The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti celebrated his 98th birthday a few months ago.  In 2007, after we learned that we were lied to by our government regarding Iraq's  “weapons of mass destruction”,  he wrote a poem called “Pity the Nation”.  Unfortunately, that poem has become even more timely today, ten years later.  He wrote:

 

        “Pity the nation whose people are sheep, and whose shepherds mislead them.

        Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,

        and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.

        Pity the nation that raises not its voice,

        except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero

        and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.

        Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own

        and no other culture but its own.

       Pity the nation whose breath is money and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.

        Pity the nation—oh pity the people who allow their rights to erode

        and their freedoms to be washed away.

        My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

 

The writer, H.L. Mencken, predicted Donald Trump in 1920 when he cynically wrote, : “As democracy is perfected, the office represents more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  We move toward a lofty ideal.  On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” 

 

I first contemplated this talk when I started thinking about the similarities between Trump and Hitler's rise to power.  But the more I read, the more convinced I became that Trump in not a Hitler---but his rise in power could be dangerously similar to the rise in power of many past dictators. 

 

No, Trump is not Hitler and our American Republic in the early 21st century is not the German Weimar republic in the 1930s.  Still, one shouldn't deny that there are similarities in which historical antecedents can be instructive, not because, in this case, Trump is analogous to Hitler, but because the underlying political dynamics of Trumpism may be analogous to those of Hitler.

 

That being said, there are a number of parallels between Hitler in the 1920s and 30s and Trump today.  Like Hitler, Trump has developed a cult of personality.  He has done this by using the same tricks Hitler did.  Today, the Republican party, which may have originally been embarassed by Trump's bad manners, has eagerly lined up behind him, just as German conservatives who despised Hitler, wound up embracing him.  About 20 years ago, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen wrote a book entitled Hitler's Willing Executioners, about those who enabled Hitler.  The Republican party is today becoming Trump's “willing executioner”.

 

Both Hitler and Trump proclaimed their countries to be “losers”, offered themselves as the sole solution to the crises, and pledged a return to the glories of an imagined golden past.  Hitler promised a great “renewal” in Germany, Trump to “make America great again”.  Both men defied old norms and invented unprecedented ways of waging their political campaigns.  Both men developed a charismatic relationship with their “base” that centered on large rallies.  Both emphasized their “outsider” status and railed against the establishment, privileged elites, and corrupt special interests.   And both men benefited from being seriously underestimated by experts and rivals.

 

Before his rise to power, Hitler was not a professional politician.  He was an “outsider” like Trump.  But Hitler had a great deal of charisma, a sense of what people feared, and a grasp of what they wanted to hear.  Trump has similar traits and he uses many of the same tactics Hitler used.

 

Hitler said, “The receptivity of masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but the power of forgetting is enormous.  In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points, and you must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan”.

 

Trump,  like Hitler, is a showman who knows how to appeal to emotions by using and repeating simple words with loaded meanings:  “Make America Great Again!”  “Build That Wall”  “Lock Her Up!

 

Hitler said, “The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.”    Hitler told lies so sincerely and so often that people either believed they were true or stopped caring (as long as it didn't directly hurt them).  To Trump, as to Hitler, winning is all, and lying is second nature.  Oddly, he even lies about doing something everyone can still see, such as mocking a disabled reporter.

 

Trump uses Twitter the way Hitler used the radio.  Hitler gave passionate, emotional speeches whose content was remarkably similar to Trump's:  dark visions of his country's decay due to inept leadership and bad deals with other countries;  assertions of his people's innate superiority and their god-given right to rule the world;  emotional promises to make the country great again and calls to rid the country of social unrest by getting rid of those he blames for causing it.  To Trump it's the Mexican rapists and the Muslim terrorists.  To Hitler it was the Jews.

 

Trump's use of mass rallies is nothing new either.  Hitler also liked using rallies, because by doing so, he could put on a show, bypass the media, and reinforce his cult of personality.  Hitler disliked giving interviews, because he said his words were “too easily distorted”.  Trump regularly calls the media “dishonest” and has suggested that libel laws be changed to make it easier to sue media outlets and journalists. He rarely lets journalists interview him and he hates press conferences.  In his tweets, he praises journalists who are “nice” to him and chafes at the “unfairness” and “dishonesty” of those who criticize him.

