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New Restrictions

Call me cynical, but this “you cannot pee within an hour of landing” seems a bit… simplistic. I mean, yeah, deter people from blowing shit up. But when you’re making the decision between blowing shit up an hour before landing verus two hours before landing, you have failed.

And yes, I understand that the majority of airport security measures, from taking your shoes off to only being able to board with a certain volume of liquid, are psychological rather than practical. But let’s maybe make it less transparent, pals.

Time To Fire Ross Douthat, round 4095

Shorter Ross Douthat: Europe wasn’t racist enough, and so now they should be worried about the brown hordes. After arguing that European nations should have done more to restrict Muslim immigration, he concludes that while the end of the West is not near, there is still much to be fearful of:

This is cold comfort, though, if you have to live under the shadow of violence. Just ask the Swiss, who spent last week worrying about the possibility that the minaret vote might make them a target for Islamist terrorism.

They’re right to worry. And all of Europe has to worry as well, thanks to the folly of its leaders — now, and for many years to come.

The Swiss outlaw the building of new minarets — for no reason other than that they want to be hostile towards Muslims — and then they’re right to worry about Swiss Muslims’ hostility?

Dr. Carhart targeted by anti-choice activists


The same anti-choicers who long targeted Dr. Tiller found a new victim after Tiller’s murder: Dr. LeRoy Carhart in Nebraska.

Opponents of abortion, who had devoted decades to trying to stop Dr. Tiller’s business with protests and calls for investigations, are now turning their efforts to stopping Dr. Carhart. Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, said he had traveled from the group’s headquarters in Wichita, Kan., to Nebraska six times in recent months, portraying this suburb of fewer than 50,000 as a new battlefield in the abortion fight.

“We’re trying to get criminal charges against him, to get his license revoked, and to get legislators there to look at the law,” Mr. Newman said of Dr. Carhart.

It seems like wherever Troy Newman and Operation Rescue go, violence, harassment, assault and murder follow. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Dr. Carhart, though, is taking precautions:

Still, in the months since the killing, Dr. Carhart has made changes at his clinic and to his lifestyle as he has openly moved to take up Dr. Tiller’s cause.

Visitors to the clinic here must pass through a metal detector, new security cameras scan outside the building and a security consultant is employed full time. Dr. Carhart says he goes out publicly only on short, unscheduled trips and rarely eats out (and when he does, he says he stays less than 30 minutes). Dr. Carhart, an Air Force veteran, said his daughter was wed this fall on a nearby military base, mainly for security and privacy.

“We do everything differently now,” he said.

Of course, these are people who aren’t below shooting you dead in church, so there’s only so much he can do. Needless to say, he is an exceedingly brave man.

Anti-choicers, naturally, claim to deplore violence, even while they make Carhart their next target. God-willing nothing will happen to him, but I can guarantee that if he is ever assaulted, or if his clinic is ever bombed, or if he or his employees are ever shot at, the anti-choicers who launched this campaign and intentionally made Carhart #1 on the Pro-Life Most Wanted List will profess their innocence.

Late-term abortion rights divide even pro-choice people, and there is too often a lack of nuance in discussing what Dr. Carhart actually does. These are not purely elective abortions. No one wakes up in the 23rd week of pregnancy and decides, “Hmmm, I think I don’t want a baby anymore.” Nebraska has very strict abortion laws; in order to terminate a pregnancy that late, you have to jump through a series of hoops and prove that there are serious complications or threats to your health. The first commenter on the Times story illustrates why this service is crucial to women in need:

What a brave and selfless man. Having once faced the horrifying possibility of a late-term abortion due to a grave prenatal diagnosis, I know too well what a valuable service Dr. Carhart is performing for women at a devastating juncture in their lives. He is risking his life and reputation to offer an option to parents faced with an unimaginable crisis. Any mom who has received a devastating prenatal diagnosis late in a much-wanted pregnancy knows the depths of darkness that Dr. Carhart is helping women navigate. He is to be commended for standing for a deeply unpopular position because he believes it is the right thing to do.

