Kathleen is the author of 10 books of prose and poetry (Doubleday, Graywolf, Knopf, others). Her work has received major prizes and appears in magazines, anthologies and collections, the latest being The Soul of a Great Traveler (Travelers’ Tales, 2017).
Kathleen will read from her latest novel Unspeakable Things, which deals with refugees from Eastern Europe coming over to New York during World War II. The main characters are members of a string quartet smuggled out of Europe and deals with their displacement and eventual redemption.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
...and the second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Happy Independence Day! I imagine that Americans all over the world are celebrating this day, by eating burgers or having picnics, as a group of our friends will be doing this evening here in Paris.
I've been thinking more about what the holiday really means of late, particularly since the current U.S. administration implemented its Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy that ordered federal authorities to separate children from their parents. It's a sad day when we have forgotten our own roots. When the 13 British colonies gained independence on July 4th, 1776, they were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. The approximate 2,000 of them were primarily IMMIGRANTS, who displaced the Native Americans for their own benefit. Have we forgotten this very important fact?
I hope we don't forget it when we celebrate July 4th around the world, especially we expatriates who are IMMIGRANTS in our own respective countries and can't fathom being separated from our children for any reason outside of war. And here's the really quizzical thing: President Donald Trump's own mother was an IMMIGRANT – she came from the west coast of Scotland. His paternal lineage is German and he's proud of it. Trump's father, Fred, was born in New York, and was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee for wartime profiteering (1954), and by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for civil rights violations (1973). (Wikipedia.org) Fred's father (Donald's grandfather), Frederick, was born in Bavaria, Germany. He was an IMMIGRANT.You're going to love this little-known fact, too: authorities found that he had emigrated when he was young enough to avoid fulfilling his military service, and as a result he lost his Bavarian citizenship.
Of Donald's three wives, only one was born in the U.S. (Marla Ann Maples). The other two were IMMIGRANTS (Ivana born in Czechoslovakia and Melania born in Yugoslavia). This is the man who backs zero tolerance for IMMIGRANTS. Perplexing, isn't it? And I wonder what might have happened should the authorities have taken away his own children?
Plus, guess what? The saddest part of all is that immigration BENEFITS a country way more than the costs. How many articles by respectable organizations do I need to cite to prove this to you and the rest of the world? Google it. I dare you.
Is that enough or do you want more? Do you think anyone in the Trump Administration Googled it like I did before they decided immigration was a bad thing? Or is it just racism and fear that convinces them of their own convictions? Or the need to control us?
Forgive me for my passion on this subject, but as an IMMIGRANT surviving in a foreign land, I cannot help but have empathy for other IMMIGRANTS and sheer wonder at the inhumanity of so many HUMANS who think they are so superior to the other HUMANS.
Red Pill University (France24)
I also heard a story recently about an expo that took place in Spokane, Washington under the umbrella of Red Pill University. The story rocked my world. I wanted to know more about who these people are and what drives them to unanimously pray that Donald Trump gets re-elected in 2020, all one-thousand of them...together.
"Red Pill," a term derived from the 1999 film The Matrix, refers to the pill that "would free him from the enslaving control of the machine-generated dream world and allow him to escape into the real world, but living the 'truth of reality' is harsher and more difficult" while the "Blue Pill" "would lead him back to stay in the comfortable simulated reality of the Matrix." It's all a smoke screen for misogyny, among other unacceptable beliefs. The Guardian ran an article recently titled Swallowing the Red Pill: a journey to the heart of modern misogyny "where men go to air their toxic views about women."
As a woman and an IMMIGRANT, these are difficult pills to swallow. Fortunately this past week here in France, the pill was blue. Women were celebrated with the interment of Simone Veil at the Panthéon. She was a Holocaust survivor and women's rights activist who died last year at the age of 89. She received the rare honor of being buried at the Panthéon and was only the fifth woman to be buried in the Paris monument -- and only the fourth to be placed there on her own merits, rather than that of her husband's. The other women include Polish-born French scientist Marie Curie; two French Resistance members who were deported to Germany, Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion; and Sophie Berthelot, who was buried alongside her chemist husband Marcellin Berthelot.
It's about time, too. The motto carved on the facade of the Panthéon proclaims it as the burial place of "Great Men," but thanks to these five women, that's no longer true. And it's changing now that women are gaining their rights to be treated as equal HUMANS. According to a recent report on France 24, only three per cent of Paris streets are named after women, but since 2011, 140 new street signs baring the names of women have been added and 26 are on the waiting list for approval. The districts seeing most of the new signs are in the 12th and 13th where there is so much new construction.
Simone Veil not only scored a burial spot in the Panthéon, but she scored a Place named after her, too: Place de l'Europe Simone Veil, inaugurate this past week. And while I pass it many times a week, I'd never noticed that where rue Charlot meets rues de Turenne and Béranger, where a tree in the center creates a small circle is Place Olympe de Gouges, named after a woman from the 18th-century who was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience. So much so, that she was guillotined during the Reign of Terror for her challenges against male authority and the notion of sex equality. She seriously paid for her feminist opinion!
Paris isn't the only city vying for more women to be recognized for their achievements. Performance artist, playwright, historian and community activist, The Fabulous Lulu Lolo, in cahoots with my daughter, nominated me once for being named on a monument in New York! Of course, that never happened, but not making the grade is a whole lot better than being guillotined...for sure!
With all this good news about equality for women's recognition, I found it ironic that Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Riviera, so close to my beloved Nice, chose to celebrate this American Independence Day by hosting a Jeep and Pin-Up Parade through the streets, a "So Nice Pin-Ups" fashion show. The posters around town and in the nearby communities are far from what I'd call in the "line of duty."
On the third floor of an 18th-century building in a great Marais location near the corner of rue Charlot on rue de Poitou, La Fleur de Poitou has been fully transformed into a regal home away from home. Renovated from stem to stern in 2011 by Interior Architect Martine di Mattéo, the apartment is a colorful and shining example of what is possible when good taste and savoir faire are combined.
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