Friday, May 31, 2019

Quote of the Day

This Pride Month there’s a lot to be mad about. . . . If the gatekeepers of our community (those powerful, mostly white, cis, able-bodied wealthy nonprofit directors, CEOs, political insiders) really believed in what our ancestors and transcestors at Stonewall were fighting for, we would see more elevating of grassroots Black and Brown leadership, the people who actually carry the torches lit by the founders of our movement. We would see more money going into efforts supporting those who are low income, incarcerated, homeless, and sex workers. . . . We would see less of an interest in bringing on token queer and trans people – many who already have major platforms and little-to-no connection to the community throughout the rest of the year – in Pride campaigns to support organizations with million-dollar budgets that do work that never directly touches the most marginalized groups within our communities.

– Raquel Willis
Excerpted from “50 Years Later,
Pride Month Is a Disgrace to Our Ancestors

May 31, 2019

NEXT: James Baldwin's Potent Interweavings
of Race, Homoeroticism, and the Spiritual

Related Off-site Links:
How the Queer Liberation March Wants to Bring Pride Back to Its Activist Roots – Zachary Zane (Rolling Stone, May 15, 2019).
New York City Gets Ready for the Battle of the LGBT Pride Marches – Tim Teeman (The Daily Beast, May 16, 2019).
James Baldwin’s Blueprint for the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement – Tre'vell Anderson (Out, May 19, 2019).
One Hot New York Night in 1969 Changed the World – Amarra Mohamed (LGBTQ Nation, May 30, 2019).
Activist Miss Major Recounts the First Night of the Stonewall Uprising – Raquel Willis (Out, May 31, 2019).
6 Major Moments in Queer History Beyond the Stonewall Uprising – Elyssa Goodman (Them, June 27, 2018).
Pride Is Still an Elitist White Gay Fantasy – Phillip Henry (Them, June 28, 2018).
Challenging Trump With Powerful Black Queer Stories – Richard A. Fowler (The Huffington Post, October 23, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride
Making the Connections
A Lose/Lose Situation


Saturday, May 25, 2019


When I was out for dinner on Wednesday night with my parents and their friends at the Port Macquarie Golf Club, I came across a beautiful work of art on the wall near the entrance to the dining room.

It was a sculpture-like work, made of twisted branches and some kind of weaved fibrous material, comprised of vines, stems, and/or grasses. Try as I might, I could not see a title or the name of the artist. There was, however, an artist's statement, which informed me that whoever created this beautiful piece is Māori, an Indigenous person from New Zealand.

A later search of the "Photo Gallery" of the Golf Club's website revealed that the artist is Anaheke Metua, a young Maori woman from Aoeteroa, the Māori name for New Zealand, and a descendant of the Nga Te Rangi tribe.

Anaheke describes herself as a "fibre artist" and "environmental and art worker." As such, she is part of Sustainable Dreaming, a "collective of artists and cultural ambassadors that work across various fields, towards a common goal – co-creating a healthy future by utilizing new sustainable innovations whilst honoring and learning from the cultures and custodians who have come before us." Inspiring stuff, to be sure!

Here's what Anaheke says about her artwork at Port Macquarie Golf Club.

I’ve always been fascinated by the moon and the stars, endlessly curious as to their magic. This piece is inspired by the constellation known to my people (Māori) as Matariki/Pleiades. When she rises on the horizon in June/July, it marks the beginning of the new year in the Māori calendar. Our calendar is a phenomenological calendar – meaning it is based on the observations of the cycles of the moon, sun, water, wind, plant, animal and flower as indicators to help guide us cultivate, hunt, fish and store food. Each star has is its own name and represents both male and female spirit/energy. This star system is also a very important navigational marker when traversing the great expanse of Te Moana o Kiwa – the Pacific Ocean. Every human culture has developed a deep understanding and knowledge of the cycles and patterns of the plant, animal, elemental and spiritual kingdom of their place. Thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge is being lost daily. This is how I’m expressing my growing understanding for these indicators of change and guidance for my people.

NEXT: Port Macquarie Days

For previous posts in the Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 series, see:
Part 1: Guruk
Part 2: On Sacred Ground
Part 3: In the Land of the Kamilaroi
Part 4: Meeting a Living Legend
Part 5: Flower Moon Rising
Part 6: A Walk Along Lighthouse Beach
Part 7: Jojo Zaho: “Let Your Faboriginality Shine Through”
Part 8: Recognising and Honoring Australia's First Naturalists

Friday, May 24, 2019

Recognising and Honoring Australia's First Naturalists

(Part 8 of >Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019)

NOTE: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are advised that this post contains images and names of people who are now deceased.

While recently perusing Port Macquarie's one and only bookstore, I came across a title that instantly caught my attention: Australia's First Naturalists: Indigenous Peoples' Contribution to Early Zoology.