Trying Terrorists in Federal Court

UPDATE: Read Glenn.

I will write more about this some other day, but I wanted to point Feministe readers to the news (in case you somehow missed it) that 9/11 terror suspects will be tried in domestic courts. This is a major step forward from the days of the Bush administration, when they were sent to Guantanamo and lived in legal limbo.

Some object to terrorists being tried in United States courts because it will afford them “the same panoply of constitutional protections as U.S. citizens during their trials.” I’m unclear on why that’s a bad thing. Federal courts have tried terrorism suspects for years now, and have done a pretty solid job — even when those suspects were afforded basic constitutional protections.

The American judicial system is imperfect, and it depends on an imperfect population to render verdicts. But I’m frankly baffled as to why anyone would think that 9/11 terrorism suspects wouldn’t be treated harshly enough by a New York jury. Believe me, the jury pool that will be pulled in the Southern District will hardly be sympathetic to these guys. And the prosecutors on this case won’t be idiots, either — we’re talking about some of the most talented and seasoned lawyers out there. I imagine that the defense attorneys will be likewise intelligent and skilled. A functional adversary system demands protections for the defendant. The Constitution, and what it affords criminal defendants, are good things. Those protections seek to ensure that even when faced with an unsympathetic jury — as will be the case here — criminal defendants are entitled to basic rights. They ensure that prosecutors do their jobs thoroughly and responsibly. They ensure that we have the fairest system possible, even when any criminal justice system is going to be flawed by its very nature.

The Bush years demonstrated the contempt with which some conservatives view the American judicial system. Liberals also criticize the American justice system, but under very different terms — we want it to be more fair and just. They just don’t think it’s good enough for the “worst” criminals. That lack of confidence is kind of terrifying — if our courts aren’t good enough to try terror suspects, why are we using them to try our own citizens? I’ve written time and again about the flaws in our judicial system (and I wouldn’t mind overhauling many of our laws, which too often lead to racist outcomes; I wouldn’t mind scrapping the death penalty, which these suspects are unfortunately facing), but the idea that we need separate courts for terror suspects because the federal courts aren’t equipped to handle them? Poppycock.

The federal courts are indeed up to the task. And it’s about time that the American public (and New Yorkers in particular) actually saw some justice for what happened on 9/11. A misdirected war in Iraq and a divisive culture war at home (with New York exemplifying All Things Bad) isn’t exactly healing the wounds.

Goodbye Goodbye

My last day as a guest blogger!  I want to thank the Feministe regulars for sharing your corner of the interwebs with me.  Thank you to the readers who read my posts, and especially thank you to those of you who posted thoughtful responses to them.

Like many guest bloggers before me, I leave you with many thoughts un-posted.  I have a half dozen half finished posts on my hard drive, posts on subjects ranging from Arabic hip hop to Zionism, veganism to 9/11.  Etc.  I’m gonna mash a few thoughts into this goodbye post.

First, I really want to talk a little bit about  Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine while I’m here.  I specifically want to talk about being a Jew who does anti-occupation activism and opposes Zionism.

When I say “Zionism” I am referring to a nationalist ideology holding that Jews have a right to a Jewish-majority nation state/”homeland” in historic Palestine.  Although over time there has been much debate about the definition of “Zionism”, I am using the meaning that carries currency currently on the global political stage.  Some Jews have more personal definitions of Zionism that are different; some may have nothing to do with nation states and refer instead to an important religious/spiritual connection to the land; I may not share such sentiments (I feel that Brooklyn and the Lower East side are enough of a homeland for me), but I certainly don’t object to them.  Such definitions are not being referred to when most people across the globe express objections to Zionism.

Along with anti-Zionists in general, I do not question the right of Jews to live in historic Palestine.  Jews have always lived there, often in peace with their neighbors.  There’s no problem there.  The problem is with the belief that Jews have more of a right to be there than anyone else, and that the “right” of a state with an artificially maintained Jewish majority to exist trumps the rights of all the people in the region.   These beliefs are racist, though it’s taboo to say that in most public spheres here in the United States.  Since the ’67 war (when the IDF proved itself to be very useful as military muscle), we’ve had a special relationship with Israel, supplying their military with an unprecedented amount of aid.  The US government also has a long history of supporting Jewish migration to historic Palestine, at least in part as an alternative to a feared massive arrival of Jews on our shores.

