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Behind the Aegis

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Synagogue, garages spray-painted with racial slurs in West Rogers Park

A badly drawn Star of David and the words “F – - – U!” were among the scribblings residents awoke to Sunday morning on synagogues, garages and other buildings in a largely Jewish area of West Rogers Park.

“It’s outrageous, It’s very sad,” said one resident, as she saw the words Monday sprayed in black paint on the back side of the tiny synagogue in the 2900 block of West Touhy she’s attended for two-plus decades.

In all, a dozen or more buildings appeared to have been hit with the racial slurs and other profanity.

About 6:40 a.m. Sunday, police responded to the store-front synagogue. Officers later got word of similar incidents in the 2800 block of West Estes and the 5700 and 5800 blocks of North Talman. Police labeled the incidents as criminal damage to property. There had been no arrests as of Monday evening.

Anti-Semitic graffiti was found spray-painted on garages and a small synagogue in West Rogers Park on Sunday. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Tue Dec 30, 2014, 03:30 AM (36 replies)

The Darkness Is Real. So Is The Light.


But this year, let's own up to the fact that the darkness is real.
The 148 victims of the Taliban terror attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan -- a grim, gory testimonial to the fact that religious freedom is, for too many, still a fiction.
The racial and class divisions in this country. We might imagine that race relations have moved forward, and in some ways, we would be right. But until African-American parents no longer have to have "The Talk" with their teenaged sons, we are not free. No way.
The grim and horrific revelations about our country's implicit endorsement of torture. And why aren't there more religious voices screaming about this? Isn't this a theological issue -- or do we no longer believe in that hoary concept of "the image of God?"
The growth of anti-Semitism. And not even, just, international anti-Semitism. This is not just about Europe. This is about what is happening on college campuses in this country. When a mother of a soon-to-be college freshman asks me, in all candor, whether she should have her own version of "The Talk" with her son, and tell him to take off his kippah, you know that we have a problem.

And yes, there is some light as well. American Jewish prisoner Alan Gross has been released from his long incarceration in Cuba -- making the theme of freedom even that much more powerful.


May your Festival of Light -- however you choose to spell it -- be filled with precisely that -- the light of moral courage.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Dec 18, 2014, 01:42 AM (0 replies)

Homophobia is not always "in your face".

I posted this article in the LGBT group:

Is It a Big Deal That the Actor Playing the Flash Isn't Straight?

Actor Ezra Miller has been cast as the Flash in Warner Brothers’ eponymous movie, which is slated to premiere in 2018. That's big news even for those who aren't diehard DC Comics fans, because Ezra Miller is also openly queer, making it the first time a non-heterosexual has played the lead in a superhero movie.

Let's get one distinction out of the way: The 22-year-old Miller identifies as queer, not gay. Though the word can mean different things to different people, it’s often used as an umbrella term to mean “somewhere on the spectrum of sexuality that's not 100 percent straight.” In a 2012 interview, Miller told The Advocate “I’m queer... I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular."

It may seem ridiculous that we’re talking about this in 2014, when it feels like there is no shortage of openly non-heterosexual actors in Hollywood. But the casting choice of a queer man as the lead in a big-budget superhero, the embodiment of traditional American masculinity, is inarguably a huge deal. Queer actors are still up against the surprisingly pervasive idea that a non-straight actor can’t play a straight character. This has historically been true not just of superhero roles, but of all types of straight roles in mainstream American films.


You may remember when Bret Easton Ellis tweeted that openly gay actor Matt Bomer wasn’t fit for the role of Christian Grey in the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ellis opined that “Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor that is genuinely into women." That's a stubbornly persistent attitude: We love and applaud straight male actors for portraying gay characters, but we apparently don’t trust queer actors to be able to do the reverse.

more: http://www.vice.com/read/its-a-big-deal-that-the-actor-playing-the-flash-is-not-straight-117

The paragraph after the snip is not as uncommon as one might think. Not too long ago, Andrew Garfield, who plays Spiderman in the recent movies, stated something to the effect he wouldn't be opposed to Spiderman being gay. People lost their shit! Before that, it was about making "Sherlock Holmes" gay. Collective shit again lost, and as yet, unrecovered. The idea a fictional character might be written as gay totally pissed people off in a way that is nothing short of an example of homophobia. Many characters in superhero genres have be re-written in a way that changes the characters racial identity, physical abilities, even gender, but sexual orientation? That, for some is just a step too far.

Why is it so hard for some to understand gay people are here to stay and we are part of the fabric of life?
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Fri Oct 17, 2014, 02:20 AM (19 replies)

He would have been 38 in a month and a half were it not for murderous homophobes.

Remembering Matthew

Today marks 16 years since the day we lost Matt Shepard. I know from the conversations I’ve had with many of you that those terrible days in October 1998 echo in your memories: where you were, how it felt, the fears, the outrage and the questions you were left with.

In a cold October not so long ago in a sparse and misunderstood place, one of the few things that a senseless act of violence could not take from Matthew Shepard was his honor. In living openly as himself, Matthew encountered a terrible force that countless thousands like himself have faced before and since. The force of hatred. He lost his life to it. But he and we did not lose what was true about him – he had honored himself by being authentic, and honored those few of us fortunate enough to have known him, by being honest.



