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Hitler, too, was a dissident

Photo grid of three Eastern European dissidents
From left to right: Roman Protasevich, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Alexander Navalny

The week that the Belarusian government intercepted a RyanAir flight and arrested Roman Protasevich, western governments and media expressed outrage. News outlets described him variously as a journalist, blogger, activist, and leader of the opposition to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

They did not describe him as a fascist and fighter in the Ukrainian Azov Battalion. Prominent human rights groups accused this militia of war crimes while it fought Russian separatists in Ukraine. They flaunt their Nazi sympathies, using the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich as one of their original logos. Currently, they have tilted it to the right. Photos of their soldiers show them sporting Nazi tattoos. The U.S. blocked aid to the Azov battalion in 2018 because of its white supremacist ideology.

Protasevich claimed that he was covering the war in Ukraine as a journalist. However, photos in several online publications show him in uniform and armed with an automatic weapon. An issue of the Azov recruiting magazine appears to have his image on the cover.

Western media also praised presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her party as “pro-democracy” activists in their bid to overturn Lukashenko. As they have with Protasevich, they built up a heroic narrative for her: an ordinary housewife married to a dissident whom Lukashenko imprisoned for his criticism of the government. They did not mention that one of her proxy speakers, Nikolai Solyanik, praised Hitler during a rally on behalf of Tikhanovskaya in Grodno and said Belarusians needed a leader like him. The opposition movement Tikhanovskaya leads expelled him, but only after outrage on social media; Tikhanovskaya chalked the episode up to his “extreme psychological conditions.” Other members of the opposition have expressed sympathy for Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in WWII.

And we must not forget Alexander Navalny. No one deserves to have their government poison them, and he has shown great courage in returning to Russia, knowing of his probable imprisonment and worse. However, he has also referred to Chechens as cockroaches, wants to ban Muslims from the Caucasus and Central Asia (many of whom are Russian citizens) from entering ethnic Russian areas, and deport all immigrants. Navalny supported a 2013 campaign, “Stop Feeding the Caucasus,” which pledged to halt government subsidies to the poorer and less developed non-ethnic Russian republics in the North Caucasus.

“I consider Navalny the most dangerous man in Russia,” Engelina Tareyeva — a member of the Yabloko party that expelled Navalny in 2007 — wrote of him. “You don’t have to be a genius to understand that the most horrific thing that could happen in our country would be the nationalists coming to power.”

In February 2021, Amnesty International withdrew its designation of Navalny as a “prisoner of conscience.”

As we mature, we learn to hold multiple realities in tension. Our parents may commit crimes, love their children unconditionally, and care about cruelty to animals. Our friends might be generous, fountains of wit and emotional wrecks. A government may care about providing food, shelter, and education to its citizens but repress minorities. Another government may talk of democratic freedoms for its citizens but only grant them to certain sectors of society and actively work to suppress them in other countries.

Our media need to grow up. Journalists can be fascists. People resisting authoritarian governments can also be fascists or willing to work with fascists. And just because people oppose authoritarian regimes does not mean they are pro-Democracy.

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The loyal opposition

Collage of images showing demographics that voted for Joe Biden

This morning on NPR, I heard a Republican commentator say our government works best with a “loyal opposition.”  He was referring to those of his party who did not support overthrowing the most recent election results.

That, I thought, is a low bar.  Members of this loyal opposition have had no problem with disenfranchising people in districts that are likely to vote for Democrats.  They were fine with exploding the national debt to provide tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest U.S. citizens. They were fine with the rise of the homeless population, the impunity of the police state, families going hungry and without healthcare.  And when I say, “fine with,” I mean they enacted legislation knowing that their votes would result in these violations of human rights.

When I think of a loyal opposition, I think of those people who have challenged the corporate Democrats:  the people who have hit the streets, sometimes for decades, demanding that politicians reallocate money from the police and military to communities in ways that would end homelessness, provide affordable housing, employment, food, and healthcare.  I think of the politicians who have primaried incumbent Democrats, saying they no longer represent the people they serve, but the donors who fund them.  

A few months ago, I heard another Republican on AM Joy say that he no longer saw a future in the Republican Party because it had stopped generating new ideas.  It simply said, “no,” to everything. Does anyone think, he said, that the U.S. will not have some form of universal healthcare like most of the developed and developing world?  The debate on what that will look like is happening between the two factions of the Democratic Party.  He wanted to be a part of that discussion.