The US stands apart from world opinion in our official, unyielding support of Zionism and our active participation in the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Jewish politics.  I’m old enough to remember being appalled in 2001 when reps from the US and Israel walked out of the UN World Conference against Racism rather than discuss the relationship between Zionism and racism, slandering participants from every other country as anti-Semites.  Similar dynamics played out when the US pulled out of participating  in this years conference because Israel’s crimes were on the table.   This should raise red flags for those of us committed to fighting racism.  It is US and Israeli exceptionalism.

I view anti-Zionism as a logical piece of a broader anti-imperialist, anti-oppressive politic.  Of course I abhor anti-Semitism, but I am also disgusted at Jews (and fundamentalist Christians, and assorted other pro-Zionist factions) who exploit the historic persecution of Jews for their own political ends.  It in no way diminishes the horror of the Nazi Holocaust to suggest that the expulsion and murder of Palestinians in 1948 does nothing to honor its victims.  It is not anti-Jewish to resist Jewish colonialism.  The refugee crisis and ongoing oppression of those living in the Palestinian territories are not going away soon, and no amount of righteous anger at Hamas will shift the balance of power in the situation.  Those of us in the US-Jewish and not–are directly implicated, as our tax dollars fund the ongoing occupation.

The number of Jews who identify as anti- or non-Zionist is growing.  A 2006 study sponsored by The Andrea and Charles Bronfman philanthropies found that among non-Orthodox Jews under 35, only 54% are comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state. (as opposed to 81% of those 65 and older. ) Last year saw the launch of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network as well as an increasing amount of Jewish organizing against the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine within a specifically anti-Zionist framework. In 2008, I participated in the nation-wide No Time to Celebrate: Jews Remember the Nakba campaign, which sought to counter celebrations of Israel’s 60th anniversary with events commemorating and spreading awareness of the correlating “Nakba” (or “Catastrophe”) of 1948 which resulted in the death or displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.   This is a shift-it’s often controversial enough to criticize Israel at all, let alone dispute Zionist ideology.  But this controversy comes not from some kind of Jewish “consensus” on the matter (there never has been any such thing) but from which factions hold institutional power and the lengths they’ll go to silence their opposition.

I also want to plug my new favorite movie, Slingshot Hip Hop, a documentary chronicling the emerging Palestinian hip hop scenes and movement.  It is particularly interesting from a feminist perspective, as the consciousness around the need for women’s voices in Palestinian hip hop displayed by both male and female musicians in the film puts to shame the gender analysis of most music scenes I’ve ever been around. Please, order it and watch it if you haven’t yet.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably learn things, you’ll be left both angry and inspired.

What else.

It’s a little early, but September 11 is next Friday and I won’t be blogging here then.  This year I hope to get tickets to the big Jay-Z 9/11 benefit concert thing at Madison Square Garden.  That would be nice.  Not that most years I do anything, other than reflect.  It’s still a date on the calendar that provokes a visceral response from me.  On the morning of September 11 2001 I was at work at a phone sex call center in Manhattan.  I was on a call when the first plane hit the tower and yes, caller, you really will always be very special to me.  On 9/11 I thought I was maybe gonna die at various points.  Not to be dramatic, I wasn’t near the towers. There were initially rumors reported on the news that there was a third plane headed towards New York, and I was near other famous NYC stuff that people speculated might be a target.  Obviously the third plane didn’t exist.  No one I knew was hurt or killed.  Some I knew lost friends and family.

It was a really, really fucked up day.

