Monday, February 12, 2018

Day 388 - Letter to Those Who Have Recently Learned that Someone They Respect Has Been Accused of Terrible Things

At some point in our lives, we will all have to deal with the unfortunate and uncomfortable situation of learning that someone we love and admire or respect has been accused of doing terrible things. For many of us, this moment occurred when someone we admired fell from grace, whether it was Bill Cosby or Louis CK or Al Franken. For others, we’ve had to deal with learning that a parent or loved one has done terrible things. For all of us, it would be timely to learn what to do and what not to do.

As has been his M.O. throughout the last year (and throughout his entire life), President Trump has shown us exactly what NOT to do or say. When discussing disgraced top aide Rob Porter, who is credibly accused of having physically and emotionally abused his two ex-wives and a former girlfriend, President Trump made the following statement:

We wish him well; he worked very hard. We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it's a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he's also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”
The President then tweeted:
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

So, as a Public Service Announcement of what NOT to say, we offer the following tutorial...
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Monday, February 5, 2018

We Need our Heroes to be Leaders

The rollercoaster of doublethink that MSU students, fans, and alumni are on is extreme, a millenium force of anger and rage and disgust and relief...and we have lost our equilibrium. We are filled with disgust as the details of Larry Nassar’s perversions and assaults fill our newsfeed and airwaves. We celebrate and excuse the loss of control of one of our own fathers, as we sit in full agreement with his actions, although we acknowledge that he was in contempt of court. We withhold judgment, knowing that he represents the horror we can’t even imagine, forgiving him the momentary indiscretion, and raising $32,000.00 in gofundme donations to pay for his non-existent legal fees. These girls are our girls, and we are right there with you, dad. When the judge said, “There is no way that this court is going to issue any type of punishment given the circumstances of this case," we raised our fists in solidarity.


We demanded and celebrated the resignations of Lou Anna Simon and Mark Hollis, and we now recoil in horror at the new appointees and their lack of any experience or ability to help MSU not just rise from the ashes but actually do better and be better. We demand that the trustees, especially tone-deaf Joel Ferguson, step down. We shake our heads as leader after leader just doesn’t get it. We put our MSU gear on the hanger in the back of the closet, hoping that someday we can bring it out again and wear it with pride. We miss our MSU nation; we grieve the glorious illusion that it was truly great.


Our University has let us down. Our leadership did not lead. Our coaches looked the other way. Our doctors supported their own, instead of listening to the young women, who told the truth over and over and over again. Larry Nassar could have been stopped 20 years ago, but the people we trusted to keep our athletes safe instead put our young people in danger. Our adults gave Larry Nassar the benefit of the doubt over and over again. He got his due process so many times, that it was no longer a fact-finding process; it was simply a stamp of approval and support so that he could continue his perversion and continue to assault and abuse those who he vowed to help.


But when our revered coaches are put in the spotlight? We recoil. We demand due process. We doubt the allegations. We point out that the accused deny any wrongdoing. We point out the amazing feats that our coaches have accomplished, the pride and acclaim they have brought, the good, the absolute good that they have done for so many of our young people for so many years. After all, our coaches didn’t abuse anyone. They are not Larry Nassar. The names Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio should never be uttered in the same breath as that monster Larry Nassar.


We don’t even see the cognitive dissonance. We can’t stomach the idea that these men deserve the same scrutiny as those who allowed Larry Nassar to exist and persist.


Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio have earned their positions because they are heroes. They take boys from across the country, and they train them to be highly skilled, intuitive, authentic, conscientious sports stars. They are both parent and idol, disciplinarian and cheerleader, the benevolent warriors that are iconic of our MSU nation.


