Category Archives: Make a Difference

Projects that are making a difference, improving lives, and building communities.

On rustic church pews – by Terry Howard

If ever there was an eye-catching picture, this one fits the bill.

You see, a fellow I grew up with in a small town in Virginia posted it on Facebook. I’m not sure of its source or time, but think that maybe it was sometime in the 40s or earlier. Who knows for sure?

Okay, I admit to having lost count of the number of times I’ve looked at it, and am doing so right now as Juneteenth is in the spotlight. However, to get other reactions I randomly shared it with several folks.
Continue reading On rustic church pews – by Terry Howard

Radio Theater: UNTOLD Stories of a World War II Liberator

Deborah Levine, daughter of a World War II military intelligence officer, shares first-hand stories of WW II and theAaron Levine Holocaust including the wartime letters of her father, Aaron Levine, who was assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war.

And you’ll hear the wartime love letters of Estelle Malloy, a Special Education pioneer whom Aaron married after they graduated from Harvard University. Lastly, you’ll hear the memoirs of Polish Holocaust Survivor, Leon Weisband.
But first, we’ll start at the beginning – with Aaron’s immigrant roots from the Ukraine region and Estelle’s childhood in Bermuda in the only Jewish family to have lived on the island for 4 generations.

Dennis Parker, Deborah Levine, Dylan Kussman at WUTC studio.

Director:  Dennis Parker at the U. of TN at Chattanooga’s radio station WUTC.
Narrator:  Deborah Levine, author.

Actors:
Aaron Levine is played by  actor/director/producer Dylan Kussman, Estelle Levine is played by Charlene Hong White, Aunt Polly by Trish Ross, Leon Weisband by Joel Scribner, Secretary of State Cordell Hull by Greg Glover, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter by George Hoctor and the Reporter by Chase Parker (no relation).

Music is by Aaron Levine’s nephew, Hollywood composer Michael Levine.

CLICK FOR BROADCAST RECORDING

 

Reflections on the Holocaust — by Deborah Levine

As my radio theater play, UNTOLD: Stories of a World War II Liberator, is in preparation for broadcast, I am reminded of the 1st time that I agreed to serve on the local Holocaust Remembrance Day Committee was painful, even after almost seventy years since the end of World War II.  I agreed to assist in promoting the event beyond our Jewish community and I agreed to participate in the reading of the names of the victims.  And I resigned myself to being an usher at the event, not my favorite thing.  What I didn’t bargain for was a seat on the stage when I offhandedly shared that I was helping in memory of my father who was a U. S. military intelligence officer during World War II.  Aaron Levine was an army translator of German and French.  And by the way, he was a liberator of a labor camp.

Continue reading Reflections on the Holocaust — by Deborah Levine

Georgia Election: Herschel, really? – by Terry Howard

Dashing, handsome, chiseled, thick necked and all, at age 60 it looks like Herschel Walker could still blast off left tackle for a first down in an Orange Bowl. But when he opens his mouth lately you freeze, not because of his Southern drawl but what flows out in a mess of confusion, ignorance, untruths, gobbledygook and Lord knows what else.

And here’s the kicker: he has a darn good chance of getting elected the next senator from Georgia. Really.

Now if you find yourself in the exclusive company of folks who look like you and him when he opens his mouth, “c’mon bro, you gotta be kidding,” clearly too many blows to the head,” or stuff unprintable is your likely reaction.

Now I admit that I don’t know what to make of today’s version of Herschel Walker the ex-football player and today’s senatorial candidate.

Well, okay, that’s not altogether true.

For me there’s two versions of Walker; the record-setting running back on one hand, and the bumbling politician from Georgia – or Texas? – on the other. There’s a danger in blurring the lines, connecting the two versions with the assumption that the former is a precursor to the latter.Do great athletes always make great politicians? That question just answered itself, didn’t it?

Hold on, let me get this said before the “Dawg darts start flying my way.

I’m a huge fan of the championship Georgia football team. Watching them take down Alabama got me off the couch high fiving around the TV screen.

And let me be even clearer. I was also a huge fan of Herschel Walker the football player but these days not so with him as a politician based on what I’ve heard him say lately. More on the contemporary Herschel Walker shortly.

You see, like Herschel, there was another Heisman winning running back out of the University of Southern California decades ago (I won’t pollute this narrative with his name). Like Walker, that football player had a documented history of domestic abuse against women. So are we asked to overlook the allegation that Walker abused women, and once pointed a gun at his ex-wife, because he rattled of a 75-yard touchdown run against Florida?

Sorry folks but I have a strong distaste for domestic abusers, including Heisman trophy winners.

Back to today’s Walker who is as adept at avoiding the truth as he once side-stepped would-be tacklers on the gridiron. I mean – hold your breath now Walker actually said that former President Trump never said that the election was stolen from him.

Really Herschel, really? Do we believe you or our lying ears?

And, Heaven help us, there’re more Walker jaw droppers. You may need a “mumbo jumbo” interpreter and a shot of Bourbon to figure it all out:

Jaw dropper #1: He challenged the theory of evolution. His claim is that if evolution is true, why do apes still exist?