Matthew Shepard: His Legacy Continues

Even after 16 years the name and story of Matthew Shepard, whose murder, carved into American history, represented a watershed moment that forever changed the conversation about the LGBT experience, not only still resonate but continue to have an impact.

When Matt died in 1998, I was an advocate working for GLAAD. My story and my connection to his death are well documented, most recently in a TEDx talk at Claremont College. The memories and lessons of all I have ever done in relation to Matt's death, and of all subsequent work I've done with regard to hate crimes and so many other issues, inform, inspire and motivate me every day. Legacy.

My experience changed me forever and carries with it a deep responsibility to continue to tell the stories of LGBT people. October is forever bittersweet for me: I celebrate National Coming Out Day with both pride and painful memories of being in Laramie and mourning Matt's death with his friends and fellow students and community advocates, not only bearing witness to moments that were shared around the world though the media but knowing that, in the best way we could, we tried to ensure that the media coverage was as fair and accurate as possible. Legacy.

As Dennis Shepard said at Russell Henderson's plea bargain hearing (Henderson is one of Matt's killers, now spending the remainder of his life in prison), "good is coming from evil." And after 16 years that good continues. Yes, his murder sparked a national conversation not only about hate crimes but about LGBT lives in general. Yes, it began a process where our experience as LGBT people suddenly had more context in the broader culture. (It followed the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, making the late '90s a very influential time for the cultural visibility of LGBT people.) In October 2009 I stood feet away from President Obama at a reception following the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Legacy.

more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathy-renna/matthew-shepard-his-legacy-continues_b_5965980.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


Homophobia kills!

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sun Oct 12, 2014, 02:23 PM (27 replies)

National Coming Out Day 2014: LGBT Whisper Users On Acknowledging Their Sexuality In The Open

National Coming Out Day was first celebrated on Oct. 11, 1988, exactly one year after the historic March On Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Now in its 26th year, National Coming Out Day remains a time for both celebration and contemplation, giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as well as their allies an opportunity to share who they are and encourage an open discussion with those who have yet to come out of the closet.

As part of HuffPost Gay Voices' ongoing partnership with Whisper, we looked for some of the most profound coming out stories shared by the app's anonymous LGBT users -- and the results ranged from touching to distressing.

"I told my mom I was a lesbian when I was 16," one user wrote. "My mom told me, 'As long as you are happy, who am I to tell you who to love?' My mother and I became closer and are still close 8 years later."

more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/11/national-coming-out-day-2014_n_5965714.html


National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual civil awareness day internationally observed on October 11 to recognize members of the LGBTQ+ community.[1] The process of coming out involves self-disclosure of one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Oct 11, 2014, 03:37 PM (0 replies)

"It Gets Better"...I never saw this music video.

Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 04:39 AM (1 replies)

1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before age 18

Researchers have found that 1 in 6 men have experienced abusive sexual experiences before age 18. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects.

If you’ve had such an experience, or think you might have, you are not alone.

If you wonder whether such an experience may be connected to some difficulties or challenges in your life now, you are not alone


Myths & Facts

Here we address some myths that everyone absorbs to some extent, especially boys and men who’ve had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences. These myths are big obstacles to understanding and healing, so it’s really important to know just how wrong they are.
Before addressing the myths, let’s review some key facts:

Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
If a boy liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
Boys can be sexually abused by both straight men and gay men. Sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.
Whether he is gay, straight or bisexual, a boy’s sexual orientation is neither the cause or the result of sexual abuse. By focusing on the abusive nature of sexual abuse rather than the sexual aspects of the interaction, it becomes easier to understand that sexual abuse has nothing to do with a boy’s sexual orientation.
Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky,” but exploited and harmed.
Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.

Myth 1 — The myth that boys can’t be sexually used or abused, and if one is, he can never be a “real man.”

Everyone absorbs the myth that males aren’t victims, to some extent. It’s central to masculine gender socialization, and boys pick up on it very early in life. This myth implies that a boy or man who has been sexually used or abused will never be a “real man.” Our society expects males to be able to protect themselves. Successful men are depicted as never being vulnerable, either physically or emotionally. (See How It Can Be Different for Men and How Being Male Can Make It Hard to Heal.)

Whether you agree with that definition of masculinity or not, boys are not men. They are children. They are weaker and more vulnerable than those who sexually abuse or exploit them – who use their greater size, strength and knowledge to manipulate or coerce boys into unwanted sexual experiences and staying silent. This is usually done from a position of authority (e.g., coach, teacher, religious leader) or status (e.g. older cousin, admired athlete, social leader), using whatever means are available to reduce resistance, such as attention, special privileges, money or other gifts, promises or bribes, even outright threats.

What happens to any of us as children does not need to define us as adults or men. It is important to remember that that 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 (see The 1 in 6 Statistic), and that those boys can grow up to be strong, powerful, courageous and healthy men. Examples are found on our website (see Other Guys Like Me), and there are many others out there.


