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Today in Trump’s America

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The official journal of the Trump administration is acting as responsibly as ever.

A Jewish family has temporarily left its Lancaster County, Pennsylvania home, citing fear of retribution after coming under fire from conservative news outlets that blamed it for the cancellation of an elementary school production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the family told LancasterOnline in an interview published Wednesday that they did not complain about the Centerville Elementary School play or ask for its cancellation. Instead, they said they requested that their fifth-grade child be excused from the production. They said the school granted that request, but that their child was harassed by classmates after the play was canceled in November.

Fox News, which painted the incident as part of a larger “war on Christmas” narrative in a column that blared “SCROOGE!”, and Breitbart both ran stories over the weekend about the cancellation. Both Fox News’ and Breitbart’s articles cited parents who claimed to a local news station that the cancellation was the result of two unnamed parents’ complaints about a single line in the play: “God bless us, every one.”

The Hempsfield School District said in a statement that it has received at least 200 emails and phone calls about the decision to cancel the play in light of that national attention. According to the statement, the play was “absolutely not” canceled because of complaints about the “God bless us” line and “had nothing to do with a religious concern.”

“As we have already shared, the decision was not influenced by parents,” the statement read. “It became clear that the teachers had concerns about committing roughly 20 hours of instructional time to something that is not part of the fifth grade curriculum.”

The family that spoke with LancasterOnline said they pulled their child out of school and temporarily left the area after reading comments on the Breitbart story that speculated about obtaining and publishing their address.

Who knew that a fascist website that helped elect a fascist to the Oval Office would lead to such negative consequences?

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  • JMP

    This is more of the mainstreaming of the GamerGate terror tactics by the far right, where they’re singling out various individuals suspected of thoughtcrime for harassment designed to ruin their lives and intimidate anyone else from daring to speak out against the Dear Leader or right-wing dogma, even if it’s the result of a completely idiotic conspiracy theory. It doesn’t matter whether the people in question actually did what they’re accused of either; all that’s important is that someone needs to be publicly punished to be made an example.

    • NewishLawyer

      I suspect this is right.

      An on-line acquaintance is a left-leaning libertarian gay guy. He is married to his husband and they have an adopted child.

      But he is still a libertarian in many ways and this means he can get attracted to some kooky political thought and tends to have a bit too much fondness for the Slate Star Codex crowd and some kooky right-wingers.

      He seems to think SSM is gone because it has Obama’s seal of approval and there will be a reassertion of traditional, patriarchial marriage with traditional sex roles.

      I responded that I don’t see how that happens with out a massive occupation of blue cities and states but perhaps Gamergate tactics can just harass the opposition into silence.

      • alexceres

        It won’t happen without 2 supreme court nominations and a massive assertion of federal power over blue states.

        But, as with freedom caucus opposition to deficit spending by democratic presidents, so too is state rights only for times of democratic presidents.

        Blue states don’t have any rights. Soon.

      • Origami Isopod

        IDK if SSM is “gone” or not, but there is most definitely going to be a push to restore reactionary gender roles. The Rethugs have been wanting to do that for decades. This article from yesterday doesn’t fill me with confidence, either.

    • Simple Desultory Philip

      yep. see also “pizzagate”. i’m honestly surprised that the dude who drove hundreds of miles to investigate a completely insane internet conspiracy theory, and showed up armed, didn’t actually shoot anybody.

      • efgoldman

        i’m honestly surprised that the dude who drove hundreds of miles to investigate a completely insane internet conspiracy theory, and showed up armed, didn’t actually shoot anybody.

        It’ll happen sooner rather than later.

      • JMP

        Last year’s right-wing conspiracy theory accusing Planned Parenthood of selling “baby parts” managed to rack up a body count, and I’m surprised more of these haven’t done the same. Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and the like are really dangerous in inciting their followers to violence.

      • Origami Isopod

        see also “pizzagate”.

        Which is now a verb. (Mike Cernovich seems … oddly obsessed with child molestation.)