 

So there are some similarities between Trump and Hitler and if history teaches us anything it is that we must pay attention to these similarities.  But despite these similarities, Hitler was Hitler and Trump is Trump.  Trump may be something like Hitler, but he is more like a pop-culture parody of Hitler—The “Heil Honey, I'm Home!” version of Hitler---created to entertain an audience that understands this is mostly a joke but isn't quite sure where the shtick ends and the mass murder begins.

 

Does the point that Hitler was a theatrical, manipulative genius with uncanny political instincts, who was consistently underestimated by his opponents until it was too late, prove that Trump is just like Hitler?  Of course not!  What it suggests is that Trump is something like Hitler, and that the type of authoritarian personality—or non personality, in both of these cases—who rises to the top when a democracy collapses, conforms to a general pattern.  The parallels between Trump and Hitler are at once superficial---because they are different men, in sharply different historical contexts—and profound because the underlying pattern is so similar and so disturbing.

 

 

 

We must pay attention to what happened in Germany in the 1930s and not allow the same thing to happen in the US. 

 

One of the reasons why the radical right was able to overcome the conservatives back in the 1930's was that the conservatives did not understand the threat.  Nazis in Germany had some popular support, but they would not have been able to change regimes without the connivance or the passivity of conservatives.  If Republicans do not wish to be remembered like the German conservatives of the 1930's, they had better find their courage fast.

 

We have a strong constitution that, in the past has prevented our government from becoming autocratic.   But so did many other countries.  It happens fast by appearing not to be happening---and before you realize it, it's over.  Mistrust is one of the key factors in making it happen.  We have to have trust in our rule of law and our trust in it must not erode.  We cannot accept “alternative facts”. 

 

Europe in the 1930's is regarded by some people today as a great period.  There is nostalgia by some to make America like it was in the 1930s when Charles Lindbergh expressed his admiration for Hitler and coined the slogan “America First”.  This became the name of a committee that sought to prevent the US from opposing Nazi Germany.  The current president's strategic adviser (Steve Bannon) promises policies that will be “as exciting as the 1930's”.

 

There is a pattern in history.  And it CAN happen here.

 

Here are some of the patterns of Fascism that may be recognizable today---First there is a fetishizing of those with power (businessmen, police, big landowners, the military).  There is a romanticized understanding of the past that's used to bludgeon the present.  There is a habit of imposing collective guilt on certain minorities for the crimes and mistakes of individuals.  And Fascism places a paranoid emphasis on national and military sovereignty.

 

We are told that fascism now couldn't be as sinister as it was in Nazi Germany.  But already there are frightened whispers about the need for “internment” of Muslim “terrorists”, and Hispanic immigrants are at this very moment locked up (out  of sight, out of mind?)--they are locked up in detention centers.  WW II era fascism, as it saw itself, was saving civilization by reverting to barbarism.  That same siege mentality is creeping back into prevalence today.

 

Mislaid blind trust in our government can be similar to the very mistake that some German Jews made about Hitler after the Nazis had formed a government. 

 

On February 2, 1933, a leading newspaper for German Jews published an editorial expressing this mislaid trust.  It wrote:

          “We do not subscribe to the view that Mr. Hitler and his friends, now finally

          in possession of the power they have so long desired, will implement the                          proposals circulating in Nazi newspapers;

          they will not suddenly deprive German Jews of their constitutional rights,                                        nor enclose them in ghettos, nor subject them to the jealous and murderous impulses of the mob.  They cannot do this because a number of crucial      factors hold powers in check...”

The newspaper that wrote that editorial was shut down several years later by the Nazi government.

 

We must do whatever we can as individuals to preserve our free press, because without it, our democracy will not survive.  To insure the continuation of American democracy, we must have freedom of the press.  Once Hitler imposed martial law, he and his party took steps to begin silencing all opposition.  But it was when Hitler shut down the free press that democracy died in Germany.

 

A party emboldened by a favorable election result or motivated by ideology, or both, might change the system from within.   The mistake is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions---even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do.

 

In Nazi Germany in 1933, people wore lapel pins that said “YES” during the elections and referendum that confirmed the one party state.  In Austria in 1938, people who had not previously been Nazis began to wear Swastika pins.  What might seem like a gesture of pride can be a source of exclusion.  In the Europe of the 1930's and 1940's some people chose to wear Swastikas, and then others had to wear yellow or pink stars.

