Freedom is Under Attack

Freedom is under attack. Not by enemies, but by our neighbors. The Texas law banning abortion is the worst kind of law. Not just because it denies women the right to make decisions about their own bodies, their own lives, but because it invites neighbors, friends, and family to turn on each other. That is reprehensible.

Image of martial arts style fight in silhouette against a sun covered in part by a red cloud against a red sky--a symbol that Freedom is under attack

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

Nelson Mandela

The Texas Law

“The Texas law, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape, bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, and even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who do not need to live in Texas have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees.

NY Times

Read that again. The law “bars state officials from enforcing it.” Instead, it “deputizes private individuals” to sue anyone who performs the procedure. Or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion. The state of Texas has turned into a Nazi state. This law is the same as the 1933 Nazi decree that required Germans to turn in anyone who spoke against the government. 

Not only that, this Texan law says the plaintiff (the person suing) does not need to “live in Texas, have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it.” And to top that off, they will REWARD the successful plaintiff with up to $10,000 and their legal fees! 

If the defendants (the accused) win, they cannot recover legal fees. The law punishes the accused even if they are innocent!

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court refused to block the law. This upset many people. According to the NY Times, “Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants.” Except in this case, the law specifically bans state officials from enforcing this law.

And in the unsigned majority opinion (not ruling), they said that the abortion providers who sought the block did not make their case. It also stated that this opinion did not speak to the constitutionality of this law. 

Could they have blocked the law? Of course they could have. Should they have? That’s complicated by legal issues I don’t pretend to understand completely.

I understand that this law is about more than pro-life or pro-choice. It’s about turning people against each other. It invites abuse of each other and of the system. What I want to know is where the heck the voting Texans are? What are you thinking?


It’s the mark of a backward society – or a society moving backward – when decisions are made for women by men.

Melinda Gates, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

Don’t Tell Me You’re Pro-Life

If you:

  • Don’t support laws to prevent school shootings,
  • Are against free school lunches for every child,
  • Don’t support taxes to provide better care for and laws protecting our elderly,
  • You cheered when you heard Osama bin Ladin was dead,
  • Don’t support laws that require fathers to pay child support from prenatal care through that child’s college education, 
  • You eat meat or eggs or fish,
  • Don’t support free education for all,
  • You believe accessible parking is preferential treatment,
  • Don’t support paid maternity and paternity leave,
  • You hunt and kill any living animal,
  • Don’t believe in mandatory sentences for rape,
  • Aren’t against police brutality in all situations,
  • Don’t support free health care for all (including free contraceptives),
  • Will not wear a mask to protect others from COVID, 

…you are not pro-life.

You are pro-life in all situations or you are not pro-life but pro-controlling someone else’s life.

My Position on Abortion

Photo of the backs of many female manikins covered in yellow and red caution tape with the message "your body belongs to you on the back of one manikin"

No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.

Margaret Sanger

No one gets pregnant so they can have an abortion. No one chooses abortion as their first option for birth control. It is a deeply personal choice. A choice no one else will ever understand.

I fully support every woman’s right to choose what to do with her body. And I adamantly object to any law aimed at controlling anyone’s choice about their health, pregnancy, or sexuality.

True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.

Jonathan Sacks 

I believe the Supreme Court will rule the Texas Abortion Ban as unconstitutional. But that decision may come too late for some women.

Stop the Attacks

Make no mistake. Freedom is under attack. You may think the Texas Abortion ban law doesn’t affect you, but you’re wrong. If it stands, how much longer before some group will challenge freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, or the right to vote? Oops, look at that. Some people already challenge the right of others to vote. Stop the attacks. Your freedom is at risk.

First Lines Friday with Freedom Fighters

First Line Friday is a blog series posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Today’s choices honor the U.S. holiday, the Fourth of July with a freedom fighters theme. Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more?

Girl Reading a Book while sitting on a stack of books, A First lines friday with freedom fighters theme. Lynette M Burrows

I don’t usually do content warnings. The book’s cover, blurb, and category should get the point across. However, a cover and first line alone doesn’t always convey that type of information. 

Content Warning: Violence with graphic descriptions.


Cover of The Patriot's Grill a novel shows a tall smokestack spewing so much smoke it creates a haze of tall city buildings and even a distant mountain range. It's a title in the first lines friday with freedom fighters post for July.

It was a strikingly unlikely sight, even for a world grown accustomed to unlikely sights. 

The Patriot’s Grill by Steven Day

The cover of rogue cell shows a black and white flag with stripes running up and down and the stripes appear to be dripping or torn. A red star in in a field of white in the upper right corner.

They met behind a warehouse, twice abandoned. 

Rogue Cell (A Grower’s War Book 3) by DJ Molles

The cover of Metal warrior shows a very tall bipedal robot walking into a fiery battle scene

Block, damn you! Dane did his best to raise his metal arms to catch the hammer-blow of steel, brass, and aluminum that was coming his way.

