answer to criticism of any sort. You say my facts are wrong? I’m not going to knuckle under to your political correctness! You say my beliefs are abominable? Take your political correctness and shove it! It’s a way to pose as a brave truth-teller, even if all that’s actually happening is that people are pointing out that you’re a brave crap-teller.

There’s no question that the obsession with political correctness on the right has its roots in the slow decline of a certain kind of privilege certain people used to enjoy. Not caring about other people’s fortunes, let alone their feelings, is a big part of that privilege. But as women and minorities of all kinds have fought for their rights in recent decades, they’ve also drawn attention to the ways oppression is enacted in a broad range of behaviors and language. If you’re a man who grew up thinking it was perfectly fine to call your secretary “sweetheart” and give her a pat on the behind whenever the mood struck you, existing in today’s world can feel like something has been taken away from you. Older people in particular have trouble keeping up with the ways language evolves, including the ways it evolves to not offend people needlessly.

But fear not: There’s an entire political movement that’s here to tell you that you’re the victim in all this, particularly when it comes to race. You may have seen me make this point before, but I repeat it because it is so important to understanding what’s happening now: Those who make up the audiences for conservative media have been fed a steady diet of racial resentment for years, and the force-feeding became particularly vigorous when Barack Obama became president. They have been told again and again that white people (and white men in particular) are oppressed in America, that liberals are keeping them down because of who they are, and that the principal tool of that oppression is the false charges of racism used to silence and punish them.

They’ve been told that they’re being cowed by minorities and their white liberal allies who want to censor the conservatives who speak the truth. They’ve been told that Obama is a racial avenger, that literally everything he does is part of his project to punish white people for imagined sins of the past, that any domestic policy conservatives don’t like is “reparations” being showered on undeserving black people at the expense of hard-working whites, and that foreign policies they don’t like are part of his plan to destroy America’s place in the world so that the alien dark-hued victims of long-ago and better-forgotten colonialism may rise.

So when someone like Trump comes along and sets about to insult and offend every disadvantaged group he can find, it’s no surprise that lots and lots of conservatives cheer him for “telling it like it is.” When Trump and other Republicans pledge that they won’t abide political correctness, they’re saying to the (largely) older and (almost entirely) white people whose votes they seek: I’ll be your voice. Everything you think but realize you shouldn’t say out loud, I’ll say for you. I’ll tell those you-know-whats just what you think of them, and where they can go if they don’t like it.

“I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,” says Donald Trump, and he knows that plenty of Republican voters feel the same way. So he and the other GOP candidates promise liberation, that they’ll unshackle suffering white men from the rhetorical chains that bind them. It’s no wonder so many people are cheering.

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political correctness – The American Prospect

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CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Atheism – NEW ADVENT

Posted: July 18, 2016 at 3:31 pm

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(a privative, and theos, God, i.e. without God).

Atheism is that system of thought which is formally opposed to theism. Since its first coming into use the term atheism has been very vaguely employed, generally as an epithet of accusation against any system that called in question the popular gods of the day. Thus while Socrates was accused of atheism (Plato, Apol., 26, c.) and Diagoras called an atheist by Cicero (Nat. Deor., I, 23), Democritus and Epicurus were styled in the same sense impious (without respect for the gods) on account of their trend of their new atomistic philosophy. In this sense too, the early Christians were known to the pagans as atheists, because they denied the heathen gods; while, from time to time, various religious and philosophical systems have, for similar reasons, been deemed atheistic.

Though atheism, historically considered, has meant no more in the past than a critical or sceptical denial of the theology of those who have employed the term as one of reproach, and has consquently no one strict philosophical meaning; and though there is no one consistent system in the exposition of which it has a definite place; yet, if we consider it in its broad meaning as merely the opposite of theism, we will be able to frame such divisions as will make possible a grouping of definite systems under this head. And in so doing so we shall at once be adopting both the historical and the philosophical view. For the common basis of all systems of theism as well as the cardinal tenet of all popular religion at the present day is indubitably a belief in the existence of a personal God, and to deny this tenet is to invite the popular reproach of atheism. The need of some such definition as this was felt by Mr. Gladstone when he wrote (Contemporary Review, June 1876):

Moreover, the breadth of comprehension in such a use of the term admits of divisions and cross-divisions being framed under it; and at the same time limits the number of systems of thought to which, with any propriety, it might otherwise be extended. Also, if the term is thus taken, in strict contradistinction to theism, and a plan of its possible modes of acceptance made, these systems of thought will naturally appear in clearer proportion and relationship .

Thus, defined as a doctrine, or theory, or philosophy formally opposed to theism, atheism can only signify the teaching of those schools, whether cosmological or moral, which do not include God either as a principle or as a conclusion of their reasoning.

The most trenchant form which atheism could take would be the positive and dogmatic denial existence of any spiritual and extra-mundane First Cause . This is sometimes known as dogmatic, or positive theoretic, atheism; though it may be doubted whether such a system has ever been, or could ever possibly be seriously maintained. Certainly Bacon and Dr. Arnold voice the common judgment of thinking men when they express a doubt as to the existence of an atheist belonging to such a school. Still, there are certain advanced phases of materialistic philosophy that, perhaps, should rightly be included under this head. Materialism, which professes to find in matter its own cause and explanation, may go farther, and positively exclude the existence of any spiritual cause . That such a dogmatic assertion is both unreasonable and illogical needs no demonstration, for it is an inference not warranted by the facts nor justified by the laws of thought. But the fact that certain individuals have left the sphere of exact scientific observation for speculation, and have thus dogmatized negatively, calls for their inclusion in this specific type . Materialism is the one dogmatic explanation of the universe which could in any sense justify an atheistic position. But even materialism , however its advocated might dogmatize, could do no more than provide an inadequate theoretic basis for a negative form of atheism. Pantheism, which must not be confused with materialism , in some of its forms can be placed also in this division, as categorically denying the existence of a spiritual First Cause above or outside the world.

A second form in which atheism may be held and taught, as indeed it has been, is based either upon the lack of physical data for theism or upon the limited nature of the intelligence of man. This second form may be described as a negative theoretic atheism; and may be further viewed as cosmological or psychological, according as it is motived, on the one hand, by a consideration of the paucity of actual data available for the arguments proving the existence of a super-sensible and spiritual God, or, what amounts to the same thing, the attributing of all cosmic change and development to the self-contained potentialities of an eternal matter ; or, on the other hand, by an empiric or theoretic estimate of the powers of reason working upon the data furnished by sense-perception. From whichever cause this negative form of atheism proceeds, it issues in agnosticism or materialism; although the agnostic is, perhaps, better classed under this head than the materialist. For the former, professing a state of nescience, more properly belongs to a category under which those are placed who neglect, rather than explain, nature without a God. Moreover, the agnostic may be a theist, if he admits the existence of a being behind and beyond nature , even while he asserts that such a being is both unprovable and unknowable. The materialist belongs to this type so long as he merely neglects, and does not exclude from his system, the existence of God. So, too, does the positivist , regarding theological and metaphysical speculation as mere passing stages of thought through which the human mind has been journeying towards positive, or related empirical , knowledge. Indeed, any system of thought or school of philosophy that simply omits the existence of God from the sum total of natural knowledge, whether the individual as a matter of fact believes in Him or not, can be classed in this division of atheism, in which, strictly speaking, no positive assertion or denial is made as to the ultimate fact of His being.

