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Evil Hits Too Close to Home in Michigan

October 10, 2020

 Auburn HIlls, Michigan  USA 

The hatred and hostility that has bubbled to dangerous levels in the United States just hit very close to home. Not just to my home state of Michigan, but to my heart. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a personal friend. 

I'm still reeling from yesterday's stunning announcement that 13 members of right-wing, extremist militia groups in Michigan, described by the FBI as "well-armed and highly dangerous," were plotting to kidnap, try for treason and execute our outstanding and courageous governor. 

Why? Because they are furious that "The Bitch," as they described Whitmer in recorded phone conversations, dared to tread on their FREEDOMS by ordering state-wide restrictions to protect Michigan residents from a deadly pandemic.

How dare a woman order them to wear masks, close schools, restaurants and gyms or limit the size of private and public gatherings! Their plot was months in the making and included surveillance of the governor's northern Michigan vacation home and plans to use explosives to create a diversion for security so that they could "Just Grab the Bitch." 

These dangerous militias, with names like Proud Boys and Wolverine Watchmen, are toxic masculinity on steroids. They are also unnerving evidence of the "domestic violence extremists" that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has just described as the "most persistent and lethal threat" to America. These groups have been festering and metastasizing for years.  Authorities say they were seizing on this moment of civil unrest in the U.S. to wreak havoc on the country. Their goal of triggering another civil war is horrifying. 

But here's what is even worse. A drumbeat of blatant racist and misogynistic dog whistles from the president of the United States have emboldened them.  Earlier this spring, when Michigan was one of the worst COVID-10 hot spots in the U.S. and Governor Whitmer and her team of health experts and scientists were scrambling to control it with state-wide "shelter in place" orders, President Trump tweeted, "Liberate Michigan!"

It was just a few weeks later that heavily-armed protestors, stormed the legislative chambers of our state Capitol, threatening lawmakers and demanding that pandamic restrictions be lifted. Whitmer stuck with the science and held firm, which is why new COVID-19 cases and deaths are mostly flat in Michigan.

 During the first presidential debate, with 70 Million television viewers watching, Donald Trump refused to denounce white extremists groups. Instead, when pressed for a message to his violent supporters, the president told them to, "Stand back and stand by!" One can't help but wonder if he had already been briefed on the plot against Governor Whitmer's life when he issued that order. 

In her news conference yesterday, just a few hours after the FBI released details about the kidnapping plot, Whitmer called for national unity, saying,“I’ve said it many times: We are not one another’s enemy.  This virus is our enemy, and this enemy is relentless.”

Then she rightly called out Trump, saying, “Our head of state has spent the last seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division."

And what was the U.S. president's response?  He doubled down, tweeting, "Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan... Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!” 

There is nothing that gets under the skin of our Covid-infected president more than strong, powerful women.  Besides hitting back at Whitmer, his cowardly twittter offensive yesterday also took aim at vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, whom he repeatedly called "a monster." 

I'm not just fearful about the tragedy against an elected leader and our country that was diverted, this time. I'm furious. Furious that the president of my country, who took an oath "to protect and preserve the people of the United States" has allowed over 210,000 Americans to die from a pandemic that is still out of control and led our nation to the most precarious moment of my lifetime.  

If you are an American citizen whose values have long aligned you with the Republican Party and have read this far, I'm guessing that you have decided not to vote for him again.

But I beg you to take one more step. A step for justice, for democracy and to begin the healing. If only for this one time in your life, help hand the leadership ball to the other team.  When a dangerous, delusional leader is fanning the flames of hate, it is not enough to stand on the sidlines and hope things work out. Voting is not about falling in love with the perfect candidate. It is moving a chess piece to get you to a better place. 

History is coming for us. I pray that the land of my birth is up to the greatest test of our lifetimes. 

 

Days of Wink/Wink Sexual Harassment Need To Be Over

February 28, 2020

This week's GUILTY verdict in the sexual assault trial of Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, was a long-awaited WATERSHED moment in our centuries-long fight for safety from sexual assault and "boys will be boys," toxic work cultures. It took the tenacious reporting of Pulitzer Prize-winning, NY Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, as well as 90 women courageously reporting painful details of their Weinstein's assaults to finally stop the predator's decades-long crime spree of grabbing, groping, raping then silencing his victims. ("If he heard the word 'no,'it was like a trigger for him," testified one of his victims.) 

Let's celebrate this important victory, while reminding ourselves the war is yet to be won. 

For women to be believed and our judicial system to send a consistent message to men that "the age of impunity" for harassing, assaulting and disrespecting women is over, all generations of women and our male allies need to raise our voices COLLECTIVELY to demand change. It needs to happen at the grassroots level in every work place and, YES, EVERY TIME a woman is sexually demeaned, harassed or bothered by a man. That's what "no tolerance" policies are supposed to mean. NO TOLERANCE. 

It is younger women, Millennials and Gen Z's, who are leading the #MeToo & #TimesUp movements. Fewer of them are willing to tolerate what previous generations of women felt we had to put up with in order to be accepted in male-dominated professions where we were trying to prove we belonged. But let's not insist that younger women tolerate the intolerable because we had little recourse. If they are ready to lead on this issue, it's up to their older "sisters" to have their backs. 

That's exactly what's happening in the Michigan legislature now where a Senator with a pattern of sexual harassment is finally being held accountable. 

Senator Pete Lucido thought he was "just having fun" when he made a gang rape joke -- in front of a large group of high school boys -- at the expense of 22-year-pld reporter Allison Donahue.  She had the courage to object to him and then to use the power of her pen to report on the incident. Lucido thought he could brush it off as "a misunderstanding," until additional women came forward with stories of their own experiences with Lucido's pattern of sexual harassment.  The news coverage went viral.

My POWERING UP podcast guests this week are two of the women who raised their voices to help hold Lucido, a powerful senator, accountable for "wink/wink" sexual innuendo that needs to end.

MichiganState Senator Mallory McMorrow and Detroit Free Press Journalist Julie Hinds both spoke up -- after Gen Z Donahue led the way.  My POWERING UP podcast conversation with them is is compelling and can be found wherever you get your podcasts, as well as through my AnneDoyleLeadership website. 

I hope you will listen and share it with others who will join us in insisting that #TimesUp!

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