Written by Penny Olsen and Lynette Russell, the book documents how Indigenous Australians "gave Europeans their first views of iconic animals such as the Koala and Superb Lyrebird." The basic message of the book is an important though largely overlooked one: "[M]any zoological discoveries made by European naturalists would not have been possible without Aboriginal people and their knowledge of [Australia's] fauna and environment."

I'm very much appreciating and enjoying Olsen and Russell's book, and share today as part of my ongoing Australia Sojourn – April-May 2019 series, a review of it that was first published in Australian Geographic.


Time to Recognise Australia’s First Naturalists

Australian Geographic
April 4, 2019

A new book reveals the Indigenous knowledge that led to some of western science’s greatest discoveries.

You know the names of early European naturalists John Gould, Joseph Banks and Carl Sofus Lumholtz, but not the Aboriginal Australians who led them to the discoveries that they’re now famous for.

These Aboriginal Australians – those whose names have been recorded – are the subject of a new book, Australia’s First Naturalist: Indigenous People’s Contribution to Early Zoology.

“I’ve written a lot of books on Australian natural history,” says author Penny Olsen, who co-wrote the book with Lynette Russell. “And the Indigenous connection just kept coming up. Over time, I thought I’d better collect these all into one book and make something of it.”

European naturalists, determined to discover and name any new animal they came across or got word of, used Indigenous knowledge to carry out their activities. But this knowledge was hardly recorded, nor were many of the names of these Indigenous guides.

The book details the names of the few Aboriginal Australians mentioned in the diaries of these early explorers, including Natty and Gemmy who helped John Gould in the study of several birds including the lyre bird, boobook owl and several species of pigeon.

Above: A guide known as Dick, probably from the Barkindji tribe, who helped guide the Victorian Exploring Expedition of 1860-1861. This portrait was drawn by Ludwig Becker, the expedition naturalist, who wrote on it: “Portrait of Dick, the brave and gallant native guide. Darling Depot, Dec. 21, '60.”

The book also details the pursuits of naturalist George Caley, who was assisted by a young Aboriginal boy by the name Moowattin, who helped him for several years classifying eucalypts, as well as collecting bird and mammal skins to send back to Banks.

By the late 1800s it was common to ask Indigenous people for assistance in locating Australian animals. Museum collector Frederick Andrews used this knowledge to locate elusive night parrot specimens, and mammalogist Henley Finlayson had Aboriginal helpers to find the now extinct desert rat-kangaroo.

All of this, without formal recognition. They were often paid with tobacco and bread.

Right: John Piper, the Wiradjuri man who guided Thomas Mitchell and helped him collect mammals on his 1836 expedition along the Murray and Darling rivers.

“It was very exploitative in the early days when these Europeans came in, used Indigenous knowledge to find these fabulous animals and hardly said a word about Indigenous knowledge,” Penny says.

“Then they’d give these animals names that honoured distant European earls that they wanted to carry favour with, who had nothing to do with anything.”

Such is the case of Carl Sofus Lumholtz who was informed by the Warrgamay people about Bonngary, a peculiar tree mammal. After finding and describing Bonngary he then renamed the animal the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo.

That many of the behaviours and names of these animals were not recorded is a great loss to science.

“Sadly, a lot of the early naturalists either didn’t take Indigenous knowledge about behaviour seriously or it was just too hard to communicate,” says Penny. “With many of the extinct animals that Aboriginal Australians lived alongside for thousands of years, we know hardly anything because of this. The opportunity wasn’t seized.”

Penny hopes that the book will go some way in giving recognition to Australia’s first naturalists. “I think we’re beginning to recognise the importance of Indigenous knowledge. The time is right, it’s the time for truth telling in terms of how much they truly did before the Europeans came.”

National Geographic
April 4, 2019

Above: A group of Indigenous Australians at Port Essington, including Neinmal (third from left), who spent two years assisting John MacGillivray on land and aboard HMS Fly.

Above: Galmarra, a young man from near Muswellbrook, New South Wales, was known to Europeans as Jackey Jackey (or Jacky Jacky). He accompanied Edmund Kennedy's disastrous attempt to find a route from Rockingham Bay to the tip of Cape York.

Above: Two Aboriginal men from Groote Eylandt, in the Northern Territory, searching for the Northern Hopping Mouse for anthropologist and ornithologist Donald Thomson (circa 1929).

NEXT: Matrariki

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012

See also:
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 1: Guruk
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 2: On Sacred Ground
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 3: In the Land of the Kamilaroi
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 4: Meeting a Living Legend
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 5: Flower Moon Rising
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 6: A Walk Along Lighthouse Beach
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 7: Jojo Zaho: “Let Your Faboriginality Shine Through”

Opening image: “Aborigines Hunting Waterbirds” by Joseph Lycett (circa. 1817).

