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Challenge for super-athlete-mountaineers: Free Solo Climb of El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. Photo by, and with thanks to, Mike Murphy

 

Ready to dream big? Imagine stepping your full weight into invisible toeholds on a granite face when the nearest horizontal surface is thousands of feet below. Now, reach into imperceptible notches in that same rock face and use them as finger-holds to help you climb the vertical surface of Yosemite Park’s El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-high vertical granite mountain . . . no ropes, no safety net . . . just pure strength, guts, skill, preparation, and dogged persistence.

These were the stock and trade of a super-athlete-mountaineer Alex Honnold”s big dream, as portrayed in the documentary, Free Solo, when he climbed that famous mountain. We watched that film, Annie and I, last week, and we highly recommend it.

No surprise, the ending of the spell-binding Academy Award-winning documentary, Free Solo: Alex Honnold makes it to the top of Yosemite Park’s El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-high vertical granite mountain . . . no ropes, no safety net . . . just pure strength, guts, skill, and dogged persistence. Alex is the only one who’s ever done it.

But I’ll tell you, Annie and I sat there gripping our seats. What if he slips? (He doesn’t. Whew!)

Truly an inspiring feat, the movie took me back 56 years to May Day, 1963.

May 1, 1963: A Day to Remember

Set aside images of Maypoles and dancing maidens; and red flags and marching workers. Hold those thoughts of May Day for a moment, and come meet an old friend of mine: a mountaineer, film maker, and an inspiration.

On this historic day in American mountaineering, James Whittaker became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

These days, Whittaker gets all the coverage, but the 1963 expedition included 19 Americans—including Barry Corbet; 32 Sherpas; 909 porters, 27 tons of supplies. Six Americans and Sherpa Nawang Gombu made it to the summit: Whittaker, Norman Dyhrenfurth, Barry Bishop, Lute Jerstad, Willi Unsoeld, and Tom Hornbein.

Corbet’s Decision of a Lifetime: I Dream Big, But No, You Go First

Barry Corbet could have, but he didn’t. Barry was climbing with Unsoeld and Hornbein after Barry’s partner Jake Breitenbach died in an icefall lower on the mountain. As the three

Barry Corbet, super-alpinist, shows how to dream big

Barry Corbet, mountain guide, ski instructor, entrepreneur, and film maker

planned the final assault, they realized they had enough oxygen for only two. Barry urged them to go on without him: “You two have been climbing together, you know each other. This is my first Himalayan expedition. I’ll be coming back,” he said.

After Everest, Barry resumed his life as a mountain guide, skiing instructor, and entrepreneur in the Tetons. Then, in 1968, while shooting a ski movie near Aspen, his helicopter crashed and he was left paralyzed. He was 31 years old. He never walked again.

How Did I Meet Barry Corbet? As a Filmmaker

So, how did I know Barry? Come with me to my hometown, Center, Colorado. It’s fall 1971. At Head Start (I’m the director), we have set aside the weekend to build a creative playground for the kids. Scores of parents have given up two days to dig, haul, saw, hammer, and build. We use local materials: a car body, tires, lumber, ropes, sand—no commercial swings or slides or hard plastic forts. A wooden climbing structure arises from the ground. The parents strip the car, pound out rough edges to make it safe for 4-year-olds to “drive”. At lunch and dinner we gorge on homemade tamales and tacos.

A friend from Boulder comes to record us at work—16 mm home movies and dozens of still shots. He recruits a friend of his in Golden, a professional filmmaker, to produce a movie for us. No charge.

A few weeks later, my friend’s friend—Barry Corbet—invites me to his home/studio to view his first cut. He greets me like an old friend. After the preview, he whips up a spaghetti dinner. We drink. We talk—about the movie, about Center, and a bit about his own life. Paralyzed from the waist down, Barry operates the wheelchair like a master. We talk on and on. I stay overnight.

Barry Corbet and New Big Dream: “Most Active Gimp Ever”

Barry Corbet, paraplegic kayaker: dream big

After a helicopter accident, Barry Corbet took up kayaking, co-produced a hundred films, and became editor of NEW MOBILITY, an advocate magazine for people with disabilities.

Barry had lots of tough times, but he didn’t give up. He wanted to become “the most active gimp who ever lived.” He took up kayaking, co-produced a hundred films, and became editor of NEW MOBILITY magazine, an advocate for people with disabilities.

Barry died on December 18, 2004 at age of 68 after a life fully lived.

I never met Jim Whittaker, but I’ve always been inspired by that 1963 expedition. And when I think of May 1, I think of Barry Corbet. His name, too, not to be forgotten.

Alex Honnold: Dare to Dream Big Dreams

Oh, and if your heart can stand it, take a few minutes to get acquainted with Alex Honnold of Free Solo fame: http://www.alexhonnold.com/heaven.

Alex and Barry are men of big dreams, dreams they dared to put their lives on the line for.  I have an affinity for both men because I, too, love the mountains. No, my mountain adventures have never risen to their accomplishments, But I still cling to memory of a breath-taking trip over Black Bear Pass near Silverton, Colorado. Read about it here.—Terry

Sexual Assault Accusation  

May Undo Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh’s suitability for the U.S. Supreme Court demands further investigation.

Based on personal experiences with sexual assault, I encourage a full FBI non-partisan investigation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Why? I’ve asked myself these questions:

Do I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford?

Yes. She knew that telling her story would subject her to character attacks and unimaginable misery. Would she have requested an FBI investigation of her own allegations if they were a made-up story? Speaking as a sexual assault survivor, I say absolutely not.

Do I believe Judge Brett Kavanaugh?

sexual assault

Judge Brett Kavanaugh facing sexual assault allegations

So far, No. His behavior and his record undermine his credibility.

  1. Accusations of lying. First, he has been accused of lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he denied, under oath, knowledge that Democratic emails he had received at the White House from a Republican staffer had been stolen. Really? Even after one email had the subject line: “Spying”? Please, let’s get to the bottom of this.
  2. Bad “joke” raises questions. At a 2015 Yale Law School Federalist Society meeting–just three years ago, he said, “What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us.” Really? Tell us more! Not funny from someone accused of attempted rape when he was a student at that school.
  3. A love of binge-drinking. Kavanaugh’s friend and journalist, Mark Judge, has written in his book, Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk, about Kavanaugh and his apparent love of binge-drinking while at Georgetown Prep high school. Did Kavanaugh go to parties and get blackout drunk? Is this true?

We need further investigation of all three items.

Should the U.S. Senate honor her request for an FBI investigation?

Yes, why wouldn’t they want to get to the bottom of it? And both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford should submit to lie detector tests. Without an FBI investigation and lie detector tests, how can the Senate give him a legitimate stamp of approval? Plus, she could be subjected to a kangaroo court cross-examination on par with the shameful treatment of Anita Hill 27 years ago. Surely, we have learned something in the intervening years.

Should a high school act be considered in his confirmation?

Yes, sexual assault–attempted rape–is a serious crime, no matter when it occurs.

Allegations cannot be dismissed with the “boys will be boys” excuse.

Further, if he did assault her and has lied about it, he has compounded the original crime. If he did it, and has no recall because he was “blackout drunk,” that also should be investigated and considered. Does he get blackout drunk these days?

ALL the questions surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh must be put to rest, including, at a minimum:

  • Does he drink alcohol?
  • At what age did he begin?
  • Did he go to the type of parties at Georgetown Prep that Dr. Ford describes?
  • Has he ever been blackout drunk?
  • In high school?
  • How often?
  • How recently?
  • When he said, “What happens at Georgetown stays in Georgetown, what did he mean?” Please provide specific examples.

Bottom line, anyone appointed to a lifetime on our highest court must meet the highest standard.

America Is Better Than This

By Terry Marshall

Images of immigrant kids taken from their mothers and fathers have put us at wit’s end — like so many other Americans.

immigrant kids should stay with moms

What kind of nation takes children, then can’t figure how to give them back?

What kind of nation, as a matter of federal government policy, takes – dare we say kidnaps? – children from their mothers’ arms and ships them around the country . . . then locks up the mothers . . . then, when ordered by our courts, can’t figure out how to get them back together?

How can it be that America treats its neighbors with such callous contempt? Especially those fleeing for their lives to the land whose Statue of Liberty proclaims “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

In a federal court filing in Los Angeles, advocates have documented that detained children are “experiencing enforced hunger, enforced dehydration, and enforced sleeplessness . . . with lights shining all night and guards kicking their feet,” the children say. “They were hungry, after being given what they say were frozen sandwiches and smelly food.” When one mother complained that her child was hungry, a border official asked, “Do you want your child dead – or skinny?”

We can’t fathom this. We can’t find the words to adequately convey our outrage. Nor can we understand how this could happen in America in 2018.

Here’s my worry: Could this be the real America?

I fear the answer is yes. I offer two pieces of evidence with long tentacles.

Immigrants Treated as Less than Human

Bibles – a national security threat

Well-thumbed Bibles not allowed.

