Suspended from Facebook, I’m taking to my ‘blog….

Or, how to start a persecution complex.

And so it begins.  A close and highly-contested election draws to a close, and the vitriol continues at a much more sinister level because now, those haters of free speech and diversity feel empowered and — dare I say it — affirmed. “Disagree with me, and I will make you go away.”  And it’s all right, because “we won.”  “I don’t like anybody who doesn’t like me,” as tyrant Anthony Fremont would say before sending dissenters to the cornfield.

I take issue with this attitude, first because it is simply rude and dismissive. As a firm believer in the Constitution (the document, not the frigate), I also defend the right of anyone to exercise their freedom of speech.  If I don’t like what they say, I am free not to listen.  I am free to walk away.  I am equally free to disagree, and to say so. And lastly, I am free to vote for someone else.

And what does any of this have to do with Facebook, a tool that I use primarily to keep in touch with distant friends (most of whom share my political views), faraway relatives (most of whom do not share my political views), and a few friends with whom I simply agree to disagree?  When I freely expressed my hurt, dismay, and disappointment at the election results, one of my far right friends said she wouldn’t want to lose a friend over politics.  Another particularly far right and vocal anti-liberal said rather eloquently that my politics aren’t what she loves about me.  In short, when you care about someone, you learn to balance tolerance with acceptance.  You choose your battles because friendship is bigger than politics.  (Just look at Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia — they shared a legendary friendship though polar opposites on the political spectrum!)

My oldest friend, though, posted a rather unusual quotation on my Facebook wall. Because she is a devout Christian, her unfettered support of Donald Trump surprised me nearly as much as her toxic hatred of Hillary Clinton.  We had a brief discussion on social media — we have, after all, been friends for decades. In this discussion, I questioned Mr. Trump’s ethics.  Her response surprised me even more than her adulation of the president-elect.  “Because of Hillary Clinton, 51 million babies never had the chance to cry.”  Really?  This is all about abortion?  And Hillary Clinton is personally responsible for 51 million abortions?  If I were being honest, rather than avoiding an argument, I’d have responded that that was quite close to being the most ridiculous bit of propaganda I’ve ever heard, and it would take an idiot to repeat such nonsense.  I chose my battles.  I turned the other cheek.

I, too, am a devout Christian, but I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve.  Jesus himself said “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”, and I hope that the fruits of my life show where my faith lies.  I also know that I need to work on my own house before I judge others, and until my house is clean, I don’t feel I have the right to put on my white gloves. And so, I posted a passage from the Bible, noting that surely, no one could take issue with that.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek?  Maybe a little, because I don’t have the courage to come out on a social media site and talk about what I see as apocalyptic overtones in these election results.   What a nut job I would reveal myself to be, right?  In truth, though, my faith leans toward radical discipleship, and I do in fact believe that Mr. Trump is the False Prophet in the book of Revelation.  A prophet, by definition, is one chosen by God to speak for God in words divinely inspired.  A false prophet, then, is one who subverts that definition.  One who, perhaps, judges all Mexican people as “drug dealers and rapists,” or all Muslims as “radical terrorists.”  A False Prophet can stir up the masses with lies and deception and get them to follow him like a Pied Piper.  Give the False Prophet power, and that’s pretty apocalyptic.  But I didn’t say that.  I just posted a passage from the second letter to the Thessalonians, without a comment.  I never mentioned Mr. Trump.

And what did my oldest friend post back to me?

“One of the truest signs of maturity is the ability to disagree with someone while still remaining respectful.”  (Attributed to Dave Willis, and I confess to not knowing who he is.)

Where on earth did that come from?  Was I disrespectful?  My thoughts certainly were, but I thought quoting Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was taking the high road.  After all, anyone who reads it is free to decide what they want it to mean.  I know what I meant, but I have no control over other people’s thoughts. More importantly, how mature and respectful is it to claim that Hillary Clinton singlehandedly aborted 51 million babies?

But I digress.  The persecution complex.

This morning, I checked my Facebook page to find myself suspended for 60 days–to give the Facebook minions adequate time to “investigate.”  Someone has filed a complaint.  Of course the Facebook minions can’t tell me WHO lodged the complaint, but they can tell me what the issue was with my posts.  Apparently someone thinks I am “disrespectful, divisive, immature, and a potential threat to national security.” And Facebook assures me that they take this very seriously.

