Category Archives: Newspaper Opinion Columns

Opinion Columns originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“Domestic Infant Suppliers” buckle up – by Deborah Levine

originally published in  The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Writing about abortion is like leaping into a tornado, but here goes. I’ve always hated the idea of abortion, the term evokes pain and suffering as well as sorrow and mourning, whether you’re pro or anti-abortion. But I’ve advocated for giving women choice over their bodies since joining the many Jewish women involved in the first Women’s Liberation March in Manhattan in 1970.

While the protests of the seventies were a revolution, touching multiple area of our lives in the workplace and community,  anti-abortionists saw us as irrational, unattractive feminist shrews. They called us “anti-family,” “angry battle-axes” and “radical Commie lesbians.” The “Domestic Infant Supply” language in the current supreme Court draft doesn’t just echo those sentiments, it magnifies them.

Weird how some things haven’t changed. Matt Gaetz, who’s being investigated for sex crimes, had a timeless response to the leaked Supreme Court’s anti-abortion document  “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?” Once again, we’re supposed to give up control our bodies, cough up babies, go back to the kitchen and shut up.

Our protests in the seventies extended to issues of discrimination in a patriarchal society. You’d think that our progress over the decades would affirm women’s equality. But today, patriarchy advocates may ignore Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin: “I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” Some will say good! We need more housewives, more Domestic Baby Suppliers.

In the pursuit of power, patriarchal types don’t worry about  investigations into their sex crimes and sexual harassment. Men who invoke the Divine and are supposedly are appointed by God are often excused,  especially by right-wing white evangelicals. 

No wonder we’re worried as we watch the mix of religion and politics ramp up attempts to ban abortions, even in the case of child rape and incest. According to one Ohio State representative, an underage victim should just say thanks for the “opportunity”. 

Culture wars are super combustible when cultural conflicts combine with religious ones. The far-right, white evangelical support for revoking the 49-year old law can claim divine inspiration, but that’s not how all religious groups see the abortion issue. A March survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of religious groups have more nuanced beliefs.

A member of a Brooklyn Zen Buddhist center said her faith calls for compassion and abortion bans fail to consider why women have abortions. Further, the bans would hurt the poor and marginalized the most. The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding reported that 56% of U.S. Muslims say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. A scholar-in-residence at the National Council of Jewish Women said, “This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases [risk to life of mother] when our religion would permit us.” She pointed out that Judaism does not share the concept that life begins at conception.

We’re already seeing online cluster bombs launched in this emotional firestorm. They target so many facets of society: gender, generation, race, ethnicity, religion. Reactions now appear in corporate policies as well as legal ones. All this as the 2022 elections approach. Time to vote! I’ll be rejecting anyone who sees women as their sex toys or “Domestic Infant Suppliers.” How about you?

Culture Wars: Can artists win? – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press   

Why do we now say Kyiv instead of Kiev? It’s because Kyiv is the Ukrainian pronunciation and Russia’s invasion is a culture war.  Their disputes are old-as-dirt and Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev tried to enable a Ukrainian revival with the transfer of Crimea from Russia. But, Soviet repression went beyond land and sovereignty.

With the USSR dissolution, Ukraine established a new government with its own national anthem in Ukrainian, not Russian. It’s no accident that Putin’s treaty demands include protection for the Russian language. It may seem trivial, but imagine if England suddenly tried to re-establish British control over America and insisted that we revert to British English. If England were like Putin, you might go to jail if you refused to spell “color” as “colour”, the original, British version. Or what about our patriotic song, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”? That melody was originally an unofficial national anthem of England. We wouldn’t tolerate going back to its original title: “God Save the Queen”. We’d fight a new War of Independence.

Continue reading Culture Wars: Can artists win? – by Deborah Levine

It’s called war, folks – by Deborah Levine 

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

 Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

In the days since Russia invaded Ukraine, we’ve tried to avoid World War III. There’s no doubt that the economic strategies are impressive. Putin is right to call out the sanctions as war. The Russian ruble has lost much of its value.  The Russian stock exchange closed for days with one financial analyst toasting its death saying, “Rest in peace dear comrade”. Corporations exited in droves including Ikea, Exxon, Boeing, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Volkswagen, Disney, Nike, Apple, Dell, and Google. Visa and Mastercard suspended their Russian operations.

As devastating as these sanctions have been, Russia continues to demolish cities, take over nuclear facilities, and bomb neighborhoods. And while we’d hoped for a cease fire, plans to bomb Ukrainian military-industrial complex to smithereens were just announced.