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Jojo Zaho: “Let Your Faboriginality Shine Through”

(Part 7 of Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019)

One rainy Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago I drove down to Guruk's Shelly Beach to watch the ocean waves. On the way I stopped and bought a copy of The Sydney Morning Herald and a packet of the iconic Australian snack, Twisties (cheese-flavored, of course!).

After spending time listening to Enya's Watermark album as I contemplatively watched the sea through the rain-splattered windscreen, I turned to the newspaper beside me. What I thought was The Sydney Morning Herald turned out to be The Newcastle Herald. Oh, well, I thought with slight annoyance, I'll take a look at what it has to offer.

As it turned out, I ended up being really grateful about the mistake I'd made. Why? Because this particular issue of The Newcastle Herald contained a wonderful piece by Phoebe Moloney about Indigenous drag queen Jojo Zaho and the man who embodies her, John Ridgeway. Indeed, I appreciate Moloney's article so much that I share it today as part of my Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019 series. (Note: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)


Showtime for City's Queen

By Phoebe Moloney

Newcastle Herald
May 4, 2019

Jojo Zaho was born out of an act of defiance.

Four years ago John Ridgeway, now 28, walked down Dubbo's main street wearing a dress he had made out of Indigenous and gay pride flags as part of the town's first ever pride parade.

Mr Ridgeway, who has returned to live in Cardiff after growing up in Kurri Kurri, said the act was in response to a councilor who had said homosexuality had no part in Indigenous culture during a meeting. A belief, Mr Ridgeway said, he had "never encountered before" in his own family.

"It wasn't until I was in the parade that I realized what I was doing was bigger than getting back at a council member," he said.

"Looking at the Indigenous kids on the side of the march pointing at me and my costume, that was the moment I was like, okay, I didn't have this representation growing up. If there's no one to fill that void then I've got to do my best to be the representation."

And so Jojo was born. The pseudonym was actually a nickname from way back.

"My sister used to call me Josephine, because I dressed up as a child. And then her and my best friend started shortening it to Jojo."

Ridgeway's larger-than-life character has since graced the stage at Broken Hill's Broken Heel Festival, featured in Australian documentary Black Divaz and even hosted Cher's VIP pre-concert party in Newcastle.

Now Jojo has been selected as one of the seven finalists in Miss First Nation, Australia's annual search for the best Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander drag performer. The four-day pageant takes place in Melbourne next week as part of the Yirramboi Festival.

It's the second time Jojo Zaho has been selected for the honour and, this time, Mr Ridgeway believes Jojo has the goods to win.

"It's redemption," Mr Rideway said. "I feel a lot more confident this time around and I have taken a bit of a stand."

Mr Ridgeway has chosen to use his final performance at the event to highlight Indigenous deaths in police custody and the disproportionately high rates of suicide among Aboriginal children.

"When you are in drag, you're making a statement whether you like it or not," he said. "But it's an amazing platform to send a positive message without having to verbally shout about it.

"I want to remind people white Australia has a dark history, and hopefully a black future.

"We've come so far but we have a long way to go until we'll all be in a place we're happy with. We need to build a better Australia together, rather than against one another."

Jojo's catchphrase? "Let your faboriginality shine through."

– Phoebe Moloney
Newcastle Herald
May 4, 2019

NEXT: Recognising and Honoring
Australia's First Naturalists

Related Off-site Link:
Meet Indigenous Drag Queen Extraordinaire, Jojo ZahoTriple J (March 2, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn, March 2015 – Part 4: The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Liberating Paris: The Meaning of Liberation in
Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning

See also:
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 1: Guruk
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 2: On Sacred Ground
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 3: In the Land of the Kamilaroi
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 4: Meeting a Living Legend
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 5: Flower Moon Rising
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 6: A Walk Along Lighthouse Beach

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

"A Lefty With Soul": Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention

"A lefty with soul." That's how Ed Kilgore describes spiritual author and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson in his latest piece in New York Magazine.

As someone who has a lot of respect for Williamson and supports her presidential bid, I am happy to see her getting more and more mainstream media attention.

Following, with added links, are excerpts from Kilgore's May 16 piece.

Marianne Williamson deserves some serious attention, and not just because she’s written four books that hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list. At a time when the leftward drift of the Democratic Party is regularly in the news, she is by any measure the most rigorously progressive candidate in the field of 23. That she wraps her progressivism in a syncretic spirituality instead of socialist materialism may even be an advantage for a politician in this God-haunted country of ours.

Pick an issue, and odds are Williamson is going to out-Bernie Bernie and out-Warren Warren. She’s for Medicare For All, unsurprisingly, but she’s also for heavy investments in preventive medicine and nutritional education, and a pretty heavy regulatory arm on those she feels are poisoning our bodies, including those who produce “high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats.” So far as I can tell, she’s the only candidate committed to reducing national stress levels, too.

[She also] goes well beyond the Green New Deal in addressing climate change. . . . She isn’t just for criminal justice reform: She’s for an official national policy of encouraging the maximum feasible release of prisoners and a shift from punishment to rehabilitation. . . . [And she] is the only candidate who is flatly for a tangible program of monetary reparations for the descendants of slaves.

