Am I Ready?

imgres    by Karen Topakian

When my partner Peg and I were hunting for a house in 2001, I announced we needed one with a secret hiding place for Jewish people, god forbid. Peg pointed out that the people who might need hiding would be us, lesbians.

At times, I have wished I had lived during those ugly, dangerous Holocaust years so I could test my commitment to nonviolence, my values and my inner strength. To see where I stood in the face of fascism. I questioned whether I would have summoned up the courage required to protect and defend Jewish people, gypsies, queer people, people of color, leftists and many others targeted by their government.

I have frequently read about the people who reached out during those harrowing times to help those scorned, harassed, targeted, rounded up and killed by their government, despite the great personal risk. Often, they didn’t hold important or powerful jobs, but they felt the moral imperative to act. I asked myself, would I have risked my life for others?

My better self answered, Yes!

I also wondered how good people could do nothing to stop the attacks? How could they stand by? How could they let it happen?

Up until November 8, these questions lived in the theoretical world. But no longer. Now I believe we stand on the cusp of that exact time. I see it on the horizon – the need to personally protect and defend people of the Muslim and Jewish faith, undocumented immigrants, people of color and other groups singled out by the President-elect. I ask myself, am I ready?

Am I ready to stand up, take on and resist the President-elect’s plans for incarcerations, deportations and roundups?

Am I ready to march, sit down, lockdown against threats, intimidation, increased bullying and intolerance toward the people vilified by the President-elect and his supporters?

The answer is Yes.

I’ve spent the last three decades protesting against war, nuclear weapons and environmental threats to the planet without incurring serious threats to my health and well-being. But the current climate may require a whole new commitment level. Because the ominous tone will increase once he’s in office.

Now I feel the urgency to commit myself to acting with greater fortitude.

I ask myself how much am I willing to risk? My livelihood. My home. My freedom. My life…

How will I know when to take those risks?

If I act too soon will I make myself an unnecessary target? If I wait too long will I miss the opportunity to stop the President-elect’s actions?

What do I need to do to protect others at risk? Do I even know how?

Am I ready to wear a headscarf in solidarity with Muslim women? Even though I loathe religious customs that control women’s appearances.

Am I ready to oppose the threatened Muslim registry, by registering as one, even though I’m an atheist?

Am I ready to chain myself to the railroad tracks or trucks or lie in the road to block deportations?

Am I ready to stand up to the face of fascism with all my might?

Will my actions be enough?

Am I ready?

I’m Not There Yet


by Karen Topakian

In the week since the US Presidential election, I received several FB messages from friends and read many blog posts urging me to reach across the aisle to understand why people voted for the President-elect. I’ve been asked to put my feelings of despair and anger aside and listen with an open heart and mind to supporters of the President-elect who proposes racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and homophobic policies. I’m not there yet.

I’m not ready to reach out to ask why they voted for a person endorsed by the Klan.

I’m not ready to sit across the table from someone who thinks discussions about sexually assaulting women are common among men and only “talk.”

I’m not ready to inquire without judgment about how someone could support a candidate who relentlessly and without foundation questioned the birthright of the president because he is Black.

I’m not ready to offer an olive branch to someone who chose a candidate who threatens unconstitutionally to ban people of a particular religion from entry into the United States.

I’m not ready to hold hands with someone who elected a candidate who wants to punish/jail women who seek abortions.

I’m not ready to break bread with someone who voted for a candidate that proposes limits on a free press.

I’m not ready to sing Kumbaya with someone who undermined our electoral process by charging that the election was rigged, until he won.

I’m not ready to listen to someone tell me that they too found these statements troubling and disturbing but voted for him anyway because he’s a good businessman or because he promised their job back or because they hate Washington.

My Christian upbringing, upon which I rarely rely, urges me to do just this – turn the other cheek as Jesus did. But I ain’t no Jesus.

The Bible also tells me not to judge or I will be judged. But I’ve already been judged as “less than” by his voters who don’t value and respect women’s lives or choices.

My deep belief in the power of nonviolence suggests I practice compassion with my adversaries. I’m not there yet. I don’t feel compassion for people who prefer a bigot. For people who chose a demagogue.

The possibility that all of his supporters don’t feel this way doesn’t trump my fear of loss that everything I work so hard to create – a just, equitable and peaceful planet – can and will be undone by a few strokes of his pen or by votes in a one party Congress or by the soon-to-be conservative Supreme Court.