 

If lawyers in Nazi Germany had followed the norm of no execution without trial, if doctors had accepted the rule of no surgery without consent, if businessmen had endorsed the prohibition of slavery, if bureaucrats had refused to handle paperwork involving murder, then the Nazi regime would have been much harder pressed to carry out the atrocities.

A few months ago Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, was fired by Trump after instructing her department not to defend the president's controversial “travel ban” against legal challenges.  At the Nuremburg trials after WWII, we said that government officials should not have followed orders they believed were unlawful.  Replacing officials who refuse to follow unlawful orders is another step towards blatant fascism.

 

What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy.  If they surprise him, they can restrain him. 

 

In 1944, US Vice President Henry A. Wallace wrote an article for the NY Times entitled The Danger of American Fascism.  The article described a breed of super-nationalists who pursue political power by deceiving Americans and playing to their fears, while only being interested in protecting their own wealth and privilege. 

 

Wallace warned about the hucksters spouting populist themes but manipulating people to achieve the opposite.  He wrote,

          “They pretend to be on the side of ordinary working people, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, but at the same time, they distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity.  They invariably put money and power ahead of human beings. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.  They also claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.  They need scapegoats and harbor an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations.”

 

   Wallace also acknowledged the great difference between American fascists and other countries' murderous authoritarians.  “The American breed doesn't need violence” he said,  Lying to the people is so much easier.  They “poison channels of public information.  Their problem is never how best to present truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving them more money or power”. 

  

  Thus might lying about unprecedented high crime rates legitimize a police state.  Lying about immigrants being rapists and terrorists might justify a huge border wall as well as mass expulsions and religion based immigration bans.  Lying about millions of illegal votes might excuse suppression of voting by disfavored groups.

 

Donald Trump has warmly welcomed despots to the White House, suggested that reporters who publish classified information should be jailed, and may have obstructed justice by firing the man leading the investigation into possible collusion between Trump and the Russian government.  The first six months of this presidency underscore the necessity of the checks and balances that the Founders wrote into our Constitution and the importance of the institutions of democracy that have evolved over time.

 

The often debated question, “Is Donald Trump a fascist?” is not the right question.  Perhaps a better question about Trump is not “What is he?” but “What will he do to us?”

 

Trump may wish he were a total dictator, but this is still a democracy.  Lies can work during campaigns but at some point, when you try to govern, reality has a way of intruding.  Eventually, the truth will become known.  Let's hope it's before another world war and before we lose our democracy.

 

Trump has the power to start and/or escalate wars at will, and war is a time-tested method of distraction.  He still has control over a vast nuclear arsenal.  The current scandal with Russia's election meddling is yet another glaring indication that Trump and his people are more than comfortable engaging in shady dealings behind closed doors.  Plus, in the event of a terrorist attack, real or imagined, Trump has astonishing police powers at his disposal.  None of us can accurately guess what he's capable of as president.

 

          This is not alarmism.  This is enlightened self-interest.  Fear and vigilance are highly appropriate responses at this juncture.   More than at any point since January, Donald Trump is, right now, the most dangerous man in the world.

 

But even if this nightmarish presidency were to end tomorrow, the political conditions that produced it, and which are producing replicas around the world will remain to be confronted.  With US Vice-President Mike Pence or speaker of the house Paul Ryan waiting in the wings, and a Democratic party establishment also enmeshed with the billionaire class, the world we need won't be won just by replacing the current occupant of the Oval Office.

 

 

 

We believe we have checks and balances, but have rarely faced a situation like the present:  when the less popular of the two parties controls every lever of power at the federal level, as well as the majority of statehouses.  The party that exercises such control proposes few policies that are popular with the society at large, and several that are generally unpopular—and thus must either fear democracy or weaken it.

 

Unfortunately, as long as there are pro-Trump majorities in the House and Senate, there will be no real congressional oversight and no brake on an out-of-control president's excesses.

 

One of the reasons why the radical right was able to overcome the conservatives back in the 1930's was that the conservatives did not understand the threat.  Nazis in Germany had some popular support, but they would not have been able to change regimes without the connivance or the passivity of conservatives.  If Republicans do not wish to be remembered like the German conservatives of the 1930's, they had better find their courage.

 

Will our institutions continue to protect us?  Possibly, if we maintain them and don't let them be eroded.

 

We must not let outrage fatigue numb us to the moral bankruptcy and gross incompetence of the Trump administration.