There are two systems of practical or moral atheism which call for attention. They are based upon the theoretic systems just expounded. One system of positive moral atheism, in which human actions would neither be right nor wrong, good nor evil, with reference to God, would naturally follow from the profession of positive theoretic atheism; and it is significant of those to whom such a form of theoretic atheism is sometimes attributed, that for the sanctions of moral actions they introduce such abstract ideas as those of duty, the social instinct, or humanity. There seems to be no particular reason why they should have recourse to such sanctions, since the morality of an action can hardly be derived from its performance as a duty, which in turn can be called and known as a “duty ” only because it refers to an action that is morally good . Indeed an analysis of the idea of duty leads to a refutation of the principle in whose support it is invoked, and points to the necessity of a theistic interpretation of nature for its own justification .

The second system of negative practical or moral atheism may be referred to the second type of theoretic atheism. It is like the first in not relating human actions to an extra-mundane, spiritual , and personal lawgiver; but that, not because such a lawgiver does not exist , but because the human intelligence is incapable of so relating them. It must not be forgotten, however, that either negative theoretic atheism or negative practical atheism is, as a system, strictly speaking compatible with belief in a God; and much confusion is often caused by the inaccurate use of the terms, belief, knowledge, opinion, etc.

Lastly, a third type is generally, though perhaps wrongly, included in moral atheism. “Practical atheism is not a kind of thought or opinion, but a mode of life” (R. Flint, Anti-theisitc Theories , Lect. I). This is more correctly called, as it is described, godlessness in conduct, quite irrespective of any theory of philosophy, or morals, or of religious faith. It will be noticed that, although we have included agnosticism, materialism, and pantheism, among the types of atheism, strictly speaking this latter does not necessarily include any one of the former. A man may be an agnostic simply, or an agnostic who is also an atheist. He may be a scientific materialist and no more, or he may combine atheism with his materialism . It does not necessarily follow, because the natural cognoscibility of a personal First Cause is denied, that His existence is called in question: nor, when matter is called upon to explain itself, that God is critically denied. On the other hand, pantheism, while destroying the extra-mundane character of God, does not necessarily deny the existence of a supreme entity, but rather affirms such as the sum of all existence and the cause of all phenomena whether of thought or of matter. Consequently, while it would be unjust to class agnostics, materialists, or pantheists as necessarily also atheists, it cannot be denied that atheism is clearly perceived to be implied in certain phases of all these systems. There are so many shades and gradations of thought by which one form of a philosophy merges into another, so much that is opinionative and personal woven into the various individual expositions of systems, that, to be impartially fair, each individual must be classed by himself as atheist or theist. Indeed, more upon his own assertion or direct teaching than by reason of any supposed implication in the system he advocated must this classification be made. And if it is correct to consider the subject from this point of view, it is surprising to find to what an exceedingly small number the supposed atheistic ranks dwindle. In company with Socrates, nearly all the reputed Greek atheists strenuously repudiated the charge of teaching that there were no gods. Even Bion , who, according to Diogenes Laertius (Life of Aristippus , XIII, Bohn’s tr.), adopted the scandalous moral teaching of the atheist Theodorus, turned again to the gods whom he had insulted, and when he came to die demonstrated in practice what he had denied in theory. As Laertius says in his “Life of Bion”, he “who never once said, ‘I have sinned but spare me

Epicurus, the founder of that school of physics which limited all causes to purely natural ones and consequently implied, if he did not actually assert, atheism, is spoken of as a man whose “piety towards the gods and (whose) affection for his country was quite unspeakable” (ib., Life of Epicurus, V). And though Lucretius Carus speaks of the downfall of popular religion which he wished to bring about (De Rerum natura, I, 79-80), yet, in his own letter to Henaeceus (Laert., Life of Epicurus, XXVII), he states plainly a true theistic position: “For there are gods: for our knowledge of them is indistinct. But they are not of the character which people in general attribute to them.” Indeed, this one citation perfectly illustrates the fundamental historic meaning of the term, atheism.

The naturalistic pantheism of the Italian Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) comes near to, if it is not actually a profession of, atheism; while Tomaso Campanella (1568-1639), on the contrary, in his nature-philosophy finds in atheism the one impossibility of thought, Spinoza (1632-77), while defending the doctrine that God certainly exists, so identifies Him with finite existence that it is difficult to see how he can be defended against the charge of atheism even of the first type. In the eighteenth century, and especially in France, the doctrines of materialism were spread broadcast by the Encyclopedists. La Mettrie, Holbach, Fererbach, and Fleurens are usually classed among the foremost materialistic atheists of the period. Voltaire, on the contrary, while undoubtedly helping on the cause of practical atheism, distinctly held its theoretic contrary. He, as well as Rousseau, was a deist. Comte, it will be remembered , refused to be called an atheist. In the last century Thomas Huxley, Charles Darwin , and Herbert Spencer, with others of the evolutionistic school of philosophy, were, quite erroneously, charged with positive atheism. It is a charge which can in no way be substantiated; and the invention andonism of Ernst Hackel , goes far towards forming an atheistic system of philosophy. But even the last named admits that there may be a God, though so limited and so foreign to the deity of theists that his admission can hardly remove the system from the first category of theoretic atheism.

Among the unscientific and unphilosophical there have from time to time been found dogmatic atheists of the first type . Here again, however, many of those popularly styled atheists are more correctly described by some other title. There is a somewhat rare tract, “Atheism Refuted in a Discourse to prove the Existence of God by T.P.” British Museum Catalogue, “Tom Paine”, who was at one time popularly called an atheist. And perhaps, of the few who have upheld an indubitable form of positive theoretic atheism, none has been taken seriously enough to have exerted any influence upon the trend of philosophic or scientific thought. Robert Ingersoll might be instanced, but though popular speakers and writers of this type may create a certain amount of unlearned disturbance, they are not treated seriously by thinking men, and it is extremely doubtful whether they deserve a place in any historical or philosophical exposition of atheism.

REIMMAN, Historia atheismi et atheorum . . . (Hildesheim, 1725); TOUSSAINT in Dict. de thologie, s.v. (a good bibliography); JANET AND SEAILLES, History of the Problems of Philosophy (tr., London, 1902), II; HETTINGER, Natural Religion (tr., New York, 1890); FLINT, Anti-theistic Theories (New York, 1894); LILLY, The Great Enigma (New York, 1892); DAURELLE, L Atheisme devant la raison humaine (Paris, 1883); WARD, Naturalism and Agnosticism (New York, 1899); LADD, Philosophy of Religion (New York, 1905); II; BOEDDER, Natural Theologh (New York, 1891); BLACKIE, Natural History of Atheism (New York, 1878); The Catholic World, XXVII, 471: BARRY, The End of Atheism in the Catholic World, LX, 333; SHEA, Steps to Atheism in The Am, Cath. Quart. Rev., 1879, 305; POHLE, lehrbuck d. Dogmatik (Paderborn, 1907) I; BAUR in Kirchliches Handlexikon (Munich, 1907), s.v. See also bibliography under AGNOSTICISM, MATERIALISM, PANTHEISM, and THEISM. For the refuation of ATHEISM see the article GOD.)

APA citation. Aveling, F. (1907). Atheism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02040a.htm

MLA citation. Aveling, Francis. “Atheism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. .

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Beth Ste-Marie.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can’t reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

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CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Atheism – NEW ADVENT

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Supreme Court Declares That the Second Amendment … – NRA-ILA

Posted: at 3:30 pm

Supreme Court Declares That the Second AmendmentGuarantees an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms — June 26, 2008

Fairfax, VA Leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA) praised the Supreme Courts historic ruling overturning Washington, D.C.s ban on handguns and on self-defense in the home, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller.