        Also, Rethugs in Congress are afraid of these people too. The diary mentions Bill Flores of Texas, whose wingnut bona fides are solid; he “made some rather tame remarks at a conservative conference,” and Breitbart sicced the flying monkeys on him.

  • MAJeff

    Ah, life in Pennsylvania.

    • (((Malaclypse)))

      As I always say, a fine place to be from.

      • MAJeff

        Barring major changes, I’ll be living out my days in the Keystone Shithole.

        • (((Malaclypse)))

          Come to MA. We’re like Canada, without the immigration paperwork.

          • mds

            That would be “come back to MA.” (I think that’s even the reason for his nom de plume.)

            Also, see “states’ rights” above. Massachusetts will be a refuge only as long as the authoritarian federal boot spares it. And that probably hinges on how long Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy holds out.

            • MAJeff

              Yeah, it is. But, there’s no way I could afford to live there, given that the salary for teaching at a community college is pretty much identical to here, but the cost of living is not.

              • mds

                Oh, god, tell me about it. CT seems to have made itself solidly blue at the federal level, but Malloy + the newly-tied state senate + all the Trump signs in wealthy exurbs make me nervous about how blue it will stay at the state level, even if many of our Republican politicians aren’t completely insane yet. Not to mention the job market is less-than-optimal. But hey, there are jobs in Greater Boston that pay the same as what I make now, only with a much greater cost of living! (At least it’s not NYC, where most of the comparable jobs pay less.) It’s almost enough to make me move back home to Iowa—HahahahahahahahahahaNo. (Sorry, jim, some guy in iowa.)

      • DrDick

        Much the same as I say about Oklahoma.

        • delazeur

          Ironically, how I feel about Montana.

          • Chetsky

            ehh, Texas isn’t even a good place to be -from-. [intemperate invective removed.]

          • DrDick

            I can understand that, though it is still a step up from Oklahoma these days and I do enjoy the mountains and fishing.

    • Hob

      I grew up in Lancaster County in the ’80s, and I’m very aware of the history of bigotry even in the non-Pennsyltucky parts of the state. But what I get from reading this story is that the locals weren’t the problem (except for maybe some jerky kids) – the family wasn’t being threatened by their neighbors, but by random Breitbart fans all over the country. Thanks to the Internet, you can now experience the magic of right-wing harassment regardless of whether you live in Meth Valley, AR or Namaste Park, CA.

      • Mike G

        Digital brownshirts.

  • That’s ok. Trump will have a nice little camp for you guys to vacation. Real nice.

  • howard

    when i was in the second grade in allentown, pa. (1959-60), i came home from school one day in december singing “silent night” and “hark the herald,” and my mother (is it time to mention that we’re jewish?) marched down to the school and said “why is my son being taught christian religious music in public school?” and they stopped.

    which is to say, we actually more or less did what breitbart is pushing here, so i can only imagine what the reaction would be like today.

    • efgoldman

      when i was in the second grade in allentown, pa. (1959-60), i came home from school one day in december singing “silent night” and “hark the herald,”

      My dad was career Army. In 1952 when I was seven we got stationed in Germany. Yes, only seven years after the war. Small post, no other Jewish families (nor in any nearby stations), and of course no German Jews anywhere. I learned very young how to be the only Jewish kid in school. Taught myself to sing the non-religious carols and to leave out the religious words in the others; cried when my mom wouldn’t let me go to summer bible camp with the other kids; my mom cooked on Friday nights for a few Jewish GIs; the Jewish chaplain came around once a month and had dinner with us prior to conducting a service.
      When we moved to Aberdeen (MD) proving ground in ’55, the situation was largely the same; my folks had to find a man (a camp survivor, as it turned out) to teach me my Bar Mitvah readings because there was no synagogue.
      Even when we moved back home to Brookline MA (majority Jewish then, more so now) in ’59, we still had thje Lord’s Prayer and a bible reading (as often as not New Testament) every morning.