. . . In the international arena, she has been closely associated for years with the idea of creating a Department of Peace (mostly notably promoted by former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, a close friend of Williamson) that would actively address conflict prevention. It’s fair to say she thinks we can get by with a relatively small fraction of today’s Pentagon budget.

. . . Williamson is the rare religious professional who is firmly committed to both reproductive rights and protections for LGBTQ folk.

And she matches or exceeds the progressivism of her rivals. Like Andrew Yang, she’s for a universal basic income. Like Bernie Sanders, she’s for free college, and like Elizabeth Warren, she’s for full college debt relief. Like Cory Booker, she’s for baby bonds. Like several other candidates, she’s for universal pre-K. She’s even equaled Pete Buttigieg’s commitment to a robust national service program.

Many progressives, of course, will be put off by the New Agey stuff. And it’s impossible to ignore: Williamson never stops insisting that America’s and the world’s problems are spiritual as well as economic or institutional or interpersonal. . . . But here’s the thing: Her version of metaphysical spirituality is so all-encompassing that it transcends any exclusive creed or teaching. One expert explains that the tradition she represents combines influences from “Freemasonry, early Mormonism, Universalism and Transcendentalism before the Civil War and, subsequently, Spiritualism, Theosophy, New Thought, mind cure and reinvented versions of Asian ideas and practices.” She’s less a theocrat than a pantheocrat.

So certainly for those who think Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too timid and compromising, Marianne Williamson is worth a respectful hearing. An awful lot of people have read her books and watched her on television and come back for more. She’s very unlikely to become a viable candidate, but assuming she’s on the debate stage she may turn heads. And if nothing else, perhaps she can win an appointment as Secretary of Peace in a Democratic administration.

– Ed Kilgore
Excerpted from "Marianne Williamson Is a Lefty With Soul
New York Magazine
May 16, 2019

Above and below: Marianne Williamson campaigning (and advocating for justice and peace) recently in South Carolina. (Images:

Said Marianne about this experience:

Campaigning in South Carolina over the last couple days. What a beautiful, beautiful place. There are two different political universes: the dog and pony show you see on cable news at night, with who’s up and who’s down and what percentages candidates have in polls and all of that; and then there’s the real thing, where adults get together and discuss the things that matter. That is the real thing, the profound thing, the democratic thing. That is what a campaign is all about. And it’s all day, every day. But it’s far more exhilarating than exhausting, and just when I think my physical fatigue is going to get the best of me the energy at an event lifts me up. People are amazing, and almost everyone gives me a bit of information that is helpful. There is so much goodness in this country and I feel like I’m swimming in an ocean of it.

UPDATE: On May 20 Marianne was interviewed about her campaign and a number of current events and issues by

As one commentator has noted:

Marianne's presence in this interview is a true depiction of a candidate who will stand with us and help us realign with our true essence. Her language is a language that opens, not closes. She embodies what she says, which makes what she says easier to believe and connect with. Energetically her message is a message of "we have the power to" vs the traditional, subtle, legalistic message that communicates a "power over."

Below is the video of this interview.

Related Off-site Links:
A Conversation with Marianne Williamson1A (May 15, 2019).
Don't Tell Marianne Williamson She Can't Win – Max Greenwood (The Hill, May 15, 2019).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Something to Think About – February 19, 2019
Quotes(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – March 2, 2019
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – April 17, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Flower Moon Rising

(Part 5 of Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019)

As is my want when in Guruk, I try to spend the twilight hours, that special in-between time I love so much, down by the ocean. There is just so much beauty at such a time and place.

Last night when on Guruk's Nobbys Beach I was treated to an extra sight of beauty – a full flower blue moon.

Known as a flower moon for short, this rare lunar wonder rose at dusk today and is named after the spring flowers that bloom in the northern hemisphere in the month of May.

Reports the British Independent . . .

As the saying suggests, a blue moon is a rare event. This weekend’s full flower blue moon is even rarer still, happening only every dozen or so blue moons.

But despite what its name suggests, this full moon is not actually blue. The name simply refers to the fact that it is the fourth full moon of the season, when typically there are only three full moons in a season.

In 2019 there has already been a blood moon, a pink moon and a super worm moon – each named (in these cases) after its colour or occurrences that take place at the time of year the full moon appears (a “worm” moon is named thus as it comes at time small creatures – such as worms – emerge from the ground, signifying the end of winter).

The flower moon, which is set to rise at dusk on Saturday May 18, is appropriately named after the flowers that bloom in the month of May.