In the past week, the progressive nature of Joe Biden’s executive orders has surprised me.  I am still not enthusiastic about some of his cabinet appointments.  The Border Police are still holding children in cages. I think his response to the climate crisis is not crisis-y enough.  But it seems that he is listening to the people who put him into office—including the loyal opposition.

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Blood Libel, Gaza, and Abraham Foxman

New York Times photo of 67 children killed in Israeli bombing of Gaza May 2021

How the ADL Director Emeritus foments antisemitism

The earliest references to Jews having murdered Christian children appear in Greek sources from the first century. However, the Blood Libel myth metastasized into its ugliest form during the Middle Ages in Europe. The libel usually portrayed Jews using the blood of Christian children in Passover matzoh or crucifying children to re-enact Jesus’s death by torture.

Norwich, England, 1144 was the first documented incident of a blood libel accusation, and it set a pattern for the centuries of slander that followed. The body of 12-year-old William of Norwich was found in the woods. An anti-Semitic monk, Thomas of Monmouth, wrote a screed blaming Jews for his death. He further claimed that every year an international council of Jews chose a country where they would kill a child during Easter because of a Jewish prophecy saying that doing so would ensure the restoration of Jews to the Holy Land. Monmouth’s entirely invented story resulted in massacres of Jewish communities in London and York. During the following centuries, when a murdered European child turned up, Jews became a convenient scapegoat (and murderers went unpunished). Thousands of Jews died because of this pernicious lie.

Even in recent times, the myth has persisted in Syria (2003), Russia (2005), Poland (according to a survey of the belief among Christians done in the 2000s), Saudi Arabia (2012), Lebanon (2014), Jordan (2014), and Italy (2020).

Blood Libel, by definition, is false. No one ever produced evidence that the thousands of lynched and massacred European Jews murdered a Christian child, crucified a Christian child, and used their blood in matzoh. I won’t even go into Jewish dietary regulations because that would afford the accusation too much credit.

On May 21st, 2020, the Israeli newspaper of record, Ha’aretz, published pictures of children killed in yet another Gaza war that traces back to provocations against Palestinians by Israeli police and right-wing extremists in Jerusalem. On May 22nd, the New York Times published these pictures.

Abe Foxman, Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote on Twitter,

I am cancelling my subscription to NYTimes. I grew up in America on the NYT- I delivered the NYT to my classmates- I learned civics- democracy and all the news”fit to print” for 65 years but no more. Today’s blood libel of Israel and the Jewish people on the front page is enough.

Mr. Foxman, these children were not a falsehood. When Israeli bombs fell on their homes, their suffering and their deaths happened. Before that, they were real human beings, loved by their families, as, I assume, you love your own children and grandchildren.

Billions of people in this world have not learned the history of European anti-Semitism. However, they know their own histories of brutal colonization by European empires, which considered the lives of their peoples and the lives of their children disposable. Some people in these countries will hear you dismiss the deaths of Palestinian children as anti-Semitic slander and will draw certain conclusions. You have made the world less safe for Jews.

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In this sub-season



In this sub-season
when snow retreats, revealing
fecal gashes snowplows
leave in lawns
my neighbors—yearning
for perfection—poison,
I scavenge plump pillows 
of moss the plows 
scraped up.


Only in this short season 
does moss rehome,
become a barricade
against weeds mustering
to invade my garden 
and spaces
between stone and concrete.


I am 59.
I feel the pulse beneath snow and earth,
the will to break through, increase.
I know some cracks will go unfilled.

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Quora: fascists welcome; Palestinians, not so much

Screenshot of my Quora profile page

Since the coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, online publications and social media have received renewed scrutiny for allowing hate speech on their platforms as well as providing a venue for domestic terrorists to connect with each other. Breitbart, VDare, Daily Caller, Gab, 4Chan, 8Chan, DLive, and Parler often come up in these discussions. Quora doesn’t.

Founded in 2009, Quora is a question-and-answer site visited by 300 million people a month who can ask or answer just about anything. I’ve gotten advice on my fruit trees, acrylic nails, appliances, and answers to quirky science questions.