The thing everyone says about the city coming together was true, in my experience.  I was unlike anything I had experienced before or have experienced since.  From the women at my job banding together and helping one another through those early, awful hours to just about everyone I saw after wards.  Strangers talking to strangers, asking each other how we’re doing, offering whatever aid or comforts we could.  I don’t have the words to express the power of experiencing that this is what happened to my city when hit with a crisis of such proportion.  We didn’t know what to do but try to help one another.

And then Bush and Giuliani got on TV and told us we needed to shop and “smoke out” the terrorists.  And suddenly the horror was constant and everywhere.  Attacks on Mosques and random people perceived as being Arab and/or Muslim.  The looming war.  A lot of us started having anti-war strategy meetings, back when opposing the war on Afghanistan was a fringe wingnut thing to do.  Now the majority of the country opposes it.

And yet, we’re still there.  In fact we’re sending 14,000 additional combat troops, on top of the increasing number of contractors from firms like Blackwater (excuse me, I mean the re-branded “Xe Services LLC.”) We’re still in Iraq, too, despite the popularity of Obama’s anti-Iraq war platform.   The horror marches on.  I wish I could see an end.

And on that cheery note…I guess I’m out?  You can follow my pop culture critiques, short videos, vegan recipes and political griping at my blog.  Hope to see you around the internet.

Randall Terry’s pathetic road show

Domestic terrorist Randall Terry, who has warned of “random acts of violence” and violent “reprisals against those deemed guilty” if healthcare reform is passed, is currently on a 10-city freakshow tour of the south.

terry1Yesterday, the freakshow went to Louisville, KY, where Terry performed a “skit” with two “actors”. Dressed as a doctor (after stabbing a baby doll), he stabbed someone playing an old women in the neck, with a sign behind him reading “Obama death-care. One dead patient at a time.” He then shook the hand of a white guy in an Obama mask over the woman on the ground.

Oh, and the politician’s office that was the target of this “protest”? Mitch McConnell, he of the 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee over the last 10 years. Because? He hasn’t opposed Obama’s health care plan enough. Mitch McConnell hasn’t.

This is true, unbridled insanity.

Though no one attended his idiotic display besides two journalists in Louisville, a 13 and 14-year old who witnessed Terry in Nashville had this to say:

“I think this is a disgrace,” said 13-year-old Jontrez London of Nashville. “Obama’s trying to save people. He ain’t gonna try to kill an old lady.”

Another baby doll went flying and 14-year-old Malcolm Wells shook his head and sighed.

“These are adults acting like children,” he said.

Not children. These are psychopathic violent people, who have every intention to act on it, if given the opportunity. And if the Justice Department lets their guard down, Dr. Tiller’s tragedy can happen again.

With Dr. Leroy Carhart’s federal Marshall protection recently withdrawn, Operation Rescue is now set to descend on his clinic in Nebraska this weekend to “keep it closed”, referring to Carhart’s intention to re-open Tiller’s clinic in Kansas.

If you live in Kansas and Nebraska, the local NOWs are organizing massive counter-demonstrations for the entire weekend, which you can find out about at the links above.

But in all seriousness, this should not be the job of private citizens to defend doctors and patients from potential terrorists. Call Attorney Gen. Holder (202-353-1555) and demand that the Justice Department return federal Marshall protection for Dr. Carhart, immediately.

(crossposted from Amplify)

Late Abortion Care Will Return to Kansas

When I learned the other day that Dr. Tiller’s clinic Women’s Health Care Services would not reopen with new providers, I found the news extremely depressing and lamented the significantly reduced access to much-needed, and sometimes life-saving, abortion care.

Now, against the odds, it turns out that another brave abortion provider is stepping in to take Dr. Tiller’s place, and provide late abortions in Kansas (h/t):

A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted “there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon.”

“I just think that until everything is in place, it’s something that doesn’t need to be talked about” in detail, Carhart said a day after Tiller’s family announced his Wichita clinic was permanently shutting its doors.

Tiller’s clinic was one of the only facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions. Carhart has run his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., since 1985, but had performed late-term abortions at Tiller’s clinic because of Nebraska’s more restrictive abortion laws.