This is a great moment in American history. It vindicates individual Americans all over this country who have always known that this is their freedom worth protecting, declared NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. Our founding fathers wrote and intended the Second Amendment to be an individual right. The Supreme Court has now acknowledged it. The Second Amendment as an individual right now becomes a real permanent part of American Constitutional law.

Last year, the District of Columbia appealed a Court of Appeals ruling affirming that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home and possession of functional firearms for self-defense violate that fundamental right.

Anti-gun politicians can no longer deny that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right, said NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox. All law-abiding Americans have a fundamental, God-given right to defend themselves in their homes. Washington, D.C. must now respect that right.

Read the opinion (1 MB)

Highlights From The Heller Decision

On March 18, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments (RealPlayer required)

View the transcript

The Court announced its decision to take the case in which plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the District’sgun ban last Fall. The District of Columbia appealed a lower courts ruling last year affirming that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the Districts bans on handguns, carrying firearms within the home, and possession of loaded or operable firearms for self-defense violate that right.

In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that [T]he phrase the right of the people, when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual. The D.C. Circuit also rejected the claim that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because D.C. is not a state.

The case marks the first time a Second Amendment challenge to a firearm law has reached the Supreme Court since 1939.

Briefs filed on behalf of Heller and Washington D.C.

Amicus brief filed by the United States

Amicus briefs filed in support of Heller

Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Dick Anthony Heller in the upcoming case District of Columbia v. Heller.

Click the links below to read recently filed amicus briefs in support of Washington D.C.

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Transportation, Land Use, and Freedom | Libertarianism.org

Posted: July 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Transcript

Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute. Im Trevor Burrus.

Tom Clougherty: And Im Tom Clougherty.

Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is Randal OToole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, specializing in urban growth, public land and transportation issues. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Randal.

Randal OToole: Hey, Im glad to be here.

Trevor Burrus: So the first question is the big one as we often do on Free Thoughts. How is transportation important to human freedom and flourishing?

Randal OToole: Well mobility is really important because mobility gives people access to more economic resources, more social resources, more recreation opportunities. Mobility of course has completely transformed in the 20th century. Before 1800, hardly anybody in the world had ever traveled faster than a horse could run and lived to tell about it. Although during the

Trevor Burrus: Lived to tell about it, its like people who fell out of hot air balloons and

Randal OToole: Or off a cliff.

Trevor Burrus: So they got a quick moment of OK.

Randal OToole: Yeah. So by 1900, we had developed steam trains and bicycles and streetcars and cable cars and those things accelerated the pace of life for many people and yet by 1910, most Americans were no more mobile than they had been in 1800 because frankly streetcars and steam trains and things like that were more expensive than the average American could afford.

Most Americans still lived in rural areas and they didnt have access to those, to streetcars or bicycles. Even Americans in urban areas, only middle class people could afford streetcars. Pretty much working class people had to walk to work. It was only when Henry Ford developed a moving assembly line that allowed him to both double worker pay and cut the cost of his cars in half, which made automobiles affordable to the working class that suddenly mobility was democratized and suddenly travel speed is accelerated from an average of 3 miles an hour to an average of 30 miles an hour or more.

That gave people access to far more jobs. If you were producing something, it gave you access to a far bigger consumer market. If you wanted to socialize with people who were like you, you didnt have to live right next door to them. You could get into your car and be near them. You have access to recreation opportunities. Things like national parks became popular only after the car became popular. Before cars the number of people visiting Yellowstone and people like places like that were numbered in the hundreds or low thousands each year. Now its the millions.

Trevor Burrus: Now you certainly have no Disneyland without people being able to drive to it and

[Crosstalk]

Randal OToole: You dont have Costco. You dont have supermarkets. You dont have Wal-marts. You dont have a lot of things that we take for granted today. Shopping malls, a lot of things. So the auto mobility transform lives for many people. For example, the only way blacks were able to boycott buses in Montgomery, Alabama after Rosa Louise Parks refused to get walk to the back of the bus was because they had enough cars that they could transport each other to work.

So cars were called by Blacks freedom vehicles. Cars play a huge role in womens liberation. It was only when families became two-car families and both the husband and the wife could own it, could have a car and become wage or salary earners that womens liberation became truly an important change in our lives.

So cars have transformed everybodys lives. Cars have transformed farming for example. Before cars, at least a quarter, perhaps a third of all of our farmland was dedicated to pasture for the horses and other livestock needed to power the farms.

By releasing that land, we ended up getting 100 million acres of forest lands, 100 million acres of crop lands. We have far more lands available for growing crops than we had before because of the internal combustion engine, powering tractors and trucks and other farm vehicles.

Trevor Burrus: Well, if you talk to people now though, its kind of I mean it is this mind-blowing thing when you start thinking about the effect that the car had on American life. But now a lot of people want to say that cars are bad for a variety of reasons, not seeming to understand the effect on this and a lot of the kind of urban planning and ideas of what a city should look like, it seems to be kind of anti-car in some basic level.

Randal OToole: Thats absolutely right. Theres a huge anti-automobile mentality out there, especially among urban planners and curiously, every city in the country has urban planners on their staff because they think theyre the experts. But its actually because the Supreme Court has made decisions that have said that the property rights clause or the Fifth Amendment of the constitution can be amended if you have an urban can be ignored if you have an urban planner on your staff. Basically, you dont have to worry about that if you have an urban planner who has written an urban plan for your city.

Trevor Burrus: This is like Kelo pursuant

[Crosstalk]

Randal OToole: Every single Supreme Court decision that has taken away peoples property rights has mentioned in that decision that the city or other entity that wanted to take away peoples property rights had written an urban plan. So if you have an urban planner on your staff, you can ignore property rights. You can take land by eminent domain. You can regulate land without compensation if you have an urban planner on your staff.

So they all have urban planners and urban planners all go to the same schools and most of these schools are architecture schools where they learn that we shape our buildings and our buildings shape up.

So if we want to shape society, we have to design our cities in a way to shape the way people live. Well, it has been proven over and over again that it doesnt work. It doesnt get people out of their cars, to force people to live in high densities.

San Francisco for example, the San Francisco Bay area increases population density by two-thirds between 1980 and 2010 and per capita driving increased. Per capita transit ridership declined by a third. It didnt change anything at all except for it made a lot more congestion.

So theres an anti-automobile mentality and the reality is most of the virtually all of the problems with automobiles can be solved by treating the problem, not by treating the automobile.

Trevor Burrus: Like congestion you mean.

Randal OToole: Well, congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gases, energy, traffic accidents, whatever. In 1970, people drove about 40 percent as much as they do today and we had 55,000 people killed per year. So today were driving 150 percent more and we only had 33,000 people killed last year. So fatalities are going down because they made both automobiles and highways safer. Thats only going to increase.

In 1970, many of our cities were polluted. You had a mile of visibility or less. In Portland, you couldnt see Mount Hood. In Seattle, you couldnt see Mount Rainier because the pollution is so bad. So we created the Environmental Protection Agency to solve the problem and they said lets do two things. Lets put pollution control requirements on new cars but lets also encourage cities to discourage driving by spending more on transit and increasing densities to encourage people to live closer to work.

Well, they did both things and today, pollution has gone down by more than 90 percent. Total pollution has decreased by more than 90 percent from what it was in 1970 and 105 percent of that decline is due to the pollution controls they put on cars. Negative 105 because

Trevor Burrus: More than 100 percent.