Quora is also a place for political dialogue, and in this area, it skews far to the right of what I have experienced on Twitter and Facebook. On Quora, I learned that social justice is a bad thing, and social justice warriors are despicable characters out to ruin anything enjoyable. (My response, always: “I am a social justice warrior and I am delightful.”) Racist, misogynist, homophobic and transphobic questions, answers, and comments appear regularly.

As does fascism. Quora has an entire space ostensibly for people interested in fascism, but after reading a few entries, one understands the space is a discussion group for fascists. A few days ago, a Quoran asked me a question about what white supremacists or fascists want to achieve. I checked to see if others had answered the question and found a person who presented himself, without apology, as a fascist. “I look at the modern west and see the uselessness of Democracy,” he wrote, citing Europeans allowing Muslims to flood their countries and leaving their traditions and freedoms to focus on hedonism. He continued:

Fascism is the answer. Fascism will destroy the socialists for their many crimes, forcibly repatriate the foreigners who do not belong in our countries, and harshly punish the elites who have so damaged the west that they might enrich themselves further.…

Violence is going to be necessary to restore the west, and fascism is the necessary vehicle.

I complimented him on his honesty, noting that a lot of fascists participate on Quora who do not acknowledge their fascism (and who for some reason think ANTIFA are fascists.) I wrote, “Maybe those of us working for human rights could finally wake people out of their apathy and bothsidesism if the Right had the integrity to name what they are.”

His response: Your side never will. You talk about “human rights” a lot, maybe you even think you actually care about them, but you don’t.…”

He then accused my “side” of violence, censorship, and suppression. “I know exactly what you socialists are and your intentions are, which is why I hate you and support using the same tactics against you.”

The difference between you and me comes down to two things. One, I’m honest about my intentions and what I am. Yes, I want sides to no longer exist in my country. I’ve listed my reasons why and I think they’re fairly rational.

You people would round my side up for the cattle cars without a second thought and try and somehow justify it or pretend it isn’t happening.

The reason your side focuses so much on propaganda and censorship of your opposition is that your ideology can only exist unchallenged. That’s why your activists are far more confrontational, violent, and prone to rioting than mine. Fascists arrive at fascism as a result of a realization of the true nature of society and humanity and a realization of the incredible weakness of democracy…

My response:

I find it really interesting that you don’t understand at all what it means to be an advocate for human rights — everybody’s human rights — but your description of what it means to be a fascist is pretty much how human rights advocates understand fascism.

Him: “I do support human rights, for the right people.”

He followed with a screed condemning human rights advocates who support ISIS widows, adding that Israel’s subjugation of Palestinian savages only makes sense. He shared his approval of the AUC paramilitaries in Colombia, noting they are more effective than the Colombian army in stamping out communism. (I want to add here that Colombian paramilitaries commit by far the most vicious human rights atrocities against Colombian civilians.)

The discussion continued, but you get the idea. Note to self: do not argue with fascists.

Quora claims to be non-partisan, stating its site exists to “share and grow the world’s knowledge.” Its moderators do not monitor the postings. Instead, it asks its members to police the site and report objectionable content.

And therein lies the problem. Women, racialized people, queer people, disabled people, and Muslims have their content downvoted and reported to the moderators consistently by white male Quorans. One woman told a journalist that she tried rephrasing some of the most sexist questions she found on Quora so that they pertained to men. Almost immediately, her questions were downvoted or reported out of existence. A similar pattern of harassment, downvoting, and reporting routinely happens to members of marginalized groups. The result? Most of them leave Quora, making it a very white, troll-y space.

If you’re Palestinian, Quora is an incredibly hostile environment. You will be told that you and your country do not exist. That you are innately savage. That everything about your history and culture boils down to one Hamas or Islamic Jihad training video. Quora has banned the space Palestine Today — where people discuss Palestinian culture, history, politics, and the Israeli military occupation of Palestine — at least three times since I joined in 2017. It has banned Rima Najjar, a Palestinian professor who has compared Zionism to fascism. Her expulsion begs the question: If fascists are welcome to post about fascism on Quora, why can’t someone compare another ideology to fascism on Quora?

