By Our Consent
In September 2018 on our way to Poland from Germany to visit sites where Sonia’s family was from, we were detoured because of Nazi rallies. The following day, thousands of Germans took to the streets to say, “not in our country.” Poland had recently passed a law stating that you could not talk about the Holocaust, so of course the first concert Sonia not only talked about what had happened on our way to Poland, but sang “By My Silence.”
When we returned to the States a couple weeks later, she decided that she needed to put out a CD in response to the growing Anti-Semitic actions taking place around the world. She wrote the song “Wandering Jew” about her positive experience touring Germany as a Jewish person. The day that she officially approved the CD for manufacturing, we woke up the next morning to news of the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We were heartbroken that we had been right about a need to speak out about this. We released the CD on January 15, 2019. We thought it fitting at the time; as it is the actual birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. Most of you will remember 2019 was a year full of racial tension and hate rhetoric. We thought by releasing it that weekend, maybe we could remind people that it takes all of us speaking up and joining together to stop fear and hate. The Jewish community was very involved in the civil rights movement and so we thought it was almost meant to be that it was ready in January in time for this date.
Yesterday, we sat stunned as the news broke that hostages had been taken at a synagogue in the Dallas area. It was the three year anniversary of the release of the “By My Silence” CD. It is now 4 in the morning and I cannot sleep for thinking about just how surreal it is that it would happen on this day of all days. When I was a child, churches were open all the time. I did not grow up worrying, like many of my friends who are Jewish or Black, that the places they worshipped in would be vandalized or burned. But now I live in Baltimore and there are armed guards at the synagogues in our area. During the High Holidays, police patrol the streets near the synagogues where people walk to services. What a world we are living in when we have to have guards to worship, and our capitol is attacked. Our politicians work not to protect our right to vote, but their political agenda and actually try to cancel our votes. On the weekend when we celebrate a man who brought people of all faiths together with one goal "Equality," instead we have a hostage situation at a synagogue in Dallas, and all of us are being held hostage by our politicians. The right to vote affects every aspect of our lives. This is not a black and white issue or a republican - democrat issue, it should not matter what religion or sex you are. Every American should stand up and speak out and demand our elected representatives do their jobs. We cannot do the hard work that needs to be done to bring us together until they stop wasting our tax payers money debating an issue that should be absolute, the right to vote by every eligible American in a free and fair election. I am disgusted by extremist on both sides of the political spectrum that would rather stop legislation than compromise, when so called progressives would rather see nothing happen than admit that sometimes everything cannot happen at once. We truly do not have an endless supply of money. Compromises do have to be made. If it were up to me, for every day they stalled or refused to work together, they would be docked pay. I think most of them should be fired. The sad thing is that the moderates from both parties are quitting. In 1996, we launched a series of ads in a project called “Open Mind,” showing how hate rhetoric led to acts of violence. In one of the ads, it shows a politician speaking at our capitol against gays and lesbians - actual footage - and then a young man being beaten. The young man that was beaten is based on an actual case in Houston, Texas, where a group of boys beat a 27 year old Paul Broussard to death because they “were doing God's work.” Hate speech matters, and when we allow our politicians on either side to use our capitol while we are paying them to spew lies or hate, then “By Our Silence We Give Our Consent."
As January 6th approaches I have to wonder what the day will bring. We have become a world divided, a world where people no longer talk things out but go to court over every disagreement. A world where we don’t look at our own actions but blame the other person. A world where instead of expecting our politicians to take action we allow them to spew hate from the floor of the capitol. On January 6th I will take a minute to say prayers for the people that lost their lives that day, the protesters and the police officers. I will say a prayer for our country and hope that instead of violence we will all take a minute to reflect on our own actions or inactions. It’s been a long year, and the year before that was not much better but I refuse to not look forward at 2022 with anything but hope and love. Today I will schedule surgery with an oncologist and even as I do so I will think about how blessed I am. I love my life, I am surrounded by friends and family and even when I am summoned by misplaced anger I refuse to let a day go by that I am not grateful for the day that I have now. I don’t know what tomorrow brings or the 6th but I do know that I will only meet it with peace. Erica thank you….
Holidays and Gratitude
Wow cannot believe it is almost the end of 2021. What a year. As we finish celebrating Hanukkah and prepare to celebrate Christmas I wanted to take a few minutes and say Thank you. Sonia and I truly could not have made it through the last two years of Covid crazy without all of the support and love that you have shown us. We returned from Germany on Tuesday night and got our booster shots the next day, and since then Sonia has been preparing to be in the studio with the guys from her disappear fear band. One thing about the last two years is it has given Sonia plenty to write about.
