Welcome Ron To The 21st Century!

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and all the good people of Florida who voted for him two months ago to the woke world of the 21st century!  DeSantis, who has a 0 rating with the Human Rights Campaign, but an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA), has a lot to learn about this 21st century and about humanity!

DeSantis throws the word ‘woke’ around as if it were a basketball, but he has weaponized it, he spits it out as if it were the most vile, disgusting thing in the world.  We really need to teach him a bit of humanity … or rather, we need to teach his voters a bit of humanity and then they can teach him humility!

What, you ask, has set me off on this tangent?  Well, mostly everything he’s done over the last two years, but most recently his attention to universities in his state that may be teaching such things as … diversity, equality, and inclusion … GASP!!!  No, he’s not interested in them because he wants to commend them for their efforts to open the eyes of the young people of his state … rather he is most likely considering cutting funding for universities that include such humanitarian lessons in their curriculum.

On December 28th, Chris Spencer, director of DeSantis’ Office of Policy and Budget, sent a memo to the head of the university system requiring colleges and universities to “provide a comprehensive list of all staff, programs and campus activities related to diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory.” In addition, they are directed to detail “costs associated with the administration of each program or activity,” including a description of the activities, paid positions and how much of the money is provided by the state.

United Faculty of Florida President Andrew Gothard said yesterday that his union is “deeply concerned” about the memo, which he called a “horrible directive.”

“Attempts such as these by the governor to chill speech and to intimidate those he disagrees with into remaining silent, altering their curriculum, and silencing their students are an affront to democracy and the American way of life. Let those who supported Governor DeSantis in the recent election heed this warning: A man who will silence those whom he disagrees — in the classroom and beyond — will one day find a reason to silence you as well.” [emphasis added]

That last sentence is both profound and chilling.

The memo also states that the purpose of education is to “prepare them for employment.”  Well … that is certainly part of the purpose of education, but by no means the only purpose.  Education has a far higher purpose … to prepare young people for life … all aspects of life.  The goal is to help people choose the path that is right for them, to help them understand how the lessons of history apply to life in the 21st century and beyond, to teach them to adapt and adjust to the ever-changing circumstances in the world.  DeSantis’ narrow views of education will hamstring the next generation of Floridians, will leave them unable to survive outside their own communities, unprepared to meet life’s challenges.

DeSantis would like to shield his entire state from the ugly face of racism by simply pretending it doesn’t exist.  He seems to think that if he simply says, “Don’t say gay,” then the LGBTQ community will simply disappear.  DeSantis and others like him truly have not grown up, never matured beyond their sheltered childhoods protected from the realities of life.  What the people of Florida who elected him two months ago were seeking is beyond my comprehension, but what they got was an ignorant bigot who would like to turn his state into a mythological place where everyone looks alike, acts alike, and thinks alike … one that would never survive in the real world.  If the people open their eyes and realize their mistake, I would strongly advise them to start petitioning their state legislators to impeach Governor DeSantis, for Florida relies heavily on tourism for its survival, and DeSantis is in the process of making Florida the most hated state in the nation.

My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

The Never-Ending Mind of Filosofa

I think many of us are still focused on the election results and what it all means going forward as a nation, and I am no exception. Try as I might to put it out of my mind, it keeps coming back like a boomerang.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past couple of days/nights, and I thought I’d share just a few of my thoughts with you.


There is much reason to be relieved by the results of Tuesday’s election, but … I would urge caution – it was not a sweeping mandate.  Republicans had more to do with their own losses than Democrats did with their wins.  They pandered to Trump, let him choose the candidates, and as usual Trump chose poorly.  Trump’s criteria was two-fold:  to earn his support, the candidate had to pretend to believe the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from Trump, and the candidate had to swear an oath of loyalty to Trump … not to the Republican Party, not to the country, but to one single ‘man’, Donald Trump.  Even a number of Republicans were, as is now obvious, offput by the unqualified candidates Trump chose to support and it was that, more than anything else, that drove some of the Republican losses this week.  The Supreme Court also played a role, unwittingly, in the unexpected Democratic wins with their decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  People care about their rights. It would behoove our politicians and our Supreme Court Justices to keep that in mind.  The government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.


