News and Announcements

As of August 1, 2016, What Would Jack Do? has moved to a new home. This site will serve as the archive for WWJD from June 2002 to the present, but it will no longer be updated. All new material can be found at the new and improved WWJD. I hope you’ll change your bookmarks and join me there!

July 31, 2016 7:41 AM

Khizr Khan — the father of a fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan who died saving the lives of his fellow soldiers — appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Friday. With his wife at his side, the father of the dead soldier called upon the Republican Party to denounce the poisonous anti-Muslim rhetoric of its presidential nominee, reality TV star and real estate tycoon Donald Trump…. “We are private, ordinary American citizens,” said Mr. Khan, who delivered one of the 2016 Democratic National Convention’s most electrifying speeches when he told the world about his son’s sacrifice on Thursday night. “This political drama has heated up a little too much for us.”…. This was the family’s first-ever political convention, he explained, which they attended in order to “be part of the tribute to our son.”

No one who hasn’t walked in Khizr Khan’s shoes could claim to understand the depth of his pain and loss. He and his wife lost their son, his death denying them the joys they might reasonably have looked forward to as they watched him proceed through life.

Cpt. Khan threw himself on a suicide bomber’s explosive-filled vest in 2014. His selflessness cost him his life while saving more than 20 of his colleagues. It was an act of heroism performed by an American patriot…who also happened to be a Muslim. While Americans should be focused on his selflessness and heroism- and most are- there are those on the Far Right who view Khizr Khan’s speech as mere partisan politics…and thus deserving of a partisan response.

That Khan’s speech was intended as a tribute to his son was clearly missed (or willfully ignored) by those who view politics as a blood sport and believe sentiment and respect to the province of losers and Liberals.

July 31, 2016 7:14 AM

July 31, 2016 7:06 AM

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad. The reality remains that millions of American families do not have the advantages that come with that structure. We honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the burdens of parenting alone and embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with dignity and respect. But respect is not enough. Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in this platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states. We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go again.

If one is looking to understand the definition of “oxymoron,” one need look no further than the term “gay Republican.” What seems understandable as an exercise in, and expression of, profound self-loathing, is something I can’t begin to wrap my head around. The most well-known group- Log Cabin Republicans (LCR)- pledges allegiance to a party determined to destroy them, or, failing that, to relegate them to second-class status.

Even LCR President Gregory T. Angelo describes this year’s GOP platform as “the most anti-LGBT platform in history.” Why, then, would any self-respecting member of the LGBT community belong to a political party which views and defines them as “less than.”

The platform calls for the reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. It supports and encourages “gay conversion therapy,” which has been debunked and disavowed even by groups previously involved in it. Despite a preponderance of objective evidence detailing the damage done by “gay conversion therapy,” the GOP continues to stand behind it.

How could anyone with even the barest shred of self-esteem not recognize the GOP platform to be what it is: a prescription for defining the LGBT community as “less than,” and legally classifying them as second-class citizens unworthy of the rights and protections “good” and “decent” heterosexual Americans take as their due?

“Gay Republican” may not be as dramatic as “Jews For Gas Chambers” or “African-Americans For Slavery,” but it makes about as much sense. We’re all free to make our own choices, which I suppose means that some are bound to be nonsensical and difficult to comprehend. Members of the LGBT community who vote Republican are padlocking their own chains…and tossing the key into the high grass.

July 31, 2016 6:59 AM

July 31, 2016 6:43 AM

I’ve been ruminating for the past couple days on a question posed by my friend, Sean Paul Kelley. He used an article by Glenn Greenwald as the basis for what really is a very simple question:

What is American Exceptionalism, and why does it make us superior to the rest of the world?

The answer goes straight to the heart of how we Americans define our place and role in the international community.

The advent of drone technology made it easy for the US military to kill “bad guys” from the warmth and safety of an office at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. It meant American power could be projected into places where ground troops weren’t an option and conventional air power was ineffective. America could kill anyone almost literally anywhere with the push of a few buttons and the maneuvering of a joystick. Because of the easy, risk-free nature of drone warfare, American Presidents have been able to attack “evildoers” anyplace, anytime, anywhere.

Americans uniformly and without question accept this state of affairs as the norm. It’s just what we do. We’re Americans, we’re at war with an unconventional enemy, and therefore we should be able to do what needs to be done whenever, wherever, and however it needs to be done.