Jaw dropper #2: He claimed that he had a cure for COVID in the form of a dry mist that you walk through.

Jaw dropper #3: He claimed then later denied that he said that he was in the top percent of his graduating class at the University of Georgia.

Jaw dropper #4: When asked if new gun laws should be enacted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas shootings, his reply was “What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.”

The following day and asked a similar question:

“Well, you know, it’s always been an issue, because as I said earlier on, they want to score political points. People see that it’s a person wielding that weapon, you know, Cain killed Abel. And that’s the problem that we have. And I said, what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. You talk about doing a disinformation. What about getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women, that’s looking at their social media? What about doing that, looking into things like that, and we can stop that that way?”

Wooh Wee!

Now despite all this and more, Walker easily defeated his opponents by blowouts in the primary by skipping the debates with them and appearing exclusively in controlled events with softball questions like “how did you feel during your 85-yard touchdown scamper against Tennessee?”

His Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock, has proposed a series of three debates with Walker who has said he will debate Warnock but  hasn’t said how many times (brace yourselves for Jaw dropper #5 folks).

So fresh off winning his primaries, and ending his bromance with Donald Trump, “Dawg” Walker recently griped about how Trump is falsely taking credit for his primary win.

“One thing that people don’t know is President Trump never asked me to run. So, I’m mad at him because he never asked, but he’s taking credit that he asked,” Walker said.

Okay, enough is enough. The thought of Herschel Walker as a senator deciding and voting on complex domestic and global issues facing the nation today is as terrifying as him in the cockpit flying me to visit my new grandson in California.

But in the United States of America, stranger things have happened, huh?

My letter to Payton the gunman – by Terry Howard

Dear Payton “Gunman” Gendron:

Okay, you don’t know me and until a week ago, I didn’t know you. 

But since you disrupted my life when you snuffed out the lives of 10 African American people in Buffalo, I decided to write you a letter.  I included pictures of your victims in my first draft but removed them because they were too painful to look at. Why the pictures? Well because I wanted you to see them in your worst nightmares during your years behind bars. 

Continue reading My letter to Payton the gunman – by Terry Howard

U.S. Indian Boarding School Report – by Marc Brenman

In April 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report. The report was probably prompted by several year’s ago Canadian report on First Peoples boarding schools, and by the appointment of the first Native American Secretary of the Interior. The Canadian report was issues by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in 2015. 

The U.S. report has much interesting information on cultural eradication. Native American children were forced from their families and into schools that were little better than prisons, beginning in the early years of the American Republic. Esteemed Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin expressed anti-Indian beliefs. Interestingly, these sentiments were sometimes expressed in confidential memos to Congress, as if it was known even then that the actions were morally reprehensible. 

Continue reading U.S. Indian Boarding School Report – by Marc Brenman

Anti-abortion and the Descent into Fascism – by Marc Brenman

What can be said about the anticipated anti-abortion decision from the US Supreme Court that hasn’t been said already? From a civil rights and social justice perspective, the reasoning in Justice Alito’s draft opinion is dangerous. It presages and exemplifies anti-democratic tendencies already present and vigorous on the American right. There are many “rights” that are not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. Even though Alito’s draft says the decision should not be used as precedent in restricting other rights, the effort is already underway to do so. These include privacy, LGBT rights, the rights of people with disabilities, and the education of non-citizen children in public schools. And of course, the rights of women, educational rights, and the right to housing, to eat, and to live in a clean environment. Although we hear about it relatively little, the Equal Rights Amendment has never been added to the Constitution. However, there are many laws from Congress on protecting women, people with disabilities, and the environment. Women’s health advocates want Congress to pass similar laws protecting abortion. This is unlikely to occur, with the close division between the parties in the Senate, and the likely loss of Democratic House seats in the mid-term election. In addition, the Supreme Court can overturn acts of Congress if they believe the laws are not rooted in the Constitution. 

Nothing stops a conservative Supreme Court from declaring that statutes that provide rights not mentioned in the Constitution are not constitutional. Even school integration, required by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, can be declared bad law. The Supreme Court has already pulled the teeth of the Voting Rights Act, making voter suppression easier, and already provided religious rights mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. In an act of supreme hypocrisy, the Court has enabled Christian believers, organizations, and corporations to impose their beliefs on others. The Constitution, in its mention of the separation of church and state, nowhere permits such imposition. And of course the Court has protected and enhanced only extreme Christian beliefs, leaving out the many other religions and their belief sets. Another example is gun rights, where the Constitution refers to a “well-regulated militia,” but the federal courts studiously ignore this phrase, and let unregulated shooters run rampant. 

Although the accusation has perhaps been overused, these tendencies of the rightwing are very similar to the tenets of fascism. When democracy is eroded, the vacancy invites in fascism, anarchy, libertarianism or communism. Social media does sometimes feel like anarchy, and with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, it will probably feel more like libertarianism. We’re already seeing the victory of libertarianism in the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana growing and use. The Supreme Court, if it was consistent, could do some good in doing away with some bad old court decisions, such as the one from 1911 that declared that corporations are people. But we cannot expect consistency from this Court. They are ideologically driven. 