I know that right now things are in flux again as we face another variant but we will get thru this and somehow I believe we will be stronger for it. I know that the last two years of loss has reminded me how precious every day I have is and just how important it is to tell those we love what they mean to us. So please know that for all of you that have been part of our disappear fear journey we are grateful. To our family in Germany that we missed so much and we’re finally able to get back and hug, we cannot wait til spring to see you again. I don’t know what 2022 will bring, but I do know that 2020 and 2021 will always be special to me for the love and encouragement that so many of you shared with us. Thank you and Happy Holidays whatever you are celebrating. I hope you are surrounded by family and those you love.
Shame on Party Politics
I would truly like to know when it became ok for a US Senator or Representative to say they would not vote for something strictly because the other party supported it, with no regard of whether it was good for the American People. On Monday President Biden signed a bi-partisan infrastructure bill into Law and even though Senator McConnell believed the bill was right for the American people and voted for it he refused to go to the signing ceremony for fear of the optics of supporting a democratic president. When the ex president put out a statement that republicans that voted for the bill should be ashamed and voted out of office instead of republicans standing up and defending the action to be non partisan in favor of doing their job they hid. The republicans and democrats who are actually working for the American people in Washington have proven to be few. When Liz Cheney or Susan Collins or Joe Manchin or Angus King work together we should be applauding them for doing what our representatives are supposed to do: Represent Us the American People. Instead party leadership talks about removing them from the party or working to get them out of office. I am currently in Germany on tour and when I read the headlines that sound like our politicians should be on an elementary playground instead of in Washington DC I wish I could say they got it wrong. But they accurately describe how truly ineffective our democratically elected officials have become. We watched when Obama was in office the Republican change the rules so that they could fill the court with their nominees, then watched as the Democrats refused to work with republicans on other issues because of this change when the last President took office. And now we watch as the republicans refuse to work with the democrats not because they don’t agree with them but because they do not want them to be successful in hopes that they can gain control again in the midterms. The losers here are the American People. This infrastructure bill should have been passed months ago when the weather was warm and people were out of work and things could have gotten moving quickly. Instead the republicans stalled things for months because they knew this President and the democrats truly did want it to be bi-partisan. They used that against them and I find that appalling. And as much as I understand that the democrats don’t want to do what the republicans did in changing the votes necessary for the Supreme Court justices by doing away with the filibuster altogether I think we all suffer when neither party cares as much about doing their job, as much as they care about which party they belong to. I for one will look closely at where my representatives were on this bill and others that are coming up. And no one who is not willing to stand up for the American People and for what they know is right will get my vote. For the Senators and Congressional Members that voted across party lines and stood up Thank you. For the rest of you I hope the next time you have to face your constituents when a bridge fails or the roads are washed away you are held accountable.
To Be or Not to Be
Good Morning from Germany. Yesterday I spent a lot of my day texting with family members that feel strongly that the vaccine is a violation of their personal freedom. It’s hard for me to believe it, but its true. On the one hand I do not like the government dictating what we do with our bodies, but I also would hope that unless there are medical reasons we would care enough about our fellow human beings to stop this pandemic by getting vaccinated. And I have heard all the arguments about it not being tested enough and my answer is that it’s been tested now on millions and guess what it’s working. While there have been break thru cases they have survived. I did not want to get vaccinated and I normally do not get vaccines because I have had reactions and medically could have opted out. But I was sick at the beginning of this pandemic and I was lucky, I have lost several good friends to Covid and heard them gasp for air, I was not about to take a chance that I gave it to someone else if I could help it. I also really was ready to go back to work and being vaccinated made that possible. Here in Germany we have to show our vaccine cards at every restaurant or café that we want to have a meal at and I feel much safer knowing they have checked. I am American and I bleed red white and blue and I will defend anyone’s right to make their own decision but that being said I do not have to think it’s right. I truly believe that it’s a very selfish decision and that part of living in civilized society is caring about our fellow inhabitants. I love my family and my friends and it breaks my heart that this has become such a polarizing subject.
While I am on the subject of polarizing let’s talk about the latest barrage of hate. Everyone who knows me knows I did not vote for our last President but Biden was also not my first choice. What I find fascinating though is that even though Biden was not in office when the pandemic hit America all of sudden people want to rewrite history and say that if our last President was in office now it would be better. Guess what the economy was in the toilet, people were dying and we were having riots nightly across this country when our last President got voted out of office. Things are not peachy now, we still have a long way to go before we fully recover from what the Pandemic caused neither the last President nor the current President could have completely controlled that. But the market is at an all time high, unemployment is finally getting back to prepandemic numbers and yes prices are higher. Higher because there are still shortages from manufactures being closed and shipping. Truly had generations of politicians and businesses not shipped our companies out of the country we would not be in the shape we are in now with getting products. I get it, it’s easier to blame someone. We did it with the last guy and we are doing it now but the truth is we are all responsible for what happens in this world and our country. It starts with each of us. For me that started with caring enough to get vaccinated. Only you can decide what you can do to make this a better place -or we can just keep pointing fingers.