NEXT: A Walk Along Lighthouse Beach

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
Guruk Seascapes, from Dawn to Dusk
An Evening Stroll (and Theological Musings)
On Sacred Ground

See also:
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 1: Guruk
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 2: On Sacred Ground
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 3: In the Land of the Kamilaroi
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 4: Meeting a Living Legend

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Pete Buttigieg, White Privilege, and Identity Politics

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg delivered the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual dinner last Saturday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The 37-year-old Buttigieg attended the event with his husband Chasten, and spoke about his coming out experience and what he calls the "crisis of belonging" in America.

"I may be part of the LGBTQ community," he said, "but being a gay man doesn't tell me what it's like to be a trans woman of color in that same community, let alone an undocumented mother of four, or a disabled veteran, or a displaced auto worker. But being gay, just like every other fact about me, means I have a story. And if I look to that story, I can find the building blocks not only for empathy, but for the impetus for action. The more you know about exclusion, the more you think about belonging, and we have a crisis of belonging in this country."

"The walls I worry about most," continued Buttigieg, "isn't [President Trump's] fantasy wall on the Mexican border . . . [but] the very real walls being put up between us as we get divided and carved up. . . . The struggle for equality for the LGBT community on everything from workplace discrimination to trans servicemembers' dignity doesn't compete with the other struggles of Americans yearning to get to another side of an ugly wall. It reinforces those struggles, and obligates all of us to do everything we can to lift one another up. We have to be there for each other, no matter what."

At first glance, I find Buttigieg's comments at Saturday's HRC gala dinner heartening, even inspiring. Yet I also appreciate Jeff Campagna's thoughtful take on what Buttigieg had to say.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Pete Buttigieg’s white privilege/identity politics speech at the Las Vegas HRC dinner. I’ve seen many criticisms. But I’ve also seen many people, mostly gay white men, praising the following passage from the speech:

And these divisive lines of thinking have even entered into the consciousness of my own party. Like when we're told we need to choose between supporting an autoworker and supporting a trans woman of color without stopping to think about the fact that sometimes the auto worker is a trans woman of color and she definitely needs all the support that she can get.

First off, I don’t recall any Democrat ever telling anyone they couldn’t support racial justice, LGBT equality, and the manufacturing industry at the same time. . . . Nonetheless, some people seem quite moved by the statement that the black trans woman and the factory worker may be the same person and thus need our help for similar reasons. But the Eric Garner trial should remind us all, sometimes black people just get shot by police while white factory workers don’t. And black trans women are more likely to get murdered than just about anyone. Further, the black trans woman in Indiana can be fired for being trans. And that’s not a trade issue. That’s an identity issue.

When there are life and death issues like these, sometimes identity politics are unavoidable and necessary. Someone who came out three years ago might not know it, but the reason for the explosion of people coming out of the closet in the early 90’s was not a sudden mass hysteria about dating, but the existential threat of the AIDS crisis.

What I get from Buttigieg’s speech and other remarks he’s made about activism is that activism makes him uncomfortable and to him, seems unintentionally polarizing. But activism is not easy and it is not supposed to be comfortable. It is supposed to create a moral crisis to effect change. Whether it makes him comfortable or not. The more he talks about political theory the more arrogant and out of touch he sounds. It doesn’t have to be this way. He could put out policies instead. But he’s made it clear that’s not his style.

At the conclusion of Buttigieg’s speech he suggests that black people and women should trust that he will use his privilege to solve their problems. When he says things like that he convinces many people (obviously not the ones praising his remarks) that he doesn’t have any understanding of what the problems are.

Jeff Campagna
via Facebook
May 15, 2019

Another worthwhile analysis of Buttigieg's recent comments is provided by Andrew Romano, who (like Campagna) points out that these comments were "carefully crafted" by Buttigieg to "solve the issue of identity politics in America" by putting forward himself as the solution.

Writes Romano for Yahoo! News:

Early reports framed Buttigieg’s speech as a repudiation of identity politics altogether – a “risky” decision, as one NBC News report put it, to “cal[l] out fellow Democrats” for “pitting one group’s grievances against another’s” that “had echoes of Bill Clinton’s ‘Sistah Souljah moment’ in 1992, when he distanced himself from a black political activist who had made controversial comments about race.”

But the entirety of Buttigieg’s remarks make it clear that the mayor is in fact attempting something more subtle, and ultimately more risky, than a mere repudiation.

Instead, he is trying to redefine identity politics altogether – and to do so in a way that puts his own identity front and center – and his solution is Pete Buttigieg.

. . . It remains to be seen whether Buttigieg’s nuanced strategy – his attempt to transcend identity politics by embracing identity itself – is enough to silence critics and persuade skeptics.

Though Buttigieg vowed to “to fight for a fairer criminal justice system, even if no one in [his] immediate family has experienced the racial inequity in that broken system,” and to “fight for the Central American asylum seeker looking for a better life” for “the same reason” he “fight[s] for transgender troops,” it may be that women or minority voters who otherwise share his values nonetheless choose to support candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Cory Booker or Julián Castro, who have more directly shared their struggles.

