I've got two things tonight. First, this is the intro that plays before Diana Ross comes on stage during her current tour.
Love Diana, love the tour.
Second, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about goober Ron DeSantis' efforts to destroy history -- slavery, his new educational syllabus, was a good thing because it trained those of us were Black, he insists. Here is her powerful speech in full:
July 21, 2023
Remarks by Vice President Harris on the Florida State Board of Education Curriculum Updates
Ritz Theatre and Museum
4:03 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. (Applause.) Good afternoon. Good af- — (applause) — (laughs) — to all of you, thank you.
Have a seat. Have a seat.
Let me, first of all, thank Jennifer. She and I and the Congresswoman Cherfilus-McCormick, Ben Crump, Tracie Davis, Representative Angie Nixon, Derrick Johnson from the NAACP, we’re — we had some time, before I came out, to talk with each other. And I just want to say that there is extraordinary leadership, Jennifer, and everyone else, in this state. And you are not alone. (Applause.) You are not alone. You are not alone.
I’ll tell you, yesterday, I was traveling to meet with some folks, when I heard the news about what happened here. And our team and the President, you know, is completely on board with this. We said we got to remind the folks of Florida that you’re not fighting out here by yourselves. (Applause.) We believe in you. We believe in the people of Florida.
And so, I decided to come and visit with you today. (Laughs.)
And — well, let me start by saying this. I am a product of a public school education. (Applause.) I was sharing with some of the teachers earlier: My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Frances Wilson, God rest her soul, attended my law school graduation.
AUDIENCE: Aww —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I am a product of teachers and an educational system that believed in providing the children with the full expanse of information that allowed them to then — and encouraged them — to then reach their own conclusions and exercise critical thought in a way that was directly intended to nurture their leadership.
I am fully aware that it is because of that approach that I stand before you as Vice President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
So when I think about where we are today, and who we are as a community of people within the beauty of the diversity that I see in front of me, I know that there are many things we share in common. And, first and foremost, we share in common a deep love of our country and the responsibility we each have, then, to fight for its ideals. That is so critically important on the subject, then, that gathers us here today.
Because, you see, when we think about it, part of true patriotism means fighting for a nation that will be better for each generation to come. (Applause.) Right? Believing that our nation is worth the investment in fighting for the children of America, that we will provide them with the information they need to go into the world and lead. (Applause.)
I will tell you, as Vice President of the United States, I have now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. One of the things about who we are as Americans is we can walk in those rooms with the authority earned, for the most part — except recently, sometimes — (laughs) — earned authority to walk in those rooms talking about what it means to uphold democracies, the importance of rule of law, human rights.
And when we walk in those rooms, we do it proud of the fact that we have been held up and held out as a role model.
Well, the thing about being a role model is this: When you’re a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. (Applause.)
So, understand the impact that this is happeni- — having not only for
the children of Florida and our nation, but potentially people around
the world. Because, on a more specific point, in that regard, we want
to know that we are sending our children out as role models of a
democracy, who, therefore, know the importance of speaking and telling
truth, the importance of understanding when you are a leader, you must
know history. (Applause.)
And, by the way, be really clear — be really clear: All the folks that we would go out and send our children to go and meet around the world are clear about our history, and we’re going to send our own children out to not know what it is? Building in a handicap for our children, that they are going to be the ones in the room who don’t know their own history when the rest of the world does?
Think about this for a moment — the levels of proportion.
So when I think about where we are, I do believe that our strength as
a nation has always been because we are continuously and always
invested in fighting to reach our ideals.
And let’s remember the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. Ben Crump.
MR. CRUMP: Yes, ma’am. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union” is part of the spirit behind our founding as a democracy. Implicit in those words is we understood we must strive to form a more perfect union. Implicit in those words was an understanding we are imperfect. And we must be honest about that to understand, then, our history, where we’ve been, and then have a North Star in terms of where we must go. (Applause.)
So when I think about what is happening, then, here in Florida, I am deeply concerned. Because let’s be clear: I do believe this is not only about the state of Florida; there is a national agenda afoot. (Applause.) And what is happening here in Florida? Extremist so-called leaders for months have dared to ban books. Book bans in this year of our Lord 2023.