Randal OToole: Right, because the other thing they did that investing in transit and increasing densities to get people out of their cars failed. Instead what that did is it increased traffic congestion and cars pollute more in congested traffic than they do in free flowing traffic. So we ended up having more pollution thanks to the policy of trying to get people out of their cars. It failed miserably and yet were still pursuing that policy in many places supposedly to reduce greenhouse gases, to save energy and so on. It wont work but were doing it anyway.

Tom Clougherty: So I think one of the interesting, maybe disturbing things about transportation policy is that you have an obvious problem in congestion, a problem which is very costly. You also have a solution that virtually every economist is going to agree on and thats congestion pricing.

You also have on top of that a widespread perception that its politically impossible, that it will never happen. So therefore we have to go into a lot of these other things, which as youve pointed out may not be effective.

Do you see any future for congestion pricing? Could you maybe elaborate on that principle a little bit?

Randal OToole: Well, there are two things that are going to happen in the next 10 years. First of all, a lot of cars are going to become self-driving cars and thats going to be a very rapid transformation because starting in about 2020, you will be able to buy a car that will be able to drive itself on the vast majority of American streets and roads without your input at all.

Pretty soon you will be able to drive a car buy a car that will drive itself everywhere and they wont even have steering wheels. Well, a lot of congestion happens because of slow human reflexes and as soon as we get self-driving cars which have much faster reflexes, the capacity of roads is going to increase tremendously. Its typical that an urban freeway lane can move about 2000 vehicles an hour at speed.

With self-driving cars, we will be able to increase that to 6000 or more vehicles an hour. So thats going to take care a lot of the congestion problem right there. The other parallel development is that were moving away from gas guzzlers.

Cars that burn gas are burning less and less gas all the time and a lot of cars are not burning gasoline. That means that gas taxes which have paid for our roads have really paid for 80 percent of all the roads weve built and 100 percent of all the state highways that have been built in the country and interstate roads.

Those gas taxes arent going to be around anymore. So were going to have to find a new way of paying for roads. My home state of Oregon was the first state to have a gas tax to pay for roads in 1919 and today my home state of Oregon is experimenting with mileage-based user fees. Its the first state to experiment with them and what theyve done is theyve asked people to volunteer to pay a mileage-based user fee rather than a gas tax and I was one of the first people to volunteer.

They opened up volunteers at midnight on July 1st and at 12:01, I sent in my application and they sent me a little device that I plug into my car and now it keeps track of how many miles I drive and if I leave the state, I dont pay anything. In the state I pay a penny and a half per mile and they refund me all my gas taxes that I pay when I buy gas.

So the intention is to phase this in over time. So if you buy an electric car, you will have to get a mileage-based user fee device. If you buy a gasoline-powered car, you will be encouraged to do it and over time, we will transition from all gasoline or all gas taxes to all mileage-based user fees.

Well, with mileage-based user fees, it will be real, real easy to make a congestion fee, to make it a variable fee. Presumably the device you plug into your car when you say I want to go to work, you will tell your car take me on this to this address. The car will say, well, here are three different routes. If you go this way, youre going to have to pay this fee. If you go this way, you will have to pay this fee and it will take you five minutes longer. If you go this way, you will have to pay a lower fee and it will take you 10 minutes longer or whatever. You will have a choice of which route, which fee you pay and you will make that choice and that will encourage people to avoid congested routes and eventually solve that $200 billion congestion problem.

Trevor Burrus: This is interesting because you see all these technologies which werent even thought about a few years ago, whether its the device to measure how much your car is driving or a driverless car.

It kind of reminds me were talking about urban planners and who these people are and were and to sort of whether or not any urban planners in 1980 thought about driverless cars or the possibility of having something to measure how much youre driving and that and they probably did and so

Randal OToole: Well, the real question is are any urban planners in 2016 thinking about

Trevor Burrus: Yeah, so thats a better at the Car History Museum, I know you at one point were in Denver for the light rail fight. In the car museum, they have a Denver urban plan from 1955 or something like that. Its a 50-year urban plan. So this was what Denver looked like in 2005, which is just ludicrous. I mean it seems absolutely ludicrous.

Tom Clougherty: You mean they didnt get it right?

[Crosstalk]

Randal OToole: In 1950, nobody had ever taken a commercial jet airline flight. Nobody had ever direct dialed a long distance phone call. To make a long distance call, you had to call the operator and have them dial it for you. Of course almost nobody had ever programmed a computer. There was certainly no internet. Nobody could predict in 1950 what was going to happen in 2000.

Well today we can see driverless cars on the horizon but nobody can predict what is going to happen. Is everybody going to use an Uber-like car or are we going to own our own cars? Is it going to make people drive more because more people are going to be driving? Because you can be nine years old and drive a driverless car. I can put my dogs in the car and send them to the vet. I dont need to go with them.

Trevor Burrus: Thats going to be a service. It could be like Bark Car and they just put them in there and it drives them to the vet, yeah.

Randal OToole: Or is it going to lead to less driving because everybody is going to be not owning a car but Uber-ing their car? The thing about that is when if you own a car, when you say Im going to go to the store now, you figure Im going to pay the marginal cost to driving, the cost of gasoline. But if youre renting a car, you have to pay the average cost which is a much higher per mile cost. So thats going to change the calculus. Those people who decide not to own a car will probably travel less themselves than they would have traveled if they had owned a car because of that.

So is it going to lead to more or less driving? Nobody knows the answers to these questions. Urban planners, they know they dont know the answers to these questions. So their solution is to ignore the problem, to ignore the issue, design for the past because they know the past. So they design for streetcars. They design for light rail because those are the past forms of travel. They know how people lived when those were the forms of travel that people used.

So they designed cities to be streetcar cities. Thats really the urban planning fad today is to design cities to be like they were in the 1920s when the people who got around not on foot took streetcars.

Of course there were still a lot of people who got around on foot because they couldnt afford the streetcars and that of course is going to be a complete failure. Its not going to work. Its going to impose huge costs on those cities because theyre going to be designing for the wrong thing. Its going to put a huge cost on the people in those cities but theyre doing it anyway because thats the urban planning fad.

Trevor Burrus: So theyre thinking of sort of high density urban development with a lot of public transportation like streetcars and light rail and things like this, which is odd but it kind of makes you wonder if the entire concept of urban planning is just kind of silly. Are you kind of saying that?

Randal OToole: It doesnt make me wonder that. Its not kind of saying. Urban planning is a profession that doesnt deserve to exist. Thats why I call myself the antiplanner and I have a blog called The Antiplanner. Look up antiplanner and Im the first thing on the list. I write about this every day.

Urban planning always fails. They cant predict the future. So instead of predicting it, they try to envision it and they envision a past that they understand. Then they try to impose that on the future by passing all kinds of regulations and all kinds of laws.

Trevor Burrus: As I went to Tom being British, a town called Milton Keynes in or Keynes I think is how they say it.

Tom Clougherty: Milton Keynes. Its a must-see.

Trevor Burrus: In England, which is one of these post-war, fully-planned towns. I mean down to especially in England. They were really big on this. Have urban planners become less hubristic? I mean in England, they were just planning entire towns, entire blocks, trying to figure out everything that people wanted. Have they become less hubristic and a little bit more respectful of human freedom or are they just as planning as ever?

Randal OToole: Absolutely not. They have not become less hubristic and a lot of places a lot of private developers have built what are called master plan communities. The private developers did the planning and they were planning for the market. They were trying to figure out what do people want to live in and will build them a community like they want to live in.

They figure out, well, they want to be somewhat close to stores. So they have to have as many enough people in their community to convince a supermarket to open up a store, to come into Costco or something like that, to open up a store. They like to be near some nice restaurants. But they also like to have a yard. They also like to have wide streets to drive on.

