Wearing a Mask is Unmanly….

….and Other Reasons Female World Leaders are Doing a Better Job Beating Coronavirus

By Marian E. Lindberg

What do countries such as New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan have in common? Aside from having successfully reduced cases of COVID-19, all three have female leaders.

The connection has drawn attention, and is no coincidence. Not simply because these countries’ leaders are women, but because as women they do not carry the baggage that can prevent male leaders such as Donald Trump from taking science-based measures such as setting and respecting national standards for wearing masks. That is, concerns about their manliness.

Current rhetoric in political circles is rife with undertones of manliness. When Jeff Sessions decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump disparaged him as “very weak” and not “being a man.” He refers to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as “that woman from Michigan.” Amid the wave of protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, he has pushed for governors to “get tough,” telling them, “most of you are weak.”

Trump takes us back to an earlier era when accusations of unmanliness in politics were less coded. . In the late 1890’s, when President William McKinley sought to avoid war with Spain over its brutal treatment of Cubans, Theodore Roosevelt, then a Navy bureaucrat, accused McKinley of having “no more backbone than a chocolate éclair.” Jingoist newspapers agreed, calling McKinley a “goody-goody man”—or no man at all. The New York Journal published a cartoon depicting McKinley as an elderly woman pushing a broom against the will of Congress and “The People,” represented as menacing ocean waves. The caption read “Another Old Woman Tries to Sweep Back the Sea.”

Roosevelt and other hawks declared that war against Spain would strengthen American men, who had become too “soft” in their view. If men were stronger, the argument went, women would give up their quest for the vote and focus on being wives and mothers, satisfied that the nation was in good, manly hands. As sociologist Michael Kimmel has written, “The story of America [is] a story of proving and testing manhood.”

In the face of the threats we are confronting today, including a pandemic and climate change, it is important to remember that even in the 1890s a large number of men did not support a martial definition of manliness.

Senator David Hill of New York, for example, asserted that whether to fight Spain was not “simply a question as to whether we were brave enough people to enter upon the experiment.” As historian Kristin Hoganson writes, Hill “and like-minded leaders regarded the Cuban issue not as a crusade but as a policy issue to be settled by sober statements and foreign policy authorities. In effect, they contended that the kind of manhood that should govern foreign policy debate was…that of the dispassionate, educated expert, someone who exercised restraint and sober judgment.”

That sounds a lot like the debates over how to respond to Covid-19: medical expertise and the virtues of compassion and restraint versus assertions of individual “freedom” to do as one pleases. And rhetoric around the pandemic is as rife with undertones of manliness (or lack thereof) as our political rhetoric overall. Just look at the signs on highways entering Manhattan that read “Cover Your Face in Public. We are New York Tough.” And at President Trump’s constant scoffing when asked why he doesn’t wear a mask—which he has said would make [him] look ridiculous for prioritizing health over business. How unmanly.

When it comes to Covid-19, unlike manliness, different approaches can be measured objectively by numbers of cases and deaths. By that measure, heads of state in places such as New Zealand, Germany, and Taiwan who imposed isolation measures early and relied on medical experts to inform their policies clearly saved lives. Free from concerns of manliness, they responded to a major problem dispassionately, based on “sober judgment” and without regard to bravado.

It can take more strength to tell people not to act than to encourage their aggressiveness. The leaders who imposed swift quarantines showed such strength. The adverse economic impacts of curbing movement and commerce were easy to anticipate, but the upside was not clear: what if the quarantines did not prove effective in reducing virus transmission and death?

Today, few officials would argue that a course of action is right because it is “manly.” A statement such as “I want American manhood asserted” (Sen. William M. Stewart, R, Nev., speaking in 1897) would be considered as retrograde in 2020 as “men working” signs.

But concerns with manliness persist just below the surface. When Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was willing to die to save the economy, that echoed men such as Stewart and Roosevelt. Faced with an enemy unbeatable through physical force, Patrick turned to dying for his country as a supposedly heroic option.

Yet Covid-19 teaches that strength is not the same as physical power, nor is strength male or female. Those who insist on characterizing Covid-19 as an enemy in a war must accept that in this war, the men and women who made us stand back may have shown the strength we most need.

About Marian E. Lindberg:
Getting to the truth has been the constant in Marian E. Lindberg’s career, first as a
journalist, then as a lawyer, environmentalist, and author. Her new book, Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused (East End Press) is the product of extensive research into a 1914 trial and reveals the origins of homophobia as a federal policy.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Multi-Faith Coalition Defends Rights of Atheist

Yesterday I received a press release that I thought I should share. An interesting case of a multi-faith coalition coming together to defend the rights of an atheist.