      • Davis X. Machina

        In Mass, in ’59, that’s probably a state board of education mandate.

        Some of its policies — hell, some of its personnel — probably dated back to Horace Mann.

        When they gave the local admin two choices of Lord’s Prayer – Protestant or Catholic — that was diversity enough.

        • efgoldman

          In Mass, in ’59, that’s probably a state board of education mandate.

          I’m sure it was, in most places, prior to O’Hair.
          Just putting some info out there for the kiddies who never knew that world, at least in the sensible, real states.

          • nixnutz

            They tried to revive school prayer in 1980, it only lasted a month and my teachers in Brookline treated it like a civics lesson, made sure we understood it was unconstitutional and would soon be overturned, that we could observe it or not as we chose. It made a pretty strong and positive impression.

            Gotta say it was really nice growing up somewhere where you just took for granted that people practiced different religions, or not, and celebrated different holidays.

      • bender

        In my public elementary school in Arlington, VA in the mid Fifties, opening exercises consisted of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of a patriotic song (America the Beautiful,
        My Country ‘Tis of Thee, and a few others in rotation), recitation of the Lord’s Prayer,
        and a Bible reading. We also sang some secular songs from a songbook.

        My thoughts at the time:
        1. As a Jewish kid from an educated family, I knew about the separation of church and state. When they added “under God” to the Pledge, I quietly declined to say that phrase on principle. Still do, although I am not an atheist. No one noticed.
        2. I like to sing and I like poetry, so the patriotic songs were fine with me.
        3. I knew the Lord’s Prayer was Christian, but the actual words contain nothing contrary to Judaism, so I decided it was okay for me to recite it in rote fashion. I thought it was wrong that we were led to pray in school, but it wasn’t my call.
        4. Listening to the Bible reading did not require any affirmative response from me, and I don’t remember the teachers selecting any verses about Jesus, much less anything critical of Jews, so I kept my mouth shut and listened.

        My thoughts as an adult:
        1. The general idea of opening exercises with a predictable format in elementary school classrooms is a good idea with pedagogical merit. I think giving elementary school students some songs with a positive attitude and moral content to sing together, and doing the same songs often enough so they learn the words and music, is good. Those nineteenth century lyrics have much more complicated sentence structure than anything the children are asked to read at that age, as well as more advanced vocabulary, and I think it’s good to expose them to that.
        2. “under God” is not only a state-suponsored exercise of religion, it ruins the scansion of the sentence and makes it hard to recite.
        3. Late in my father’s life, I asked him about his childhood and learned that he, too, had been expected to recite the Lord’s Prayer in public school in Oklahoma. He reasoned it out on his own and came to the same conclusion I did–nothing contrary to Judaism in it; permissible to say the prayer. Neither of us mentioned it to our parents. My father was a supporter of the ACLU, as am I.

      • pluky

        Not surprising there is nothing contrary to Judaism in the Lord’s Prayer in that it is a Jewish prayer. Christianity, as a distinct religious tradition, was still centuries (and a lot of Pauline and Neoplatonic modification) away.

        • bender

          I know that now, but I didn’t know it when I was seven years old.

    • alexceres

      Okay, but the irony here is the school’s statement is basically “you assholes cut budgets so much we don’t have time for 20 hours of rehearsal”

      what, school productions cost money ?

  • pianomover

    What’s ironic is that the play was cancelled because it took time away from studying to meet testing requirements.

    • alexceres

      this was my first thought too

  • Nobdy

    Will Trump or Bannon have to answer for this open fascism and threats against a child for the sin of not wanting to be in a religious school play?

    No? Ok, good.

    We’re just going to slide right into fascism then? This is the plan? Chuck Todd is just going to keep on Chuck Todding even though this site could not be more closely tied to Trump if he installed its executive chairman in the white house as his special advisor (oh wait, HE DID.)