So they plan for what people want. The urban planners that Im talking about are government planners and they plan for what they think people should have. They plan for what they think people should want, not what they do want. They think people should want to live in higher densities, that they should want to get around on transit, rather than driving, and so thats what they planned for even though nationwide only about two percent of travel is by well, one percent of travel and about two percent of commuting is by mass transit. Its insignificant outside of New York City, Washington and about four other urban areas. Transit is irrelevant really.

Tom Clougherty: Yeah. I mean its interesting that youre talking a lot about how contemporary urban planning is certainly anti-car, anti-automobility and yet I wonder whether the darkest era of urban planning was excessively pro-car. If you think of a lot of post-war development, the interstate highway system often driving major roads through established neighborhoods. Really trying to change peoples lives and the whole way they lived in the opposite direction of what theyre trying to do now. Is what we have now in urban planning almost a reaction to some of the mistakes of the past?

Randal OToole: No. I think what you have to whats consistent about urban planning is that its pro-middle class and anti-working class, anti-low income people. They call working class neighborhoods slums. This has been the trend for 125 years. Working class neighborhoods are slums. So we have to clear out those slums as if if we move the people out so that we dont have to look at them, they dont exist anymore.

Urban renewal in the 1950s was called by some negro removal because a million people were displaced by the urban renewal movement and most of them were Blacks, so 80 percent of them were Blacks.

They had to move from places that they could afford to places that were less affordable because they werent slums anymore. So the problem that urban that cities had in the 1940s and 50s that they saw they had is that the middle class people had moved to the suburbs and the people who were left were had lower incomes and they said, OK, these are slums. We have to get them out of here. You get the middle class people back into the cities and they looked at the interstates as a way of doing it.

The original interstate highway system as planned by the transportation engineers was going to bypass all the cities, was not going to enter the cities. They brought this proposal before congress and the cities went to congress and said, No, we want our share of the interstate money.

So they rewrote the system. They added 10 percent more miles all of which were in the inner cities and came back to congress in 56 and congress passed it with the endorsement of the urban mayors because the mayors wanted to use interstate highways as a vehicle for slum clearance.

They were to clear out the slums that the highways were built on. They would clear out the neighborhoods around those highways with eminent domain. That was all approved by the Supreme Court in the famous 1952 case here in Washington DC. Yeah.

And forced the people out and then build nice middle class neighborhoods. Today its the same thing. The whole complaint about urban sprawl is not a complaint about wealthy people moving in suburbs. Wealthy people started moving to the suburbs in the 1830s and nobody complained about urban sprawl then.

Middle class people started moving to the suburbs in the 1890s and nobody complained about it then. Weve had suburban sprawl for almost 200 years.

It was only when middle class people or simply when working class people started moving to the suburbs in the 1920s because they were able to buy Henry Fords affordable cars that people started complaining about urban sprawl.

The early complaints about urban sprawl were very class-oriented. You have these inelegant people out there in all stages of dress playing this ridiculous music on their Victor-Victrolaphones and dancing wildly and gesticulating and eating weird food.

Trevor Burrus: Showing their ankles.

Randal OToole: Doing all kinds of things that were horrible and it was very class-oriented and their prescription Im reading to you from a book called the Town and Country Plan. It was written by a British author and the prescription was we will pen all those people up in high-rises in the cities and in 1947, Britain passed the parliament passed a Town and Country Planning Act that put greenbelts around the cities for bidding development and then put high-rises in the cities that people lived in for a few years but was really only acceptable because a lot of housing had been palmed out. But as soon as people lived in it for more than 10 years, they realized we dont want to live like this. These are awful places to live in. So they revolted but

Trevor Burrus: This racial class part of the story seems to be I mean its you cannot separate it from the whole history of urban planning. Its about class and race and we have red lining. We have zoning. We have all these different things and its about the powerful who happen to be politically powerful in a given time trying to impose their view upon their fellow citizens and what the kind of city that they would like to live in which may not include you and your kind at least in my neighborhood.

Randal OToole: Well, I have a friend in California named Joseph Perkins whos a black radio talk show host and he says that he looks at urban planning smart growth as the new Jim Crow. He says the Sierra Club is the new KKK because theyre promoting these ideas and he goes to some place like Marin County, California which is just north of San Francisco and has very strict urban growth boundaries and low density zoning and he says he goes there and they he goes to these hearings and people are saying, We want to keep those people out.

He said, Well those people are people like me. But it isnt just people of color. Its a class thing. They want to keep the working class out. We dont like to talk about class in this country much but there definitely is a class structure.

You look at the progressives. They say, Well, we care about the working class. Well you might care about the working class but you dont like their values. They play country Western music which you hate. They drive around in big pick-ups.

Trevor Burrus: They drink soda.

Randal OToole: Yeah, they drink soda.

Trevor Burrus: They smoke cigarettes.

Randal OToole: They smoke cigarettes. They drink beer, not wine.

Trevor Burrus: Budweiser

Randal OToole: And they support Donald Trump and they oppose abortion and they do all the things that you say you care about them and yet your actual attitude is one of seething contempt.

Really zoning has always been about keeping working class people out of middle class neighborhoods and the whole planning today is about OK, were going to design transportation systems for the working class that will take them to work so that they can serve us and then take them home to places different from where we live and they can live a nice lifestyle in their high density apartment and walk down the stairs and go shopping so they dont have to shop in the same stores that we drive to. It sounds very idyllic if you

Trevor Burrus: Can afford it.

Randal OToole: No. If you can afford to not live that way, if youre a middle class person. But its not idyllic for the working class.

Trevor Burrus: So lets talk about some of these public transportation issues because I have this great classic Onion article because its tied in with all these ideas that public transportation is something that well, the headline is Report: 98 Percent Of US Commuters Favor Public Transportation for Others and weve had a spate of light rail, weve had streetcars and all these things have come up which it seems like the people who make them are not really theyre not using them. I expected them to probably not use them. They think other people should be using them. That seems to be a big story of public transportation.

Randal OToole: Well, theres a recent story that unfortunately it wasnt in the Onion but it was an authentic story in the Los Angeles Times that said despite the fact that were spending billions of dollars on transit, transit ridership is declining and thats true here in Washington DC as well. Transit ridership seems to have peaked about just before the financial crash and its not really recovering since the financial crash.

Really transit has been on a downhill since 1960 or 1950, the end of World War Two. What were seeing is people plowing more and more money into it and productivity is going down. The number of transit riders carried per transit worker is steadily declining.

The amount of money we spend to get one person out of their car has gone from a dollar in 1960 to $25 or more today just to get one person out of their car for one trip. We build transit lines that are so expensive that it would have been cheaper to give every single daily round trip rider on that transit line a new Toyota Prius every single year for the rest of their lives than to keep running that

Trevor Burrus: Im laughing and crying at the same time.

Randal OToole: And there are a lot of forces at work here. It started out in the 1970s. Congress had given cities the incentive to take over private transit. In 1965, almost all transit in America was private. By 1975, it was almost all public. Congress had said to cities you take over transit. We will pay for your new buses. We will pay for your capital costs. You just have to pay the operating costs.

So cities took them over and then in 1973, congress said, Oh by the way, if you have an interstate freeway thats planned in your city and you decide to cancel it, you can take the capital cost of that freeway and use it for transit capital investments. Well, cities thought that was great except for buses are so cheap that they couldnt afford to operate all the buses that you could buy for the cost of an interstate freeway.