But if we demand that our leaders lead or step down, we must also demand that our heroes do the same. I have no doubt that Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio are quality men, perhaps even great men. But quality leaders stand up for what is right. They speak out when there is wrongdoing, and then admit when they have done wrong. If MSU is to heal and move forward, Izzo and Dantonio are in the unique position to show us how. They cannot hide. There are thousands, even millions of eyes watching them. We want them to succeed; we want them to be the heroes we believe they are. We want them to be the heroes that we need. But we cannot excuse the fact that there may have been bad things happening on their watch. We cannot pretend that young men on basketball teams and football teams deserve more credibility and support than their alleged victims. We cannot recoil in horror at the fate that befell so many of our young female gymnasts and then shake our finger at ESPN for pointing out that MSU has a sexual assault problem and a credibility problem.


We need our heroes. But more than that, we need our heroes to be credible. We can have empathy for the frustration, distraction, self-doubt, and sadness that our heroes are currently facing. But we also must demand that they step up and face the media...and us. The media is simply doing their job. MSU leaders simply and repeatedly did not do their jobs. Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio, what will you do? We need you to be our heroes. We need you to be transparent and honest. We need you to admit to any mistakes or missteps, and we need you to help us navigate this disaster and begin to heal. You may not have signed up for this particular part of your job, but it is the role that you now have been given.

We have to hold our heroes to the same fire that we hold those who we despise. We can only hope that this fire will forge stronger heroes, ones who will authentically and honestly help MSU become the university it should have been and might someday actually be.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 358 – Letter to Border Wallers: Let’s Talk About Some Other Great Ways to Spend 18 Billion Dollars!

Dear Border Wallers,
We need to talk.
Because I am a bit concerned. I mean, are you really sure you want to build a border wall? Really? An 18.5 billion dollar border wall? Frankly, between you and me, building a giant, ineffective symbol (with windows!) doesn’t seem like the best use of our money. The experts will tell you that “walls did not work in the past and today only work to divert, not prevent, migrant flows—while simultaneously having a grave human cost.” And we have given you all sorts of advice about better ways to spend our money. But, I get it. You’re not really interested in advice or expert or facts. A border wall would look superfly and menacing, and would create the illusion of “security” (or perhaps exclusivity) that you want. You want a wall, and you won’t settle for less.
But, listen! I have a better idea! 
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Day 328 - Letter to Fellow Americans: Alabama Did It!!! Now Get Back to Work.

Dear Fellow Americans,
Roll Tide!
Alabama did it! They turned up in the special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacant seat, and they voted against the alleged child molester and for Democrat Doug Jones. It is okay to take a moment and celebrate; after the hard losses we’ve suffered over the last year, this feels like a chance to catch our breath and smile once again at the sun.
But don’t bask in that Alabama sunshine for too long. Alabama should have been a slam dunk, not a nail biter. No Alabamian in their right mind should have the urge to vote for a grown man who believes that dating a child is okay as long as you have her mother’s permission, a man who believes that getting rid of the constitutional amendments after the 10th Amendment would “eliminate many problems,” a  man who was removed not once but twice from his position as chief justice on the state supreme court because of ethics violations, a man who clearly has no idea how to ride a horse.
And yet, this man somehow earned 68% of the white vote, according to CNN exit polls; he earned 91% of the Republican vote. If it weren’t for the huge turnout by African Americans(who turned out with even more force than they did for the presidential election in 2012), we’d be once again pulling out our hair and rending our garments in rage and disbelief.
So don’t you dare sit back, America...
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Day 298 - We are Taking America Back

Mr. President,
The 2017 off-year election results are in, and sir, I have bad news for you. It seems that your racist, misogynistic, homophobic, nationalistic, isolationist policies aren’t actually that popular. Sure, you talked and tweeted a big game as you threatened to destroy every policy that your predecessors had put in place. Sure, the white nationalists have been ranting and chanting, as you have empowered them to unify against every attempt to move our country towards equity and equality. Sure, you still have an excellent chance of destroying opportunities for our citizens to have affordable health care, access to higher education, quality reproductive rights, and equity and equality under the law. Sure, there’s even a good chance that you will walk us into war with your ridiculous need to one-up every world leader in your childish Twitter tantrums. BUT, it turns out that the MAGA policies that are near and dear to your tiny shriveled heart are actually not representative of what the people want.  Because the people voted a week ago, and what they voted for should make you a bit queasy.
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day 271- #MeToo, Mr. President