I’m not looking for revenge; I don’t wish his voters and supporters ill will. I just don’t want to talk to them. And I don’t want to understand their decision. I don’t want to feel their pain. Not yet. Because mine is too deep.

Election Disaster Preparedness


by Karen Topakian

The Red Cross advises families to make a plan to prepare and respond to all types of emergencies from flood to flu to landslides. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to prepare for the disaster wafting our way on January 20, 2017 and ending on January 19, 2021.

So I will.

                                                                  MAKE A PLAN

Create an emergency plan so your family will know what to do in the crisis.

  1. Discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that will most likely happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify people of color, Muslims, immigrants, women and LGBT type people in your household and in your workplace.
  • Decide on a course of action if assaulted or harassed. For example, enlist a straight male Caucasian friend, preferably Republican or from the alt-right to help you, go into hiding, lighten your skin, convert to an “acceptable” religion, a.k.a. Christian, try to act straight, hire a civil rights attorney to accompany you 24/7
  • Purchase a Presidential Disaster insurance plan, which will cover loss of access to abortion, a free press and sanity. Add-on miscarriage of justice insurance and former homeowners policies.
  1. Develop an action plan and assign tasks. Remember to work together as a team. Responsibilities may include:
  • Monitoring the news to see which way the political winds are blowing
  • Making protest signs
  • Stashing bail money
  • Disguising your home as a Trumpian refuge if under attack, i.e. display white nationalist banners
  • Updating passports
  • Keeping social media accounts on high alert
  • Filling up gas tanks
  • Hiding undocumented immigrants, people of color, Muslims, women and queer folks
  • Packing do-it-yourself surgical kits for the inevitable loss of access to health care
  • Digging a hole in the backyard big enough for your whole family
  • Resupplying your bomb shelter
  1. Stockpile basic disaster supplies.
  • Loose fitting clothing and running shoes required for long marches and fast getaways
  • Extra underwear and a toiletry kit in case of a round up
  • Involuntary-change-of-address cards
  • Blankets, sleeping bags and tents packed up to serve as an emergency home
  • A battery-powered radio tuned to the easy listening channel to avoid adding stress
  • Cash, cash, cash – US and Canadian dollars, Euros, Rubles and Pesos
  • American flags and extra matches
  • SPF 1,000 to protect against the inevitable rise in global temperature
  • Snorkels, fins and oxygen tanks, for coastal residents. Oh heck, even for folks in the Mid-West.
  • Anti-pollution masks
  • Fire extinguishers to douse cross burnings
  • Coat hangars to help women in need
  • Bullet proof vests, particularly for young men of color
  • Cases of Xanax, Valium, Zoloft and Prozac. In extreme circumstances, a do-it-yourself lobotomy kit

Gropers Poke Trump




by Karen Topakian

In a rare public statement, the Gropers Really Are Brazen (GRAB) officially denounced Donald Trump and withdrew his longstanding membership from this international clandestine group.

According to GRAB’s CEO, Fred Feelgood, GRAB members wanted the world to know that Mr. Trump did not “speak for them.” Its public announcement included the following statements:

Mr. Trump’s potty mouth deeply offended our members’ delicate sensibilities. We may touch, fondle, grab, prod, maul, squeeze, pinch, grasp, feel, clutch, thumb, paw and poke “lady parts” but we never say the p-word.

We remain committed to groping in public but not talking about it in public. We only retain members who can remain tight-lipped about their achievements, conquests and dalliances.

GRAB’s bylaws require its members to publicly deny their own behavior vociferously and to seek immediate protection from the organization’s rich and famous like-minded friends. Mr. Trump’s 2005 statements made public on October 7 required us to remove him immediately from the membership roster.

The group called an emergency meeting when the videotapes became public. “Our members dropped everything to attend,” declared Mr. Feelgood. “We have a brand to protect. Sure, we like to grope as much as the next guy, but we don’t boast about it. We’ve learned to zip it up.”

Mr. Feelgood noted that this incident wasn’t Mr. Trump’s first offense as a GRAB member. “When Ivana charged him with rape we put his membership on probation.” Feelgood noted that the bylaws clearly do not allow members to rape. “We reinstated him when she encased the word rape in quotes.”

According to Feelgood, the Groper-American community likes to seize life by the throat, though usually lower. As loyal Americans, they exercise their right to peacefully assemble – very, very closely together.

