We’re on the cusp of receiving a vaccine for COVID but we’re also at an all time high for cases and deaths. It’s time to get real. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Texas State University noted that, “If poorly designed and executed, a COVID vaccination campaign in the U.S. could undermine the increasingly tenuous belief in vaccines and the public health authorities that recommend them.”
My first reaction to that was to deny we’d have a problem. Isn’t the United States the most advanced country on the planet scientifically and technology-wise. Surely folks will listen to the scientists and epidemiologists and make a logical judgement. But then I was reminded that we have increasingly fallen under the conspiracy syndrome. Just a few days ago, A Wyoming Department of Health official insisted that the “so-called pandemic” is a plot by Russia and China to spread communism worldwide. And he told the audience that the vaccine was a biological weapon.
I’m addicted to watching TV news shows, especially “This Morning’s Eye Opener: Your World in 60 seconds”. It’s everything I need to know in just one minute.We ran out of names for hurricanes predicted to decimate coastal lives and Trump’s EPA prevents legal suits against polluters and allows drilling for oil in Alaska. The CDC warns us not to travel on Thanksgiving and the White House encourages rebellion against state-mandated masks. Trump plans to pull down troops from Afghanistan and maybe bombing Iran. Defense experts freak out.
Now for the fun part. Sometimes the 60 seconds ends in a comedy shtick. It’s no accident that the popularity of political satire goes back to the ancient Greeks. Scholars describe the power of satire as a way to express truths in ways that are blunt, digestible and even enjoyable. George Bernard Shaw said it more succinctly, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
But some scholars say that TV satirists alienate folks from any political involvement:Letterman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Cooper, Dave Chapelle, and the list goes on. They echo the general disgust that Mark Twain voiced, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Yet given the record-breaking vote counts of the 2020 election, we’re more political than ever. And everyone’s a comedian, too. Go on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. Better yet, go see Pinterest and check out how satire and cartoons have blended into a hypnotic flow of irony, puns, goofy images, and a bit of fantasy. One of the cartoons that combines all of the above got stuck in my mind. A mermaid, unicorn, and a leprechaun was into a bar and sit down in a circle. The mermaid points to an empty chair and says, “I’d like everyone to welcome out newest member to the group, Ethical Capitalism.”
Some are over the top like, “Breaking: Dr. Fauci discusses new life-saving face mask.” The cartoon pictures Dr. Fauci and behind him is President Trump with masking tape over his mouth. Then there’s the meme caption, “FBI uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot to just sit back and enjoy collapse of United States. They’re funny, horrible, and mind-blowing all at once.
For better or worse, research shows that while satire may educate and entertain us, it doesn’t change how people vote. The politics remain nerve-racking. But it does give us comic relief and disrupts the anxiety of our COVID-19 era. We can sure use some relief these days.
So let’s give a shout out to all the comics out there. Thank you for your satire and periodic goofiness. The laughter that you generate is healing and inspiring.
Now I gotta try some humor myself. A liberal politician, a conservative politician, and a turkey walk into the bar. The bartender says, “What’ll you have?” The liberal votes for a turkey sandwich and seltzer water. The conservative votes for a turkey sandwich and a beer. When it’s the turkey’s turn, he gives them the stink-eye and says, “I want a recount.” The politicians stare at him as he gobbles out the door. They nod to each other and call over the bartender, “Make that whisky instead. We’re gonna get basted.”
OK, so I’m a lousy comic, but I had to at least try to make you smile. Now it’s your turn. Go out and make someone smile. Bring on that comic relief and knock the stuffing out of us!
DIVERSITY TRAILBLAZER DEBORAH LEVINE HONORED BY GLOBAL WOMEN’S PEACE NETWORK
FOR LIFETIME OF COUNTERING HATE
CHATTANOOGA, TN – The American Diversity Report announced today that founder and editor-in-chief, Deborah Levine, has received the distinguished ‘HerStory Award’ from the Women’s Federation for World Peace USA (WFWP), with chapters nationwide in all 50 states and locations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and the Middle East.