From Muslim Advocates:

Muslim Advocates, joined by 15 other faith-based organizations from diverse religious backgrounds, filed a brief on Monday, in support of an atheist who was required to live in a Christian halfway house as a condition of his parole. After he refused to attend religious services, he was kicked out of the halfway house and arrested for violating his parole—leading him to file a lawsuit, Janny v. Gamez. Unfortunately, a district court ruled against him, claiming no violations of his religious rights occurred because he was merely required to attend the services, not participate in them. The plaintiff is represented on appeal by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU of Colorado, and the law firm DLA Piper.

Muslim Advocates’ brief argues that the district court’s ruling misapplied religious freedom law. By claiming that merely attending a religious service was not a religious event, the court ignored the fact that attending religious services is a deeply meaningful religious act for a number of different faith traditions. Further, the Constitution and U.S. law protect not only against forced participation in religious exercise, but also against being forced to listen to religious proselytization. The brief also emphasizes that the district court’s misapplication of the law would be especially harmful to religious minorities, because they are more likely to end up at a halfway house that does not share their faith.

“Parole officers cannot force anyone to attend religious services in order to stay out of prison,” says Matthew Callahan, staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “The laws of the United States require that the government respect an individual’s personal religious beliefs. The Tenth Circuit must act to overturn the district court’s dangerous interpretation of the law and ensure that no one else is sent behind bars merely for following the dictates of their faith.”

Along with Muslim Advocates, the brief was signed by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Disciples of Christ, the Global Justice Institute, the Hindu American Foundation, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Men of Reform Judaism, the National Council of Churches, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, Union of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, Women of Reform Judaism, and Wyoming Interfaith Network.

You can read the filing here. It’s a worthwhile read.

About Muslim Advocates:
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

The Chocolate Scorecard

A few days ago, I received a press release about 3 advocacy groups that put together a consumer purchasing guide for chocolate. Since I know that A LOT of you are chocolate lovers, I thought you’d want to see it.

Mighty Earth, Green America, and Be Slavery Free published a joint Easter scorecard, analyzing what the world’s biggest chocolate companies are doing to address social and environmental concerns. Godiva receives the “Rotten Egg Award” for its poor performance, and Tony’s Chocolonely receives the “Golden Egg Award” for its efforts to reshape the industry. The Easter scorecard has been published annually by Mighty Earth since 2018.

“Equipped with this scorecard, consumers can buy their Easter chocolates knowing whether their treats are likely tainted by deforestation and human rights abuses,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director, Etelle Higonnet. “Consumers’ purchases highlight that we, at a time of global crisis, are all truly interconnected and that we are in this together.”

The groups surveyed 13 chocolate companies and eight cocoa suppliers, examining their policies in six of the most pressing sustainability issues facing the chocolate industry: mandatory due diligence; transparency and traceability; deforestation and climate change; agroforestry; living income policies; and child labor, focusing primarily on child labor monitoring and remediation systems.

Godiva was given The Rotten Egg Award for failing to take responsibility for the conditions with which its chocolates are made, despite making huge profits off its chocolate. Godiva rated poorly across the board. In comparison to other chocolate brands, Godiva has made very little progress on social and environmental issues in the last few years.

Tony’s Chocolonely, which sources from the same supplier as Godiva, earned the Golden Egg Award. When comparing the two companies’ efforts, the differences are stark. Tony’s is working to demonstrate that an ethical business model is possible in the chocolate industry and works to support its supplier to improve its operations. Tony’s performed well in every category across the scorecard.

“2020 is a big year in the chocolate sector, two decades since the world’s chocolate manufacturers signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement to clean up the industry. Sadly, very little has changed,” said Charlotte Tate, Labor Justice Campaigns Manager at Green America. “Nonetheless, the industry is recognizing voluntary initiatives are not working and more companies are calling for government regulation. Businesses are recognizing that they cannot solve these issues alone and need greater government regulation.”

Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96 percent of whom are found to be in hazardous labor according to researchers at Tulane University. In recent years, research from the World Resources Institute found that there has been an increase in deforestation in top cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Cocoa farmers often live in extreme poverty, despite chocolate companies raking in billions every year.

While progress is being made in the direct cocoa supply chains, there are still big concerns about the harmful impacts of companies’ indirect supply chains on the environment, particularly deforestation, and people. There is little transparency about what is occurring in the indirect cocoa supply chains. These issues demonstrate an urgent need for increased efforts to transform the cocoa industry into a sustainable industry.