Extremists here in Florida passed a law, “Don’t Say Gay,” trying to
instill fear in our teachers that they should not live their full life
and love who they love. (Applause.)
And now, on top of all of that, they want to replace history with lies. Middle school students in Florida to be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: High schoolers may be taught that victims of violence, of massacres were also perpetrators.
I said it yesterday: They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us — (applause) — and we will not have it. And we will not have it.
And, you know, as parents, we teach our children to tell the truth. It’s one of the first things we teach our children: love and honor their parents, their God, and tell the truth. We teach our children not only to tell the truth, but to seek knowledge and truth.
It’s part of what we know is about putting them on the road for them to grow and develop for the sake of our mutual well-being and prosperity. These are the things we tell them.
Well, I think we should model what we say. (Applause.) These extremist so-called leaders should model what we know to be the correct and right approach, if we really are invested in the well-being of our children. Instead, they dare to push propaganda to our children.
This is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do that. (Applause.)
And here’s the other piece about this. Now, when adults know what slavery really involved — come on — adults know what slavery really involved. It involved rape. It involved torture. It involved taking a baby from their mother. It involved some of the worst examples of — of — of depriving people of humanity in our world. It involved subjecting to people the requirement that they would think of themselves and be thought of as less than human.
So, in the context of that, how is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization? (Applause.) In the midst of these atrocities, that there was some benefit? (Applause.)
So, it is not only misleading; it is false. And it is pushing propaganda. People who walk around and want to be praised as leaders, who want to be talked about as American leaders, pushing propaganda on our children. Pushing propaganda on our children.
And when we think about it, you know, when we send our children to school, as parents, we want to know that they are be taugh- — they are being taught the truth. It is a reasonable expectation. It is a reasonable expectation that our children will not be misled. And that’s what’s so outrageous about what is happening right now: an abject and purposeful and intentional policy to mislead our children.
And so, let us be clear: Teachers want to teach the truth. (Applause.) Teachers want to teach facts. And teachers dedicate themselves to some of the most noble work any human being could take on: to teach other people’s children — (applause) — for the sake of the future of our nation.
And so, they should not then be told by politicians that they should be teaching revisit- — revisionist history in order to keep their jobs.
What is going on? (Applause.)
Our teachers who fear that if they teach the truth, they may lose their job. As it is, we don’t pay them enough. (Applause.) You know! I know.
And these are the people — these extremist, so-called leaders — who all the while are also the ones suggesting that teachers strap on a gun in the classroom instead of what real leaders should be doing and be engaged in reasonable gun safety laws. (Applause.)
These are the same extremist leaders — so-called leaders — who make teachers fear losing their job for having a photograph of their spouse on their desk. (Applause.)
But let’s be clear: On this issue, as it — with — this is not the first time in history that we’ve come across this kind of approach. This is not the first time that there are powerful forces that have attempted to distort history for the sake of political ends.
Think about in the past how we have seen attempts to minimize and even deny the Holocaust. (Applause.) Think about those who tried to rewrite the history of the Japanese internment camps, erase our nation’s dark and sordid history in how we have treated the Native people and, in particular, through educational systems. (Applause.) Those who have tried — and there are states where they have — to ban teaching Latino and Hispanic history.
This is not the first time.
But when we think about it then in the context in which we should — understanding there is a national agenda afoot, understanding that there are many aspects of our history that some would like to overlook, erase, or at least deny — let us think about then what this creates as a moment for us to also then rededicate ourselves to the coalition. (Applause.) Our responsibility at moments like this to understand nobody should be made to fight alone. We are all in this together. (Applause.)
And take a look — because, you know, there are a lot of teachers here, I think. So I’m going to tell — you know, one of the things I love is Venn diagrams. Any math teachers in the room? I love Venn diagrams. And I have — I have done an exercise of — of looking to see from where are we seeing the attacks on things like voting rights, LGBTQ rights, a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, book bans. And you will not be surprised to know a lot of them revert to the same source.
So, let’s think about this then as an opportunity to build back up the coalition of all people who believe in our foundational and fundamental truths — the truth that we are and will be a more perfect union when we fight for justice — (applause) — when we fight for equality, when we fight for fairness, guided by a belief in who we are as a nation and telling our truths.
