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The View From Under The Bus

Let me start by saying happy Hanukkah, everyone, and I hope whatever other holidays you celebrate are also full of joy and peace.

While we turn off the world for a few days to celebrate, though, interesting and frequently disquieting political stuff continues to go down all over the place. And frankly, I’m not fond of too much of it, because the tossing of people under the metaphorical bus seems not to have taken much of a holiday break. I’m not even talking about the under-the-bus-chuck of the auto industry (especially labor in that sector) by congressional Republicans like Louisiana Senator David Vitter. (And isn’t it a totally weird coincidence that many of the Southern states that crashed the auto bailout happen to have lots of factories from foreign-run, unionless auto companies?)

No, no, I’m talking about much more in-your-face, flip-you-the-bird-as-I-toss-you, not-even-any-TARP-money-from-the-White-House-as-a-consolation-prize under-the-bus chucks. Like the Israeli government’s tearing down of the country’s first “eco-mosque,” at Wadi Na’am in the Negev. The project had been scheduled for demolition in November; the demo was postponed, but now Bustan, a cooperative eco-org in Israel, is reporting that yesterday, under the cover of darkness, the mosque was totally destroyed. Merry Christmas, everyone!

If you’re an American searching for bus-chucking closer to home, consider our still-administration deciding that hey, if you don’t want to perform a medical procedure or do your job in the health industry because of religious objections, that’s totally cool. To refresh your memory, this just-passed jewel enables anyone employed in any sector of the medical world—from your dentist to your gynecologist to the person who schedules your medical appointments to the person who cleans medical tools in a doctor’s office and on and on—to refuse to participate in any part of any medical procedure they personally reject on religious grounds. The sprinkles on this ice cream cone of absurdity? Nobody is required to inform his or her employer beforehand of any such scruples that might come up! Anyone who’s ever been to or plans to go to a medical professional for anything, ever, should go to NCJW’s action page and tell your representatives in Congress and the president-elect that you think this is ridiculous.

Oh, and while you’re enumerating for President-Elect Obama the things you’re not wild about, how about adding on that you’re not pleased to have America’s gays (and women) tossed under the bus right now either. Obama’s pick to lead the invocation at the inauguration is the gays-and-repro-rights-hating Pastor Rick Warren. (If you’ve missed some of the more salient recent commentary, start catching up now.) In the wake of Prop 8 (or “Prop H8,” as innumerable email forwards have renamed it) and its concomitant protests from pissed-off Americans of all sexual orientations, it seems like now is maybe not a great time for Democrats to be totally taking advantage of the gay vote. (Numerically, I’d like to point out that it’s almost never a good time to mess with the women’s vote, as we’re kind of the majority. Not that that seems to stop anyone…)

My own ritual Christmas movie was “Milk,” an excellent reminder that even a small group of people, organizing to claim their rights, can refuse to lay down under the bus anymore. As I sat in the darkened theater, I thought of the powerful ending to Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: “The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.” And when I got home from the movie, I lit my menorah as it sat in my window for any and all to see, a reminder that small groups of dedicated individuals can win our freedoms, but only we, though dedication and courage, can keep that light alive in our own times.

I hope your holidays are peaceful; don’t lie down under the bus.

–Mel Weiss