I ran across this sobering story by Laura Holson in the New York Times: “What they carried: Items confiscated from migrants in the past decade.”

It features a photo exhibit by Tom Kiefer, who, for 11 years, worked as a janitor at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Center near the Arizona-Mexican border. Kiefer discovered that Border Patrol agents were confiscating, then trashing perfectly good food items from immigrants trying to cross from Mexico – items such as canned tuna that could be used by a local food bank.

Unopened tuna commandeered – to be thrown away

Unopened tuna confiscated – along with immigrant kids

Then he discovered – and began to photograph – hundreds of confiscated items that bore no threat to the U.S., to national security, to anyone. Items such as

  • “Well-thumbed” Bibles
  • Wallets – many with IDs and credit cards
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Gloves
  • Contraceptives – condoms and packets of The Pill

Why confiscate these from desperate immigrants, who likely have so little, anyway? Why throw them away?

How's an immigrant to keep clean without a bit of soap?

Keeping clean: A national security threat?

These aren’t a threat. Commandeering these personal items is mean-spirited. It’s a declaration of a belief – by some in our government – that “those people,” those immigrants, are lesser people, or not people at all. Sadly, it seems to be a thread in the fabric of our society

Clearly, this belief is the basis for this administration’s War on Immigrants. But these actions – these confiscations – are not the product of our current president. Kiefer started taking these photos as early as 2003. It’s been going on for at least a decade . . . or more.

Life Is Cheap — For “Those People”

Immigrant kids in same bucket as Vietnamese kids?

Hearts & Minds portrays a “those people” attitude toward people different from us

Ironically, the same week we read the New York Times article, we happened to view Peter Davis’ 1974 Academy Award-winning documentary, Hearts and Minds – a hard-hitting look at the Vietnam War.
 

Hearts and Minds is full of shocking images. But these scenes brought that thread home to us:

Scene 1: A South Vietnamese national cemetery. Soldiers remove a flag-draped coffin from a vehicle, take it to a newly dug grave. From onlookers, we hear moaning and keening – that eerie heart-wrenching wailing that comes from the soul, not the mouth. The camera zooms in on a boy holding a photo of his father, apparently the man in the coffin. He’s beside himself with grief – crying, keening, clutching his father’s photograph. They lower the coffin into the grave. A woman throws herself into the tomb. Onlookers leap in and grapple her out. The keening continues. It breaks our hearts.

Scene 2: The camera cuts to General William Westmoreland: West Point grad; four-star general; commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968; TIME magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1965; Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1968 to 1972.

Westmoreland is in civilian clothes. He’s being interviewed about the Vietnam War. He looks squarely at the camera and says, “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient.”

That was it, wasn’t it? That’s how America viewed the Vietnamese. And that’s how some in America appear to view today’s immigrants, particularly Mexicans and Central Americans, Asians, Africans, Muslims.

Not all of us, of course, but enough of us that it’s clearly a long-standing, permanent strand in our national fabric.

But the Good News Is . . .

 This odious policy has moved tens of thousands of Americans to protest – in the streets, at rallies, in letters, on the air. TV hosts and talking heads and newspaper columnists condemn it daily.

Organizations such as the ACLU have taken the government to court. The State of Washington is providing legal help to immigrants caught up in the dragnet.

One federal judge directed the government to reunite the families posthaste. Another denied a government plan to jail the kids with their families.

Congressmen and women have gone to Texas to bring the issue to the fore. Dozens of groups and organizations are working to help the kids and their families in a plethora of ways. A few churches have offered sanctuary.

The people have risen. That is a great sign – that’s the real America.

On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect on how fortunate we’ve been through the years to have lived and worked in several foreign countries – three years in the Solomon Islands and two in the Philippines as a married couple; a year in Italy for Ann as a teenager. One result: a treasure-trove of great memories of those locations.

Manila American Cemetery: 17,184 Americans buried here

Each year, Memorial Day reminds us how truly fortunate we’ve been – we’ve always come home from our foreign travel. Many Americans have not – hundreds of thousands of them died overseas in American wars, including the eldest son of President Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, on this Memorial Day, we think back on two solemn afternoons we spent at American World War II cemeteries abroad – one in Manila; the other in Normandy.

Missing in Action honored in Manila: 36,286 Americans lost are remembered here

Manila’s 152-acre American cemetery is home to 17,184 American graves. Gleaming white markers stretch in precise rows as far as the eye can see. The day we were there, blood-red Poinciana blossoms puddled the grass among the silent rows. In addition, a curving cluster of 20-foot high marble tablets lists another 36,286 names of those missing in the Pacific Theatre in World War II.

Normandy American Cemetery: 9,385 Americans buried here

Normandy’s cemetery is smaller: 9,385 graves; 1,557 names of missing soldiers carved in stone.

Both cemeteries plunged us into the past. We walked silently – visitors don’t chitter chatter in these sacred spots. We read the names carved into the gravestones. We wondered about who they were, how they died, how their families coped when they didn’t come home. And again we were thankful that our fathers survived their wars. Sobering places, these cemeteries!

On this Memorial Day, we sadly note that these cemeteries and monuments memorialize a relatively small portion of the 418,500 Americans who died as combatants in World War II . . . and the 50,000,000-plus men, women, and children of the Allied nations who died in that war. Yes . . . FIFTY MILLION!

Please Meet 2 US Army Vets Who Weren’t Americans

Also, as we pause on Memorial Day, we remind ourselves that not all American Army veterans were in fact Americans. Let us introduce you to two vets we had the honor of knowing: Sir Jacob Vouza, a Solomon Islander, and Teofilo Ripalda, a Filipino:

Sir Jacob Vouza: Tied to a tree, stabbed, left to die

Solomon Islander and U.S. Army scout Jacob Vouza with U.S. Army Col. George Tuck

Jacob Vouza’s peaceful life on tropical Guadalcanal in the remote Solomon Islands was upended in 1942 when the Japanese captured the island in their march across the Pacific toward Australia. When the U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal in August 1942, Vouza, a retired policeman, joined them as a scout. On “a mission too far,” the Japanese surrounded and captured him. When he refused to divulge information on U.S. Marine forces, his captors tied him to a tree, bayoneted him, slit his throat, and left him to die. Vouza chewed through the ropes, then crawled and stumbled miles through the jungle and raging battle to report enemy positions to his company commander.

He was made an honorary Sergeant Major in the U.S. Marine Corps, awarded an American Silver Star and Legion of Merit, and the British George Medal for gallantry. In 1979 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. After the war, Vouza named his tiny village on the Guadalcanal plains “California.” The photo is of Vouza with Col. George Tuck, taken on Guadalcanal, 1943.

Thirty-five years later, Vouza befriended us, and we him, when we were co-directors of the U.S. Peace Corps program in the Solomon Islands. You can read a bit more about Vouza in Terry’s essay, “By Canoe into My Father’s War”. Vouza is also the subject of two books: VOUZA by Hector MacQuarrie (Macmillan 1948), and WHERE THE SUN STOOD STILL: The Untold Story of Sir Jacob Vouza and the Guadalcanal Campaign (Toucan 1992)

Teofilo Ripalda survived Bataan Death March

Imagine a 65-mile forced march of 76,000 captured soldiers – 12,000 Americans and 64,000 Filipinos – through a sweltering jungle to be dispatched to wretched prisoner-of-war camps in the Philippines, China, and Japan.

Teofilo Ripalda endured 65-mile 5-day Bataan Death March

Our friend Teofilo Ripalda was one of those Filipinos who endured that march – World War II’s infamous Bataan Death March. For those who may not recall, after the April 9, 1942 Japanese rout of U.S. and Philippine forces, the captives were starved, beaten, shot, beheaded, or simply left to die during that 5-day march.

Some 23 years later, Terry and Teofilo became friends as fellow teachers at the Leyte Institute of Technology, Tacloban City, Philippines, where Terry worked as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Besides working together on the “Faculty-Employee Club,” the school’s teacher-staff union, they chatted daily over morning merienda (coffee break), where, over time, Teofilo gradually told of the horrific details of the death march.

Fortunately, both Sir Jacob Vouza and Teofilo Ripalda survived World War II and lived long, productive lives. But what a price they paid for their – and our – freedom!

Memorial Day is a day to honor men and women like Jacob and Teofilo, as well as for those Americans who died in service to our country.

By Ann Marshall

I had my own enchanted moment a couple of weeks ago, during a community performance of favorites from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music. At the first strains of “Some Enchanted Evening,” I sneaked my hand into Terry’s and fell in love all over again.

I’ve been humming that and other tunes throughout the days since – like the haunting “Bali H’ai” and the zany “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” — corny as what, Kansas in August? Yes! The songs are from the hit stage play and movie, South Pacific, a tale of two wartime romances.

For me, the music evokes memories of enchanted evenings, graceful palms, and sand between my toes from years we’ve spent on beaches in Hawaii, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. I would return to any of those places in a heartbeat.