My detractors have downvoted and collapsed many of my own answers about the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. These answers did not express opinions so much as provide accounts of what I had witnessed in the Al-Khalil/Hebron area over two decades of work with Christian Peacemaker Teams. I appealed, and Quora moderators usually restored them, but then the partisans of Israel downvoted them again.

I also created a space, Allies and Accomplices, which was popular for the two weeks it existed. Allies and Accomplices provided space for people to report oppressive behavior they encountered on Quora since reporting this behavior to moderators didn’t seem to work for people of color, Muslims, and other marginalized people. I learned about oppressions that I hadn’t considered. For example, I had noticed an obsession in the questions about personality disorders. I had not considered how the plethora of those questions would affect people who struggle with them. Membership in our space increased rapidly, and we even generated automatic congratulations from Quora for doing so well.

My co-moderator and I appealed when Quora moderators suspended and then banned the space (one post had mentioned a Quoran’s name, and he reported us for that.) We said we could adapt the space to bring it into compliance with the rules. We never heard back from Quora.

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A tale of two Congresswomen, the Israeli lobby and a Jewish Space Laser

Official Congressional photos of Ilhan Omar and Marjorie Taylor Greene

Both accused of anti-Semitism, but treated very differently by political and Jewish establishment

“It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted these words from a Puff Daddy song in 2019, referring to the role Israeli lobby money plays in congressional foreign policy. (Turns out, a lot.) Republicans, Democrats, and the establishment Jewish organizations pilloried her, calling her anti-Semitic. Even progressive Jews called her out, claimed she had used a trope about Jewish money controlling the world. The young congresswoman removed the tweet and issued the following statement:

Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.

At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.

Nonetheless, if you google “Ilhan Omar” and “anti-Semitism,” you will see her detractors did not find this apology adequate. In January 2020, StopAntisemitism.org named her “Anti-Semite of the Year,” choosing her over Louis Farrakhan and actual Nazi, Richard Spencer.

This week, news came out that freshman congresswoman and Qanon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greenfield has suggested a giant space laser funded by the Rothschilds was responsible for the California wildfires. In other words, a Jewish space laser.

On social media, I see most people treating her comments as a joke, with the exception of progressive Jews, and even they are employing gallows humor. Are Democrats and Republicans passing resolutions in response to her clearly anti-Semitic accusation as they did with Omar’s tweet? Nope. The hearts of Republicans still seethe over her audacity — as a black, Muslim, immigrant, leftist — to believe she had the right to run for public office.

What do we hear from the major Jewish organizations? From Mort Klein at the Zionist Organization of America? He called Omar and her colleague Rashida Tlaib “frightening insensitive terrorist supporting, Jew hating, America hating Israelophobes,” and “a curse on America.” What about the American Jewish Committee, who misrepresented her comments as saying that Jews were buying off members of Congress, rather than the Israeli lobby had too much financial influence on the Congress?

Crickets. Even the Anti-Defamation League, which has called out Marjorie Taylor Greene for past anti-Semitism, hasn’t gotten around to mentioning the space laser yet.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke of her trauma during the recent failed coup, describing what it was like to be trapped in a room with fellow legislators who wanted to see her harmed. I want to ask those who condemned Ilhan Omar in 2019 this question: if you found yourself surrounded by people who wanted to hurt you, would Ilhan Omar or Marjorie Taylor Greene be the one more likely to help you to safety?

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Letter to Editor that Rochester Democrat and Chronicle declined to Publish

Rochesterians observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

by Kathleen Kern
with Rochester Witness for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace-Rochester

November 29, 2020 marks the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. As residents of the Rochester area, we know Palestinian-Americans as friends, colleagues, students, doctors, shop owners, and educators. Many of us have worked in Palestine or traveled there on delegations. We have mourned with Palestinians who have lost land, homes, and livelihoods to voracious Israeli settlement expansion. We have witnessed with our own eyes the abusive behavior of Israeli soldiers and settlers towards Palestinians, and the apartheid network of checkpoints, walls, and roads, intended to maintain Israeli hegemony over the region.

With the Biden Administration and the new Congress taking office in January, our country has a fresh opportunity to do justice by the Palestinian people. Doing so promotes the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens. Israel’s subjugation of Palestinians has been used as an excuse for violence by Middle Eastern actors for years, including violence directed at United States citizens. Furthermore, our government sends more than 3.8 billion dollars in aid to Israel every year. Of the 75 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Rochester ranks third in child poverty, behind Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan. Yet Monroe County tax dollars go to pay for Israeli weapon systems that bomb impoverished families in Gaza and military infrastructure that strangles the economy in the West Bank.