Levine is a leading international expert and top management consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the private and public sectors. Her unique neuroscience cognitive-based approach to advancing DEI helps employers and disparate communities harmonize, rather than homogenize.
Biden continues with a presidential transition while an enraged Trump plants land mines and trip wires. Tump’s niece predicted the situation saying, “He’s not going to engage in the normal activities that guarantee a peaceful transition. All he’s got now is breaking stuff, and he’s going to do that with a vengeance.” I’ll be even blunter. Trump has declared war on democracy.
Trump is fracturing our country by charging Attorney General Barr to seek out fraud even though most court cases have ruled that there’s little evidence to back up his claims. He’s breaking traditions by refusing to authorize access to government officials, office space in agencies and national security tools provided to transition teams of President-Elects.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise and it’s upsetting to see the rising number of hospitalizations in so many states. It’s even more upsetting that the White House told Governor Lee to mandate the wearing of masks to head off a likely surge in Tennessee. But it’s downright horrifying that the governor didn’t discuss this publicly. The White House message was only discovered through a records request. Did Governor Lee hope that by hiding it, no one would find out?But we’re at a tell-all moment as the Supreme Court prepares to debate the Affordable Care Act. And there’s no hiding how the rush to affirm Trump’s Court nominee comes just in time to vote the ACA out of existence.
In this week of chaos, I looked online for occasional moments of relief. I found fascinating videos of animals looking for food in all the wrong places: an escaped ostrich-like emu stopping highway traffic and of a herd of elephants crossing a street into a village. But my favorite was a bear cub eating a delivery pizza on a doorstep in Colorado. I chuckled as he devoured the entire pizza.
But I felt guilty for laughing because bears on our doorstep are like canaries in the coal mine.They signify the new COVID-19 reality, and it isn’t funny.
The announcement of the passing of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg came during the online services celebrating the Jewish New Year. I could see an old friend on Zoom just put her head in her hands and stay there. I’d seen the announcement a few minutes before services started at sunset so I’d had a brief moment to digest the news. I immediately texted my cousin. We both identify with the description of Ginsberg as “Elder Badass”, having fought our own life-long battles for women. She texted back, “Nooooo!”. Our grief was immediate and we could already hear rumblings of imminent battle.
Jewish tradition holds that someone who dies as the New Year begins is among the most righteous. The Divine holds death back for these souls until the year’s last moment because they’re so needed, driven by the biblical obligation, “Justice, Justice, shall you pursue”.
HEALTH EQUITY AND HEALTHCARE DISPARITIES AMID COVID-19 SPOTLIGHTED IN AMERICAN DIVERSITY REPORT
New Edition Includes Articles, Podcasts, Poems, Black-Jewish Dialogue
CHATTANOOGA, TN – Deborah Levine Enterprises LLC today announced the latest issuance of the American Diversity Report (ADR), an award-winning digital multi-media platform containing the latest news, educational resources and related information highlighting key issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the public arena. The theme of the October edition is health, healthcare and equity, as the nation struggles with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has already infected over 8 million Americans and killed 220,000.
“COVID-19 is on the rise, our economy is volatile, and an uncertain political environment surrounds the health and wellbeing of Americans,” says Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of ADR and an award-winning author of 15 books. “The diversity of our situation is evident as the pandemic has disproportionally impacted people of color per new infections and higher death rates, as well as glaring disparities in affordable healthcare coverage.”
“This new edition of the American Diversity Report serves as a valuable public resource on critically important topics of DEI during these turbulent times,” adds Levine, who is also a columnist for the Times Free Press newspaper of Chattanooga and was named a “Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazer” in 2019 by Forbes magazine. “We are all linked by our common humanity and concern for our own the health, in addition to the health, wellbeing and healthcare of our families, colleagues and friends – especially as the United States becomes increasingly more diverse in all aspects of public and private life.”