But even if I were, isn’t it my constitutional right to be?  Couldn’t the complainant just do the 21st century version of walking away and “unfriend” me?

Who on earth would say such things about me?  The only people who can see my Facebook page are people I allow to see it, so SOMEONE I KNOW has an agenda that I can’t even fathom.  The words “disrespectful” and “immature” jump out at me because of my friend’s post.  Could my oldest friend, who has known me since I still had my baby teeth, be the whistle-blower?  The person who called me a “potential threat to national security?” (Believe me, if my quoting the Bible on Facebook is a  potential threat to national security, we have bigger problems than anyone can imagine.)

Like Facebook, I too take this very seriously. Can I help it if, again, I see apocalyptic overtones in this behavior, if in fact she was the one who complained?  The fact is, someone in my circle made the complaint, and I have no doubt that the complaint was made to teach me a lesson for the way I voted and for my outspoken despair at the election results.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” (Matthew 10:21)

Have we come this far? I hope not.  But if we have, it will only be 42 months:

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.  It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.  It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. (Revelation 13: 5-7)

I hope I’m wrong and this is just a brief bout with a minor persecution complex.

Link

Where CAbi Clothes are Made

Women love to empower other women by purchasing CAbi (Carol Anderson by Design) clothing and supporting people they know while keeping the money local… but do you know where the clothes come from, and the conditions under which they are made?

The CAbi catalogs are beautiful, the website is okay (needs a proofreader and a really good Web designer), and the representatives are upbeat and supportive and really good at what they do.  The clothing isn’t all that overpriced when you look at comparable pieces at Nordstrom, Dillards, Saks, Elder-Beerman…

The  issue I have with CAbi is unfortunately a BIG ONE.  The clothes are made in China, not in one of the more modern, humane facilities where working conditions are beginning to catch up with the First World and the 21st century, but in Shanghai’s “Manufacturing City,” which is nothing more than legalized slavery.  Workers are paid virtually nothing (less than ONE U.S. dollar per day), are not allowed to leave the complex for weeks and sometimes months on end, and are forced to PAY for accommodations where they sleep in crowded, filthy conditions that are similar to puppy mills.

CAbi has its own foundation that claims to “encourage and empower women,” and that foundation supports some great not-for-profit organizations like World Vision and the International Justice Mission.  Doesn’t it seem a little counter-intuitive, then, to EXPLOIT women in the making of designer clothes for westerners and then turn around and give a portion of the profits to fight one of the very same injustices that CAbi helps to perpetuate?  No, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

So the upside is, the clothes tend to have a timeless style that you can continue to mix and match in your wardrobe for several seasons.  Carol Anderson designs her clothes to mix well with other pieces from the same line AND from previous and future lines.  The clothing is well-made, so you can expect to get several seasons out of your new CAbi items.  Once I received an item that was NOT well made (one seam was completely missing — just an open side) and my sales rep made the arrangements to have the item replaced.  She was terrific, but the company did take 12 weeks to complete the exchange — by which time, the new season had been introduced.

Even though, as a rule, I don’t support sweat shops, I do continue to purchase a lot, and I mean a LOT of CAbi clothing because I like the experience.  That said, I feel an increasing sense of guilt and shame each time I spend $500 to $1500 per season on clothes that I know are the products of extreme exploitation.  Would we want our mothers, sisters, or daughters to be treated the way the offshore garment industry treats its workers?  Of course not!  Much as I enjoy the clothes and the parties, I may need to get out of the CAbi habit soon.

It is starting to become easier to find quality clothing, accessories, and even the occasional appliance with the “Proudly Made in U.S.A.” label.  Hopefully Carol Anderson and her company will follow the trend — and their consciences — sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, I’m not hopeful that CAbi will see the value in the “Made in USA” label.  I posted a question on their website — very gingerly — asking if they would ever consider bringing production of CAbi fashions to the U.S.  After a day, my question was deleted.  Gone without a trace.