Biden and Harris won this election only because a coalition including young people, Black people, Native Americans, and other U.S. citizens yearning for a more just and equitable nation turned out for them. These citizens will no longer accept the Democratic National Committee’s tacit support of the Israeli government’s cruel and racist treatment of Palestinians. We certainly will not and ask that readers hold their elected leaders responsible in the coming year.

We ask that you support Rep. Betty McCollum’s House Bill (formerly H.R. 2407) when it comes up for a vote again in 2021:

“To promote human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation and require that United States funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill- treatment of Palestinian children, and for other purposes.”

Because not paying for the abuse of Palestinian children with our tax dollars seems like an excellent way to show solidarity. Please ask Representatives Joe Morelle, Tom Reed, and Chris Jacobs to sign the bill as well. They have yet to support it.

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You are one with Nature and so is your SUV

First published on Medium.com. I’d appreciate if you’d visit and give me a few claps!

KathleenKernMar 30 · 3 min read

They can hear the whales

The spider web stretched across your woodpile this morning — the perfect pearls of dew on each strand — after you saw it, every piece of jewelry you owned seemed lusterless and tacky. You sat in the rich black dirt of your garden and ate a tomato right from the vine. Yet, as you dug your toes into the soil, you knew, you knewyou had to get closer to the earth, connected, rooted.

It’s time to buy an SUV.

You can choose to become like Matthew McMonaughey and drive your SUV to an old growth forest. Become entranced by the birdsong that is somehow as loud with your window up as when you are running on the trail. But picture this: you and your SUV driving intothat same forest, becoming one with the ecosystem of plants, fungi, bacteria and duff, listening to the microorganisms you release from their captivity on the forest floor screaming with delight as they fly past your windshield.

And now you come to a pristine stream. As our Indigenous brothers and sisters say, #WaterIsLife. Are you going to settle for watching the sun sparkling on the ripples? No. All life came from the water; drive right back into it. Climb onto the rocks. You have recreated the primordial drama of the first creature emerging from the sea!

And now that that you’re in love and loving nature with the one you love, you must have an SUV to haul all your stuff as you drive around looking for the peak natural experience. You might want to try out the Peninsula Trail. First, stop at a small country store. A mysterious blind man will approach you and tell you the trail is not on a map. And though you thought “trail” implies, perhaps, a narrow ridge overlooking the ocean, the trail turns out to be an asphalt highway along the coast. Don’t ask yourself why a paved road running alongside the Pacific Ocean complete with a demarcated scenic overlook wasn’t on a map, and why you needed a blind guide for that. Or why you must hold your arms out like you’re pretend-flying an airplane in order to hear whales at the scenic overlook. As the night approaches, he will take you to a dark forest so you can hear a snowy owl. And then you realize: he was never going to murder you, he is of the Ancient Ones, forged from the soil and the iron at the heart of the earth itself, and he not only hears the whales and the owls, he speaks their language.

You and your partner breathe deeply of conifer-scented air before you drive him 200 miles back to his house.

And then you create life. You become Gaia, earth mother, and continue the cycle that the Ancients Ones sparked into being. You drive to the ocean in your SUV. As a wispy voiced singer reflects on the merits of swimming in clean water, you speak to your unborn child about the sounds the ocean makes; you drive her to an old-growth evergreen forest and other heartbreakingly beautiful locations in the Pacific Northwest, the natural habitat of the SUV.

Do you understand what we are telling you? When you calculate the cost of having a child, the Earth obligates you to factor the price of a new SUV into that cost. Otherwise, your precious son or daughter will grow up to despise nature — and none of us wants that.

Sponsored by Heirloom Fuels for a New Green New Deal

KathleenKern

WRITTEN BY

KathleenKern

Have worked for Christian Peacemaker Teams since 1993 (http://cpt.org), serving in Haiti, Palestine, Colombia… Also write novels.

