No chocolates or roses. Equal living-wage pay, please.

No roses, chocolates or congratulations, please!  Do you know these women? Guess why not!

Who was Anita Whitney?

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Leader and early founder of the American Communist Party, she was an ardent suffragist and working women’s rights advocate who went to jail for her beliefs.

Who was Valeska Bary?

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Working within the government, she advocated zealously for the minimum wage for women with the Department of Social Welfare in California, and went on to an appointment to the Federal War Labor Policies Board in 1918.

Women’s Day was designed to commemorate the women who led the Labor Movement in 1900-1920 and it began as a socialist “holiday”. No roses, chocolates or congratulations please. Just an equal right to work, to fair and living-wage pay, to benefits and to success on our own merits, thank you. ‪#‎WomensHistoryMonth‬ ‪#‎InternationalWomensDay‬

the harlots pen

Read more in The Harlot’s Pen, the story of women in the labor movement in 1920, as told by a woman journalist, through the eyes of a prostitute. And no chocolates, thanks.

A new view of old news: Anti-Muslim Fervor is Anti-Semitic

The Facebook-Twittersphere is awash in worry over the current, very ugly anti-Muslim rhetoric. Trump’s comments are only the tip of this nasty iceberg. What’s left unsaid is how the ground for this wave of bigotry was fertilized by the last two years’ worth of anti-Semitism throughout the civilized world. Notwithstanding the other contributors to this fervor in the United States, with our historical undercurrents of racism and the out-dated and destructive gun laws, without this acceptance of violence against Jews and hate-speech against Judaism, we couldn’t be where we are today.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but when respected universities ban Israeli scholars and scientists from their conventions because a vocal group of students objects to actions by that country’s ruling party and its military, this feeds a belief that religion equates with politics. It allows for a refusal to look at an individual’s contribution to the greater good simply because of his religion. To be consistent, these angry groups would have to ban American scientists because of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan or the bombing or killing of innocent children by American or UN forces, boycott Nigerian intellectuals based on the unrestrained actions of Boko Haram, or Egyptian poets because of rape and killings in the post-Arab Spring. But they don’t.

Very few people object to the demonization of Jews. Entire countries and governments assert that all Jews should be wiped from the face of the earth and we hear only the loneliest voices of protest. Terrorist acts against Jews throughout the world are reported with a yawn, as these have been going on for centuries. But it is this very acceptance that makes “Christian” white people, Americans and Europeans, comfortable with their own hatred of Muslims. It is that same uncritical thinking, that association of a religion with disgusting, evil thugs, that allows Donald Trump to announce his bigotry to the American public and generate only liberal outrage.

In literature, we have an avalanche of stories of the hatred of “others.” The Duel for Consuelo describes in chilling detail the Inquisition’s search-and-exterminate of Jews, and they didn’t exactly love Muslims either. Holocaust stories line the bookshelves, and, if we prefer non-fiction, a glance at the news will suffice.

And yet, despite our knowledge, we have become accustomed to anti-Jewish rhetoric, and barely blink at another synagogue bombing or an attack on a school bus of Jewish children. We nod sagely and discuss the intellectual honesty of banning scientists, poets, intellectuals and scholars because of their nationality, as long as it’s a nationality it’s back in vogue to hate. Otherwise thoughtful and self-proclaimed anti-racists are happy to vilify Jews. Can it be surprising that, seeing the acceptance of religious hatred in America and Europe, anti-Muslim forces are comfortable proclaiming their views?

The argument can be taken further: If we accept anti-Semitism, we empower the likes of terrorist groups, Al Qaida or ISIL, or the next acronym, to attack anything even remotely Jewish. There are whispers that the owners of the concert venue in Paris are part-Jewish, the band playing that night was Jewish, the San Bernardino killers spoke of killing Jews, and of course the cartoonists in Charlie were Jewish. By accepting anti-Semitism, yawning at attacks on Jews, we are complicit in the terrorists’ choices of targets. And when their hideous acts are perpetrated, we cannot react in shock to the anti-Muslim response. After all, we created the climate for just that.

The Enlightenment Creeps In

It’s true! I have a publication date for THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO. It comes out on June 15 with Booktrope, and I am beyond excited. CONSUELO is the story of a woman torn between love and duty, the old religion and new survival, two men, two worlds. It will take you back to 1711, in Colonial Mexico.

In 1711 the Inquisition’s reach and power was fading. The Spanish king, starved for cash after fighting wars on two fronts, no longer had the funds to chase “infidels.” The ripe pickings of the Jewish lands and fortunes had long ago been plundered, and the time and effort it took to search out false Christians brought too little return. The Inquisition, or the Holy Office, was a Church function, of course, but without the king’s support its power was severely diminished.

In the rest of Europe the tendrils of the Enlightenment were creeping in, and even Spain couldn’t hold off the light much longer. Far away, in Colonial Mexico, the effects of this change were somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, the distance had made it harder to keep the colonies in line, and mainstream thinking took on a regional flavor all its own. But on the other, the creollos oft-times wanted to be more Spanish than the Spanish, so they kept with their intrenched views while Europe progressed.

That’s the world Consuelo inhabits.  Join me soon for the whole story!