This seems the very definition of “American Exceptionalism, the belief that

  1. American history is inherently different from that of other countries,
  2. the U.S. has a unique responsibility to transform the world, and
  3. our history and unique mission provides America with an implied superiority.

It’s interesting, but hardly surprising, that those who champion the idea of American Exceptionalism are without fail American.

Manifest Destiny, anyone??

July 31, 2016 6:16 AM

July 30, 2016 8:14 AM

July 30, 2016 8:06 AM

College students want free speech on their campuses but want their administrators to intervene when it turns into hate speech, though they disagree on whether college campuses are open environments and on how the media should cover campus protests, according to a new Gallup survey on the First Amendment released Monday. About 78 percent of students surveyed said that colleges should allow “all types of speech and viewpoints,” while 22 percent noted that “colleges should prohibit biased or offensive speech in the furtherance of a positive learning environment.”…. “Students do appear to distinguish controversial views from what they see as hate speech — and they believe colleges should be allowed to establish policies restricting language and certain behavior that are intentionally offensive to certain groups,” the survey’s organizers wrote. Yet about 54 percent of students said that “the climate on campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.”

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen numerous controversies erupt on college campuses nationwide relation to free speech and expression. What I’m struggling to understand is the seemingly generalized desire for free speech…except when it’s “hate speech.” The question, in my my at least, is what constitutes “hate speech.” Beyond that, who gets to determine when free speech crosses the line to become “hate speech?” Whose tender sensibilities get to be used as the yardstick employed to vet the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of free speech?

I’m not one to defend “hate speech”…but defining it is no small task. I won’t argue with the contention that some speech is so offensive and hurtful that it serves no useful collective purpose. My concern is with where that line is drawn and who gets to draw it.

And when does drawing that line become the abrogation of free speech?

One of the disturbing trends on college campuses is the idea that students deserve a “safe space.” As I understand it, students expect to have access to a space in which they’re exposed to no words or ideas that might offend them- a bubble in which they experience only affirming and uplifting speech. They seem to feel as if they deserve to be insulated from anything that might cause them distress. To this, I can only say: “WTF???”

Perhaps this will sound sarcastic, and to a certain degree it’s meant to: Come on, Cupcake; there are no “safe spaces” in life. You can’t expect to be shielded and protected from words and ideas you might find offensive. The real world, the one you’re preparing yourself to go out into, doesn’t work like that. It’s time to put on your big boy (or girl) pants and accept that no one is responsible for protecting your tender sensibilities.

July 30, 2016 7:40 AM

July 30, 2016 7:33 AM

Tens of thousands of workers at America’s third-largest hardware chain are trained in more than customer service. They are trained in the conservative trickle-down economic zealotry that animates their billionaire boss. Menards is the largest privately owned home improvement chain in America. Its owner is John Menard, Jr., famous for keeping “a tight rein” on the smallest details of his company’s operations. His net worth of more than $10 billion makes him the richest man in Wisconsin, and one of the 50 richest people in America…. After Menard was forced to pay a $1.7 million fine in the 1990s for illegal dumping of hazardous waste, one state official says Menard told him he “just didn’t believe in environmental regulations.” More recently, a Menards spokesperson announced that the company did not plan to open a new store until Obama was no longer president.

Back in the day, workers were paid in company script, lived in company housing, and shopped at company stores. The company instructed workers as to whom they were to cast their vote for…and they did as they were told. Today workers may not be so directly and cynically under the complete control of their employer, but modern technology has made it easier for an employer to more completely control something previously beyond their reach: their employee’s brains.

This is not to tar all large corporations with the same brush, of course, but neither are companies like Menard’s particularly unusual in their attempts to indoctrinate employees with a right-wing political agenda. A few years ago, I worked at a local Target store over the Christmas holidays, and part of the initial training was watching what could only be described as an anti-union propaganda film. Stressing that a union would only disrupt the glorious collaborative culture that characterized Target stores, unions were portrayed as wishing for nothing more than to destroy what Target has worked so long and hard to create. The film was completely lacking in subtlety, not that it kept most of my fellow workers from nodding sagaciously while watching.

A couple generations ago, unions were what stood between greedy, rapacious moguls and the employees they wished to treat as chattel, disposable parts useful only for the value they created. Workers were exploited for their labor and tossed aside when they were no longer of value. Unions helped to prevent workplaces built on the cynical and exhaustively exploitation of workers. Most of all, they helped ensure that tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire could never happen again.