“Made in USA” Directory Sponsored by Re-Employ America

What great news!! I will use this directory over and over again.

clothingmadeinusablog

“Made in USA” Directory Sponsored by Re-Employ America. I have found a new “Made in USA” directory called reemployamerica.us. The directory lists many different categories: large appliances, small appliances,automotive repair parts, business to business, clothing: children, clothing: infants, clothing: men, clothing: women, construction material, construction supplies, construction fixtures, cookware and dishware, electronics, furniture: office, furniture: bedroom, furniture: dining & kitchen, furniture: living room, furniture: outdoor, games, non-electronic, hobby, craft & art, home & office decor, home entertainment, household linens, jewelry, misc. household & office, music, office supplies, outdoor & recreation, pet supplies, non-food, textiles, tools, hand, tools, power, tools, yard & garden, toys, vehicle, off-road, vehicles, personal.

Interestingly enough this website also lists other Made in USA directories.

I evaluated a couple of the categories: furniture: living room and cookware and dishware. It has one of the most extensive list of Made in USA products. Of course, there are…

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We were serious about our 1980s fashion and all-day mall excursions

Muskegon Mall - Remember?

Muskegon Mall – Remember?

In the 1980s, daughter Julie and I used to spend entire days in shopping malls, very seriously checking out the stores from Brooks Fashions to the Wild Pair (though Express, then “Limited Express,” always seemed to remain our primary destination for the day).  We were as serious about matching our scrunched socks to our oversized sweaters as we were about teasing our bangs to just the right height before applying the optimal combination of mousse and spray to hold them in place.  (There is a reason this style came to be known as “mall hair.”) Express dropped its “Limited” and has managed to survive the decades since The Breakfast Club, but other places we loved, like Contempo Casuals, Id, and my namesake Marianne’s haven’t fared as well.

Banana Republic and American Eagle were still “outfitters” in the 1980s — of course we didn’t shop at them because they didn’t sell leggings (with stirrups, of course), but we made it our business to have a look at BR’s display (once they had a jeep and part of a sand dune in their storefront!), and sometimes we poked our heads into American Eagle to pick out something for Julie’s dad.  He probably still owns every flannel shirt and pair of jeans we ever brought home from American Eagle Outfitters!

Those mall days — sometimes we called them “Julie Days” — hold a certain magic for me even in memory.  Julie and I nearly always agreed on styles, picked up on the same quirky incidents or unusual people around us, laughed at the same things, and rolled our eyes in unison at the things we overheard.  In my memory, nearly every lunch break took place at Sbarro, and every coffee break at Mrs. Fields (which, thankfully, has survived along with Express).  Julie always chose a Dream Bar, and I always ate Debra’s Special oatmeal raisin.  Cigarette after, sitting around the fountain, because malls still had smoking areas.  And ash trays.

Now we shop more conscientiously and with less abandon.  Locally-owned, sweatshop-free, made in USA, sustainable goods…. things that will last and, we hope, not end up in an incinerator or a landfill. We are smarter, nicer, more responsible citizens than we were 30 years ago.  But we were nice people in 1984 too.  We just consumed a lot more, without thought to the consequences. Because we could.

So what brought on this trip down Memory Lane, this nostalgia for Esprit sportswear, Zena jeans, Benetton sweaters, and my ten-year-old Julie? That’s the funny thing about memory.  Trying to remember the name of an Australian outfitter that was actually, I believe, a free-standing store during the 1980s and early 1990s.  The name won’t come to me, but all the other memories –sights, tastes, smells, and sounds — from that happy decade come flooding back with enthusiasm.  The elusive store wasn’t The Limited, with their “Outback Red” label; this was the genuine article, a real outfitter that sold snowshoes, leather hats, and an item I still own and love — Australian oilskin dusters.  Unlike mall hair, these classics wear well and get better with age, and because they never change, they don’t scream the name of any particular decade.  But what was the name of the shop?  Will it elude me forever?  If I remember correctly, the store did very well on the heels of films like The Man from Snowy River and Crocodile Dundee, but it had been around for some time prior as a destination for serious outdoorspeople.

My Australian oilskin came from a location on Laclede’s Landing, but I remember seeing these stores all over the country.  No Internet search yields the name of the forgotten, and now probably defunct, outfitter.  I think the St. Louis location lasted until the flood of 1993, when that entire section of the Landing was underwater. I can’t believe I don’t remember the name, and it’s remarkable that with a handful of really good key words, I still can’t find a single reference to it online.  Good reason to scan a mall map and store it in the cloud, so that 20 years from now when I can’t remember the name of that funny place with all the overpriced crap from third world countries, I can slap my forehead and say “THAT was it!”

This is the decade, I’m afraid, in which my photographic memory loses a pixel here and there.

Pranges