 

In her best-selling new book, No is Not Enough:  Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning The World We Need, Naomi Klein says that instead of wallowing in despair, we have a unique opportunity to build a much more just and humane world than we have ever seen before—provided we fight not only what we're against but what we're for.   The “vote for us because we're not Trump” strategy that lost the Democrats the election last year doesn't propose anything inspiring to energize the millions of Americans who don't vote and didn't vote.  We either have to fight for the soul of a major party or start a third party.  We have to stay grounded so we don't burn out.

 

This is no time to lower our defenses or sit on the sidelines.  With an increasingly erratic president and members of his own party who refuse to act as a check on his power, it is we, the people, who must serve that function to protect democracy—at town halls, rallies, and ultimately at the ballot box.

 

Let me close by saying that we are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the US that anyone alive has encountered.  What happens next is up to you and me.  Don't be afraid.  This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.

The following thoughts are from our member  Hyrum H. Huskey Jr.

 

It’s mind-boggling to me.  These last few months of the ascendancy of our latest President will surely be referred to by future historians as “The Time of Trump”.  Life goes on amid disbelief, chaos, inconceivable Cabinet appointments, attacks on the press, and overreactions by the President. But, the President is, well, different.

Instability rules

What is a Humanist to do when our government itself falls under suspicion and appears so in disarray? Foreign governments are experiencing diplomatic confusion which risks our security by an inappropriate reaction. Spiteful and bigoted changes in our immigration policies without legislative support; throwing monkey wrenches into the international progressive actions for climate change remediation; and the new rise in domestic hate crimes are the news items of our day. How do we cope with this onslaught?  What does a belief in the tenets of Humanism do for us when we face a daily stream of Executive Orders, and Congressional inaction, that take dead-aim on the destruction of decades of work and diplomatic progress? Progress won in combating climate change, providing health care and civil rights at home, and addressing—even in meager fashion—the needs of other citizens of the world?

It is like traveling behind a truck fully-loaded with trash on a windy day.  Litter keeps hitting you at eye level, but you can neither dodge nor duck. The psychic impact is sudden and frightful, but control of it cannot be immediately gained. The overall effect of our national government seems nothing short of such madness in the political fast lane.

Humanism to the rescue

I propose that we take a logical step back to pause and re-examine some basic beliefs of Humanism. We have not lost our core values and principles.  We just need to reinsert them into our thinking about how to resist the ideological horrors antithetical to our best ideals. We believe in the ideas of civility, the progress of human rights, the use of science in guiding our lives and the roles we play in the correct use of natural resources. As Humanists, we need--- perhaps now more than ever---to use our foundation in Humanism to confront misguided authoritarianism.

In fewer words, how can we use our ideological belief system to, in the words of film maker Michael Moore, “Fight, Resist, Persist”?

We believe in reason, informed by science.

When our government abuses scientific evidence in regulating and adopting practices that harm us, we have a duty of “people power” to fight, resist, and persist against such policies. It is our civic responsibility to speak up and act out in demonstrably informative ways.

We believe in compassion and the dignity of human beings.

Such a belief goes hand-in-hand with justice and social equality, with supporting liberty, and the rule of law as it is applied to all.

It may appear overwhelming, even futile, to fight again for the common good in so many areas. Some of us have already seen this movie. How many times, we think, must we re-witness the destruction of diversity and civil liberties established in a long line of judicial decisions? Decisions that have made our country a world refuge and a world leader. How many times must we regress to the ideas already discredited by history, by progress, by reason, and by science?

History reveals its most basic truths in the retelling.  It takes humankind a long time to “get it.” The path of rule by authoritarian ideology, has repeatedly led to periods of power over diplomacy, with science and reason discarded for the acquisition of territory or natural resources. Authoritarian ideals in governance also leads to ideological oppression, and an incredible tendency for violence over non-violence. A visible lack of human compassion has historically marked the evolution of this style of governance. Yet, these authoritarian directions have repeatedly been struck down by persistent resistance, century after century,

We believe in social and planetary responsibility.

Humanists believe that the goals of life, and the pursuit of liberty and happiness, are motivated by interest in the lives of humans and our planetary existence. These motivations are as common to everyone as they are necessary to any one person.

Bullies find authoritarian rule appealing.  It fits their personality traits:  ego enhancement, laws by fiat, and non-questioning loyalty.  Bullies love to make a show of everything they do as “super”.  They are averse to facts or reason, and to opposition. If resistance appears too strong, the bully will retreat to distraction, blame others, or lie in an attempt to get out of a fight. They are big on bragging and bravado, less large in bravery and principled actions.