Mr. President,

Yesterday, a social media campaign went viral. On Twitter and on Facebook, women revealed with a simple “Me Too” that they had experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment.
This campaign shouldn’t have had to happen. After all, #EverydaySexism already made this perfectly clear in 2012. And #YesAllWomen went viral in 2014. It should be clear by now to every single person in our country that sexual harassment and sexual assault are simply part of the fiber of our social culture: things that, if you are a woman, are not about if, but about when. And yet, this morning, men I respect and whose opinions I value greatly were shocked and saddened at the sheer volume of #MeToo that had appeared in their feeds. It seems that, no matter how many times this topic goes viral, somehow it doesn’t sink in. Instead, women are forced to claim their own assaults again and again, and out themselves and vocalize their pain and humiliation, while the men continue to express disbelief.
I first witnessed this phenomenon at a book club years ago. As we women sat around a bonfire, wine in hand, our conversation moved from the book we’d read to our loss-of-virginity stories. A lone husband sat in the group, an “honorary girl” for the night. And as we shared our stories around the circle, it became painfully clear: 7 of the 8 of us women had lost our virginity in a situation that was clearly sexual assault. Only 1 woman had a lovely and loving story to tell, a John Hughes movie kind of story in soft-focus lighting. For the rest of us, our stories did not involve consent. This is the universal narrative of how the women of Generation X lost their virginity. Rape was our rite of passage. And the lone husband felt ill, realizing what had been taken from all of us…all of us strong, independent, self-supporting, Feminist, highly educated and highly successful women. All of us, sir.
And Mr. President, #MeToo doesn’t end there.
Read more of this post at Letters2Trump.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Day 240 - A Golden Opportunity Awaits, Mr. President!

Dear Mr. President,
I am so excited for you! An amazing opportunity has fallen into your lap. Finally, you have the chance to put your name in your favorite all-caps font, gilded and glorious, on nearly 20% of the GDP in our country. No, I’m not talking about putting your name on a wall. That’s thinking small and I’m thinking Huge! I’m aiming so much higher for you. I’m talking about your chance to put your name on our health care system. This week, Bernie Sanders unveiled his plan for Medicare for All. A single-payer health care plan, Berniecare would systematically lower the age of enrollment in Medicare over the next few years until every single citizen in our country has free health care. Obviously, Berniecare, as a system, is unpalatable. It reeks of mildewy sweaters and socialism. But Trumpcare? TRUMPcare? That is a glorious word, full of majestic intonation and caps-lock bravado. And you could do this! You could make this happen! Just like Obama took Romneycare and made it his very own, you could take Berniecare to the masses, paint it gold, and live in notorious infamy, going down in history not as the worst president of all time, but as the one who single-handedly saved millions of lives. 
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 208 - Mr. President, You have Blood on your Hands

Dear Mr. President,
Because of you, racists are alive and well in our country, Mr. President. They are crawling out of the woodwork, and they are looking at you as their leader in chief. You did this. You used a common phrase from Hitler for your own campaign slogan. The White Supremacists were watching and cheering. You incited violence on multiple occasions. The White Supremacists were watching and cheering. You repeatedly attacked President Obama’s citizenship. The White Supremacists were watching and cheering. You failed to distance yourself from the KKK and David Duke and your attempts to later “disavow” were weak at best. The White Supremacists were watching and cheering. Even now, David Duke promises to fulfill your campaign promises. And the White Supremacists? They are ready. You have mastered whataboutism, the common Soviet propaganda move, and the White Supremacists have studied your rhetorical moves and have mastered them, better than you ever will.
They have been emboldened by your words, your behavior, and your inability to call evil by its name:
They are Racists.
They are Bigots.
They are Terrorists.
Because of you, 3 people are dead and 19 are wounded. Because of you, a community has been terrorized. One woman, at a rally counter-protesting the White Supremacists: dead because of you. Two police officers, sworn to protect our citizens and and finally rushing in after so many were injured and bleeding: dead because of you.
Read the rest of this post at: Letters2Trump.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 174 – A Piece of Legislation We Could All Get Behind, Mr. President. The Think Before You Act…Act.