This can be a difficult and emotional topic. My friend, one_voice, posted this in another group and I am reposting because I feel this is something men do need to discuss, without shame, prejudice, and blame. What was interesting for me was upon reading this I remembered an assault I endured during my high school years. It was odd how I had not thought about it, even in the years I was a rape crisis counselor. I guess it is one of those things some men do in order to not think about the situation.

The other issue is being able to talk to male children about this in a way that doesn't make them fearful or feel ashamed. In my estimation, most people don't really think to consider boys as potential victims, yet, as the above shows, it is more common than most think.
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Tue Jul 15, 2014, 01:28 AM (20 replies)

Bereaved Israeli family consoles father of murdered Palestinian teen

Two bereaved families, one Israeli and one Palestinian established contact Sunday, during a condolence visit by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the Nof Ayalon home of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank.

During the visit, Barkat called Hussein Abu Khdeir, the father of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian whose body was found in the Jerusalem Forest last week. Barkat offered his condolences, and at the end of the call asked Hussein Abu Khdeir and Yishai Fraenkel, Naftali Fraenkel's uncle, if they wish to speak. Fraenkel expressed his condolences, and added that he was horrified to learn that Khdeir's murderers were Jews.

The two agreed that the families of the three Jewish victims would soon pay a condolence visit to Abu Khdeir's family over the death of their son.

more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.603443/1.603443

(If you have already visited Ha'aretz this week, clear your cookies to read the story.)
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Mon Jul 7, 2014, 12:50 AM (16 replies)

Europe must face up to the new antisemites

The New York Met this week cancelled its planned global telecast of John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, the opera that portrays the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by the Palestinian Liberation Front in 1985. While emphasising that the work itself is not antisemitic, the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, said that he recognised concerns among Jews "at this time of rising antisemitism, particularly in Europe". Regardless of one's view of either the opera or the Met's decision, Gelb is unfortunately spot on about Europe.

A survey of global attitudes towards Jews conducted by the Anti-Defamation League recently found that 24% of people in western Europe (37% in France, 29% in Spain, 27% in Germany, 69% in Greece) and 34% in eastern Europe (41% in Hungary, 45% in Poland, 38% in Ukraine) harboured antisemitic views. By this it meant they agreed with six or more classical stereotypes about Jews from a list of 11 including "Jews have too much control over the US government", "Jews are responsible for most of the world's wars", and "People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave".

Such beliefs are translating to support at the ballot box. At last month's European elections, three countries – Greece, Hungary and Germany – elected neo-Nazi MEPs. Germany's NPD openly describes itself as national socialist. Antisemitism is also leading to violence against Jews. Four people were murdered at the Jewish Museum in Brussels just days before the European elections. Facing trial is Mehdi Nemmouche, a French Muslim radicalised in Syria with an expressly antisemitic agenda. In 2012, a rabbi and three children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse by Mohammad Merah, another radicalised Muslim with similarly antisemitic views. There were 170 antisemitic acts reported to the Paris-based Jewish Community Protection Service and the French Ministry of the Interior in the first three months of 2014. Jews in Kiev, Bucharest and Stockholm have been attacked, the Jewish cemetery in Andrychów desecrated and the president of Rome's Jewish community was sent the head of a pig in a box.

When antisemitic attitudes are so widespread across Europe, these tragic and terrifying incidents are the real and disturbing consequences. No wonder Jews all over Europe are feeling increasingly worried. Over half of French Jews now think that "Jews have no future in France". As many as 75% of French Jews say they are considering emigrating. Many already have. One of my closest friends recently moved from France to Canada, because he felt "the situation there is no longer safe for my [Jewish] children".

more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/20/europe-must-face-new-antisemites?commentpage=1


Fat chance.
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sun Jun 22, 2014, 02:55 AM (0 replies)

Debunking the myth of the 'ungrateful’ Holocaust survivor

In Poland, they were known as the ungrateful Jews. These were Jews who survived the Holocaust because of the selfless acts of thousands of Polish rescuers who put their lives on the line for them but were never properly thanked. As soon as the war was over, these Jews headed out to greener pastures overseas, never again to establish contact with those who served as their guardian angels.

It’s one of the popular narratives that emerged in post-war Communist Poland, but according to Holocaust scholar Joanna Michlic, it’s a big myth.

“Yes, it’s true that many Jews broke off contact with their rescuers,” she says, “but that was done deliberately to protect them because anti-Semitism was so rampant at the time that had suspicions been raised that they had saved Jews, they would have been punished by their neighbors for being traitors. So while many Jews would have like to stay in contact with their rescuers after the war, they decided it was best to stay away.”

Michlic, a visiting Fulbright scholar this semester at the University of Haifa Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research, is currently working on a book about relations between Polish rescuers and the Jews they saved in the post-war period. Her findings are based on a large cache of letters she discovered at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. It includes more than 500 letters written by Jewish survivors to Jewish organizations on behalf of their rescuers, and by Jewish survivors to their rescuers in the first several years after the war.

more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.599683
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Thu Jun 19, 2014, 12:45 AM (2 replies)
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