So, we must fight.  Non-violently fight with our mass, our education, our reason, our science; bolstered by the persistence of humans to actively resist.  Over the longer arc of time the basic values of Humanism always result in further progress toward the true essence of humanity.

 We believe that humans must take responsibility for their own destiny.

Resistance must be designed to out-shine the opposition’s show of authority and unstoppable force.  Bullies put on a one-ring show?  We must produce a three-ring show.  Bullies put out propaganda?  We must support a free and fully independent press.  Bullies try to cover their acts and embarrassing history?  Investigative journalism, and wide-spread education, as means to “connect the dots” must shine a spotlight in the dark places. We must keep a firm pressure on our legislative representatives to “be us” and to do the right thing.

Active resistance is really a Hu-u-u-g-e show of messy democracy:  too big, and too strong, too reasoned, and in too many places, to be ignored. While non-violent, it may (and probably should) disrupt everyday routine and convenience. It stands up to unlawful force, counters economic exploitation, attracts the masses in support of the common good, and it comes at its target from every direction. Mass hits home like a sledge hammer.

Think Gandhi. Think Martin Luther King. Think of Million Person Marches. Think of Humanist philosophy and principles. Resist in ways both small and large. Resist in whatever ways you can, based on your age, skills, stamina, or economic capabilities. It is okay to be out front, or performing some needed role behind the public stage. If you can’t hit the streets, make signs, telephone your representatives, make monetary donations, and sign petitions. Talk to your family, neighbors, and others with whom you may disagree on some political issues. Listen to them and seek common ground in those ideas you both believe. Rally around whatever amount of universal goodness you find in the heart of any person. You may not like the President, his advisors, or some of the folks who supported him. Yet, they too, have what they believe are good reasons for their actions. It is not okay to be elitist or missing in action when totalitarianism needs to be countered. Resist tactically in whatever way you are able.

Don’t despair the long road home.

Persistence is difficult for many of us.  We tend to have short attention spans. We resist changing our routines for an extended period of time. We like to explain how we are just “too busy for that today.”  For example, as a self-identified freelance writer, I find many reasons to be too busy to sit my butt in front of my computer for a few hours each day. I can easily procrastinate and find excuses for not doing even what I like to do!

I suspect Humanists are as vulnerable to convenient excuses as anyone else.  Still, we could do something, sometime, to bolster the general resistance. We could, in both individual and collective ways, be more persistent in keeping up the good fight to support Humanism in reacting to “The Time of Trump.”

Already, the new President, has suffered a number of rebuffs in trying to implement his executive actions and legislative initiatives.  He is beginning to learn why we have three branches of government. He will experience more defeats because principled people across the nation---of all political persuasions---will fight, resist, and persist, against oppression and a lack of compassion. At the heart of our society, at the roots of our culture, we are all “humanists.”

Those of us, who publicly identify as big “H” Humanists, have special responsibilities to demonstrate our beliefs and our principled base philosophy. We don’t need to personally denigrate anyone to follow our principles. People change. There were a lot of people who do not now like the actions the administration is taking. The President is certainly not the first Pied Piper of history, nor the last. Our newest President, and his chosen advisors, are generally ill-equipped for government “by and for the people”, and will be found wanting in their ability to counter the hearts and minds of the best in our society.

The power of freethinkers, and the human heart, is rising up once again to right the course of history until reason and science, and the common good of all, can catch up to humanity’s political foibles.

 

-        Hyrum H. Huskey Jr. 

Sometimes I think it is easy to forget why the basic principle of separation of church and state is so important.  This shocking article was in the online publication TheHumanist.org (Link to website and article)

In 2012 amateur historian Catherine Corless began investigating the abandoned Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. Disconcerted by the lack of media attention given to her finding that 796 babies had died there in the span of thirty-six years, Corless began the painstaking journey to discover the truth of what happened under the eyes of the Bon Secours nuns. Her work led to the creation of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which has come under increased scrutiny in the past weeks with the discovery of what’s been reported as “significant quantities of human remains” buried in septic tanks on the grounds of the home for unwed mothers and their children operated by Catholic nuns from 1922 to 1961. Despite the fact that the Irish government has held the outrageously high death registers of the home since 2011, the excavation process was only begun by the Commission of Investigation in November of last year, leaving many stakeholders wondering: Why this inhumane delay in justice?