Republicans seem to have forgotten the actual purpose of government’s existence.  As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, government is to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” … the operative word here being ‘people’.  All people.  Democrats’ policies are primarily people-centric, while Republicans seem more interested in making the nation wealthy, but only for a few at the expense of the rest of us.  While I won’t go so far as to say that nobody should have more than another person, I will say that I find anyone who has millions or billions of dollars to his name to be obscenely, grotesquely uncaring about humanity.  Sure, if you work hard, you make your company successful, you should reap the rewards, but not to the point of having billions of dollars while other people in your country, your own city, are going to bed hungry at night.  THAT is simply inexcusable.  And yet, that is what the Republican Party stands for.


I have heard it said that there is no real danger of an autocracy taking over in the U.S., for we have the Constitution.  Folks, the Constitution is a document, and like any document, it is only as good as the people who are in charge of upholding it.  A document can be destroyed, can be altered, can be burned.  It is a concept, a foundation upon which we build, but it is not indestructible.  It relies on the people we elect to defend and uphold it, and … AND it relies on We the People to agree to honour it by ensuring those we elect to support the Constitution, actually do so.  I wonder how many voters in this country have actually read the U.S. Constitution?  It’s only just over 8,000 words, including the 27 amendments, just about the length of 8 of my blog posts. And the language is simple enough for anyone who can read at a 9th grade level to understand.

The document was intended to grow along with the nation, not to be a set-in-stone, unwavering set of laws.  The framers knew that times would change, situations would evolve that might require additions or alterations, and they fully expected those additions and alterations, expected the document to grow with the times.  And to an extent, it has.  Women were given the right to vote in the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, just barely over a century ago.  It was the 26th Amendment, ratified in 1971, that gave 18-year-old citizens the right to vote – this came about largely due to the war in Vietnam and the case was made that if an 18-year-old was old enough to risk their life for their country, they should have a voice in our government.  The last amendment passed was the 27th, in 1992, that disallows members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises that would take effect prior to the next election.  1992 … 30 years since the last amendment to the Constitution.  A lot has changed in that time, and the document is sorely in need of some updating, but back to the point … it could be destroyed without too much ado.  It is a safeguard, but … just as your home is your safeguard against the elements, wild animals and wild people, your home can be broken into, burned down … destroyed.  So can the Constitution.  So can democracy.

Celebrating The #MandelaDay 2022

A while back, our friend Roger introduced me to a new blog, one that is focused on human rights issues around the world. The writer, Saadia Haq, writes today about an important day to remember and reminds us why Nelson Mandela deserves a day dedicated to him! Thank you, Saadia, for this very timely reminder!

The Human Lens

In 2009, United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/64/13 which marks July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day. It was a result of his noteworthy contribution to peace and culture as coincides with his birth anniversary.

The UN resolution underlines the importance of the principles propagated by Mandela in his struggle to bring democracy to South Africa.

The resolution, according to the UN, also acknowledges the contribution of the former South African President in “conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty and the promotion of social justice”.

On the occasion of this year’s celebration the Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, said, “His mission as an anti-apartheid revolutionary was establishing equality and freedom for all women, men and children. He stood for the fundamental rights of all human beings, regardless of…

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🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

This is a repeat of last year’s Pride Month post with only slight modifications.  Today, with so many states attempting to push the LGBTQ community into obscurity,  think it is more important than ever that we remember the fight for LGBTQ rights which I often compare to the fight for Black rights in this country.  There is a reason we have Black History Month and Pride Month … to remember that we are all the same in far more ways than we are different, that we are all in the fight for life together.  We all have feelings, stengths & weaknesses, and nobody is ‘superior’ by virtue of the gender or colour.


My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  Today, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past three years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few years ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we have made progress, today there are states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and others that have either passed or are preparing bills that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and reprised in 2020.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for later this afternoon.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!


Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“”During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!

Pride-month-4

Progress Unraveling

Three years after the Brown vs Board of Education decision that partly struck down Plessy vs Feguson (1896) and called for schools to be de-segregated, Judge Thomas P. Brady of Brookhaven, Mississippi, gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.  The speech is lengthy, but I have culled a few of the most damning parts to share here.  In the event you have the stomach for it, you can read his entire speech here.