    I am very tempted to create some kind of website profiling the cowardice of individual members of the press who are enabling this shit. They need to be named and shamed and have their cozy dinners and cocktail parties disrupted and ruined for their failure to report the RISE OF FASCISM IN THE UNITED STATES.

    Main reason I don’t is that it it strikes me as too close to right wing tactics I abhor singling out individuals and sending them death threats or the like. Of course I would never advocate violence, but it is hard to control what people might do if you start directing them at individuals.

    Still, there has to be an accounting in some way or anothet.

    • efgoldman

      I am very tempted to create some kind of website profiling the cowardice of individual members of the press who are enabling this shit.

      Go right ahead.
      Fuckem.
      Just get a dummy ip address first

    • tsam

      I’ll help with this effort if you want to do it.

      • I, too, would likely be willing to pitch in, time permitting.

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          Me three. You’ll probably wind up spending more than you expect because of the current volatility of the bitcoin “market” but its probably worth it for the added anonymity. If there’s serious interest here we should all somehow touch base to coordinate…

          • Origami Isopod

            Run this by XTPD; I get a feeling they’d jump at this too.

  • (((Malaclypse)))

    One lesson I learned when the NRA declared the 2-Minute Hate on Erik is that anybody can be singled out for this shit for any reason, or for no reason. The point is to punish anyone who sticks their neck out.

    This won’t end before someone dies, and probably not even then.

    • efgoldman

      This won’t end before someone dies, and probably not even then.

      Maybe if it’s Orangemandyas or Banaziannon

      • PhoenixRising

        Well, the last assassin quieted down the John Birch Society for a time, but I’m not endorsing violence.

    • CP

      One lesson I learned when the NRA declared the 2-Minute Hate on Erik is that anybody can be singled out for this shit for any reason, or for no reason. The point is to punish anyone who sticks their neck out.

      That and the simple fact of keeping their people on a footing of mass hysteria all the time. This is how Fox News Cycle Politics work. If too much time were to pass without anyone anywhere doing anything that offends them, they’d simply have to make one up in order to be able to stay outraged.

    • DrDick

      This is only the beginning. I expect witch burnings before Trump leaves office.

      • Future newscast:
        “Should the Stormtrumpers be burning people at the stake? Opinions differ! (short pause) But only Trump can save us from the witches. Up next: Trump tells us black people are all vampires. Here’s how to kill them.”

      • bender

        They will get some pushback on witch persecution. Some Witches are organized and tech-savvy, and some have served on the boards of interfaith organizations such as the North American Interfaith Network, the Interfaith Chapel at the Presidio in San Francisco, and the United Religions Initiative.

        Witches and Pagans succeeded in a long campaign to get the pentacle approved as a religious symbol for gravestones in military cemeteries.

        http://www.cog.org

        • DrDick

          “Witch burning” was not meant literally.

    • Colin Day

      I trust Trump about as far as I can throw him, but I suspect he might be more subtle than that (or his advisors will be).

      • (((Malaclypse)))

        As subtle as appointing Sessions?

      • brewmn

        Please. He’s already the most mentally unstable of his supporters hundreds of reasons to go out and shoot up a movie theatre, church, pizza place, etc.

  • Little Chak

    But everyone knows that Trump loves Jews!

    Well, as long as they’re the good kind who see Islam as an evil religion, who believe that Israel should be a one-state apartheid regime, and who would never do something so aggressively un-American as to ask that their child be excused from a Christmas play.

    • CP

      You’ve got to love the fact that after decades of calling everyone a Nazi antisemite who advocates for anything less than the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, they’re now telling us that all the literal out-of-the-closet Nazis with swastikas and all are nothing to worry about and just our imagination.

      • farin

        Prefigured by Bibi’s attempt to make Hitler share the blame for death camps with the Palestinian mufti. The shameless shall inherit (have inherited?) the earth.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      In other words, he dislikes the vast majority of Jews?

    • efgoldman

      But everyone knows that Trump loves Jews!