 

In the official statement from the Commission of Investigation, its members stated that they were “shocked by this discovery” and that they are “continuing [the] investigation into who was responsible for the disposal of human remains in this way.” For those who lived and labored in the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes, this response is wholly inadequate. The commission, which is investigating a scant fourteen such homes out of the nearly 180 institutions in Ireland involved with unmarried mothers and their children, appears to think the question of who did this to these individuals is still unanswered. Despite evidence that the death rates of babies were even higher at the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork, the state and the commission have repeatedly refused to begin excavations of the property. The commission has also thus far refused to acknowledge the state’s complicity with the Catholic Church in twentieth-century Ireland—complicity that led to the systematic abuse of unmarried mothers and their children.

 

The exhumations at Tuam have led to an increase in media attention paid to the issue of unmarried mothers and their children, including a focus on the complicity of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Irish government. Despite previous claims that they had no knowledge of the graves, the Bon Secours order of nuns have made no comment about the findings of the Commission of Investigation. It is unlikely that members of any religious order will face prosecution for the crimes committed at Tuam and other similar homes due to a provision in section 19 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, which stipulates that ”statements or documents given to the commission are inadmissible as evidence against a person in any criminal or other proceedings.” In other words, the religious orders are protected from investigation; survivors must make the choice of giving evidence to the Commission of Investigation and having it sealed forever, or withholding experiential evidence in the hopes that it will lead to an eventual prosecution.

 

While there are many different pathways that can be taken in the aftermath of Tuam, many Irish citizens are hoping that the state finally takes a long, hard look at the “special relationship” that exists with the Catholic Church. The Irish government must fully accept the role that they played in the forced institutionalization of unmarried mothers and their children for the majority of the twentieth century. The Irish government has been complicit in church dealings since the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, when girls deemed “indecent” by the church were sent to Magdalene Laundries, to today, when ten women a day are forced to travel to the United Kingdom to access abortion services. A full 97 percent of state-funded primary schools are run by the Catholic Church, allowing the government to save money on education while remaining cozy with an institution it has been colluding with for decades.

 

On March 9, 2017, the Social Democrats party called for a complete separation of church and state in Ireland, using the Tuam discovery as the impetus for their announcement. “We have got to take the church from our schools, from our hospitals and medical care, and from our politics,” said the joint-leader of the Social Democrats Catherine Murphy. “If Tuam has shown us anything, it is that the state must take responsibility for its citizens and that the church has no legitimacy in the healthcare, education, or politics governing our citizens.”

 

It remains to be seen whether or not any real change in the church-state relationship will come from the revelations at Tuam. The presence of the Catholic Church is still prominent in many state activities. The Irish parliament, known as Dáil Eireann, starts each day’s proceedings with a prayer. The Citizens’ Assembly on the Eighth Amendment, which is examining what should, if anything, be changed about the law, recently invited the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference and the Iona Institute, a Catholic anti-choice and anti-marriage equality think tank, to give their opinions on the reproductive rights of women in Ireland. However, the citizens of Ireland are not prepared to allow the state to simply brush the horrors of the Mother and Baby Homes under the rug in order to preserve their relationship with the church. At this point, it is imperative that national and international media attention remains focused on the Irish government’s refusal to accept their involvement in the systematic institutionalization of unmarried, sexually active women, and unwed mothers and their children throughout the twentieth century, in the hopes that pressure might lead to a complete separation of church and state in modern Ireland.

Julia Canney is a graduate student at University College Dublin. During her time as an undergraduate at the College of William & Mary, she worked extensively with survivors of sexual assault, further working to repeal the Eighth Amendment in Ireland, which bans abortion.

 

AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt Responds to President Trump’s Decision to Reverse Protections for Transgender Students

“President Trump continues to show his complete disregard for basic human rights in his decision to reverse the Obama administration’s vital protections for transgender students. We humanists oppose discriminatory claims, largely perpetuated by extremist religious groups, that transgender students are “wrong” to use the bathroom of their choice. We vehemently reject the harmful fear-mongering from these groups – Transgender students deserve equal protection under the law, and any removal of their right is an attack on our shared values.”

 The American Humanist Association will continue to actively challenge religious extremism and prejudice against the LGBTQ community as a longtime supporter of the rights of LGBTQ individuals. As an organization committed to defending freedom of speech, thought, and expression, we strongly condemn the repeal of these protections

DISQUS