 

Two Love Stories, Two Responses

South Pacific is more complicated than an enchanted evening on a balmy south sea beach, however. It’s the story of two couples coming to grips with ingrained prejudices – cross-cultural and racial – that threaten to derail their love. An American lieutenant is so in love with a Polynesian woman he wants to stay on Bail H’ai after the war is over. By contrast, the young nurse from Arkansas is in love with a Frenchman – until she finds out he has children by a Polynesian mother. Nurse Nellie drops her Frenchman like a burnt croissant. Enchanted evening derailed.

The lieutenant lashes out at the cultural barriers to the lovers, as he complains in song that prejudice is “taught” from a very young age:

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed into your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

Happily Ever After – or Heartbreak?

From our years in the South Pacific, Terry and I also know something about cross-cultural and interracial romances. We knew Peace Corps Volunteers and other expats who overcame such barriers to love. Like any other romance, some married and thrived. Some didn’t.

Cross-cultural romance was a controversial idea in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Even today, I look around and ask: Who taught this new generation to be afraid, and to hate? To shoot first and ask questions later? To exclude people of color? To engage in name-calling and bullying? To hunker down in racist groups? To fear and hate people who don’t look like us or talk like us.

I admit, parts of South Pacific are quaintly dated, but it’s a powerful story about an issue that’s as relevant today as it was more than half a century ago — and a film worth seeing, both for the music and the message. Bali Ha’i calls, folks. Take a few minutes to listen to some of the music.

by Ann Marshall

As I grew up, I thought women’s equality was an “of-course-we-are-fact”, not an “issue.” My mother had had a professional life for 10 years before she married Dad. She worked for U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez until she was 30, splitting her time between Santa Fe and Washington, D.C. She was smart, confident, and capable.

Mom and Dad brought me up expecting to obtain a college degree and believing I could do whatever I set my mind to. In the ferment at the University of Colorado, the nascent movement for women’s equality seemed a natural progression to me and my gal pals, not an anomaly.

How little I knew!

I can’t come in? Why not?

In 1962, prompted by Eleanor Roosevelt, President Kennedy established the Commission on the Status of Women. First task: Figure where women’s equality stood in American society.

Now, 56 years later, I’m astonished at how many things I was not expected nor even allowed to do in 1962:

  • Women in America were excluded from serving on juries, an exclusion the Supreme Court unanimously upheld so as not to interfere with women’s functions as wives, homemakers, and mothers.
  • Women were excluded from high-level federal jobs, even when uniquely qualified.
  • Women were denied credit and mortgages unless they had a male cosigner.
  • Women were not allowed to teach in public schools if they became pregnant, and some school systems refused teaching jobs to married women.
  • Airline stewardesses were forced to resign when they got married or reached the age of 31.
  • Women rarely received tenured professorships, jobs in educational administration, or admission to law, business, engineering, architectural, or medical schools — on the grounds they would use up a seat that should be filled by a man.
  • Katharine Hebburn — considered daring for wearing slacks

    Women earned 58 cents on the dollar that men earned for the same work.

  • Fewer than 1 percent of judges were women.
  • Unless you were Katherine Hepburn, whose decision to wear trousers in public was daring, it was unthinkable that you would wear slacks, except in the privacy of your own home.

Surprising? Yes, indeed. Read this and so much more in Judith Nies’ THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND.

Learn from Past; Celebrate Progress

And remember: The battle for women’s equality is not over. We still have work to do, as evidenced by a newer cause for foment: The #MeToo” Movement. See one of my recent blogs on this topic.

Meanwhile, let’s celebrate what progress we’ve made toward women’s equality. As Loretta Lynn reminds us, we HAVE “come a long way, Baby” — and enjoy her music at the same time.

They’re calling this girl Jane Doe. That’s not her name. She’s from Central America, so let’s call her Juanita. She’s 17. She came to the U.S. illegally. By herself. The feds caught her, and imprisoned her in a federally-funded “shelter” for refugee children somewhere in Texas.

Margaret Sanger on self-determination

So here’s Juanita’s situation: She doesn’t speak English. She’s by herself. She’s pregnant. She’s been arrested and taken to that “shelter.” At 17.

She’s alone. No family. No friends. She realizes this truth: “I’m not ready to be a parent.” She has no one to confide in . . . except the people who are holding her captive. So this gutsy girl decides her best option is to get an abortion.

She tells her captors that. No way, they say. She manages to get in touch with the ACLU. They take her case. The judge rules in her favor: She has the legal right to get an abortion.  But her captors – the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement – defy the judge’s ruling. They first take her to a doctor who tries to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term, then to a “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” a religiously affiliated anti-abortion clinic where they, too, try to talk her out of it. The head of the refugee agency, E. Scott Lloyd – a strict anti-abortionist – flies out from Washington and tries to browbeat a teenager who realized that she wasn’t yet capable of being a good mother into giving birth against her will. He uses the power of his office to hold her captive, knowing that with each passing day, time would be against her.

My decision is between me and God . . .

Juanita doesn’t buckle. As she puts it, “I made my decision and that is between me and God.”

The ACLU elevates the case to the appeals court in Washington, D.C. That court tells the federal district court in Texas to issue an order requiring the Trump Administration to stop blocking Juanita, and permit her to go ahead.

In the end, Juanita gets her abortion. Her lawyer reports that she’s doing fine.

This girl is tough. Remember, she’s only 17. And alone! And in a foreign land! How many of us are strong enough to stick to our guns under such immense pressure?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Victory in Court: An Update on “Juanita Doe”

In a related class action suit at the end of March, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington upholds the ACLU’s case, rules the government’s action unconstitutional, and allows the class action suit to continue on behalf of any other pregnant immigrant held in federal custody.

Judge Chutkan rules that “ORR’s (Office of Refugee Resettlement) absolute veto nullifies a UC’s (unaccompanied child) right to make her own reproductive choices. ORR’s policies and practices infringe on female UC’s constitutional rights by effectively prohibiting them from ‘making the ultimate decision’ on whether or not to continue their pregnancy prior to viability — a quintessential undue burden.”

But the battle goes on: ORR’s director – E. Scott Lloyd, a political appointee – still has his job.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Abortion is no snap decision

For me, Juanita’s case strikes a raw nerve. Fifty-four years ago – 1964 – my girlfriend and I faced that same decision. We debated our options. We agonized. We kicked ourselves for our unbridled lust. We couldn’t sleep. We had nightmares and wild visions. We confided in close friends, weighed their advice. Like Juanita, we knew we weren’t ready to be parents. So, we decided to get an abortion. This was no snap judgment. The decision was gut-wrenching. Worse, we had to decide quickly. As my girlfriend so wryly observed, “This problem isn’t going to get any smaller.”

Abortion was against our upbringing and our religions. And, in 1964, it was illegal. There were no abortion clinics. We found a willing physician, but we had no idea how capable he was. What if he injured her? Or killed her? Women died from illegal abortions; we’d heard that. We worried ourselves sick, but we went ahead. We survived. And we knew we had made the right choice.

But we were 22 years old at the time. Imagine deciding that at 17. By yourself. In a foreign country. Juanita’s case infuriates me. I try to imagine how I would have reacted if some bureaucrat had had the power – and the gall – to force my girlfriend carry her pregnancy to term.

Separating Church and State

Equally galling in Juanita Doe’s case, E. Scott Lloyd tried to use the power of his office and his agency to impose his own religious code on Miss Juanita Doe. How dare he try to rip from this young woman – and dozens of others in his agency’s clutches – the right to control her own body!

Not only that, Lloyd continues to use his office to force his beliefs on other girls. He’s done it again: this time with a girl who was raped and who said she would rather kill herself than carry her pregnancy to term. Last week, the ACLU filed another suit against Lloyd and his use of the federal agency to enforce his personal religious beliefs on vulnerable girls.

This is government and religious intolerance run amuck. And unfortunately, we don’t know how many other minors may have fallen victim to this man’s religious crusade – the agency doesn’t announce them. The ACLU has had to ferret them out one at a time.

Thankfully, we have the federal appeals court – and the ACLU – to protect our civil rights.

For more details on this case, see https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-lloyd-blocked-abortion-memo_us_5a3c1f45e4b06d1621b30381— Terry

So who is E. Scott Lloyd?

 Since March 2017, E. Scott Lloyd has been director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency in the federal government’s Office of Health and Human Services. That office is in charge of detained unaccompanied refugee minors.

Mr. Scott has no experience in managing an office, let alone an agency that has some 5,000 minors under its care. He has no experience in resettlement, or any training in medical care or counseling. What he does have is a history of anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive advocacy.

His professional background: a law degree from Catholic University of America; work as an attorney for Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and service organization; and work for LegalWorks Apostolate, a group that provides legal representation and counsel “while remaining faithful to Church teaching.”