Metal Warrior: Born of Steel (Mech Fighter Book 1) by James David Victor

The cover of Ghost fleet is a pixilated image of the ocean with nearly transparent ship of some kind.

“I’m so sorry.”

What did Vitaly mean by that?

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P. W. Singer and August Cole

Cover of Working Stiffs Shows a man standing in a tall arched doorway looking out a city buildings through a fog

The three dead guys on the freight elevator had a personal odor reminiscent of vomit with an undertone of road kill.

Working Stiffs by Scott Bell

Cover of The Ezekiel Factor shows a skeleton looking out a window at a sunrise over a mountain lake

The severed head plopped into the steel bucket with a gelatinous thump, eyes wide open, as though pleading in vain for a reprieve.

The Ezekiel Factor by Caroline Noe

Clarification

There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books.

Do You Want to Read More?

Did you enjoy this First Line Friday with Freedom Fighters? Check out previous First Line Friday posts. Please put an enormous smile on my face if you tell me in the comments below— Which ones spoke to you? Did you buy it?

Do You Support the Reality of Freedom?

I spoke a little about the symbols of freedom a few weeks ago in my post, What’s Your Symbol of Freedom. I’m not advocating that we all see the symbols of freedom in the same way. And yet, the symbols stand for ideas or ideals that we supposedly believe and support. But do you support the idea of freedom? Do you support the reality of freedom? Here are a few quotes that speak to the ideas of freedom that I support. 

illustration of people of different colors holding hands around the globe--what I hope will be the reality of freedom

What Is Freedom

Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.

Mortimer Adler

Freedom is not the right to live as we please, but the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

True freedom is always spiritual. It has something to do with your innermost being, which cannot be chained, handcuffed, or put into a jail.

Rajneesh

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Nelson Mandela

Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.

Simone Weil
image of statue's chained hand--the reality of freedom for some is that freedom isn't real

What choices is Simone Weil talking about? If you must hide from an oppressor or if you must wear certain clothes or say (not say) certain things to avoid arrest, are you free? If you are struggling to keep a roof over your head or to put food on the table or if you can’t afford transportation to a job, or can’t afford education, are you free? What about if your skin color is different so you can’t vote or get a job or are treated as less equal, are you free? Those aren’t choices people make. No one chooses to fear for their life. No one chooses to be unable to meet their own needs. Am I saying we should give people everything for free? No. 

At What Cost Freedom

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Ronald Reagan

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.

William Faulkner

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and will never be.

Thomas Jefferson

The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.

Adlai Stevenson

Don’t be ignorant about the lack of choices that others have. Educate yourself. Figure out what you can do to help those others have those choices. Raise your voice. Lend a hand (Habitat for Humanity). Raise money. Give a damn. If you support the reality of freedom, then you know that the cost of freedom is to fight for it every day. So step out of your complacencies and do what you can. 

Why Talk About Freedom

Image of protestors being sprayed by police--the reality of freedom for some isn't really free

The whole world seems to live under the banner: “Freedom is wonderful—but only for me.”

Isaac Asimov

If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky has the right idea. But I would say if we don’t believe in freedom for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. Many people in the U.S.A and in other nations around the world have forgotten that freedom isn’t exclusive. We’ve forgotten that life, the world, isn’t a sound bite. That because you or I have freedom, others within our own nation do not. We have forgotten that if we believe in the reality of freedom people who espouse different ideas, who worship differently, who speak or dress differently—all deserve freedom.

The reality of freedom is that it is not equal. That we must fight every day to make it as equal as possible. For if we don’t believe, if we don’t support the reality of freedom for all, we don’t believe in it at all. 

What’s Your Symbol of Freedom and Democracy?

Have you stood at the feet of the colossal copper statue on Staten Island in New York? “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” given to the United States by the people of France is recognized as a “universal symbol of freedom and democracy.” 

Photo of the face and head of the Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom and Democracy

Awestruck to Confused

I have always seen myself as a patriot. (You may have guessed this would be the case if you’ve read my Fourth of July posts.) Growing up, my family visited many of our nation’s historically important sites. As a grade-schooler, I stood awestruck at the feet of Miss Liberty. The sight filled me with a national pride that “my” people welcomed everyone. It said so on the bronze plaque on the pedestal. 

Image of the plaque inscribed with Emma Lazarus's sonnet "The New Colossus" placed on the Statue that is the symbol of freedom and democracy.

By photographer – NPS, Poem Emma Lazarus – U.S. National Park Service , Public Domain

“The New Colossus

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

Today, I am confused and upset by the hostility immigrants to the United States face. How did we go from welcoming to shunning and imprisoning immigrants? When I’m confused about something, I try to educate myself about that situation. This is the first of a series of posts exploring the history of U.S. Immigration laws and attitudes.