Dr. Carhart was a long-term friend and colleague of Dr. Tiller, and had worked with him on past occasions. He had also previously been a part of plans to reopen Dr. Tiller’s clinic and provide services there along with two other doctors, before Dr. Tiller’s family ultimately decided that the facility would not reopen. Apparently determined to ensure that late abortions are still available in the state (which has significantly less restrictive late abortion laws than many others), he has now developed alternate plans. And I know that I, surely along with countless other advocates, am breathing a huge sigh of relief.  The women and otherwise identifying people (some intersex and genderqueer individuals and trans men, for example) who will unfortunately need late abortion services have likely just been spared a lot of additional pain and/or health risk.

Dr. Carhart also has a long history as a reproductive rights hero.  He has been an abortion provider since 1985, has long provided late abortions himself, and reports an increase in patients at his clinic since Dr. Tiller’s murder less than two weeks ago.  And you may recognize his name from the infamous Gonzales v. Carhart Supreme Court case, which upheld the ban on so-called “partial birth” abortions.  Dr. Carhart had challenged the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act on the basis that it provided no exception for a patient’s health.  Though the case was lost at the highest level, it was a correct and absolutely necessary challenge.  Now, he is stepping in to fill Dr. Tiller’s shoes, knowing full well the kind of terror that is almost certainly awaiting him, merely for his determination to provide a legal medical service.

So, thank you Dr. Carhart.  I am beyond grateful for your strong commitment to reproductive health and rights.  And I can only believe that Dr. Tiller would be extremely pleased.

cross-posted at the Curvature

Dr. Tiller’s Clinic Will Remain Closed

Oh god. This twists both my heart and my stomach up into tight, hard knots.

The family of slain abortion provider George Tiller said Tuesday that his Wichita clinic will be “permanently closed,” effective immediately.

In a statement released by Tiller’s attorneys, his family said it is ceasing operation of Women’s Health Care Services Inc. and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.

“We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women’s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service,” the family said.

This is awful. Just awful. I feel quite literally ill and nauseous at the moment.

I can’t blame Dr. Tiller’s family. I don’t blame his family. I understand that they have risked, and lost, far more than enough. No one could have ever blamed Dr. Tiller if he had decided, after the years of harassment and threats on his life, to give up practicing at his clinic. And so we certainly can’t blame his family now for shutting the clinic doors, once those threats were actually carried out. And I also hear what Dr. Hern, who provides the same type of late abortions that Dr. Tiller did, is saying. Who would want to work there? We can talk about principle all day long, but when it comes down to it — a man was murdered because he worked there. How many of us would be willing to take is place? Exceedingly few.

But that doesn’t change the loss, and that loss is huge. The nation has now not only lost one of its bravest, most compassionate abortion providers. It has also lost one of only three clinics that performed life-saving and therapeutic abortions this late. (Please note: dozens of clinics perform abortions that would be considered “late.” Dr. Tiller’s, however, was one of only three that provided abortions as late as they did.)

Read More…Read More…

Who Killed George Tiller?

I have a piece up in the Guardian about who shoulders the responsibility for George Tiller’s murder. A taste:

Some pro-life groups are issuing statements of condemnation and attempting to paint this murder as the work of an extremist. But this latest act of terrorism is, sadly, not an anomaly. It is part of a clearly-established pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence against abortion providers and pro-choice individuals. And mainstream pro-life groups shoulder much of the blame.

Pro-life organisations routinely refer to abortion as “murder”, a “genocide” and a “holocaust”. They post the full names abortion providers on their websites, along with their addresses, their license plate numbers, their photos, the names of children and the schools those children attend (sometimes with helpful Wild-West-style “Wanted” posters offering $5,000 rewards).

When you convince your followers that abortion providers are the equivalent of SS officers slaughtering innocents by the millions, tell them that “it’s all-out WAR” against pro-choicers and then provide the home addresses and personal information of the “monster” “late-term baby-killer” abortion providers you’re supposedly at war against, you can’t act surprised when those followers conclude that it’s morally justified to use the information to kill doctors.