Learn more about Mr. Scott at

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/10/26/the-trump-official-who-tried-to-stop-a-detained-immigrant-from-getting-an-abortion/?utm_term=.3f188075a44b

Sexual offense. Reports are infecting the airwaves, the print media, and cyberspace like the plague: Every week, one or two or more new cases. No man seems immune. In recent history, we’ve witnessed the drip-drip-drip of revelations first about Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court nominee, then justice . . . and later, Bill Clinton, the President of the United States, for goodness sake . . . more recently, Bill Cosby, America’s favorite latter-day dad crawled out of a notorious past . . . and eventually we were truly stunned to overhear then-Candidate Donald Trump brag about his sexploits and his “right” to grab women by the pu**y. These men have all gotten away with it – so far – with minor smirches on their reputations.

Harvey Weinstein and sexual offense?

A critical mass stood together

But then? Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates once a critical mass of women – victims of his sexual offenses – stood together and brought down an icon in the film business, a man who wielded great power over their careers. His own company fired him.

More women stood strong, and more well-known men fell: Actor Kevin Spacey; Screen Writer and Director James Toback; Actor Ben Affleck; ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin; NPR Editor Michael Oreskes; Louis C.K.; Charlie Rose; Matt Lauer; and Al Franken and Garrison Keillor, even! In addition, Roy Moore, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, and in late 2017, an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, has been accused of hustling teenage girls when he was in his 30s, subjecting them to his brand of unwanted attentions.

Too many men to keep track of. Too many sexual offenses to wrap our heads around. Where do we go from here? Some men, and yes, some women, may be scratching their heads at a big change in the social order. They may be cringing at their own behavior of years gone by, and hoping that what they did in the past won’t destroy their future.

Where do we draw the line on sexual offense?

They may worry about lesser sexual offenses, like repeated “accidental” touching, or leering, or raunchy jokes, maybe even sloppy stolen kisses – behavior that probably isn’t illegal but it demeans and humiliates women, and is just plain disgusting. Others may even wonder about innocent hugs of congratulations over a grand accomplishment.

Moving in for a kiss

How about a smooch, Baby?

Some men may be asking, Where do we draw the line? Am I supposed to wear a scarlet letter on my shirt for life? Do I have to atone for a minor sexual offense committed years ago, when we operated under different mores? If I acknowledge sexual offense, am I inviting lawsuits and un-employability?

The answers? It all depends. Different victims and different offenses should call for different solutions.

Let’s put ourselves in “Ready” mode to respond to future unwanted attentions. Start by visualizing a past aggression or a current uneasiness with a business associate. Define and articulate for yourself the line in the sand a man should not cross. Is it dirty jokes, suggestive behavior, touching, or something else? What would you say to someone who crossed the line with you? What do you want from the offender to make things right?

If you need to, write your thoughts down, practice them with a sympathetic friend, then pop them in your toolkit. You are now ready and armed.

I’m thinking back on a case of my own, when Dr. James Edwards, President of the Medical University of South Carolina, wound up a meeting on nuclear waste with me by using a handshake to yank me to him and jab his tongue in my mouth. Here’s what I would say to Jim Edwards – if he were still alive (he’s not).

Message to the Ghost of Jim Edwards – and to MUSC

  1. Where to draw the line? French-kissing a woman in a professional meeting is never, ever okay. It is a sexual assault. If your mother didn’t teach you that, it’s only because she didn’t think you would do something so stupid, offensive, and disgusting.
  2. Am I labeled for life? Not necessarily. People change. You must apologize – genuinely – and demonstrate that you have changed.
  3. Do I have to atone for that one little kiss? Yes, definitely.
  4. How? As I told you in my 1995 letter, I want an apology from you – a sincere one, in which you take responsibility for what you did – plus a commitment that you will not foist yourself on other women in the future.
Haunted by past deeds

Apologize! . . .APOLOGIZE!

And now, because you have waited so long to come clean, I want you to make a public, heartfelt apology, one that doesn’t make excuses or try to justify your behavior, to all the women against whom you have committed a sexual offense, plus I want a public commitment that you will not prey on any more women. Ever again.

More importantly, I want an apology from the MUSC Board of Directors that accepts its own responsibility for enabling your offensive behavior to continue while you worked for them, for ignoring my letter – and for your enabling behavior – for at least 23 years.

Further, I want the University to undertake a program to rein in sexual predators, both on the faculty and staff and among the student body.

Yes, the University should apologize for and rein in its predators. It, too, is culpable. It needs to recognize how pervasive sexual harassment is in our society, and embrace its role in stopping it.

Onward – Toward Peace and Reconciliation!

These steps would bring me peace and reconciliation – yes, reconciliation. I would be happy to throw this memory in the trash heap, satisfied that steps are being taken to protect future potential victims. This plague will never end until we create a major, sustained peace and reconciliation movement, rooted in and spreading from the workplaces of our most infamous predators.


Visit my previous blog, “Et Tu, Brute? Our Sexual Misconduct Conundrum” at http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/et-tu-brute-sexu…onduct-conundrum/

Sexual conduct? "No!" the mother lion roared.Sexual misconduct? Say it’s not so! When U.S. Sen. Al Franken and then Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor were outed for sexual misconduct in November 2017 by new accusers, my inner lioness roared, “No! It can’t be!” I wanted to race into the fray, snatch them out of danger. Me. The Zero Tolerance woman, the “Kick’em in the nuts” gal.

“These men are different!” I wanted to shout. “And these are ‘lesser’ offenses. And where’s our good old American due process? And . . .” In short, it was bound to happen: Someone I hold in high regard would get caught up in the sexual misconduct feeding frenzy of #MeToo. It pulled me up short. Should everyone be judged by the same standards – or are criminal, immoral, and raunchy really different from one another? How do we judge?

Garrison KeillorBut I didn’t know whether these men were actually different, not for a fact. In addition, I hadn’t objected to the summary dismissals of the many accused men who had preceded them. My discomfort around these new accusations grew after The Washington Post revealed an organization that tried to run a sting operation by planting a fake story about Roy Moore that could then be used to embarrass the newspaper.

So, how can we tell what’s true and right and what’s not? Or what’s criminal and what’s “merely” immoral, or in bad taste, or just plain stupid? And where does raunchy fit? Should we establish different standards for different types of sexual misconduct?

Roy MooreBut if we hesitate, if we wait for the slow grind of justice, does that leave the predators free to prey on other women? Shouldn’t we hold our public officials and our media to a higher standard? Shouldn’t we work quickly to protect young girls from child molesters? What if the sexual misconduct was a one-off . . . or happened decades ago? My head spins with questions.

Judging Sexual Misconduct: Balancing Protection and Fairness

In the end, I conclude, not all sexual misconduct offenses are equal. Nor should we apply the same remedies to all who commit them. Still, we need to act quickly: We must interrupt their predatory behavior.

But nowadays, my more cautious self has ginned up what I think of as an “outrage scale” – a set of filters that help me judge whether to be outraged – and how much – as each new set of sexual misconduct allegations comes up.

So these are my preliminary thoughts. Readers are invited to contribute their own ideas – and, if you wish, assign weights according to the seriousness of the offense. For my purposes, these factors give me a way to talk about sexual offense. It would be interesting to see whether we would have generational differences about what amounts to sexual misconduct – though we all would probably agree that it has been around for centuries. Nevertheless, we would probably conclude that mores about what is “normal” have changed over the years. The next section lists a number of factors I would consider in evaluating a case of sexual misconduct – and the perpetrator.

First Cut at a “Sexual Misconduct Outrage Scale”

  • Offensiveness. Was the act illegal, immoral, nasty, bad manners, or just “wrong” enough to make a woman or girl uncomfortable?
  • Injury. Was it physical, verbal, emotional, or financial? Did it involve threats, bullying, sex talk, stalking, or financial loss? Was the victim exposed to pornography, naked body parts, or other lewdness?
  • Numbers of victims. How many victims have come forward with their stories? What pattern emerges over time?
  • Victims’ ages and physical or mental capabilities. Were any victims under-age, elderly, physically or mentally disabled, and if so, how many?
  • Power imbalance. Was the perpetrator an employer, supervisor, boss, client, adviser, law enforcement officer, or in some other position of power over the victim?
  • Location. Did the incident(s) occur in a school, church, office, public park, home, jail?
  • Aggravating circumstances. Did the perpetrator use force, kidnap the victim, make threats against the victim if she/he tells anyone?
  • Perpetrator’s response. Did he deny the accusation(s), destroy evidence, verbally attack, humiliate, or threaten the victim, sue, enter a settlement agreement and require a non-disclosure requirement?
  • Do we need a hypocrisy meter for sexual misconduct?

    Hypocrisy meter

    Hypocrisy. Was the perpetrator in a position of religious or community or medical or legal trust? What has the perpetrator said publicly – in the media, in the locker room, from the pulpit, from an elected office – about his or other people’s sexual misconduct? Has he apologized to the victim, made a real apology that takes responsibility for his actions? What has he done to make things right for the victim and for other people who have trusted him?