And I will — I’ll close with this. History has shown us that, in our darkest moments, we have the ability to unite — (applause) — and to come out stronger. We know E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one.”
That is who we are in this room. Out of many, one.
Americans who came here through Ellis Island. Americans who were kidnapped and brought over on slave ships. Americans who are native to this land.
Our history as a nation is born out of tragedy and triumph. That’s who we are. Part of that is what gives us our grit — knowing from where we came, knowing the struggles that we have come through, and being stronger in our dedication to saying, “No more” and “Not again.” (Applause.)
It is part of what makes up the character of who we are as America. So let’s reject the notion that we would deny all of this, in terms of our history.
Let us not be seduced into believing that somehow we will be better if we forget. We will be better if we remember. (Applause.) We will be stronger if we remember.
We fought a war to end the sin of slavery. A civil war. People died by the untold numbers in that war, many of whom fought and died because of their belief that slavery was a sin against man — (applause) — that it was inhumane, that it was not reflective of who we believe ourselves to be as a country, and certainly not reflective of who we aspire to be.
So who then would dare deny this history? Who would dare then deny that these lives were lost and why they were lost and what was the cause that they were fighting for and what were they fighting against?
They weren’t fighting and dying because they thought people were — were going to be okay with this thing. (Applause.) It’s because they knew that it had to end because it was so, so criminal.
So, we know the history, and let us not let these politicians, who are trying to divide our country, win.
Because, you see, what they are doing — what they are doing is they are creating these unnecessary debates. This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? (Applause.) Are we supposed to debate that?
Let us not be distracted by what they’re trying to do, which is to create unnecessary debates to divide our country. Let’s not fall in that trap.
We will stand united as a country. We know our collective history; it is our shared history. We are all in this together. (Applause.)
We know that we rise or fall together as a nation. And we will not allow them to suggest anything other than what we know: The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.
And so, let us stand always for what we know is right. Let us fight for what is right. And when we fight, we win. (Applause.)
God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 4:27 P.M. EDT
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Iraq has expelled Sweden's ambassador and recalled its top diplomatic representative from Sweden over the desecration of the Quran in the Nordic country.
The move came hours after protesters attacked the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad earlier Thursday, setting fire to part of the building.
The tensions between Iraq and Sweden began when an Iraqi national set fire to a copy of the Quran in the Swedish capital of Stockholm last month.
Eyewitnesses told CNN that the protesters withdrew from the perimeter of the Swedish Embassy after setting part of it on fire “after delivering their message of protest against the act of burning the Holy Book of God.”
Several journalists covering the protests were detained by security forces, and at least one was beaten, according to multiple organizations.
“Journalists should be free to report the news without fear of harassment or harm, wherever they are,” Reuters Iraq Bureau Chief Timour Azhari tweeted Thursday. Two detained Reuters journalists were released after several hours, the agency said.
Ziyad Al-Ajili, the head of the Iraq-based Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) told CNN that three photojournalists working with international news agencies were arrested and another was beaten by security forces and his camera destroyed.
Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah also called for a demonstration Friday afternoon. Khamenei and Iran's theocracy serve as Hezbollah's main sponsor.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the events in Sweden. He called on the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation to play a “historic role in expressing the sentiments of Muslims and stopping this demonization.” Meanwhile, Islamists in his country have been pushing Sharif, who faces an upcoming election, to cut diplomatic ties with Sweden.
"Raise your right hand, and repeat after me," an authoritative voice commanded.
I was 17 years old, in a room beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and my parents had agreed to support my unwavering commitment to serve as a fresh recruit in the United States Army.
While a gleaming sense of honor enveloped me, there was an undeniable fear lingering in my eyes, stemming from the daunting task of standing tall as a queer soldier.
This fear was not new, but from past trauma from the experiences I had growing up. During my childhood, I was constantly reminded that being queer was not something to be proud of.
Being overcome with feelings of loneliness and abandonment was normal, especially when I heard the quiet whispers behind my back. I didn't feel like a man, but rather a complete outcast for one simple reason: I liked boys. I never could comprehend how something that seemed so small led to so much hate.
That was until I saw hate turn to murder.
I enlisted in the Army in 2017, shortly after the devastating Pulse nightclub shooting. During this moment, I couldn't help but be consumed by its harrowing aftermath. The thought relentlessly played over and over again in my mind.
