Thursday, May 15, 2008


Happy 60th birthday to Israel.

While Israelis and their supporters around the world celebrate three score years as a thriving economic engine in the Middle East, Palestinians have yet to celebrate a single year or even a single day as a nation.

While a million Palestinians suffer in unbearable squalor imposed upon them by Israel in Gaza, Israeli expansion in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank continues at breakneck pace. Israeli infrastructure consisting of roads, settlements, military bases and nearly 600 checkpoints gobbles up 40% of the West Bank. Jewish settler population in occupied territories is approaching a half million souls.

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice make trip after trip after trip to the region imploring the Israelis to cease their settlements on occupied Palestinian land and negotiate fairly for a two state solution. But until the US makes our annual three billion dollars in aid to Israel contingent on actual progress instead of lip service while settlements grow like mushrooms, the long suffering Palestinians will continue to be the most ignored and neglected folks on the planet.

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Mildred Loving who died this week at age 68, was far from the household name of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, but was a giant in the civil rights movement nonetheless.

Loving, born Mildred Jeter and black, didn't seek to sit in the front of the bus as much as she just wanted to marry her white lover. When this Virginia resident did just that in 1958, the interracial couple ran afoul of Virginia law forbidding such egregious conduct. Upon their return to rural Virginia after their wedding in Washington DC, they were arrested in bed and pled guilty to charges of "cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth".

It was either jail or adios to Virginia for such a heinous crime and the Lovings wisely chose the latter. Several years later they wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy seeking to have their marriage sanctified in law so they could return to Virginia. With the help of Kennedy and the American Civil Liberties Union the Lovings finally prevailed in 1967 before the US Supreme Court, which struck down laws inexplicably still preventing interracial marriage in 17 states.

Loving lost her husband Richard just eight years later and lived out her life far from the spotlight that usually shines on such pioneers.

It took a hundred and two years after the Civil War ended for people of different races to marry in law and peace throughout the US. Who knows? Maybe it will only be another one hundred and two years for society to wake from its slumber of ignorance, fear and hatred and allow the gay version of the Lovings the same privilege.

Originally published in Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2008