  • When did the offense occur? Was it prior to 1950, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, or more recently? Have social mores around sexual misconduct changed over time? Does it matter? If so, how?

Figured out your Outrage? Now What?

Take a deep breath. It’s time to stop decrying sexual offenders: Let’s confront them. What would you say to your perpetrator? See my answer in my next blog. – Ann Marshall


Watch for my next blog: #MeToo-5:Sexual Offense? Let’s Arm Ourselves

 Check my previous blog: #YouToo? Sexual Assault: What We Must Do

# YouToo. Yes, you: Victims. Friends. Family. Bystanders. Men. Women. Let’s join forces to stop sexual assault. It’s too pervasive to vanquish alone.

It has been 22 years, and I still haven’t let it go, my sexual assault by Dr. James Edwards. See # MeToo-1: Memories Still Haunt, http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt/.

At the time of the assault, I reported him to two managers in my chain of command, to my employer’s HR director and legal counsel, to my Department of Energy client and to the local DOE person responsible for addressing sexual assault. Did # YouToo?

In addition, I wrote Edwards himself, asked for an apology and a commitment to stop harassing women. More importantly, my employer’s counsel wrote to the Board of Directors of the Medical University of South Carolina, asked for an investigation. The reports, the letters all led to dead ends: No action. Did any of this happen to # YouToo?

Then, I tried a new approach. With the Bob Packwood scandal still in the national rearview mirror, I submitted a query for an article in Newsweek’s “My Turn” column. I waited, watched my in-box. No response.

Then, twenty-some years later, after the Planet Hollywood video, I submitted queries for an op-ed to The New York Times, to The Washington Post, and to The Las Vegas Sun. Once again, no response. Not one.

For the most part, I eventually tried to let it drop. My assailant was too prominent, surrounded by too many protectors. I was spending too much emotional energy on dead end streets. Maybe this happened to # YouToo?

But twenty-plus years later, as I listened to Donald Trump deny the validity of that 2005 Access Hollywood tape; and to Roy Moore spout his overheated self-righteous indignation, memories of that October afternoon in Jim Edwards’ office washed over me like fetid sewer water.

# YouToo: Let’s Stop Sexual Assault Wherever It Rears Its Head

Men, # YouToo: Tell predators real men don't assault women

# YouToo: Say Zero Tolerance

I extend my arms, wrap them around victims, supporters, and everyone who cares — yes, #YouToo. Together, we must stop their behavior, their so-called “locker room talk” with Zero Tolerance: No unwanted touching or kissing. No suggestive commentary on women’s looks. No bragging about sexual exploits, real or phony. Not at work. Not at school or on college campuses. Not at parties. Not in the locker room. Not on broadcast or social media. Not anywhere. Not by our bosses, our co-workers, even among “the guys.” Zero Tolerance. In addition, let’s protect the invisible women, the farm workers, the hotel housekeepers, the culinary staff, the manufacturing line workers. If it stinks like sexual assault, it is not okay. If you see it or hear it, call them out.

Yes, # YouToo! Sexual Assault Is Not a By-stander Sport

To voters, and to boards of directors and CEOs and managers, I say: Zero Tolerance. Look at the patterns. Pay attention to the behavior of trash-talkers – their mouths and their actions – and to complaints about them. Don’t be handcuffed by considering – or ignoring – each accuser separately. When two or three or five or nine women come forward, recognize you may have a predator on your hands, someone not fit to govern or manage. Someone you don’t want in a position of leadership or responsibility or in your workplace. Give him a fair hearing, yes, but listen to the accusers. And don’t let it drag on. If the evidence warrants, tell him, “You’re fired.”

To the wives, girlfriends, mothers, and acquaintances of these men, I say: # YouToo. Zero Tolerance. Shut down their “boy talk.” Don’t laugh at off-color jokes. Don’t hide it to protect the family reputation. Sexual assault is not an embarrassment. It’s a danger, perhaps even to your own family.

To men in the locker room, the workplace, the bar: # YouToo. Establish a Zero Tolerance Zone. Tell these predators that real men don’t assault women, or brag that they do. And I say, Thank you, to men who have already spoken up, like ten-year NBA veteran Marcus Banks, who said, “Having spent my career in and out of locker rooms, it is insulting for Trump to try to bring male athletes to his level of misogyny . . . His statements are admissions of sexual assault and predatory behavior against women, and they should not be glossed over or excused,” (LV Sun, October 14, 2016; http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/oct/14/at-unlv-or-in-nba-locker-rooms-are-not-a-haven-for/).

But What If You Are a Victim?

And to victims, I say: Be watchful. Don’t be bamboozled by their self-serving attentions, flattery, or tempting promises. You have more to lose than they do. Prepare yourself mentally to make a scene. This is especially important if you are non-violent, like me. Is he assaulting you physically? Scream. Kick. Bite. Punch. Slap. Use your knee where it hurts. Call the police.

Is it a pattern of unwanted behavior? Leud innuendos? Raunchy jokes? Too-close whispers in your ear? Trash-talking? A hand on your shoulder, edging downward? A brush against your thigh, buttocks, or breasts? Or an overt transgression: A blatant proposition? An eagerness to show you porn? Sneaking up, pinning you against the wall or the copy machine? Grabbing your breasts or buttocks? A forced kiss? A hand up your skirt? Exposing himself? Whip out your cell, use it as a camera: Take photos of his exposed parts or his porn. And use it as a recorder: Capture his spoken words – and yours.

# YouToo: Type, write by hand, draw pictures, take photos

# YouToo: Always, ALWAYS capture every detail

And always, ALWAYS document the pattern: Keep a log. Write down every detail as soon as possible after each incident – time, place, specific actions and words. Become a witness: Keep your eyes open for similar harassment of your co-workers. Record them as well.

Yes, # YouToo. Tell others. Join forces with other victims. Support each other. Call it what it is: sexual assault. Publicize their names and faces. The goal: Zero Tolerance.

To Women Who Have Stuck your Necks Out, I Thank # YouToo.

Nowadays, I don’t dwell on Jim Edwards’ assault on me. He died three years ago, and I’ve lived a happy, productive life. But when I see women attacked and dismissed for telling their stories, for speaking truth to lies, I cannot be an impassive bystander. So today, I salute the growing list of women who have dared to tell their stories of sexual assault. What you have done takes tremendous courage and fortitude. Let’s all move forward together.

And let’s all tell our stories to our families, our friends, and the world. Do it here. Do it now. # YouToo. It’s a first step.

Ann Marshall

Next time: “# MeToo-4: Et Tu, Brute? The Sexual Assault Conundrum”

See previous blogs: “#MeToo-2: Why Women Don’t Report” at http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-2-women-dont-report-sexual-assault/, and “#MeToo-1: Memories still haunt. http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt/

Sexual assault? Yep, # MeToo. My encounter with Dr. James Edwards is not unique. (See Part One of this blog, http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt). Many of us have been subjected to “lesser” sexual assault, the kinds that leave no physical trace. Often, we are reluctant to come forward, to **out** the perpetrator. Too many others of us have tried, and we have been dismissed and ignored. Read on . . .

Reporting Sexual Assault: Stymied at Every Turn

In my hotel room the evening of Jim Edwards’ sexual assault, I wrote down every detail. In the following weeks, I went on to tell my story to two colleagues, my managers at the next two levels above me, my employer’s HR director, our corporate counsel, my Department of Energy client, and my attorney brother-in-law. Good moves, apparently, all of these. Contemporaneous documentation and reporting, even to my friends, I’ve discovered only recently, can bolster cases where no physical, digital, or eyewitness evidence exists. Everyone I told was incensed. They tried to help. Nothing worked.

I even told my story to Jim Edwards’ niece, who was married to one of my South Carolina colleagues. She, too, was outraged, said her aunt had had to put up with his behavior for years. But, she added, she would do whatever it took to protect her aunt from any public embarrassment. So that was it: No help there.

My employer’s counsel wrote to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Medical University of South Carolina. No response. We considered legal action but my lawyer’s contacts in the Charleston legal community told him no one had been able to make any charges stick on Edwards, even though his behavior was well known.

In the end, like so many women, I let it drop. Dr. Edwards was too prominent, too connected. And I was spending too much time and emotional energy on dead end streets.

For the all-too-typical woman, the aftermath of sexual assault may be worse. Her assailant may attack her integrity. Vilify her. Threaten, bully, intimidate her. Humiliate and ridicule her. Fire or demote her. The weapons? Denial, innuendo, lies and half-truths, character assassination, lawsuits, subpoenas, blacklists. Wealth or celebrity may enable him to dispatch his minions to dig up and trumpet details of her private life, to drag out legal proceedings, to bleed her dry financially and emotionally as she defends herself against these new assaults. These violations leave their own scars, which flare up when other perpetrators are exposed in the endless news cycle, assaulting more women, bragging about or denying their exploits – or both.

In the past, the perpetrators have mostly gotten away with it. In the she said-he denied dispute, what HE said typically has carried more weight.