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Chair of the Buchanan County, DCC endorses Not Biden

[I wrote this a few months ago for McSweeneys, before Elizabeth Warren was in ascent. They didn’t take it. ]

To: The Buchanan County Ohio Democratic Central Committe

From:  Betty Pannabecker-Garcia

Hello fellow Dems!  I know it’s early in the election cycle to be endorsing a candidate.  But one candidate running in the Democratic primary makes my heart star beating a little faster and start tallying up my posterboard and Sharpies budget at Michaels.   Not Biden is the nonbinary, multiracial, multigenerational, and bisexual candidate, I think, that looks like America and could get our country back on the rails.

Not Biden is a proud social progressive; they believe that all Americans have a right to affordable healthcare and housing; they at times have even called for a universal basic income.  Even better, they have a plan to make it all work out!  And having governed in California, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, and Washington, which have large agricultural economies,  they understand the needs of people in rural areas like us.

As for their voting record, Not Biden’s is mixed; I don’t support everything they’ve supported, but they are the only candidate never to have voted for the Iraq War. They believe that women should have control of their own bodiesand they’re not so handsy-sniffy.  Also, I told my Uncle Ray a quarter century ago to stop telling my son that it’s his job to protect his sisters’ virginity and that’s not  something I’d appreciate in a president either.

As for the people who are saying that only Biden can beat Trump, remember that it was 78,000 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsinwho handed Trump the White House.   We can get twice—four times that many people out with all the gifts that Not Biden brings to the table! 

And you know what I’ll be bringing to the table at next month’s meeting?  That’s right, my famous Pannabecker potato salad!  And Jorge will bring his mama’s chilaquiles.  Bring your own dish to pass, and I hope I can convince you over some good food that Not Biden is the way to go!

A collage of the 2020 Democratic Primary candidates
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Here’s another passive-aggressive box of English Leather cologne products, Dad

So I’ve been experimenting with writing humor. This Father’s Day piece was turned down by McSweeneys.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  As a symbol of the love that you chose to give my brothers instead of me, I will again settle on a box of English Leather cologne products as my gift to you.  My vague memories of physical affection from you are all associated with that smell.  

Which gift box will it be this year?  Should I choose the one with the cowboy on the front?  Why would they put a cowboy on a box of English Leather?  Why not show someone riding English style—as opposed to Western style, in which you break a horse rather than train it.  Just like you tried to break my spirit when you sent me to fat camp, Dad.  But Patches didn’t body shame me; we rode like the wind.

Maybe I should give you the classic wooden box again.  You know, like the one I got you last year from Ebay because it was like the ones you had when I was a kid.  I thought it would evoke some nostalgia for that time before you told Tim you couldn’t believe I came from the seed of your loins.  Do you remember your reaction Dad?  You half smiled, nodded and then reached for Tim’s present, which was a “Best Dad Ever” mug.  With faux modesty, you rolled your eyes and said, “Well that’s a little hyperbolic, don’t you think?”

“It’s insanely hyperbolic,” I said.

You know what you’d say if I gave you another wooden box set this year?

“Didn’t Tim give me this last year?”

Of course the year I gave you English Leather Black was a disaster, even though that variation at least has a picture of an English saddle on it.  I thought it would be funny to go full Goth.  So I when I made the presentation, I wore fishnet stockings with skulls, black nails, lipstick and hair.   You remember Troy?  He was the one that did that fake English Leather tattoo, matching the script on the bottle.  I remember you saying, “Aren’t you a little old for dress up, honey?”

You liked the English Leather Soap on a Rope I gave you one year.  You twirled it around over your head, glint in eye and said, “You know, I could probably kill someone with this thing.”  Then you looked meaningfully in my direction.

When I tried to mix things up with English Leather Lime the on the Father’s Day after Mom died and a bottle of your favorite tequila, you told me, “I hope you kept the receipt.”

“Of course,” I said, “It’s from Walmart.”  But I was gracious. I told you I was glad you were taking $4.72 out the Walton family’s pocket and thanked you for doing your part to rein in capitalism run amok.

Googling the options, I see I haven’t given you the box of four travel size English Leather aftershave balms and skin softeners yet.

To: Customer Service, Dana Classic Fragrances

From: K——

Subject: Idea for new products

Have you thought of an English Leather skin softener, but for the heart?

Or an English Leather balm, but for the heart?

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