  • I want you to distinctly understand that the South does not hate the Negro. I dare say you know little, if anything about the true Southern Negro.  Among the finest characters I have ever known are Negroes.  There is a great deal of genuine affection and understanding between the races.  We have lived harmoniously together with a minimum of violence and bloodshed.  We have nurtured the Negro, taught him, provided for him, educated him and endeavored to make of him a worthwhile citizen.  The Negro has made great strides and the Southern white man is largely responsible for these advancements.
  • There is, as every honest socialist knows, a distinct correlation between the degree of segregation of the races and the numerical strength of the Negro. The reason is obvious.  If in the South the Negro was permitted, as in some Northern States, to obtain the ballot by simply reaching 21 years of age, it would mean that no qualified white man in many counties throughout the South could ever hold public office.  It would also mean that in the halls of Congress, seats now held by competent white representatives would be held by ignorant, incompetent Negroes.
  • While I regret that I must do so, I must nevertheless comment upon some of the intellectual and moral aspects of the reason why the South must remain socially segregated. The average vocabulary of the Negro in the South consists of approximately 650 words.
  • It is because of an inherent deficiency in mental ability, of psychological and tempermental [sic] It is because of indifference and natural indolence on the part of the Negro.  All the races started out at approximately the same time in God’s calendar, but of all the races that have been on this earth, the Negro race is the only race that lacked mental ability and the imagination to put its dreams, hopes and thoughts in writing.
  • Never forget that the leftwing socialist groups are forever grading down, never grading up the intelligence, the industry and the genius of this country! They wish to equalize, thereby reducing to a low minimum the intelligence of America.
  • The Negro, in so far as sex is concerned, is not immoral, he is simply non-moral. He merely follows his natural instincts.  We cannot disregard his utter disregard for the laws relating to theft.  We cannot overlook his proclivity for drunkenness and dope addiction.  We cannot overlook his natural tendency to immorality and violence and subject our children to the terrible consequences resulting from such traits through integration.

He goes on to say that the people of Mississippi, having formed the ‘White Citizens Council’ will defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown vs Board of Education and …

  • As long as we live, so long shall we be segregated, and after death, God willing, thus it will still be!

As I read his words, realizing that those very words were not uttered centuries ago, but actually in my own lifetime, I felt physically ill.  A full decade after the ruling in Brown v Board of Education, 98% of school children in Mississippi were still attending segregated schools!

And then, a few years later in 1963, came the brutal murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers in front of his wife and children, and the following year, the murders of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner who were trying to help Black citizens register to vote.  In the interim, the KKK and the White Citizens Council were busily terrorizing Black people in Mississippi and throughout the South.  Far too many members of law enforcement in the South were also members of the KKK in the 1960s and perhaps beyond.

So now you’re wondering, “Why the history lesson, Filosofa?”  Patience, grasshopper … there is method to my madness.

Look today at Florida, Texas, even Virginia.  The states, particularly in the deep south, are using the excuse of Critical Race Theory … something that is not taught in elementary or secondary schools (though perhaps it should be) and something that the average person knows nothing about other than the lies they’ve heard from the likes of Tucker Carlson and others.  They seized on it as an excuse to stop teaching about the racist history of this nation.

Many believe that the current Supreme Court is all but set to overturn Roe v Wade (1973) that gave women the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  There is also talk of the Court attempting to overturn Obergefell v Hodges (2015) that gave same-sex couples the right to marry.  There is also talk of overturning Loving v Virginia (1967) that removed the barriers to interracial marriage.  Given the composition of the Court today, is it such a stretch, then, to think that ultimately, they might also overturn Brown v Board of Education?

Women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and perhaps most importantly, voting rights … all are potentially on the chopping block in this, the 21st century.  States are overstepping their bounds, writing laws that directly conflict with federal laws, conflict even with common sense, decency, and human rights.  This nation is traveling backward today, seemingly bent on destroying the progress of the last 70 years or so.  Why?  I am told that white people fear they will lose their “majority status”.  SO WHAT???  Who cares what colour skin anybody has, or how many white people as compared to Black or Brown people?  Apparently, some people care and those are attempting to change the course of history, to turn this ship around and take us back into the Dark Ages.

Read Judge Brady’s words again … is that a world any of us want to live in?  I certainly don’t.  I won’t.