Take Heart: Here’s a Ray of Hope

But things are changing! Although Bill Cosby is still walking around free, his victims broke the lock on silence and took him to trial. Then Harvey Weinstein’s victims opened the floodgates after a band of sisters bravely refused to be ignored, and brought down an icon in the film business. His own company fired him. More women stood strong, and more well-known men began to fall.

I laud the courageous women who have gone public with their stories, who have put men everywhere on notice that we will be silent no longer. We need to demonstrate that we mean it – sexual misconduct against others is WRONG, and potentially a CRIME, whether it’s the President of the United States, or a miscreant uncle the family has tried to reform – or ignore – for years.

Ann Marshall

January 3, 2018

Next time: “# MeToo-3. What We Must Do”

See previous blog: “# MeToo-1. Memories Still Haunt, http://terryannmarshall.com/uncensored/metoo-1-memories-still-haunt/.

In the 1960s, # MeToo was unimagined. But when the French doors of Women’s Liberation and the Sexual Revolution cracked open, a number of my pals – guys and gals – skipped joyously into the meadows of unfettered sexual freedom, thanks to The Pill. Not me. I lingered at the doors – not inside, but not outside, either – thinking something wasn’t quite right. I now wonder whether our new “freedom” has contributed somehow to the astonishing rash of accusations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault that seem rampant half a century later. Are we reaping the rewards of medical advances, our achievement of greater equality, and our uninhibited response?

In the era of # MeToo, I now wonder: What is sexual assault? Growing up in the 1960s, my mental image conjured up violence, fists, force, rape. Then we were warned about date rape: Drugs slipped into a drink, with a sick man mounting a woman as if she were his blow-up doll. Fast forward through scandals by the likes of Wilbur Mills, Clarence Thomas, Bob Packwood, and Bill Clinton in the second half of the 20th Century: They seemed like one-offs – not the norm.

But then, in 2014, details of Bill Cosby’s use of rape drugs over the years oozed into public view. Next came Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood video and accusations against him: Slobbery uninvited kisses, a tongue thrust into a woman’s mouth, a hand jabbed up her skirt to her crotch – kiss, grab, bump, and run. No violence. No proof. Just shocking invasion of a woman’s dignity. And indelible memories.

These images have seized my mind the past year – thanks to Trump’s bragging about sexual assaults he had committed because he’s “a star” . . . followed by his non-apologies. . . followed by denial he had ever committed these acts . . . followed by the women who countered his denials, who said # MeToo . . . followed by his attacks on their truths, their integrity, their looks. He suggested they made up their stories for a few minutes of fame.

This I know: Few women, if any, would willingly invite that kind of attention, especially given his threats and boorish behavior.

And now, a year later, he has out-Trumped himself, claiming the Planet Hollywood tape was a forgery.

Little did I realize Trump in 2016 represented a tiny tip of the iceberg of revelations to follow in 2017, with the fall of icons in entertainment, media, and politics, and the rise of the # MeToo movement.

All these salacious stories and the denials have resurrected my own experience with sexual assault, an encounter for which I sought redress for a year before I locked it, 20 years ago, in a cell so deep I thought it would never escape. But it’s back, saying # MeToo, demanding to be told.

MUSC President

Dr. James Edwards

# MeToo: Nothing Sexy about Spent Nuclear Fuel

On October 3, 1995, in Charleston, SC, I met for 75 minutes with Dr. James Edwards, President of the Medical University of South Carolina. He greeted me warmly when I arrived – then planted a wet kiss on my cheek! I stiffened, but chalked it up to Southern culture, and resisted the urge to wipe my cheek off. It seemed rude. Besides, I didn’t want to spread his slobber to my hand. We settled in for a chat on the progress of interviews my team and I had been conducting around the state on the prospect receiving foreign spent nuclear fuel there. I also had my antennae up for other potential business opportunities between the University and my employer, Advanced Sciences, Inc.

Cordial meeting concluded, I rose to leave. He grasped my shoulders, pulled me to him, kissed me on the mouth, and jabbed his tongue between my teeth. I reared back. He tried to do it again. I pulled away. No! Not # MeToo!

Did I scream? Make a scene? Slap his face? No, of course not. I’m a professional, and he was a client. Besides, I was alone with this man in his office. And I’m not a violent person.

As I evaded him, he purred, “You’re an appealing gal.” I dashed into the women’s room, scrubbed my face. Gulped water. Spat it out. Fled.

Dr. Edwards was a prominent American leader. A former South Carolina Governor and former U.S. Secretary of Energy, he was educated. Well-spoken. Informed. And connected.

# MeToo, a 50-something consultant?

Ann Marshall

I was 53 years old, 5’5”, 114 pounds, with untamed Orphan Annie curls. I first met Dr. Edwards when I flew to Charleston to moderate a government meeting on spent nuclear fuel. Afterwards, we chatted briefly about the problem of foreign spent fuel, and he encouraged me to meet with him on my next visit to Charleston. He was at the top of the hierarchy of our client’s organization; I saw it as an invitation to explore further business opportunities for my employer with the University.

Two days after his assault, he called me. “I want to take you out for a drink tonight,” he said. My stomach convulsed. My mind recoiled. I was stunned, suddenly fearful that a “wrong move” might undermine my employer’s contract with the University. I stuttered that I didn’t want a “relationship” with him. “That’s up to you, darlin’,” he said, adding that’s exactly what he wanted. My hand shook. I hung up. Then I double-checked the lock on my hotel room door. I couldn’t sleep that night. And I never returned to Charleston. I still won’t.

Ann Marshall

December 20, 2017

Next time: “# MeToo-2: Why Women Don’t Report”

old photoJose Rizal isn’t an author you run into every day. Nor is his 1891 novel, El Filibusterismo, at the top of today’s best seller lists. But there he was, in sepia grandeur, on this book review site, Bookingly Yours How could I not be intrigued?

The bogger, Jenai, is a Filipina mom (kids aged 6 and 3) who says she enjoys reading “paranormal romance, horror and young adult books.” She read El Filibusterismo and Rizal’s first book, Noli me Tangere, in high school. (Rizal is required reading in the Philippines. He’s a national hero, having been executed by the Spanish for his novels, which excoriate colonialism and sound the cry for independence.)

Penguin Classics published a new English edition of El Filibusterismo in 2011. Good for Penguin! And good for Jenai – the work is a far cry from the paranormal romance, horror, and young adult genres. It’s hard-core revolution artfully articulated; you feel the oppression and suffering imposed by Spain.

I was looking for bloggers to review my own novel, Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights, when I found Bookingly Yours. Jenai’s review of El Filibusterismo sent me on a trip into fond memories:

From college to the Philippines

terry and alma dancing

Terry dancing tinikling between clapping bamboo poles, with Ms. Alma Aletin

After college and a year on a newspaper, I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines. That experience changed my life. I went as a journalist and came back convinced I would spend my life in international development. I went back to college, got a master’s degree in rural development, then moved into the Mexican-American barrio in my rural Colorado hometown and set out to fight the discrimination and poverty I’d been blind to growing up.

I got some things done, but mostly I got my butt kicked. So I went back to grad school. I spent three years trying to figure out why I hadn’t changed the world. I studied . . . analyzed . . . even made trips home to interview my old enemies so I could understand our battles from their points of view. Then I wrote a three-volume dissertation on how community change happens – or doesn’t happen.

A comprehensive work . . . but something was missing

My work won me a PhD from Cornell University . . . but it didn’t show what poverty and prejudice feel like, or the frustrations in the day-to-day nitty gritty of battling history . . . or all the little “irrelevancies” that get in the way – like family feuds and love affairs and personal quirks and stupidities. So I rethought the whole thing. I invented a town and a set of fictional characters who go well beyond my own experiences.

The result: my novel, Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights. It tells a rollicking coming of age tale that weaves love, sex, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 Birmingham campaign into the previously untold story of a Mexican-American community’s battle for civil rights. It confronts those topics our mothers told us to steer clear of in polite company: sex… religion… politics… racial conflict.

But more than that, it’s the real story of what happens when you try to change a tiny corner of the world. It shows that fiction really can speak to the truth more accurately than real life.

Soda Springs: stories of colliding cultures

Like all my work, Soda Springs probes a world where men and women of different cultures collide. They struggle with loneliness, misunderstanding, anger, confusion, conflict, hatred, at times violence. They rejoice in insights sparked by cross-cultural friendships. They fall in love, satiate their libidos, suffer from their excesses. At times, they’re comic or silly or embarrassing, and sometimes, infuriating. They let us in on their innermost thoughts – and we agonize as they cope with the pickles they get themselves into.

Their fictional stories entertain, enlighten, and, we hope, give pause for thought. All fiction should do at least that, no?

Thanks, Jenai, for reminding me of what an impact the Philippines has been in my own life. Probably wouldn’t have been a Soda Springs without those two years in Leyte.