In addition to the timely articles listed below, the October edition also includes poetry and podcast interviews with Natasha Copeland, an African American award-winning veteran journalist with NBC News; and Charlie Buhler, a bi-racial female film director. Also listen to the recording of this month’sBlack-Jewish Dialogueon Heath, Healthcare, and Equity. The featured articles by ADR advisors and contributors include the following:
Deborah Levine is a management consultant, speaker and leading diversity change agent with 33-years of experience. The inventor of the Matrix Model Management System of neuro-communication, she has received the Champion of Diversity Award from DiversityBusiness.com, the Excellence Award from the Tennessee Economic Council on Women, and the Chattanooga Award for Management Consulting.
Levine’s published articles span decades in journals and magazines such as, The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermudian Magazine, and The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin. She’s also a syndicated writer for The Good Men Project, a former blogger for The Huffington Post, and has been featured on C-SPAN Book TV. Further information is available online at https://deborahlevine.com/
QAnon has gone mainstream. This fringe group’s theory that there’s a deep state dedicated to child trafficking, cannibalism, and anti-Trumpism is no longer under the radar. Some point to the successful Georgia primary of QAnon backer, Marjorie Greene, as proof. Others point to President Trump congratulating her and calling her a “Future Republican Star”.While Vice President Pence tried to counteract Trump’s enthusiasm for QAnon, the fact that QAnon ended up on the front page of The Chattanooga Times Free Press tends to support the mainstream theory.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of men granting women the right to vote, we should remember that it took two or three generations from the first women’s rights conference in 1848 until that right was granted. Women protested, picketed, and were imprisoned around the US. The disdain for these protesters was strong and anti-Suffragist protests were loud even in Nashville. Sound familiar? Not surprisingly, when the 19th amendment passed in Tennessee, it did so just barely, and was then contested. Fortunately, attempts to rescind passage were not successful and Tennessee became the deciding vote in passing women’s voting rights nationally.
So given our activist history, why are only 19.6% of elected officials in Congress women. And why, in the 2016 presidential election, did only one-third of women eligible to vote cast a ballot?There’s never been a woman president or vice president or chief justice of the Supreme Court. And in Tennessee, which was so instrumental in passing the voting rights legislation, there’s never been a woman governor.
What is the problem? Why aren’t women more prominent in leadership? Are we ignorant of history and therefore taking it for granted? Then read this newspapers’ columns by Linda Moss Mines about the amazing stories behind passing Constitutional Amendment 19 and achieving women’s right to vote. Consider that this Centennial isn’t just a once in a lifetime commemoration, it’s happens only once in several generations.
But I worry that women and their supporters are just too depressed to care about voting given all the economic and social issues confronting us. Can we get over that “Why Bother” attitude? Consider that 76% of public school teachers are women. And 80% of bank tellers, 83% of social workers, 91% of nurses, and 70% of wait staff are women. Yet only thirty-three of the Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs. And of the handful of African American CEOs, none are women. It’s way past time that women are seen, heard, and elevated to leadership.
Still not inspired to vote? Dig into the stories of women who are historic icons. A great example is Harriet Tubman who was born into slavery, escaped and then rescued 70 enslaved people using the network we know as the Underground Railroad. Truly a Woman of Valor! Tubman was to be on the $20 dollar bill this year to commemorate thepassage of the 19th Amendment.
So why was the new $20 bill postponed? Treasury Secretary Mnuchin claimed the design delay was over counterfeiting issues while announcing that plans for new $10 and $50 bills would go forward.Yet The New York Times reported that the Tubman $20 bill had already been designed.
We know what really happened. President Trump nixed putting Tubman on the currency saying it was “pure political correctness”. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen angrily responded saying “…this delay sends an unmistakable message to women and girls, and communities of color.”
Can Shaheen get legislation passed to produce the Tubman $20 bills in 2021, or will it take another 100 years? My hope is that we see a positive cultural shift with Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as his Vice President. But I’m prepared for the “extraordinarily nasty” tidal wave of name calling already begun by Trump who claimed that men may feel insulted by a woman VP choice.
Despite the inevitable divisiveness, I’m hopeful for a huge turnout of voters who support women in leadership. I’m hoping for an historic Centennial and that someday soon, I’ll have a $20 bill that’s more valuable than anything I’ve ever had in my wallet.