A Tribute To A Great Woman — Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright was one heck of a woman, my friends.  Her death last week took me aback, though it shouldn’t have, given that she was 84 years old!  I wanted to write a tribute to her, but didn’t know quite where to begin, for she was truly larger than life.  Ms. Albright served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, and as U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administrations from 1997 to 2001, but those are facts … they are single-dimensional and they don’t tell who Madeleine Albright was, the person she was.

While I struggled to write a memorable tribute, one that would be worthy of the woman she was and what she gave to the world, I stumbled across a tribute written by none other than Hillary Clinton.  I think Ms. Clinton captured the essence of who Madeleine Albright was, for she had a personal connection, and her words are far more moving than mine would have been.  Thus, I share with you, a tribute to a great woman, Madeleine Albright!


Madeleine Albright Warned Us, and She Was Right

By Hillary Clinton

March 25, 2022

Late one night in 1995, in a cramped airplane cabin high over the Pacific, Madeleine Albright put down a draft of a speech I was set to deliver in Beijing at the upcoming United Nations conference on women, fixed me with the firm stare that had made fearsome dictators shudder, and asked what I was really trying to accomplish with this address.

“I want to push the envelope as far as I can,” I replied. “Then do it,” she said. She proceeded to tell me how I could sharpen the speech’s argument that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

That was Madeleine, always cutting right to the heart of the matter with clarity and courage. She pushed the envelope her entire life. She did it on behalf of women and girls, shattering the glass ceiling of diplomacy as the first woman to serve as secretary of state and calling out atrocities against women all over the world. She did it for the country that took her in as a child fleeing tyranny in Europe, championing the United States as an indispensable nation and the leader of the free world. She never stopped pushing the envelope for freedom and democracy, including cajoling sometimes skeptical generals and diplomats to see human rights as a national security imperative.

For Bill and me and her many friends all over the world, Madeleine’s passing is a painful personal loss. She was irrepressible: wickedly funny, stylish and always game for adventure and fun. I’ll never forget how excited she was to walk me through the streets of her native Prague and show me the yellow house where she lived as a girl. We couldn’t stop laughing when an unexpected rainstorm blew our umbrellas inside out, and couldn’t stop smiling when the captivating playwright and dissident turned president Václav Havel charmed us over dinner. Madeleine was 10 years ahead of me at Wellesley, and for decades we used to address and sign our notes to each other “Dear ’59” and “Love, ’69.”

Madeleine’s death is also a great loss for our country and for the cause of democracy at a time when it is under serious and sustained threat around the world and here at home. Now more than ever, we could use Madeleine’s vital voice, her cleareyed view of a dangerous world and her unstinting faith in both the unique power of the American idea and the universal appeal of freedom and democracy. We can honor her memory by heeding her wisdom.

Stand up to bullies and dictators

In the 1990s, when my husband named Madeleine U.N. ambassador and then secretary of state, she went toe-to-toe with the blood-soaked Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. She helped marshal American power and the NATO alliance to end the brutal war in Bosnia and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. She saw the chronically underestimated Russian president Vladimir Putin for what he is: a vicious autocrat intent on reclaiming Russia’s lost empire and a committed foe of democracy everywhere. In a prescient column in The Times published Feb. 23, she warned that an invasion of Ukraine would be “a historic error” that would leave Russia “diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance.” As happened so often, the man with the guns was wrong and Madeleine was right.

Madeleine Albright talking to Kim Jong-Il, center, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2000.Credit…Andrew Wong/AFP/Getty Images

She was a woman of action, especially when facing injustice. Madeleine understood that American power is the only thing standing between the rules-based global order and the rule of the sword. That did not mean she was ever quick or casual about the use of force, even for the right cause. Madeleine was a diplomat’s diplomat, ready to talk to even the most odious adversary to advance the prospects of peace. In 2000, she was the first secretary of state to travel to North Korea, where she spent 12 hours negotiating with the dictator Kim Jong-il. But, as she often said, her crucial historical frame of reference was Munich, not Vietnam, so she had a deep appreciation for the risks of inaction. Today, with a rising tide of authoritarianism threatening democracy not just in Ukraine but all over the world, that is a lesson worth remembering.