The Help — Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, June 11, 1963:

In The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s acclaimed novel, this has been a long, tough day for Aibileen, a maid and the book’s primary protagonist. She’s kept late at work. She catches the last bus, but it stops unexpectedly — something’s up, a disturbance ahead. The driver makes the two “colored” passengers get off. It’s after midnight. Aibileen’s frightened. She heads to her friend Minny’s house instead of home. She stumbles in. The radio’s blaring. Minny’s five kids are still up, huddled around the scratchy radio with their mother.

Then comes the horrible news: Medgar Evers, local head of the NAACP had been shot . . . on his front doorstep in sight of his wife, Myrlie and their three kids.

Life Magazine Myrlie Evers sonThey listen on. The announcer says Medgar Evers has died.

Evers’ assassination sparked outrage in Jackson and around the country. Like children being assaulted with police dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, the photo of Myrlie Evers and their son at her husband’s funeral became an iconic image documenting a long, hot summer of Civil Rights events.

The nation followed Evers’ funeral train from Jackson to Washington D.C. where Medgar was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. President Kennedy invited Myrlie to the White House. She was on the cover of Life Magazine.

Up to this point, The Help is a story of maids in Jackson — the national Civil Rights Movement only briefly alluded to in an occasional passing sentence. But Medgar Evers is a local, and his murder a personal tragedy: Aibileen knows Medgar’s wife Myrlie; they had met in church.

With Medgar’s death, The Help takes on a larger message . . . Aibileen and Minny realize they, too, have a role to play in the greater Civil Rights Movement. It cements their resolve to cooperate with Skeeter to tell the stories of black maids working for white families.


 

Meanwhile, out in rural Colorado, in my novel, Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights, Rick Sanders doesn’t learn of Evers’ murder until Saturday, June 15. It’s a tiny story about the funeral, buried on page 11 of the Denver Post.

Rick doesn’t know Medgar Evers, nor Myrlie , not personally, but he knows of him. He had heard Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth preach in Birmingham, Alabama, over spring break in April. He had met Dr. King face-to-face at 16th Street Baptist Church. He had committed his summer to preaching MLK’s message to his hometown.

The Denver Post article convinces Rick and his buddy, Ginny Sue (soon to be lovers), their plan to lecture on Negro poverty in Ginny’s youth class at United Methodist tomorrow morning is crazy –- way too boring for high school kids. They gin up a better idea: bring Medgar Evers’ murder into Sunday School, vividly and forcefully. They’ll reenact it as a skit. That will get the kids’ attention . . . then they can use it to explore racism and discrimination and civil rights

drama at sunday schoolSunday morning, June 16: Rick and Ginny do their skit -– Rick as Medgar and Ginny as assassin, complete with Ginny’s father’s 30-30! The high school kids go wild. Discussion ensues.

But Soda Springs goes berserk –- a rifle in church? My God! In that instant, Rick’s and Ginny Sue’s summer project suffers blows from which they will never recover. Their lives change; the novel changes course.

Same thing in The Help: when Minny and Aibileen react to Medgar Evers’ death as both personal loss and a blow to the national Civil Rights Movement, they commit themselves to Skeeter’s project. In a way, they succeed: they get their book written, and published; Skeeter takes off for a new career with a publishing house in New York City.

In Jackson, life will never be the same for Minny and Aibileen. Nor will it for Rick and Ginny Sue.

Medgar Evers death continues to reverberate through the decades . . . even in fiction.

I seem to be obsessing over The Help. I can’t help it.

What intrigues me today are these arrows and brickbats (as well as worn-out shoes and busted sinks) that keep getting hurled over the fence at The Help . . . both the novel and the movie.

What puzzles me is why some folks insist on denying the value of women’s stories, whether they be black maids, housewives, or, as in Soda Springs, a potato shed worker and a store clerk.

Some recent examples:

  • One guy says Viola Davis as Aibileen is like Hattie McDaniel as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939 Oscar for best supporting actress). Black women today should be beyond taking roles like that, he says; haven’t we progressed in 70 years? (More on this later.)
  • Another says The Help dignifies maids . . . that Blacks should aspire to better stations in life; that we need to promote “better” role models. (What, are maids beneath us? )
  • One says the book denigrates black men . . . but at the same time, he says the book ignores them. (I can’t win on that one!)
  • And the most unkindly cut of all: the author is a white woman . . . how dare she write a story of black maids in Mississippi in the early ‘60s; that this is a story that needs to be written by a black woman. (Maybe so. Let’s hope someone tries her hand at it . . . but it won’t be The Help; it will be a different book. Better? Maybe. Maybe not. )

Let’s be clear: The Help is a story about women. Forget the men –- they’re wallpaper, both the blacks and the whites. Suck it up, men. Our stories lie elsewhere.

If anyone ought to be offended by these characters, though, it ought to be young white Southern wives. In The Help, they’re all beautiful and well-off and as shapely as models. But Hilly is a blatant racist, vindictive and viperous. All her associates and Celia are air-heads. I can’t imagine that author Kathryn Stockett thinks all Southern white women are so vacuous. They’re not; she’s not describing all women, just these women.

But The Help isn’t a women’s lib tract. Nor is it the story of the Civil Rights Movement or an exhaustive treatise of racism and its horrible effects on black Americans. Nor is it a paean to “The Women of Civil Rights”: Rosa Parks or Fanny Lou Hammer or Vivian Malone and Charlayne Hunter (the first black women enrolled and graduated from the Universities of Alabama and Georgia respectively).

Actually, The Help is a story about two black women, Aibileen and Minny, both maids, and a young white woman, Skeeter, who draws them into a book project that unveils the maids’ perspectives on their lives and exposes the racist structure of life in Jackson, Mississippi.

Aibileen and Minny are ordinary, hard-working, long-suffering women who struggle through life working in one of the few positions open to them; they are the working poor. Skeeter is a young women trying to find herself –- not as a white savior come home to lead the blacks to the promised land. Skeeter doesn’t speak for the black maids at all; she pursues a vehicle that allows all three of them to express their own voices.

Unlike the women in the novel Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights –- Lupe Sandoval, Concha Montoya, and even Ginny Bennett –- Aibileen and Minny don’t march forcefully into the movement with trumpets blaring and heads held high.

What they do is demonstrate a quiet resolution that they, too, can take action to further the cause –- merely by telling their stories. Such women were vital to the Civil Rights Movement: Lupe and Concha for Mexican-Americans; Aibileen and Minny for blacks.

None of these women change the world in these novels, but they hint at it. And all of them grow as the result of their efforts. That’s what makes good stories. That’s why we like them so much.

In the end, The Help does turn out to be a Civil Rights story, as is Soda Springs. What do you think . . . do these novels ring true or not?

The Help BookLet’s toast The Help and author Kathryn Stockett’s success. OK . . . now let’s drink to Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, Celia and the whole cast of the movie for bringing Kathryn’s creations visually to life. As a chaser, let’s down a grand old sherry for all these winners, both on the bookshelves and the big screen. Here’s why:

  • As a movie, The Help pulled in a boatload of trophies from film festivals and critics associations, including Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild, and four Oscar nominations.
  • The movie earned $205 million (as of February 5) on an investment of $25 million. Not a bad return; we’d take those winnings here in Las Vegas.
  • The book has sold more than 5 million copies. It spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller’s list. This was Kathryn Stockett’s first novel! What a phenom, the kind of success most of us writers only dream about.

We should all celebrate The Help. Here’s why:

  • It plunges us into a slice of Black life in Jackson, Mississippi, 1962 to early ’64. Those were ugly times for Black Americans . . . especially in the segregated South.
  • It reminds us why we needed the Civil Rights Movement: segregation, exploitation, the daily struggle of Blacks eking out a living in the face of daily denigration and racism.
  • It focuses on women long ignored: maids trying to do their jobs –- not Civil Rights leaders or movement gurus . . . simply decent women trying to survive.
  • It takes an implausible protagonist –- a young white woman, a local, who risks her standing to tell the story of maids in Jackson –- and tells their stories both through her eyes and theirs.
  • By only hinting at the Civil Rights Movement swirling around them, the story focuses the reader (and viewer) on the daily lives of its characters . . . and forces us to draw on –- or develop — our own Civil Rights context for their individual struggles.

Key Civil Rights events took place in the years covered in The Help. They pass by fleetingly in both the book and the movie: the Freedom Riders in 1961; and a host of events in 1963 — the spring Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Medgar Evers’ murder on June 11, MLK and the March on Washington on Aug. 28, the murder of the four girls at 16th Street Baptist in Birmingham on Sept. 15, JFK’s assassination on Nov. 22.

Kathryn Stockett easily could have wandered down any of those paths. By choosing not to, she has honed a story of people we care about . . . and we get a Civil Rights story previously untold, but cast in a larger context that readers themselves must bring to the story.

Those are some of the reasons I like The Help. But I also have a dark little secret: I’m in love with Kathryn Stockett. We’re kindred souls. She’s white, and she dares not only to write about Blacks, but to write a number of chapters from the viewpoints of Black maids. Whew, how some critics have howled about that!