      Of course he does. Their the one who keep him out of jail and out of paying taxes by all that good Jewish lawyering and accounting.
      He’s even said so.
      I bet he even pays them, maybe in advance.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Lost in this tidal wave of bullshit is how the school is unable to put on the play, Jewish kids or not, because it has federally and state mandated tests to prepare for. You know, the only way anyone can be sure if their precious tax dollars are being used efficiently.

    • Owlbear1

      And there were no volunteers when the school offered to allow rehearsals after school hours.

      Truly Rabid Christians that lot.

      • Breadbaker

        Government should never take on a task the private sector can do, unless it involves (a) controlling women’s bodies; or (b) violating the Establishment Clause.

  • Mellano

    It’s too bad Dickens isn’t alive today to spit on the miserable, nasty people who take advantage of their wealth and power to punish everybody else.

    God save us, every one.

  • Nick never Nick

    How nice, that the Christmas Story is being re-enacted by devout Americans.

    • farin

      More of them deserve to put their eyes out.

      • Nick never Nick

        Huh? Is that part of the Christmas Story? I’m not very religious, I just know the basics.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          it’s a reference to the movie about the kid who wanted a BB gun for Christmas

          • Hogan

            An official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle, thank you very much.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              Ralphie?!

            • Ahuitzotl

              Ah, Back to the Fallout-1 !!

      • lizzie

        I thought this might be a reference to Santa Lucia, who is often depicted holding a plate with her eyeballs on it.

  • humanoid.panda

    The story seems to be false.

    • Nick never Nick

      Our side really needs to cut this shit out — it makes us look as stupid as right-wingers who flip out when they hear that Jesus has been banned from some area.

      Edit: Actually, that’s too harsh, particularly when there have been a number of repulsive stories around this similar theme that have been true. I don’t know how to balance the legitimate outrage one feels when hearing it, with the need to corroborate. I’ll let LGM’s masters ponder that.

      • PhoenixRising

        Read the links and think about that one again?

        It’s not a minor problem that digital brownshirts are ‘self-investigating’ the bullshit Breitbart and its ilk are feeding them, particularly now that Breitbart’s editor has been promoted to a desk in the west wing.

        I’m outraged that the parents are spending their holiday deciding whether the online mob has made their 5th grader no longer safe at his school. And you should be too.

    • Hogan

      That part’s a relief anyway.

    • McAllen

      If I’m understanding right, it’s false that the family fled. It’s not false that Breitbart and Fox blamed them for the play being canceled.

    • PhoenixRising

      That is not at all clear.

      A far more interesting question: Why is the ADL softsoaping a publication run by an incoming White House staffer…attacking a Jewish family…whose bigoted neighbors attributed the cancellation of the school Christmas play to them?

      Regardless of whether they pre-paid a vacation somewhere nice for this week, there is no reason to think that the parents were misquoted.

      They said they are hoping to be able to keep their kid in the school, because local neighbors have been just ducky but those online lunatics give pause to normal Americans.

      That’s a pretty big story, and a very important one. Why does the ADL prefer to sweep it under the rug?

      • Crusty

        I don’t know but it’s possible that it has something to do with the fact that this family still has to live in this place and they don’t want to be seen as agitators whether it’s agitating to get the play cancelled or agitating to draw attention to the misdeeds of Breitbart or the bigoted troglodytes in the town or across the Internet. That may or may not be a good approach but it is an approach to what now has to be at best, a very unpleasant situation for this family.

    • Nick056

      The family “fleeing” the town seems to be a miscommunication or misinterpretation; they appear to be on vacation. However, the chain of events preceding their vacation is real and not at all invented. They asked their kid to be excused from the play, which the school subsequently canceled for unrelated reasons, at which point Breitbart peddled a lie that the parents contrived to have the play canceled, and after that their child suffered bullying. It’s disturbing.

      And the ADL put out a presser that obscures everything and treats the whole incident as a fabrication.

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