NATO and U.S. alliances are the cornerstone of world peace

As secretary of state, Madeleine helped my husband welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO after the end of the Cold War. Years later, I asked her to head up an international commission for the Obama administration to redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. Having experienced Europe’s historic traumas firsthand, she understood that the security provided by NATO was the key to keeping the continent free, peaceful and undivided. She saw it as a political alliance, not just a military pact, cementing democracy in countries that had only recently freed themselves from authoritarianism.

Madeleine rejected the criticism, renewed recently, that NATO’s expansion needlessly provoked Russia and is to blame for its invasion of Ukraine. As the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin has noted, that argument ignores Russia’s centuries-long efforts to dominate its neighbors. Madeleine would be quick to add that it also erases the aspirations and autonomy of the former Soviet bloc countries that threw off their chains, built fragile democracies and rightly worried about Russian revanchism. She would encourage us to listen to the insights of leaders like our friend Mr. Havel, who said the message of NATO expansion is that “Europe is no longer, and must never again be, divided over the heads of its people and against their will into any spheres of interest or influence.”

Make no mistake, if NATO had not expanded, Mr. Putin would be menacing not just Ukraine but the Baltic States and likely all of Eastern Europe. As the historian and journalist Anne Applebaum recently argued, “The expansion of NATO was the most successful, if not the only truly successful, piece of American foreign policy of the last 30 years.”

Madeleine Albright, right, with Hillary and Bill Clinton at the funeral for Václav Havel, the former Czech president, in 2011.Credit…Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Madeleine also strongly disagreed with Donald Trump’s approach of treating America’s alliances as a protection racket where our partners must pay tribute or fend for themselves. She knew that U.S. alliances — especially with other democracies — are a military, diplomatic and economic asset that neither Russia nor China can match, despite their best efforts, and are crucial for our own national security.

Attacks on democracy at home play into the hands of dictators abroad

They make it harder for the United States and our allies to champion human rights and the rule of law. In her searing 2018 book, “Fascism: A Warning,” Madeleine described Mr. Trump as the first U.S. president in the modern era “whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals.” She observed that his assault on democratic norms and institutions was “catnip” for autocrats like Mr. Putin. After the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn a free and fair election, Madeleine imagined Abraham Lincoln weeping. “My family came to America after fleeing a coup, so I know that freedom is fragile,” she wrote. “But I never thought I would see such an assault on democracy be cheered on from the Oval Office.” With the Republican Party recently declaring the insurrection and events that led to it to be “legitimate political discourse,” and some of the party’s most powerful media allies pushing Kremlin talking points on Fox News and elsewhere, it’s clear that the threat to our democracy that so alarmed Madeleine remains an urgent crisis.

The fundamental truth that Madeleine understood and that informed her views on all these challenges is that America’s strength flows not just from our military or economic might but from our core values. Back in 1995, Madeleine told me a story that still inspires me. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, she visited parts of the Czech Republic that had been liberated by American troops in 1945. Many people waved American flags as she passed, and to her surprise, some had just 48 stars. They had to be decades old. It turned out that American G.I.s had handed out the flags a half-century earlier. Czech families said they had kept them hidden all through the years of Soviet domination, passing them down from generation to generation as the embodiment of their hope for a better, freer future.

Madeleine knew exactly what that meant. Even at the end of her life, she treasured her first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, sailing into New York Harbor in 1948 as an 11-year-old refugee on a ship called the S.S. America. She would have been thrilled by President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States will welcome up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, and she would encourage us to do more to respond to this unfolding humanitarian nightmare. She would warn, as she did in her book, about the “self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive,” and urge us to keep pushing the envelope for freedom, human rights and democracy. We should listen.

The Justices Have Been Busy!

The Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have been busy little beavers this week.  Their rulings are something of a mixed bag … more to raise my hackles than not, but let’s start with the good news.


ACA survives to save more lives

Once again, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, was on the chopping block, and yet again, for the third time, the Court saved it from the Republican hatchet in the case of California v Texas.  The most interesting vote in my book was that of Justice Clarence Thomas.  Thomas, who voted against ACA the first two times it came before the Court, voted in favour of it this time, saying …

“Whatever the act’s dubious history in this court, we must assess the current suit on its own terms. And, here, there is a fundamental problem with the arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in attacking the act — they have not identified any unlawful action that has injured them. Today’s result is thus not the consequence of the court once again rescuing the act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”

He’s not exactly the head cheerleader for the Act that has allowed so many to have access to healthcare when they otherwise would not have, but a statement of fairness, at least.  I was also surprised that Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett voted in favour of ACA this time ‘round.  It is estimated that if the Court had struck down ACA, some 21 million people would have lost their access to healthcare.  There are still larger issues related to ACA that the Court has not yet addressed, but for now, it lives to see another day, to help people be able to take their sick children to a doctor.