It may be that such voters scrutinize Buttigieg’s elite background and his record as mayor of South Bend and see in him someone who instinctively identifies more with the forces of gentrification than with the communities of color those forces tend to displace.

Or it may be that some Democrats, worried about losing again to Donald Trump, decide that America isn’t ready to elect a gay president. . . . Yet Buttigieg is betting otherwise.

– Andrew Romano
Excerpted from "Pete Buttigieg Wants You
to Know, As a Gay Man, He's a Minority Too

Yahoo! News
May 14, 2019

Okay, I should say for the record that I'm happy that there's an out gay man running for President of the United States. I don't share, however, the same amount of enthusiasm about either Buttigieg or his campaign as many other gay men do. In fact, I'm somewhat perturbed by the amount of media attention Buttigieg is getting compared to other Democratic presidential candidates. He and his husband have even appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. Can we expect to see Andrew Yang or Marianne Williamson on future covers?

It's as if "Mayor Pete" has been anointed by the mainstream corporate media as both a front-runner and one of the most likely candidates to defeat Trump next year. I don't see either of these to be the case. From everything I've read it seems as if Buttigieg is just one more centrist Democrat, one with an alarming lack of actual policies. We all know how such a centrist candidate fared against an authoritarian populist in 2016. Given that the economic and social climate has only deteriorated further since then, I really think that only a progressive populist can take on and defeat Trump in 2020. And I just don't see Pete Buttigieg fitting that bill.

UPDATE: Since I published this piece, my friend Rick has notified me that Pete Buttigieg has updated his official website to include an "Issues" section. Up until now, Buttigieg had been criticized by many for a lack of policies and proposals. I look forward to reading through the pages of this section and learning more about Buttigieg's understanding of the issues and problems facing the U.S.

Related Off-site Links:
Buttigieg Laments "Crisis of Belonging" Across Nation During Human Rights Campaign Speech – Jackie Valley (The Nevada Independent, May 12, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg Wants You to Know, As a Gay Man, He's a Minority Too – Andrew Romano (Yahoo! News, May 14, 2019).
Why I’m Not Here for Pete Buttigieg’s Moderate Politics in the 2020 Primaries – Lucy Diavolo (Teen Vogue, May 10, 2019).
America Is At a Gay Rights Crossroads, Thanks to Pete Buttigieg and the Supreme Court – Steven Petrow (USA Today, April 23, 2019).
Elizabeth Warren's the Professor and Pete Buttigieg Is the Charismatic Student Without His Homework. Guess Who Voters Like Best? – Nia-Malika Henderson (CNN, April 23, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg’s Bad Take on Bernie Sanders – Greg Sargent (The Washington Post, April 24, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg’s Campaign Website Has a Color Scheme Page, But Not an Issues Page – Katelyn Kivel (GritPost, April 24, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg Has Everything Except Positions on Major Issues – Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2019).
The Pete Buttigieg Boom – Zack Beauchamp (Vox, April 3, 2019).
Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart – Liza Featherstone (Jacobin, April 1, 2019).

UPDATES: Buttigieg Unveils Wide-Ranging Policy Positions – Josh Lederman (NBC News, May 16, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg Calls for Carbon Capture and Tax – Climate Proposals Backed by the Fossil Fuel Industry – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, May 19, 2019).
Pete and Chasten: Heterosexuality Without Women – Greta LaFleur (Los Angeles Review of Books, May 209, 2019).
Buttigieg Won't Win the Nomination, and That's a Good Thing – Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter, May 29, 2019).
If Pete Buttigieg Is the “Opposition” to Trump, We Are Screwed – Daniel Uncapher (TruthOut, June 1, 2019).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Something to Think About – February 19, 2019
Quotes(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – March 2, 2019
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – April 17, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”

See also the previous posts:
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Police, Pride, and Philando Castile
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride
Quote of the Day – May 4, 2013
Quote of the Day – March 29, 2013
A Lose/Lose Situation
Making the Connections . . . Then and Now

Images: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Meeting a Living Legend

(Part 4 of Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019)

It's not every day that one gets to meet a living legend. But that's exactly what I was fortunate enough to do this past Sunday, May 12, when I met Petula Clark after seeing her perform at The Glasshouse in Port Macquarie.

The British singer, actress and composer whose career spans eight decades (she started singing as a child during World War II), is currently in Australia as part of her latest world tour.

After her show last Sunday, I briefly met and talked with Petula at the concert venue's stage door. It's a tradition of hers to meet with folks in this way after every show.

She's a lovely person, very warm and down to earth. She expressed surprise when I told her I live in Minneapolis, and I sensed that she wondered why I would do so when, as an Australian, I could live in a place like Port Macquarie.

Petula clearly loves Port, speaking glowingly about it from the stage and staying in the city for a few days after her show. Mum and Dad and I saw her and her musical director Grant Sturiale strolling through the main part of town the next day.