You can learn more about Mighty Earth here.
You can learn more about Be Slavery Free here.
You can learn more about Green America here.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

EWG Tap Water Database

I’m a skincare nerd. If you follow me on social media (particularly my personal Twitter and/or Instagram) you already know this. AND, if you’re that kind of nerd, like me, you’ve probably found yourself at the Environmental Working Group website. Why? For their Skin Deep Database (which analyzes the ingredients in skincare and cosmetics). And that’s how I became familiar with the EWG.

They recently released/updated a tool that I thought many of you would be interested in, a tap water database. After the danger with Flint, Michigan’s water supply captured international attention (and then disappeared from the headlines) we all became frighteningly aware that what we don’t know about our tap water can hurt us.

The Environmental Working Group analyzed 32 million water records from across the country to make an easy to use database. This short video discusses all of this.

By going to https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ you can just type in your zip code and see the results. Better still, the EWG site discusses different types of water filtration methods you can use to help improve your water quality.

Think Before You Pink 2019

Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures, and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.

Corporate giant 3M markets pink ribbon Post-its to raise awareness of breast cancer, but 3M also produces and uses PFAS, a toxic class of compounds known as forever chemicals that may contribute to breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Action calls this pinkwashing.

What are PFAS? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large and ever-expanding class of highly fluorinated synthetic chemicals used to repel oil and water. Known for their extreme persistence, they are also called forever chemicals. PFOA and PFOS are two of the oldest and most well-studied chemicals in this group. These chemicals do not naturally break down over time.

There is no way to avoid exposure to PFAS and 98% of Americans have at least one PFAS chemical in their body. The drinking water of approximately 110 million Americans contains unsafe levels of PFAS, and the chemicals have been found in both breast and cow’s milk. PFAS are also found in food, consumer products, workplaces, and dust.

The weight of the evidence shows that PFAS may increase the risk of breast cancer. One of 3M’s own consultants warned that the chemical used for years in Scotchgard “is one of the strongest cancer promoters I’ve ever seen” and interferes with the ability of cells to communicate with each other. PFAS are known to cause some cancers and interfere with normal hormone functioning. In addition, PFAS have been shown to suppress the immune system, which can hinder the body’s ability to prevent rogue cells from growing into breast cancer. Even low dose exposure to PFAS changes the structure of the mammary gland and interferes with breastfeeding.

3M pioneered this dangerous class of chemicals and the company’s fortunes were built on the development, manufacture, and sale of PFOS and PFOA. Today, 3M is a $120 billion multinational corporation with profits driven by the development of newer PFAS compounds. For nearly seventy years, 3M has covered up the risks of PFAS from the public and regulators, protecting their profits at the cost of public health. One lawsuit charges 3M “maliciously conspired” with trade groups to conceal the chemicals’ toxicity. Through a range of delay and deny tactics, 3M prevented regulation, all the while pushing PFAS into new consumer products. As a result, current and future generations continue to be exposed to these dangerous chemicals. 3M has developed newer so-called “short chain” PFAS chemicals, to replace PFOA and PFOS. But a new report reveals that 3M submitted reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing health risks for 21 of these newer PFAS chemicals it makes. Despite industry’s claims about the relative safety of newer PFAS, there is evidence that these newer chemicals are not safe for humans or the environment. Instead of cleaning up their business to show us they care about breast cancer, 3M is continuing to contribute to a forever problem.

In one study, dying cancer patients were given extremely high doses of PFOA in 2008–2011 despite scant evidence that it would help their cancer or improve their quality of life. Results from this unethical research were never published, and to date, data about the patients’ cancer has never been presented. But instead of disavowing the study, 3M recently harvested the data and paid for re-analysis, which they’re now using to make unsupportable claims that PFOA may not be as persistent as previous studies have shown.

3M claims to be a good corporate citizen and has run several breast cancer promotions over the years, including pink hard hats and tape. In addition to marketing pink ribbon Post-its, 3M is currently selling pink stethoscopes to “help the fight against breast cancer.” 3M says their pink products are a “reminder for a good cause.” But they’re just trying to distract us from the fact that 3M’s toxic forever chemicals cause cancer, suppress the immune system, disrupt hormones, and change the structure of the mammary gland.

Tell 3M’s executives to stop producing, using, and selling PFAS!

Marketing pink products isn’t enough. If 3M really cares about breast cancer, they will put our health before their PFAS-driven profits.

Learn more, and take action at: https://bcaction.org/NeverForeverChems/

(Information provided by Breast Cancer Action. Emphasis on phrases is my own.)

Banned Books Week 2019

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

For those of you who are curious, this short video shows the 11 most challenged books of the past year.