The Court upholds bigotry

This one, Fulton v City of Philadelphia, involved the city of Philadelphia and a Catholic adoption agency who refused to work with same-sex couples.  Philadelphia had stopped placements with the agency, Catholic Social Services, after a 2018 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer described its policy against placing children with same-sex couples. The agency and several foster parents sued the city, saying the decision violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for six members of the court, said that the Catholic agency …

“… seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

I understand his view, but I still think it is wrong to allow any public agency to discriminate on any basis.  It’s a slippery slope … what comes next?  Will they confine their selection of potentially adoptive parents to only those with white skin?  Or perhaps only those who identify as Catholics?  The ‘right’ to freedom of religion is sacrosanct, however it should never infringe on other people’s rights, especially the rights of children to be placed in a loving home.


Human Rights … depends on who’s asking

The third case, Nestlé USA v. Doe, was brought by six citizens of Mali who said they were trafficked into slavery as children. They sued Nestlé USA and Cargill, saying the firms had aided and profited from the practice of forced child labor.  Note that the claim itself was not in dispute … it happened.  What was in dispute was whether the U.S. corporations involved in human rights violations outside the U.S. could be held accountable.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the companies’ activities in the United States were not sufficiently tied to the asserted abuses.  And that was the end of that.  So, corporations can operate facilities to manufacture their product outside the U.S. using child labour, paying next to nothing, and the laws of the U.S. will support their activities.  Seems rather odd to me for a nation whose very foundation is built on human rights.  A nation who screams bloody murder when a [white] person is denied any right.  A nation that is a member of the United Nations, an organization dedicated to human rights around the globe.  Hypocrisy?  Oh yeah.  But then, what would you expect from a nation that is attempting to deny the poor, the elderly, Blacks and other minorities the right to vote?


June is the busiest month for the Supreme Court, the last in its annual term and quite often the most controversial cases are saved for June.  One that is on the docket is Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case concerning voting rights.  The Court will decide whether to uphold Arizona’s racist and restrictive voting laws that allow the state to a) discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct, and b) make ‘ballot harvesting’ a crime.

Next year will be especially confusing for some voters, as newly drawn district maps may change the location of their polling place.  So, if John Doe casts his ballot at the same place he did in 2020, not realizing there had been a change in the boundaries of his district, his ballot will be thrown out under the new Arizona law.  And if someone collects the ballots from residents of a senior care facility and takes 20 or 30 ballots to the drop box, that person would be in violation of the law and those ballots not counted.  Discriminatory as hell!

However, the larger question is whether the ruling will be so broad that it will also effectively endorse new voting laws that states have passed this year.  The Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has generally sided with Republican state officials when they have restricted voting access.  Keep your eye on this one, folks, for it may be the seed that determines whether We the People will continue to have a voice in our government, or whether our civil rights will be jerked out from under us.

🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  Today, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past two years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few days ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we have made progress, today there are states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and others that have either passed or are preparing bills that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and reprised in 2020.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for later this afternoon.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!


Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“”During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!

Pride-month-4

John Lewis: The Last Of The True Heroes

Last night, right around midnight, as I had just finished writing and scheduling my Saturday Surprise post and was in the process of responding to comments, a breaking news flash crossed my screen that took my breath, caused me to utter aloud, “NO!”, and broke my heart.  Congressman John Lewis had died.

John-Lewis-quoteThere are few people alive today who deserve the title ‘hero’ in every sense of the word.  John Lewis was one such person.

When President Obama awarded John Lewis the Medal of Freedom in 2011, he said …

“Generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind — an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.”

obama-lewis John Robert Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama, on Feb. 21, 1940, one of 10 children of Eddie and Willie Mae Lewis. According to “March,” his three-part autobiography in graphic novel form, he dreamed from a young age of being a preacher. He was in charge of taking care of his family’s chickens and would practice sermons on them: “I preached to my chickens just about every night.”  But life had other plans for young John Lewis.