Her show, by the way, was wonderful. She performed for over two hours and sang many of her era-defining pop hits from the 1960s ("Downtown," "I Know a Place," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," and This Is My Song") as well as songs from the various films and stage shows she's been involved with over the years. (Films like Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Finian's Rainbow, and stage shows such as Sunset Boulevard.)

Between songs she shared a number of insightful and entertaining anecdotes about working with people like Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Francis Ford Coppola, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon (whose anthem "Imagine," Petula interprets with grace and authority).

She also sang a number of songs from her more recent albums Lost In You and Living for Today. And I love how the title track of the latter includes a resolute though non-strident denouncement of mass destruction, corporate greed, and political corruption. Go Petula! . . . Of course, it's not the first time she's taken a stand for justice and peace.

For an 86-year-old, Petula is in remarkable voice, and she looks great. When she sings something wonderful comes over her. She positively glows with an inner warmth and light, which makes her look 20 years younger. Singing and performing is clearly her calling and passion.

I'm very happy and honored to have had the opportunity to not only experience Petula Clark in concert, but to also meet and briefly talk with her.

Above: Petula Clark in concert earlier this year in the U.S. This photo was taken by Clément Brillant and shared on the Facebook Petula Clark Appreciation Group. I include it in this post as the outfit Petula is wearing was one of two she wore for her May 12 concert in Port Macquarie.

Following is the official music video for "Sacrifice My Heart," one of a number of standout tracks from Petula's 2016 album From Now On.

NEXT: Flower Moon Rising

Related Off-site Links:
The Amazing Petula Clark – Luke Davis (2GB Radio, May 3, 2019).
At Age 86, Petula Clark Is So Much More Than "Downtown" – Randy Cordova (Arizona Republic, November 13, 2018).
Petula Clark On Her Marriage, New Partner, and TouringLoose Women (September 30, 2016).
Petula Clark: "I Have An Iron and a Bottle of Port in My Dressing Room" – Candice Pires (The Guardian, September 3, 2016).
How Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte Fought Racism Arm in Arm – Simon Goddard (The Guardian, April 2, 2018).
Petula Clark's Offical Website

For more of Petula Clark at The Wild Reed, see:
Petula Clark: Singing for Us, Not at Us
"Pure Class": Petula Clark's Latest Offering Captivates
Happy Birthday, Petula!
Pet Sounds
Well, Look Who's Coming to Port Macquarie . . .
Petula Clark: Still Colouring Our World (which includes my mum's review of Petula's 2014 concert in Port Macquarie)

See also:
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 1: Guruk
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 2: On Sacred Ground
Australian Sojourn, April-May 2019 – Part 3: In the Land of the Kamilaroi

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”

In a recent piece over at Jacobin, Luke Savage examines the Democratic presidential candidacies of Beto O'Rourke, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg – "the three Bs." He finds them wanting, noting that "all come from the same mold – they're empty suits and poll-tested brands."

When I shared Savage's article on Facebook I received push back from some of my liberal friends. I personally don't identify as “liberal,” preferring instead either “progressive” or “radical” (in the deepest and truest sense of the word). I'll say more abut this push back and my response to it shortly. But first here's an excerpt from Luke Savage's May 13 article, “We Can Do Better Than These Guys.”

Democratic power brokers and consultants have already auditioned several Anything But Bernie vehicles and are likely to test-drive a few more before the race is through. Even at this early stage, the primaries have become a kind of phony war in which an array of functionally indistinguishable establishment candidates compete to make the contest about something, anything, other than a decisive break with the political and economic status quo.

. . . Biden’s potential appeal is to a broad swath of voters who felt reasonably comfortable and secure during the Obama presidency and simply want to restore something resembling it. Far from being a hawkish, corporate sycophant and one of the principal architects of mass incarceration, their Biden is the one of early 2010s internet memes and late-night comedy fodder: an avuncular, slightly potty-mouthed but ultimately loveable good guy who wants things to get better in a non-threatening sort of way (perhaps to a lesser extent, he also appeals to some older or more conservative Democrats simply because he reflects their beliefs). Cashing in on Obama nostalgia – and presumably hoping his association with the still-popular former president will innoculate him against criticism – Biden has become the third figure [after Beto and Buttigieg] to emerge from the party establishment’s ongoing Anything But Bernie cavalcade and he may not be the last (who’s ready for a Klobuchar breakout?).

. . . From a pundit perspective, the Three Bs (Beto, Buttigieg, and Biden) appear disparate. . . . [Yet] consider how much they have in common: All three enjoy big political and media constituencies, both in the Beltway and its adjacent bases of power and influence; all three have been boosted by party mandarins as potential antidotes to the insurgent populist current represented by (among other things) the surging candidacy of Bernie Sanders; all three have been the subject of tremendous media buzz despite saying very little of substance (compare this to the ambivalence with which many of Elizabeth Warren’s proposals have been received or the withering skepticism that typically characterizes mainstream coverage of Sanders). Each favors campaigning on personal signifiers rather than any coherent program they hope to see actualized in office, appealing above all else to people’s desire for a return to normalcy during the Trump era.