A profound realization struck me: Love should be inconsequential, for we all wear the same uniform.
As a proud Army Officer, I have dedicated years of my life serving to protect the precious freedoms we hold so dear. But as a gay man, I have been fighting my whole life to enjoy the very privileges I am entitled to as both a beholder and protector of them.
According to CBS News, figures reveal there were 35,801 individuals discharged due to their sexual orientation from 1980 to 2011, and 81 percent of these soldiers were denied honorable discharges.
These soldiers were stripped of support systems that should have helped reintegrate them into society. Instead, these LGBTQ+ veterans have been abandoned by the very institutions they swore to protect.
According to the Texas judicial commission’s 2019 warning, Hensley referred gay couples who wanted her to preside over their marriage ceremony to other people who would officiate. The state’s judicial code requires judges to conduct “extra-judicial activities” in ways that don’t cast doubt on their impartiality on the bench. The commission issued a public warning, saying she cast doubt “on her capacity to act impartially to persons appearing before her as a judge due to the person’s sexual orientation.”
According to Dale Carpenter, chair of constitutional law at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, the U.S. Supreme Court case has little to do with Hensley’s case, since one is dealing with private businesses, and Hensley is a government official acting in an official capacity.
Johnathan Gooch, a spokesperson for Equality Texas and a University of Texas at Austin School of Law graduate reiterated Carpenter’s points on the differences between the two cases, and pointed to Hensley’s position as a purveyor of the law.
“The law of the land is marriage equality. It’s as simple as that,” Gooch said. “If judges and justices of the peace were empowered to only enforce the laws that they agreed with, we would quickly descend into anarchy.”
With the Supreme Court decision on Creative LLC vs. Elenis, businesses could now be permitted to refuse service to same-sex couples.
In writing that "our Nation's answer" to "ideas we consider 'unattractive'" is "tolerance, not coercion" in the majority opinion, I believe Supreme Court Justice Niel Gorsuch essentially enables and empowers Jim-Crow-era systems of segregation against the LGBTQ+ community on the basis of the First Amendment.
We cannot sit idly as our hard-fought progress erodes and our fundamental rights are trampled upon. While exercising our right to vote holds profound significance, it alone is insufficient.
As a society, if we do not fight back and demand change, we will continue to move backward.
We must boldly challenge our leaders, celebrate queer jobs, and affirm to every American that inclusivity knows no bounds. This belief is what fuels the spirit of our soldiers, including myself, who fight to safeguard this very freedom that is entitled to all.
+ Under the Florida Board of Education’s newly approved Black history standards students will be taught that slavery was a kind of apprenticeship for Western Civilization, where enslaved Black people developed life and trade skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
+ Jason Aldean–the country singer who was on-stage during the mass shooting at a 2017 Las Vegas concert that killed 60 people and wounded over 400 more–has recorded a song called “Try That In A Small Town” about how he and his friends will shoot you if you try to take their guns. The video for this tribute to the righteous vigilantism of Sundown towns features Aldean singing in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where in 1927 a lynch mob of 300 white men strung up the body of Henry Coat from the second story window, after dragging his body through the streets of the town behind a car. According to historian Elizabeth Queene, around 20 Black men and boys were lynched, killed by other methods or “disappeared” by White mobs or the Ku Klux Klan in Maury County. In 1946, the town of Columbia was the site of a post-WW II “race riot,” where Thurgood Marshall, who was in town defending two of the black suspects, narrowly escaped being lynched himself.
+ Jason Aldean: “Try That in a Small Town, for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up.” Aldean grew up in Macon, Georgia population 157,000.
+ This is something a reversal for Aldean, who just a couple of years ago released a song called “Rearview Town” about how he left a small town because it was so dull: “I could tough it out, but what’s the use? / A place that small, it’s hard to do.”
+ South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem: “I am shocked by what I’m seeing in this country, with people attempting to cancel the song and cancel Jason and his beliefs.” Uh, the Coup and the Dixie Chicks would like a word, Governor…
[. . .]
+ Aldean’s lynching “song” is now No. 1 on the charts. I wish someone would “cancel” one of my books.
+ Jason Isbell: “Dare Aldean to write his next single himself. That’s what we try in my small town.”