Original post:
Transportation, Land Use, and Freedom | Libertarianism.org

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Atheism – The New York Times

Posted: July 12, 2016 at 6:20 am

Latest Articles

The position also includes humanism and secular ethics and came after a $2.2 million donation from Louis J. Appignani, a retired businessman.

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

A friend of Christopher Hitchens writes that there is simply no truth to the rumor that he abandoned atheism at the end of his life.

A new book says the impious author of God Is Not Great might have been exploring faith before he died in 2011. Mr. Hitchenss secular friends disagree.

By MARK OPPENHEIMER

Men armed with machetes surrounded the activist, Mohammad Nazim Uddin, and slashed his head, then shot him, a police official said.

By ELLEN BARRY and MAHER SATTAR

Readers discuss whether one can express certainty about the existence of God.

How can atheists and believers stop acting like enemy combatants in a spiritual or intellectual war?

By WILLIAM IRWIN

At Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side, weekly sessions seek converts among a fervent and growing number of atheists in this country.

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

Readers who are atheists explain their views.

Are religion and science locked in a zero-sum struggle for supremacy, or is there room for common ground?

By JAMES RYERSON

Secular voters must demand candidates who reflect their values.

By SUSAN JACOBY

The court rules in favor of those faithful to the omnipotent food clump.

By JOHN HODGMAN

Talking about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, Ted Cruz notes that his 5-year-old daughter gets a spanking when she lies.

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER

Whitmarsh argues that atheism isnt a product of the modern age but reaches back to early Western intellectual tradition in the ancient Greek world.

By REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN

When a pastoral change has revolutionary implications.

Those institutions offer even atheists and spiritual seekers a language of moral discourse and training in congregational leadership.

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

From the International Herald Tribune archive: The head of the Jesuists warns against a new godless society.

When Francis speaks, millions listen whether they are Muslim or Baptist, Hindu or atheist. He is a celebrity to those who admire his warmth and a rudder to those who share his concerns.

By VIVIAN YEE

In this short documentary, a former Pentecostal preacher starts a secular church in the South.

By JASON COHN and CAMILLE SERVAN-SCHREIBER

In this short documentary, a former Pentecostal preacher starts a secular congregation in the heart of the Bible Belt.

By JASON COHN and CAMILLE SERVAN-SCHREIBER

The Freedom From Religion Foundation believes the city has shown favoritism to Catholicism and has ignored the importance of separation of church and state.

By GINIA BELLAFANTE

The position also includes humanism and secular ethics and came after a $2.2 million donation from Louis J. Appignani, a retired businessman.

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

A friend of Christopher Hitchens writes that there is simply no truth to the rumor that he abandoned atheism at the end of his life.

A new book says the impious author of God Is Not Great might have been exploring faith before he died in 2011. Mr. Hitchenss secular friends disagree.

By MARK OPPENHEIMER

Men armed with machetes surrounded the activist, Mohammad Nazim Uddin, and slashed his head, then shot him, a police official said.

By ELLEN BARRY and MAHER SATTAR

Readers discuss whether one can express certainty about the existence of God.

How can atheists and believers stop acting like enemy combatants in a spiritual or intellectual war?

By WILLIAM IRWIN

At Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side, weekly sessions seek converts among a fervent and growing number of atheists in this country.

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

Readers who are atheists explain their views.

Are religion and science locked in a zero-sum struggle for supremacy, or is there room for common ground?

By JAMES RYERSON

Secular voters must demand candidates who reflect their values.

By SUSAN JACOBY

The court rules in favor of those faithful to the omnipotent food clump.

By JOHN HODGMAN

Talking about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, Ted Cruz notes that his 5-year-old daughter gets a spanking when she lies.

By MATT FLEGENHEIMER

Whitmarsh argues that atheism isnt a product of the modern age but reaches back to early Western intellectual tradition in the ancient Greek world.

By REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN

When a pastoral change has revolutionary implications.

Those institutions offer even atheists and spiritual seekers a language of moral discourse and training in congregational leadership.

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

From the International Herald Tribune archive: The head of the Jesuists warns against a new godless society.

When Francis speaks, millions listen whether they are Muslim or Baptist, Hindu or atheist. He is a celebrity to those who admire his warmth and a rudder to those who share his concerns.

By VIVIAN YEE

In this short documentary, a former Pentecostal preacher starts a secular church in the South.

By JASON COHN and CAMILLE SERVAN-SCHREIBER

In this short documentary, a former Pentecostal preacher starts a secular congregation in the heart of the Bible Belt.

By JASON COHN and CAMILLE SERVAN-SCHREIBER

The Freedom From Religion Foundation believes the city has shown favoritism to Catholicism and has ignored the importance of separation of church and state.

By GINIA BELLAFANTE

See the rest here:
Atheism – The New York Times

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Postpartum Progress – postpartum depression and postpartum …

Posted: July 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I couldnt leave the house yesterday.

Thats really hard to admit. Im a Warrior Mom Ambassador. I run the Facebook group for our Warrior Mom Conference attendees. I lead a support group. I help coach women through pregnancies after a PMAD. I am the strong one, the one you count on, the one with the resources and the answers and the shoulder to cry on.

Im also a black woman, mother to a black son, daughter to a black father, sister, friend, cousin, aunt. I grew up hearing stories of my father registering people to vote across the South. They were stories of terror in broad daylight and nights spent driving with no headlights on. I grew up on the narrative that my parents, and their parents, and everyone who made me possible had paid a debt so that I could be free, so that I could be safe in this country.

Last year I was followed and harassed by a police officer here in my home town. I was pregnant with my second child at the time and had just made it to what I considered my new normal after battling postpartum depression and anxiety. I didnt know then that I also had PTSD. All I knew was that I was vomiting, sobbing, and shaking in a parking lot and praising the lord that I was alive.

My daughter is eight months old. Ive been so lucky to not experience any major relapses in my postpartum depression or anxiety and to have my PTSD under control. I see a therapist every week. I take my medication every day. I practice self-care and I reach out for help when I need it.

I have so many privileges: financial, educational, heterosexual, light skin, in a relationship with a white partner. And still. Ive spent the last two nights unable to sleep. First because I couldnt get the voice a four year old girl trying to comfort her mother out of my head. Then last night it really felt like the world was falling apart.

As I write this we still dont have details on the sniper(s) in Dallas. I know that one is dead and the others are in custody. The officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are both on paid administrative leave. They havent been arrested. I have no reason to believe there will be any arrests, convictions, or any type of punishment at all for the deaths of those men. Or for the murders of scores of boys and girls, men and women of color before them. Or for me if an officer decides to take my tone of voice, my reaching for my license, my skin color as a threat.

When I say #BlackLivesMatter, it is in desperation and defiance. I say it because I see no evidence that it is believed to be true in this country. I say it because after everything my father went through, after everything his father, and his, and his went through so that I could live free I still dont feel safe.

I know that I am more fragile than I seem from the outside. We all know that you cant see postpartum depression or anxiety. You cant see PTSD. When the panic attacks came at the thought of leaving the house and taking my son to camp, I had a choice to make. I chose to be honest with my partner about how I was feeling. I chose to reach out to my therapist and let her know I was not okay. I chose to keep my kids home with me, where I feel safe. We watched Disney movies and played with the baby, and dumped way too much bubble bath into the tub. I jumped at every sound and shook when sirens passed my house. I touched base with my relatives and made sure that I knew they were all safe. I tried my best not to get sucked into debates online.

This morning I left the house. I drove my son to camp. When I got home I fell apart. Then I put myself back together and sat down to start work.