Dear Mr. President,
You and your spokespersons have insisted that you have signed more bills during your time as president than any other president in American history. And, in a bizarre twist, Politifact has rated this claim as mostly true. You have, in fact, shown a very keen desire to sign your name as often as possible. However, it turns out that only one of these new laws has actually created a new policy. The majority of the rest of your signatures have been on laws that “have been passed through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to roll back regulations imposed by the executive branch, and are aimed at dismantling former President Barack Obama’s legislative legacy.” This really isn’t groundbreaking legislation after all.
And so, I have a proposition for you: I propose that you craft a piece of legislation that not only would be groundbreaking and legacy-creating, but that would actually make America greater.
Read the rest of this post at Letters2Trump.

Monday, July 10, 2017

To the man who felt it necessary to question my son in the bathroom at IHOP

Dear Sir:




I don’t know why you felt the need to tell my eight-year-old son that he was in the wrong bathroom at IHOP. I’m not sure why you felt that his presence was a problem. What was your intention? If you truly felt that he was a girl, and that you were somehow going to protect him by questioning his gender, wouldn’t it have been even more effective to simply just make sure that he was okay? Why were you so concerned about his gender? Shouldn’t you just have finished your business, washed your hands, and gone back to your pancakes? After all, that’s what my son was planning to do. Instead, you told him he was in the wrong restroom. And when he told you he was a boy, you informed him that he didn’t look like one. And then you took it one step further: you told him he should cut his hair.


My son came back to the table, explaining that some man just told him he was in the wrong bathroom, that he looked like a girl, and that he should cut his hair. I asked my son how he responded to you. He explained that he just told you that he was a boy, but that he wished he could have told you that you were rude. I wanted to give my son permission to tell you that you were rude. In fact, I flippantly told him that he should have said exactly that. But, I have raised my kids to understand that telling someone they are rude is, in fact, a bit rude. My son said, “nah. That would have been awkward.” And so my son let it slide. But he was definitely shaken by your rudeness.


What right do you have to tell an eight-year-old child what he should and shouldn’t do with his hair? I have raised my son and my daughter to understand that their bodies = their property, and that no one else has the right to touch their bodies without their permission. And this goes for their hair as well as any other parts. They have autonomy over their own bodies, sir, and you have no right to tell them or anyone else what to do with --or to-- their bodies.

My son likes his hair. He knows that people, at first glance, think he's a girl. And he's okay with that. "I'm a boy," he says, and usually they say, "oh, sorry man! Great hair!" and then he goes on with his life. He's comfortable in his own skin, and he's comfortable with who he is. But he's not comfortable with a stranger telling him what he should or should not do with his body. "It's my hair," he said. "Why does that man even care about it?"


I know that girls have had the same issue recently. Our policing of gender has escalated, because somehow we all believe it is our duty to put each and every person into a box convenient to our limited understanding. Or maybe our policing of gender norms has always been this opinionated, and it’s only recently that we’ve become obsessed with bathrooms.

It seems to me that what really needs to be done in the bathroom is related much more to hygiene than to gender policing. And what my son needed was the chance to pee, wash his hands, and then come back to the table to eat his pancakes. If you truly wanted to be helpful, sir, you could have simply said “hi” and just made sure he could reach the paper towels. If you felt that commenting on his appearance was somehow necessary, you could have said, “hey, kid, nice hair.” And, if you really felt it appropriate to give him some advice, saying, “you have a nice day,” would be totally in line. Just think: you wouldn’t have felt so self-righteous and you would have taught a young kid how to be a decent human being. Instead, you pulled rank on an eight-year-old kid and taught my son exactly what kind of a man he never wants to be.