The descent into fascism is part of a larger trend toward the manifestation of evil in society. Elements include too many guns, lying, hypocrisy, conspiracy thinking, hate, misogyny, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, ablism, and racism. Trump, the Antichrist, manifests all of these. His followers enable and support him. We are observing in the Ukraine what can happen when a regime like communism is replaced with fascism—genocide, mass murder, crimes against humanity. And recall that Trump worships Putin. 

What prevents that from happening in the United States? Already we’ve heard from some scholars that civil war could occur in the US. Recall that we had a civil war here, in which the nominally losing side fought to preserve slavery and the benefits it drew from slavery. But the Confederacy did not really lose. Rather, it morphed into domestic terrorism and guerilla warfare, through the KKK, White Citizens Councils, Jim Crow laws, lynching, redlining, etc. Now those with nostalgia for slavery wish to enslave women, LGBT people, and immigrants. The enablers include those who vote against their self-interest, such as the 52% of white women who voted for Trump, the half of people with disabilities who vote Republican, and the increasing number of Hispanic men who vote Republican. We who have tried to educate people about civil rights and social justice have made some very bad mistakes, including telling people they should not just vote their self-interest. Unfortunately, we were listened to, and many people today vote their conscience of conspiracy and their warped moral judgments. A marginally more moral and ethical case can be made for anti-abortion if those on the right were to guarantee healthcare, education, housing, and food for all children. And to clamp down hard on men who rape, who commit incest, who do not support the children they have been instrumental into bringing into the world, who do not support the women they have forced into childbearing. 

What is to be done? Marching and demonstrating don’t help much. Signing petitions has almost no effect. Only a few actions will help much, including voting for liberal and progressive Democrats all up and down the ballot, and contributing money to their campaigns. Some actions are almost guaranteed not to help, such as racial, sexual, and LGBT essentialism. Manifestations of this include the idea that unless you look like me and have my preferences, I don’t want you as an ally. We see other “shoot yourself in the foot” phenomena such as the belief among some progressives that merit does not exist. We see extreme manifestations of rights such as insisting that transgender minors can use the bathroom of their choice, the idea of “neurodiversity,” and the imposition of required ethnic studies programs in public schools while the pandemic has set educational attendance and achievement back by two years. In an ideal world, all these concepts might be marginally good, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world under extreme threat and real and present danger. The movement against the right to abortion and women’s health care is yet another area of discrimination against women, added to existing disparities such as lack of pay comparable to men, the glass ceiling in employment, and lack of pay for work that mostly women provide, such as daycare. 

Awhile back, I was researching a project on how to draw some Trump voters back toward the political center. I asked the question, and added a second one, roughly should progressives and liberals negotiate and/or compromise with those on the right? I received such angry feedback from progressives that I stopped asking the second question. If no compromise is possible, then we may well end up with two Americas—one a democracy and one a fascist empire. In addition to what we are already seeing as many women flee to states where abortion is legal and available, we may see “democracy refugees” of African-Americans making a new journey to the North. 

Diversity and Speech Part 30: The Strange Odyssey of Racial Sports Metaphors – by Carlos Cortés

Woke people don’t stereotype, right?  And, of course, white men can’t jump.  Hm.  Consider the following.

For relaxation, my wife Laurel and I attend a bi-weekly creative writing workshop.  For a recent assignment, our instructor Jo Scott-Coe asked us to write about chocolate.   Each of the other participants wrote about food.   Not me.  For whatever reason, Jo’s assignment triggered thoughts of former National Basketball Association guard Jason Williams.

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 30: The Strange Odyssey of Racial Sports Metaphors – by Carlos Cortés

Integrating the Arts in Health – by Patricia Lambert

NOAH Seeks to Professionalize Arts Programs in Healthcare Settings

No person looks forward to a visit to the hospital or other similar healthcare settings. Oftentimes, being in the hospital is a process that is scary, uncertain, and full of anticipation for answers and recovery. Research has shown that healing is made better by the arts, which bring humanity to institutions such as hospitals, elder and hospice care, as well as those living at home with chronic diseases like cancer or Parkinson’s. 

Despite research that supports arts in health, many health institutions do not have programs incorporating the arts. This is why the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) has remained committed to expanding awareness and acceptance of the arts as a vital component for healing, public health, and wellbeing. 

Continue reading Integrating the Arts in Health – by Patricia Lambert

Diversity and the Media: Student Voices  

What is the future of the media and its attempts to reach a diverse audience? We can better understand the upcoming generation’s issues concerning diversity and the media with this collection of quotes from articles by Communication students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. These issues include race, gender identification, intellectual disabilities, healthcare, cultural differences, stereotyping and discrimination of women, as well as microaggressions.
Note that some of the quotes include links to a full article. 

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