I want to be the strong one. The one with the answers, and the resources and the shoulder to cry on. I want to be an ambassador, and a moderator, and a coach. I want to be the strong black woman that I am expected to be.

But Im not. Im scared. Im scared that I will never feel free. Im scared that someone I love will be the next hashtag. Im scared that I will be the next hashtag. Im scared that I will forever be shouting #BlackLivesMatter into the world and it will never, ever be true.

At Postpartum Progress, we believe Black Lives Matter. While not all readers will initially understand the importance of this movement or statement, we believe it matters to say this out loud and up front. We care deeply and equally for every mom suffering from a PMAD. In light of the traumatic events of this week, we are especially worried and grieved for women of color with PMADs and women mothering children of color. We stand in solidarity with you.

We are committed to caring for the most vulnerable members of our PMAD community because we believe the improved well-being of those who suffer most due to systemic racism is the improved well-being of us all.

Were a community. When one suffers, we all suffer. Were in this together. We stand with our moms of color and mothers of Black children.

We understand the unique issues our mothers of color and those parenting children of color experience while battling maternal mental illnesses. The heightened worry about your childs future combined with issues of access to care by clinicians who look like you and understand the complexities of mothering while Black make your recovery different and difficult. We understand and support your desire to speak up, to go into quiet grieving, or to do what you need to do at this time. We just want you to be safe, no matter what that entails.

We are thinking of all the pregnant and new moms who are fighting postpartum depression and anxiety while also living with the acculturative stress and trauma of this week and want to remind you that you are worthy of love, respect, wellness, and safety. We want you to know that we are here to provide support and connect you to help, and that we stand with you and by you. You can email help@postpartumprogress.org or send a Private Message to our Facebook page.

We see you. We hear you. Our hearts break for and with yours as you navigate the news as it unfolds. Were holding space for you in our hearts.

Sincerely, Postpartum Progress Staff

[Editors Note: Todays guest post comes from a Warrior Mom who experienced Postpartum OCD. She shares her journey with intrusive thoughts so that other moms might feel less aloneand also so others will understand that side of OCD. Some thoughts might feel triggering for moms in vulnerable places, so please only read if you are feeling safe today. -Jenna]

Ive found that no one really understands what OCD is in general. I hear a lot of things.

Oh, so you wash your hands a lot. Oh, you check the locks and stuff. Oh, I used to clean the house all the time, too, but I got over that.

Do people who suffer from OCD just wash their hands, check the locks, clean? NO. They perform rituals and compulsions like these far more often than the non-sufferer, and theres always a thought behind itusually an unpleasant onefueling what they do. Think: Im sure my mom will die if I dont wash my hands exactly seven times every hour in the same exact order.

Whats more is people really dont know about Pure O OCD and the intrusive thoughts that plague us. Its impossible to explain to someone who doesnt have it or get them.

Ill be honest: It sounds ridiculous to even try and say it out loud to someone. Throw in the fact that theres no visualcracked bleeding hands arent evident, someone you can see counting the times they touched the lock to make sure it is in fact really lockedand you have one big misunderstanding of this special kind of torture.

When I try to explain to a non-sufferer, Ive been told but thats just a thought, you wont do that, or the opposite, oh God, so you were like one of those women who wanted to hurt their kid. So I thought a post about thoughts that were constantly going through my mind when I suffered from Postpartum OCD might shed some insight.

When I say constantly, there is no exaggeration. I had intrusive thoughts and thoughts surrounding them every waking minute. I had them while I was knee deep in reports for work that required concentration. I had them while I was having full blown conversations with someone else. I never not had them.

On a good day I had a 10-15 second break in between.

Its amazing how you can be having a running horror movie in your head at any given time and no one knew or understood how, since you looked and acted so normal. Its much easier to talk about the latest episode of Greys Anatomy than say, Sorry my eating my apple is so loud. I couldnt cut it up this morning before I came because I was at home alone with the baby and what if

Who I was wasnt normal around was my husband. He received the full force of my confessing of the intrusive thoughts and reassurance seeking that I was not crazy or going to act on my thoughts, because as a person with OCD, you think, why else would you have them, right?

So heres a blip of a very typical night in the mind of my PPOCD experience.

Its 4:30, 4:30, 4:30. Thats only 15 more minutes until hes home. 15 minutes. Thats not too long. You can do this. You are fine. 15 minutes.

Thats enough time to hurt him. Oh God what if I hurt him.

Who thinks that? Whats wrong with me? What if he comes home and hes dead? Why would he be dead?

Dont be ridiculous. Youre fine. This is just OCD. You are not your thoughts.

Only 14 minutes. Just start dinner. Just start dinner. Man, it was easier to get dinner ready without a baby around.

Does that mean I dont want him? Does that mean I want to get rid of him? I know how people do that.

Oh God, Im going to be one of those people on the news.

Stop it. Just stop it. This is only OCD. Of course, it was easier without kids.

Thats the truth. Your therapist told you to look at the truth. Why isnt that calming me down? I KNOW thats the truth but I dont believe it. Only 13 minutes. Ill ask him when he gets here if he thought it was easier without a baby too.

He promised to tell me if I scared him with what I said. What if Im just good at acting like I have OCD and Im really a monster.

Stop it. Thats your OCD talking. Remember what your therapist said.

Only 12 minutes.

What can I make without a knife? I know its in the dishwasher. What if I grab it and

STOP picturing it. STOP.STOP STOP.

Noodles. I can make noodles. If hes in the other room, I wont hurt him.

Is he really in the other room. Yes, you see him damn it. Just stir your stupid noodles. Stir. Stirring. Stirrrriiiiing. Keep singing that like a song. If you sing it out loud, it will curb your thoughts.

Shit. Its not working. Wait, is he still in the other room?

YES, hes home. 4.3.2.1.

I swear I put him in the other room while I was cooking so hes okay. I didnt really want to hurt him. But I dont know, maybe I did. Why else would I put him so far away? I also opened the dishwasher just to check but I didnt touch the knife I swear. I thought it was easier without him but that doesnt mean I dont want him right? Does that mean I want to get rid of him? What if he went missing and no one looked for him because they know Im seeing a therapist. What if he really was taken and ended up really dying because they never looked for him. How would I explain this to the police? They dont know what OCD is. Maybe my doctors would tell them. What if they really do think Im crazy and havent told me yet? Oh Jesus, do YOU think Im crazy!? Im so sorry you have to deal with me.

Um. No, youre not crazy. This is OCD. You know that. You know what your doctors have told you. Yes, it was easier without him. No that doesnt mean anything other than it was easier without him. I see were having noodles, again. Do you need me to unload the dishwasher tonight?

And this goes on. And on and on and on and on. All night.

I need you to cut up that watermelon. Actually I need you to take him in the other room while I do it because you can keep him safe from me.

I need you to give him a bath. But I can do the diaper first. Wait, what if I touch something accidentally when Im wiping him.

I need to work on my OCD workbook the therapist gave me, but what if someone sees what Im writing? They will take him from me. I know you said we can just burn it when Im done but that also gives me bad thoughts. Actually can we just use the oil furnace while youre not home? Just in case I flip my shit. I mean I know its OCD but still, what if its not?

No matter how many doctors told me the truth, that THIS WAS OCD and I WAS NOT MY THOUGHTS; no matter how many posts I read and Google searches I did; no matter how often I heard EVERYONE has random bizarre thoughts pop in to their head, they just go in one side and out the other not bothering them, its just us OCDers that get fixated on them; I had a very hard time accepting I was not a monster. I kept my distance from my son because the what ifs plagued me.