Continue reading It’s called war, folks – by Deborah Levine 

Ukraine’s aching pain: Cold War 2.0 – by Deborah Levine 

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
(First of 3 columns on Russia-Ukraine war)

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

  Back in 2019, my opinion column called, Don’t Underestimate Putin’s  Threat, was published. I quoted Ukrainian-born comedian Yakov Smirnoff’s joke about how the KGB, Soviet Russias secret police, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. Today’s Russia is “…a world erupting with new money and new power” says British producer Peter Pomerantsev in his book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible. Not much has changed. Russia still uses the KGB false flag” strategy, claiming that the current conflict is Ukraine’s fault, pseudo-annexing Russian-leaning parts of Ukraine and sending in its military as “peace keepers”.

Continue reading Ukraine’s aching pain: Cold War 2.0 – by Deborah Levine 

Playing the political discourse game – By Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

 Remember those playground rumbles after school? “You’re wrong!” “No! I’m right and everybody knows it.” In case you’re wondering, this back-and-forth wasn’t between a couple of kids arguing over kickball. This was the former President and Vice President arguing over the United States constitution. Will this conversation be quoted by future generations? Who knows? Maybe it’ll sound like Shakespeare given how the Republican National Committee (RNC) is trying to redefine the violence of the Jan. 6 Capital riot.

The RNC condemned the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 and censured Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for participating in the almost 400 interviews about the “Stop the Steal rally” that day.  The investigation was called a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in “legitimate political discourse”.

Continue reading Playing the political discourse game – By Deborah Levine

Turn up the heat on hate – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
(As antisemitic fliers continue to appear in the Colleyville, Texas, neighborhood, it’s essential to reprint this article)

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

Since the hostage-taking incident at the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue, my inbox has been full of articles, videos, and conferences on antisemitism. The outrage and worry isn’t surprising given that about 60% of religion-based crimes are against Jews. Hints of the future increase in those numbers are easily seen in the antisemitic fliers left on doorsteps in Florida, Texas, and Iowa. 

And don’t discount individuals like the young woman who accosted a couple of Jewish kids outside a synagogue in New York. The children’s father reported that she said, “something along the lines of Hitler should have killed you all.” When his 8-year old son responded that he’d save his little sister, the woman spit on him and said, “we will kill you all, I know where you live, and we’ll make sure to get you all next time.”
Continue reading Turn up the heat on hate – by Deborah Levine

Giving thanks, and respect – by Deborah Levine

Originally published  in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for families to gather together and eat their heads off. Many are unaware that November is Native American Month or they commemorate it with the usual “pilgrims and Indians” stories that celebrate the generosity of the Wampanoag people to the first settlers. They bypass the genocide of the Wampanoag that followed, and the removal of Native Americans from their lands. The invisibility has allowed ignorance of their history and land for many folks.

Continue reading Giving thanks, and respect – by Deborah Levine

Our climate crisis is now – by Deborah Levine

originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press 

Looking to the Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland, Britains Queen Elizabeth was overheard referring to the global all-talk and no-action as irritating”. I grew up with British understatements so I knew that meant total disgust mixed with a few expletives. The Queen was irritated by folks who dont walk-the-talk and was probably left speechless by how many American leaders gloss over our growing climate crisis.
Continue reading Our climate crisis is now – by Deborah Levine

Second thoughts on banning books – by Deborah Levine

 (originally published as an opinion column for The  Chattanooga Times Free Press) 

The banning of books has been around for centuries and America is no exception. We have banned books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We banned 273 books in 2020 with more to come. But don’t the recent controversies over school library books seem a bit irrelevant to you? After all, we’re online 24/7 and the influence of books seems pitifully modest. Unless authors have a huge following on Tik Tok and Twitter, students are unlikely to storm classroom libraries. So why the brouhaha?

Continue reading Second thoughts on banning books – by Deborah Levine

Facebook’s nasty smell – by Deborah Levine

originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

 Some folks cried Death to Facebook while others turned to Twitter during the FB Blackout. Entertaining tweets welcomed newcomers and entertained us longtime Twitter-ists. “Is that (outage) before or after injecting bleach into the CPUs and shining a UV light in all the network ports?”  Others referred to ads aimed at young women, “… if Instagram is down, who’s gonna constantly try to convince me that my life would be better with lip injections?” I laughed at the tweet suggesting we rename it “social NOTwork” but sighed at hopes that we’d return to a pre-2000 culture. Not gonna happen!

Continue reading Facebook’s nasty smell – by Deborah Levine