You can learn more about Banned Books Week at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

Want to support independent bookstores and shop the top 10 most challenged books of the past decade? Then shop the links below! (These are affiliate links to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use these links to purchase books, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

NUMBER ONE
NUMBER ONE

NUMBER TWO
NUMBER TWO

NUMBER THREE
NUMBER THREE

NUMBER FOUR
NUMBER FOUR

NUMBER FIVE
NUMBER FIVE

NUMBER SIX
NUMBER SIX

NUMBER 7
NUMBER 7

NUMBER EIGHT
NUMBER EIGHT

NUMBER NINE
NUMBER NINE

NUMBER TEN
NUMBER TEN

The Secret History of America

When you see a title like “The Secret History of America”, you might perk up at the thought of nefarious, conspiratorial plots. And although secrets abound in “The Secret History of America: Classic Writings on our Nation’s Unknown Past and Inner Purpose” by Manly P. Hall, you’ll be hard pressed to find sinister actions. That’s because through Hall’s account of history America, the literal land the country exists on, has been preordained to be a utopia, or as close to one as humanity can create.

As editor Mitch Horowitz says in his introduction, “Hall’s view of American history could be called transcendental.” He goes on to explain, “Within Hall’s writings on American history, particularly in his essays and book called The Secret Destiny of America, appears the principle that the U.S. serves – at his finest hours – as a vessel for primeval ideals of democracy, self-development, individual searching, and personal liberty. Hall located these ideals, in their earliest form, within ancient esoteric traditions, and he believed that such principles were preserved within the work of illuminated intellects, like Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as covert fraternities, including Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, and enacted, albeit imperfectly, by America’s founders, many of whom were either Masons, such as Washington and Franklin, or were intimately steeped in ethical and individualistic philosophy, such as Paine and Jefferson.”

Hall profiles a colorful cast of characters including George Washington, Albert Pike, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He shares stories of mysterious strangers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and potential identities of Quetzalcoatl. All the while Hall paints a picture of an aspirational America. An America living up to its fullest potential.

Entertaining, inspiring, and informative, Manly P. Hall’s “Secret History of America” is a must read.

You can learn more here.

Williamson Wants You

I love primaries during the run up to a presidential election year. I play armchair pundit like many Americans, weighing pros and cons, and handicapping the primaries as they start rolling. Obviously, I was stoked to see who was going to throw their hat in the ring to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Well they can just stop it already! I had a good handle on the candidates for a while, but now I can barely keep up! My cup runneth over, and seriously, I’m drowning in the flood of information!

Not to make matters worse but there is a primary candidate that may be under your radar, and since she comes from a new age/self-help background I felt I should bring her to your attention. If you haven’t heard, author, speaker, and spiritual mogul Marianne Williamson is running for the Democratic Party nomination.

A quick overview of her platform shows her to be mostly in line with most of the progressive candidates. One of her biggest departures with other candidates is her desire to create a US Department of Domestic Peace-Building. As I write this, there are 14 people running for the nomination with Williamson being the last in fundraising. You can find out more about the candidate’s fundraising here.

I honestly don’t know who I’ll vote for at this point. I’ll probably wait for the primary process to winnow the field down, then pick from what’s left. If you’d like to learn more about Marianne Williamson’s campaign, visit her site here.

Hail Satan?

I received a press release about a documentary that I definitely want to see! Check it out!

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.

Hail Satan? will be in theaters April 19th! You can learn more and find tickets at https://www.hailsatanfilm.com/.

Witchcraft Activism

Not too long ago I posted a photo on social media of all the books/decks that I have yet to write reviews for and asked for people’s opinion on what they’d like to see first. The overwhelming response was to review “Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance” by David Salisbury next. I can’t say as I blame anyone who voted for it. In this time of political upheaval people now, more than ever, are looking for a way to take action.

The good news is, “Witchcraft Activism” gets the job done. Obviously if you’re a magical practitioner, the idea of effecting change with magic isn’t an outlandish idea. However, I was happy to see Salisbury clearly show the similarities (similarities that never occurred to me) between magic and activism. Both require a serious reflection on intention and the work of follow through. Salisbury has a background in activism and takes you step by step through any type of activism that may interest you: lobbying, letter writing, marches, and more. Then add to that an inspiring number of ways you can utilize magic to reinforce and improve on those actions! He discusses sigils, candle spells, spirit servitors, and of course, more.

David Salisbury has created a great guide for aspiring activists. You could ignore all the magical elements and still walk away with a fantastic book on activism. As far as I’m concerned, the informative magical information is just icing on the cake! Highly recommended!

You can learn more here.