Birth of the Statue of Liberty

According to the National Parks Service, a French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist named Edouard de Laboulaye proposed, in 1865, that the French build a statue representing liberty for the United States. This monument would honor the United States’ centennial of independence and friendship with France. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi began designing the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” in 1870.

Then in 1871, Bartholdi took a trip to the United States and selected Bedloe’s Island as the site for the Statue. It was a small island but to Bartholdi it was the “gateway to America.” Every ship entering New York Harbor would see the statue on that island.

Construction

They began construction in 1875. Gustave Eiffel built the statue’s metal framework.

Photo of the head of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Paris Exposition of 1878
The head of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Paris Exposition of 1878.
By Albert Fernique – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a53268. Public Domain,

The United States Congress approved the use of Bedloe Island (renamed Liberty Island in 1956) for the statue.

Then in 1884, construction of the pedestal began in the U.S.

For nine years, crews worked around the clock seven days a week to complete the statue. They completed the statue in 1885. They disassembled it into 350 pieces and shipped it to New York. Great fanfare met the Statue when it arrived in New York Harbor on June 17, 1885. Unfortunately, the pedestal was not ready until 1886. 

On a wet and foggy October 28, 1886, one million New Yorkers turned out to cheer the official unveiling of the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World.” 

There are many more fascinating details about the construction of the Statue of Liberty. You can read a more complete history of the construction on the National Park Service website. Also, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation site has a list of Statue Facts you might enjoy.

A Symbol of Freedom and Democracy

Miss Liberty has been a symbol of freedom and democracy to many. A welcoming beacon. A promise of freedom for all. Are those of us who see her that way naïve? No, but perhaps we didn’t understand that other people saw a more narrow symbol, a more limited welcome.

What’s your symbol of freedom and democracy? Who do you include? We’ll explore those thoughts and more in this ongoing series. 

Always Remember 9/11

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Always remember 9/11.

Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and into the Pentagon. A third plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Its passengers, aware of what had happened, fought back and sacrificed their lives. 

Image of one of the memorial fountains at the former site of the World Trade Center--Always Remember 9/11

Photo of one of the memorial fountains at the former site of the World Trade Center by Saschaporsche [CC BY-SA 3.0]

First responders selflessly struggled against impossible odds to help survivors and evacuate those in danger. Many first responders lost their lives, too. 

Thousands died that day. It was a day that changed America. Our sense of safety shattered. Our isolation from what happened overseas vanished.

Time is Relentless

Families were forever changed on that day. Witnesses near the Towers were also changed. Some have physical reminders—old injuries or chronic injuries from debris and dust. 

Time has claimed some of those who watched the Towers crumple.

For some eighteen years was a lifetime ago. They never saw that day. And unless the tragedies touched their families, they do not know or feel the solemness of the day. 

Memory Fades

The nation’s collective memory is fading. 

Thousands died. It didn’t matter what color their skin, what religion they did or didn’t follow, or what their sexual preference was. They died because they were Americans and America symbolized something evil to terrorists who’d sworn to kill and destroy what they could. 

That day, that week, that month random acts of love (RAOL) happened all over the nation. People offered hugs, water, even shirts off their own backs to strangers. They believed we would always remember 9/11.

What fickle creatures we human beings are. Eighteen years ago, America came together to comfort the grieving and to rally under a symbol, the flag of the United States of America. United being the operative word. We didn’t care what color of skin the victims had. Nor did we care about what sexual preferences or religions they practiced. They were Americans killed in an act of rage and terror. We grieved for them, hurt for them, drew together because of them. 

Unfortunately, we allowed that sense of unity to fade with our memories.

No Easy Answer

Our forefathers had a dream of freedom from tyranny. They succeeded. But they did not, could not, foresee all the changes and growth of the next couple of centuries. 

The United States of America is a nation of many colors, shapes, sizes, religions, and sexual preferences. There will be differences of opinions amongst us. There will be haters and lovers and everything in between. That is inevitable. It falls to the lovers to be bigger than the haters. To shun the hatred but not return it. The lovers must identify the haters but not lower themselves to the haters level with name calling. Remember, tough love means to not tolerate bad behavior but to unconditionally love the person. (This can be a challenge when behavior is extreme or evil.) Finally, the lovers must open their eyes to see what the haters see and work to heal those wounds.

None of those things are easy. All of those things take an enormous amount of strength and a lot of time. And that’s okay.

Image of the USA flag flying against a cloud studded blue sky--Always remember 9/11

While many of us fear for the security and integrity and future of the USA, it’s not defeated. Not if we always remember 9/11 and use love to heal the wounds and scars of our nation. Honor the memory of those we lost with random acts of love (RAOL) today.