But after a long battle, I got help. I got medication that allowed me work on techniques to control my mind and to go from a run on sentence of thoughts to having them every 30 seconds.

Then every minute.

To eventually not even noticing/reacting to them like the normal person. I finally believed that this was OCD and that just because I wasnt familiar with what OCD really was before this blindsided me, didnt mean it wasnt true and my actual diagnosis.

So next time you say I was SO OCD this weekend and cleaned out my closet remember how lucky you are that cleaning out your closet was only a small chunk of your day with a perfectionist streaknot a horror movie with no commercial breaks in your mind that is OCD.

Chimamanda Adichie calls attention to the danger of a single story in her TED Talk.

Women of color find themselves lost and erased when the intersection of maternal mental health and minority maternal mental health is on the table because, among other things, the strong Black woman trope is at play. Stigma is very much the product of a single story.

Stigma is a mark of disgrace or negative judgment surrounding a certain circumstance. Stigma concerning mental illness isnt imagined. The controlling factor of stigma is shame.

Shame is a a statement that assumes that the judgment cast on a person is because the person is intrinsically flawed. Stigma and shame work together to keep folks struggling with mental illness believe they are bad and at fault for their suffering. This is especially true for women of color.

Bren Brown helped the general public by re-igniting the conversation around shame versus vulnerability. Brown asserted that becoming shame resistant means being vulnerable and authentic in our own stories.

While I tend to agree with Bren, I also understand that women of color take much greater risks in their attempts at engaging authenticity through sharing their most vulnerable life experiences. Black women are taught to be strong, that they dont have postpartum depression or any other mental illness, less they be perceived as a welfare queen or a trashy baby momma who had children she couldnt care for in the first place.

Generally speaking, people facing diagnosis of mental illness face significant difficulties around the stigmatization of being mental health conditions. When we factor in minority statues, especially multiple overlapping minority identities, the stigma becomes heavier and far more damaging. This is what it means when activists and experts reference that African American and Black women are at the greatest risk in the maternal mental health discussion.

Much of the stigma that many women of color experience is also built into tropes and archetypes that many women of color have internalized. For the sake of this discussion, we can evaluate the archetypes surrounding the Black female/femme experience that impact the stigma within maternal mental health. We can answer the question of why arent more Black women talking about their mental health issues by evaluating the stereotypes that confound the issue.

The projection of the strong Black woman is a roadblock to Black women obtaining care for mental illnesses like PPD. While empowering the culture of stigma around mental illness, the strong black woman isnt inclined to tell her story. * Openly suffering from mental illness is something that is highly tabooed in the cultural relations of Black women (Schreiber et al). Among researchers of Black womens experiences with depression, being strong repeatedly emerges as a key factor in their experiences (Beauboeuf-LaFontant, You have to Show Strength 35). Because of Black womens history of subjugation, often Black communities may possess the idea that due to their long history overcoming racism and discrimination, which attacked their mental states as inferior, Black women have the ability to muster through adversity (Hooks 70).

This trope is very unique to Black communities and should be taken into consideration anytime one wishes to provide support for Black women who may be suffering with mental illness. Black women are taught that we have inborn abilities to face struggle and hardship without showing wear mentally or physically.

While some of the initial construction of this image can be traced back to rejecting controlling images created by the white elite to oppress Black women (Hill Collins). The strong Black woman image is problematic because of its emphasis on caring for others and attaching the stigma of failure to any woman who exposes her mental health status attests that the Black woman is the mule of the world (Neale Hurston 1937).

So we find that it our work to simultaneously put to rest the strong Black woman myth by creating safe space for Black women to tell the stories of their mental health struggles.

For more posts in this series on Minority Mental Health:

References Beauboeuf-LaFontant, Tamara. You Have to Show Strength: An Exploration of Gender, Race, and Depression. Gender & Society 21.1 (2007): 28-51. Web. 14 Jan. 2013.

Hooks, Bell. Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery. Boston, MA: South End, 1993. Print.

Neale Hurston, Zora. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

Schreiber, Rita, Phyllis Noerager Stern, and Charmaine Wilson. Being Strong: How Black West-Indian Canadian Women Manage Depression and Its Stigma. Journal of Nursing Scholarship 32.1 (2000): 39-45. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Did you ever wonder if you were suffering from postpartum depression because a friend talked to you about their experience? Did you read a book that reflected your experiences? If you found a narrative that fit with your experience, did you have access to health care because you had a treatment team that believed you?

Often times women dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety will report their difficulties finding a diagnosis and/or helpful treatment and support. Everyone is still working hard to understand PPD and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

As part of this conversation, though, there are two key words that are often overlooked: Exposure and access. These two words are important factors that impact the well-being of protected classes of people. Protected classes of people often have double the difficulty when dealing with maternal mental illness, because in order to obtain help, you have to be exposed to stories and informationthat reflect your experience, and then you need access to the processes that allow you to obtain help.

Postpartum depression is a serious, debilitating illness that affects approximately 10-20% of women. This statistic, though, is a measure of women who were able to identify what they were going through. Imagine the womenfor instance, women of colorwho arent added to this statistic because they dont have exposure and access to understand what they are suffering with?

A psychiatric study by Katy Backes Kozhimannil and her colleagues yielded results that concluded that:

there were significant racial-ethnic differences in depression-related mental health care after delivery.

These results outline a stark reality for women of color: They areless likely to be screened for PPD and less likely to get treatment and receive follow-up care. The results also showed that it was more likely for treatment teams to attribute symptoms of Black and Latin women to other ailments and not PPD.

To make it plain, while many women are never screened, women of color are bypassed in the screening process even more so, and when they do display symptoms of PPD, other factors are often blamed. So these moms wont get the help they really need. This reality means it is vital for women who are at risk for perinatal mood disorders to be strong self-advocates.

How, the question becomes, can one advocate for something that you havent been made aware of? If you have been exposed, how then does one self-create access in a system that either doesnt offer access to people who look like you or offers less-effective help or many fewer options?

Awareness for postpartum depression is increasing, yet there are still women who are falling through the cracks due to systemic oppression and racism. We must care for the most vulnerable among us. The postpartum depression conversation should involve early intervention, treatment, and awareness for ALL women.

The study I mentioned above also cited:

The differences in initiation and continuation of care uncovered in this study imply that a disproportionate number of black women and Latinas who suffer from postpartum depression do not receive needed services. These differences represent stark racial-ethnic disparities potentially related to outreach, detection, service provision, quality, and processes of postpartum mental health care. Although suboptimal detection and treatment rates are not uncommon for this condition or in this population (7,42,43), these results emphasize that postpartum depression remains an underrecognized [sic] and undertreated [sic] condition for all low-income women, especially for those from racial and ethnic minority groups.

During July, which is Minority Mental Health Month, Ill be having leading a conversation here at Postpartum Progress about ways to improve the conversation as it relates to women of color and postpartum depression. We will talk about stigma, social constraints, patient-provider communication, and involving more women of color in the change agency efforts.

Postpartum Progress means progress for ALL women, which means some difficult and important conversations. I hope youll join me.

[Founders Note: One of the goals at Postpartum Progress is to expand our reach and support so that all women are getting the information and help they need. As you all know, in general most women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are not getting the right help. It is also true, though, that women of color get even less access and have even fewer options than the general population. Ive been an advocate for more than a decade now and I know this to be true because I have seen it with my own eyes. Im thrilled that Jasmine is joining us to share her experience and knowledge so that we can open our eyes to what all types of women are experiencing and figure out what we can do better. -Katherine]

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