Beto, Buttigieg, and Biden – their variations notwithstanding – are all different reflections of the same, largely post-political strand of liberalism, one that has so thoroughly acceded to the logic of neoliberal capital that it no longer recognizes the difference between campaigning and marketing and is stubbornly uninterested in having it explained.

– Luke Savage
Excerpted from “We Can Do Way Better Than These Guys
May 13, 2019

As I noted previously, after sharing Savage's article on Facebook I received push back from some of my liberal friends. One, for instance, said that Savage's piece was “reductive and dismissive” of Beto, Biden, and Buttigieg as individuals, and that Savage was “yet another writer who thinks he knows just what we need to defeat Trump and get the U.S. back on course.”

In responding to my friend, I suggested that “what we need” becomes clear when we look back over the last 40 years or so and take note of how as a society we're devolved from the rule of the people (democracy) into the rule of money (plutocracy). The various individual traits and personalities of the candidates, though important to a degree, are secondary in my book to how a candidate understands and names the fundamental problem before us. I think it's fair to stay that what distinguishes liberals from progressives is that the latter understand this fundamental problem as the previously movement away from democratic and humanitarian values to such things as the primacy of stock holders, the power and influence of moneyed interests and lobbies, and various other destructive characteristics of the neoliberal economic doctrine.

There are a handful of Democratic presidential candidates (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, and Tulsi Gabbard) who recognize and name this problem, and who have developed proposals and policies to, yes, get the U.S. back on course – politically, economically, and ethically.

In short, I have little time for candidates who view, declare, and/or imply that Trump is “the problem” rather than a symptom of a much bigger problem. Making this distinction is key for me in determining the candidates I want to support. From everything I've been reading about “the three Bs” – Beto, Biden, and Buttigieg – it seems very clear to me that they are not among those candidates.

Above: The 22 Democrats running for president – (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Michael Bennet. (L-R middle row): Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. (L-R bottom row): Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Mayor Wayne Messam, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. (REUTERS/Files)

Related Off-site Links:
What Joe Biden’s Diagnosis of Trump Gets Wrong – Dara Cass (Slate, April 25, 2019).
One Big Difference Between Biden and Every Other Recent Democratic Nominee – David A. Graham (The Atlantic, May 1, 2019).
“Electability” Is a Terrible Reason to Pick a Candidate – Ryan Cooper (Common Dreams, May 2, 2019).
Joe Biden's “Electability” Argument Is How Democrats Lose Elections – Peter Hamby (Vanity Fair, May 7, 2019).
Joe Biden Is a Bad Bet – Robert L. Borosage (The Nation, May 11, 2019).
Clinton-era Politics Refuses to Die. Joe Biden Is Its Zombie That Staggers On – Hamilton Nolan (The Guardian, April 25, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Is Everything Joe Biden Is Not – Norman Solomon (TruthDig, May 2, 2019).
New Poll Suggests Trump Would Beat Biden in Key Battleground States in 2020 – Carl Gibson (GritPost, May 14, 2019).
Bernie Sanders Can Win, But He Isn’t Polling Like A Favorite – Nate Silver (, April 23, 2019).
Beto O’Rourke Swings and Misses with Working-Class Michigan Voters – Valerie Vande Panne (In These Times, March 25, 2019).
Is Beto Losing His Mojo? Did Mayor Pete Steal It From Him? – Ed Kilgore (New York Magazine, April 26, 2019).
All About Pete – Nathan J. Robinson (Current Affairs, March 29, 2019).
Stop Trying to Make Pete Buttigieg Happen – David Marcus (The Federalist, April 3, 2019).
The One Big Takeaway From Every 2020 Democratic Primary Poll So Far – Dylan Scott (Vox, April 25, 2019).
These 2020 Candidates Are the Darlings of Wall Street. The Numbers Are Proof – Branko Marcetic (In These Times, April 22, 2019).
Our Crisis in Democracy Is Taking Center Stage in the 2020 Campaign – Katrina Vanden Heuvel (The Nation, April 9, 2019).
Fearful Democrats and the False Allure of Policy Centrism – Paul Waldman (Common Dreams, May 6, 2019).
More Than 20 Democrats, Two Republicans Vie for Presidential Nomination – Reuters (May 18, 2019).
Why Do Democrats Love Limp Dishrag Centrism? – Ryan Cooper (The Week, July 25, 2018).

For more coverage at The Wild Reed of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, see:
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018
Jacob Weindling: Quote of the Day – November 19, 2018
Something to Think About – February 19, 2019
Quotes(s) of the Day – February 26, 2019
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – March 2, 2019
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Pete Buttigieg: Quote of the Day – April 17, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden's Presidential Run