In my novel, Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights, I write about an even lesser known Civil Rights Movement of the Sixties –- the beginnings of a Mexican-American struggle for justice in Soda Springs, Colorado. I’m white, too, (or Anglo, as we say in Colorado) not Mexican-American. I, too, have chapters written from the viewpoint of Mexican-American characters.

We had no other choice; we tell more rounded stories that way.

Good for you, Kathryn: let the narrow-minded critics rave on.

The Wall CalexicoBefore I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out.
~ Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Calexico is an afterthought. My wife and I are on our way home to Las Vegas from San Diego and we want to see the Salton Sea from its western shores.

But we got waylaid in Jacumba by The Wall, that great monument to American anti-social engineering that stretches across the desert from San Diego and keeps Mexico on its side of the border.

The Wall in Jacumba’s back yard is the essence of rural. It’s out-of-the way, off in the desert, a rusty scratch in the distance. We wonder, “Do you suppose it’s like this in the city?” We can’t resist. We speed back to I-8, barrel into El Centro, take CA-111 and head for the border. Mexicali here we come!

Calexico. Say it out loud . . . fit your lips around the soft, erotic hiss in the middle, the bookended clicks at beginning and end. Calexico: it exudes intrigue, mystery, romance.

And Mexicali – that’s the Mexican city across the border– equally as romantic. Every time I say it, I hear Gene Autry singing “Mexicali Rose.” I’ve always wanted to meet that girl; she’s gorgeous, I’m sure of it.

Fascinating names, Calexico and Mexicali. So sonorous, so rhythmic, so. . . matched, as if . . . oh, my goodness . . . I just realized they’re not only neighbors, they’re sisters . . . both from the same roots, reverse images of the same portmanteau – California-Mexico all squished together into a single name; on the other side, Mexico-California smushed into one word. Like one town that happens to straddle an international border. Who knew?

Whoa, CA-111 is about to disappear into Mexico. Huge signs warn us. The highway narrows. High fences close in. We’ve been to Tijuana and Juarez, never Mexicali. But we know what lies ahead: humorless border guards, sniffer dogs, endless lines of idling cars, exhaust-saturated air.

We zip left at the last possible moment and find ourselves in downtown Calexico . . . one retail shop after another – clothes and shoes (or rather, ropa and zapatos) in abundance, as if the clothing section of a Mexican mercado had migrated north and taken over a 1950s American downtown. It’s lunch time. We’re hungry. No restaurants in sight.

We drive on and find The Wall two blocks south of the main drag in a quiet, modest residential neighborhood. The Wall looms up on the south side of the street where the sidewalk would normally be. No traffic here — no residential cars at all, moving or parked. Merely two Border Patrol vehicles hugging The Wall, poised for quick pursuit, one a block to the east, the other off in the distance.

Same wall as at Jacumba: vertical shafts of COR-TEN-like steel, 21 feet high . . . but here, plastered over with steel mesh netting. Mexico is totally off-limits; I can’t even poke my pinky through.

We gaze through The Wall. Behind us, Calexico is silent as a ghost town. Before us, a city hums – we are three feet from a busy two-lane street, cars zipping by, folks strolling in a pocket park not a hundred meters away. No one notices us. We’re starving grasshoppers looking in wistfully as the ants play.

But at least we’re safe! After all, 700,000 Mexicans live in Mexicali . . . only 40,000 Americans in Calexico (97% of them of Mexican descent).

Imagine if The Wall weren’t here: that thundering herd would probably storm across the street and take over the town . . . shoot, take over all of America. No doubt they all aspire to.

The good news is this: they can’t get at us. Or we can’t get in. Or out. One of those.

The Wall JacumbaGlory be, I finally saw The Wall: you know, the one that keeps the Mexicans out of America, thus keeping us safe from the cartels and their hit men. Or more to the point, the one that prevents all those shiftless Mexicans from coming here to

  • take our jobs
  • get on welfare
  • overrun our schools
  • make Spanish, not English, our national language
  • and, most insidious of all, drop their newborns on our soil so as their little offspring will grow up with all the rights of every American citizen. (Fie on that 14th Amendment!)

I went to The Wall accidently; I wasn’t out looking for trouble.

My wife and I are on our way home to Las Vegas from San Diego . . . this time via the scenic route: I-8 along the Mexican border to Calexico, up US 86 skirting the Salton Sea, through Joshua Tree National Monument, Twentynine Palms to Amboy, Kelso, and Cima, back to I-15 south of Primm, then home.

We first spot The Wall in the distance off I-8 beyond the road sign to Jacumba: it is a rusty ribbon snaking through the foothills to the south. It looks out of place . . . like some rustic relic from a bygone era — an abandoned length of mining cable perhaps, or an old fire line turned dried-blood brown.

We don’t say a word, my wife and I. We swerve off the freeway and take the back road to Jacumba. The closer we get, the bigger the rusty ribbon gets . . . at first it’s a rust-colored picket fence planted in a dry flood plain, marching off into the foothills. Soon it really is a wall . . . both a vertical scar on the desert and an ugly back yard fence to the hamlet of Jacumba. No doubt every mother in this quiet little town sleeps well at night knowing her kids can’t wander into that no man’s land beyond America.

We pick our way down a rock-strewn hillside, through a derelict farm fence that had lost its barbed wire decades ago, over the railroad tracks, across the dirt road that parallels The Wall, and finally, up to The Wall itself. No one is looking, so I poke my arm through into Mexico. Luckily, no one bites it off.

The Wall’s high: 21 feet. It’s iron, not solid, but vertical slats capped with heavy crossbeams . . . mounted close enough that even a starving coyote couldn’t squeeze through. And deliberately rusted, like some great art piece of COR-TEN steel — “Man’s march to the sea” or “Standing tall and proud” or something.

My wife takes pictures: The WALL, me and The Wall, more Wall. We haven’t been here five minutes when we notice a vehicle in the distance, lights on, small as a Hot Wheels toy, inching toward us. The vehicle grows bigger, coming as slowly as if the driver were pedaling.

Yep, white van, green insignia: United States Border Patrol. There’s no place to hide. We venture up to the van. The uniformed guy inside greets us with “That your car up there?”

Our car is white and it’s parked beside the Jacumba road a quarter mile away, and above us. It stands out against the sapphire sky like Las Vegas neon at night. “Yep. We’re looking at The Wall.”

We chat. He isn’t as friendly as a long-lost friend, but he isn’t mean either. Firm. Serious. Business-like. Focused on doing his job, I guess.

“Be careful, it can be dangerous out here. Smugglers,” he says. “Mean critters.” He doesn’t say anything about men looking for work or pregnant ladies looking to drop their loads.

He doesn’t tell us to leave, just warns us to be alert, then he moseys on down his private road.

The Wall doesn’t move. Or say a word. We take a few more pictures, then work our way back up to the road and on to Jacumba. Last we saw, The Wall is still there, making us safe and secure.

More than half a century after Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, prompting an 11-month boycott that led to integration of that city’s bus system, African Americans and Latinos are still struggling with an unequal transit system.

“Back of the Bus: mass transit, race, and inequality,” an hour-long NPR show by Transportation Nation is a sobering study of how mass transit systems not only isolate and destroy minority communities, but work against low-income people in general. The story looks at mass transit projects in St. Paul, Atlanta, Washington, Denver, and Oakland. Take a look at it:

Continue reading “Mass transit, race, and inequality”

Rape is a nasty word . . . and a despicable act.

But it’s all the news these days . . . what with the allegation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape a maid in a fancy New York hotel. (Before this incident, this guy was a big-time hot-shot: head of the International Monetary Fund, and odds-on favorite to be the next president of France.)

The shocking fact is that rape is all too common. Not only that, most rapists get away with it. Look at these figures—from Marianne Mollmann, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch (in the Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2011):

  • In the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted every TWO MINUTES.
  • Only an estimated 40 percent of the victims report the assault.
  • Nationally, police arrest a suspect in only half the sexual assault cases filed.
  • After “justice is served,” only an estimated one of 16 rapists spends time in jail.

No wonder Flor Hardwick agonized over what to do in Soda Springs. Report it? Why risk community disgrace . . . only to have the criminal go free?

And no wonder Odell Andrews shrugged her off. Here’s his mocking response:

“Odell laughed. ‘You’re a cocktease, gal. No one rapes a cocktease. I came to the church to help you fix the youth problem. You invited me home. Made coffee. Fed me. Kissed me. One thing led to another. Consensual sex, as they say. Besides, who you gonna tell? . . . Chief Zeigler? He’s got a whore in Mexican town. And who would believe you over the football coach? Especially when there’s been no harm done, nothing broken or bruised. Sorry, gal . . . thanks for that delicious taste of paradise.’”—from Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights

What to do if you or a loved one has been raped?

No easy answer.

We can only be thankful that the New York maid has the courage to stand up to power. And that women like Flor Hardwick will risk reputation to fight for justice.

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