John Lewis was the last of the most relevant civil rights leaders from the 1950s and 1960s.  In 1955, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio, and, when the Montgomery Bus Boycott (led by King) began later that year, Lewis closely followed the news about it. Lewis would later meet Rosa Parks when he was 17 and met King for the first time when he was 18.  By the time he came of age, his path was chosen.

I could not possibly list all of Mr. Lewis’ accomplishments in this single post, but I would like to highlight a few.

As a student at American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, Lewis first became a part of the Civil Rights Movement, organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters that eventually led to the desegregation of Nashville’s lunch counters.

John-Lewis-lunch-counter-sit-in

Lewis was arrested and jailed many times in the nonviolent movement to desegregate the downtown area of the city. He was also instrumental in organizing bus boycotts and other nonviolent protests in the fight for voter and racial equality.

John-Lewis-early-arrest

In 1961, Lewis became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders. There were seven whites and six blacks who were determined to ride from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. At that time, several states of the old Confederacy still enforced laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation.  The Freedom Ride was initiated to pressure the federal government to enforce the Supreme Court decision in Boynton v Virginia (1960) that declared segregated interstate bus travel to be unconstitutional.

In the South, Lewis and other nonviolent Freedom Riders were beaten by angry mobs, arrested at times and taken to jail. At 21 years old, Lewis was the first of the Freedom Riders to be assaulted while in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He tried to enter a whites-only waiting room and two white men attacked him, injuring his face and kicking him in the ribs. Nevertheless, only two weeks later Lewis joined a Freedom Ride that was bound for Jackson.

“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”

Lewis was also imprisoned for forty days in the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Sunflower County, Mississippi, after participating in a Freedom Riders activity in that state.  But John Lewis was not a quitter.

In Birmingham, the Riders were mercilessly beaten, and in Montgomery, an angry mob met the bus, and Lewis was hit in the head with a wooden crate.

“It was very violent. I thought I was going to die. I was left lying at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery unconscious.”

In February 2009, forty-eight years after he had been bloodied in a Greyhound station during a Freedom Ride, Lewis received an apology on national television from a white southerner, former Klansman Elwin Wilson.

In 1963, Lewis was named one of the “Big Six” leaders who were organizing the March on Washington, the occasion of Dr. King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis also spoke at the March. Discussing the occasion, historian Howard Zinn wrote:

“At the great Washington March of 1963, the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis, speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, was prepared to ask the right question: ‘Which side is the federal government on?’ That sentence was eliminated from his speech by organizers of the March to avoid offending the Kennedy Administration. But Lewis and his fellow SNCC workers had experienced, again and again, the strange passivity of the national government in the face of Southern violence.”

John-Lewis-Edmund-Pettus-Bridge

John-Lewis-Edmund-Pettis-BridgeIn 1965, at age 25, Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, and was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, where he was beaten by police and knocked unconscious.  When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis’s skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge to Brown Chapel, the movement’s headquarter church in Selma. Before Lewis could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama.  Lewis still bore the scars on his head from the incident.

John-Lewis-CongressIn 1986, John Lewis was elected to the House of Representatives from Georgia’s fifth district, a seat he would win and hold until his death last night.  He was reelected 16 times, dropping below 70 percent of the vote in the general election only once. In 1994, he defeated Republican Dale Dixon by a 38-point margin, 69%–31%. He ran unopposed in 1996, from 2004 to 2008, in 2014, and again in 2018.

Throughout his 34 years in Congress he fought for human rights, for civil rights … for your rights and mine … for our children’s and grandchildren’s.  He spoke out loud and clear in favour of LGBT rights, national health insurance, gun regulation, and has often been called “the conscience of Congress.”

“My overarching duty as I declared during that 1986 campaign and during every campaign since then, has been to uphold and apply to our entire society the principles which formed the foundation of the movement to which I have devoted my entire life.”

Coming from another, that might be considered just political rhetoric, but from John Lewis, truer words were never spoken.  He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk for his entire life.  The world is a little darker place today without John Lewis in it.  RIP John Lewis … you are missed already.