He uttered their motto, “You only go around once in life, so you’ve got to grab for all the gusto you can,” with a nod and a wink.

GRAB’s members include all racial, ethnic, age and religious groups but currently only men. Several years ago, a handful of women joined GRAB committed to groping men but the membership found the mere mention of such behavior repugnant, demeaning, offensive, distasteful, objectionable, dehumanizing, repulsive and possibly illegal. They quickly amended the bylaws disallowing it.

According to Feelgood, women may join if they agree only to grope other women.

“We’re not sexist because anyone can join,” reported Feelgood. “We even reached out to the lesbian community, assuming they might share our common interests in groping women, but our friendly overtures were met with vulgarity.”

Individuals may join GRAB by invitation only. “We can’t just let anyone in willy-nilly,” said Mr. Feelgood. “Certainly not pedophiles, exhibitionists and necrophilias. Those people are perverts.”

This century’s old secretive group, founded by men lurking in and slinking around crowded busses, trains and elevators, prefers to conduct its business behind closed doors and in the dark. Throughout the year, GRAB sponsors public events at a variety of locations, i.e. Black Friday waiting lines at Wal-Mart, tree-lighting at Rockefeller Center, Super Bowl entry gates, Penn Station, TSA lines…

“Trump’s lowered our standards,” announced Feelgood. “And we certainly never kiss. That’s ticky-tacky.”

Republican Presidential Candidates Struggle to Find New Scapegoats


by Karen Topakian

“Should I blame the mentally ill again for yesterday’s killings in San Bernardino?” mused Dr. Ben Carson to his advisor, Armstrong Williams. “I just blamed them last week in Colorado. Let’s find a new group.”

Carson and Williams sat in silence for a few moments.

“What about heathens or Catholics?” suggested Williams. “It’s high time we brought back blaming Catholics.”

Dr. Carson shook his head while stroking his salt and pepper beard. In a moment, his eyes flashed and he announced, “The Huns. I just read about their leader in the book, Attila the Hun: Better than Hitler.”

“Do you mean the nomadic people of the Caucasus?” questioned Williams.

“Did you say Secaucus, as in New Jersey?” asked Carson. “Yes, let’s blame it on Governor’s Christie’s people.”

“Caucasus,” repeated Williams. “The mountainous region in western Turkey. Didn’t you learn anything from our foreign policy advisor?”

“We agree. It’s the Huns.”


Mike Huckabee pulled his well-worn Bible off the shelf and plopped into an adjacent upholstered armchair. He thumbed through his favorite book looking for a new group to blame for the most recent killings.

“Sin and evil aren’t good enough. I need something more damning,” muttered Huckabee. “And I need to be ready when the reporters call.”

Huckabee turned to his bookmarked passages, reading his favorite words aloud to help himself focus, ‘fornicators, lustfulness, slothfulness.”

In a moment it came to him. He offered a quiet word of thanks to God “The good Lord has rained violence on us because of atheists. If they prayed more, God would stop the killings.”


Donald Trump spent a few extra minutes admiring his profile in the bathroom mirror. He slapped on an extra splash of aftershave to make sure he smelled good for the ladies in the press who would ask him for comments about yesterday’s killings.

“It’s sick people. And I know that because I’m one of the healthiest people in the world,” bellowed Trump. “Everyone else is saying mentally ill. I’m saying sick. All kinds of sicknesses make people go on shooting rampages. Cancer. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Restless Leg. Atypical Mole Syndrome. Even the heebie jeebies. ”


Ted Cruz sat at his desk drumming his fingers on his keyboard. He glanced up at his diplomas from Harvard and Princeton.

“I’m the smartest guy in the room. I know I can come up with something better than mental illness,” uttered Cruz looking for a new response to the most recent shootings in San Bernardino. “What about the gays? We haven’t blamed the gays in awhile..”

Cruz thought for a moment then proudly tapped out his new message – “A country allowing homosexuals to marry has lost its way. The husband and wife shooter couple probably sat next to a gay married couple, which profoundly affected their heterosexual marriage, forcing them to arm themselves and slaughter innocent people.”


“I still don’t see why everyone reacted so badly to ‘Stuff Happens’,” stated Jeb Bush to his campaign manager. “I didn’t say Sh^t Happens.”

The presidential candidate slouched back in his chair and put his head down.

“Do I really need to have something new to say every time there’s a shooting? I can’t keep up,” complained the brother and son of former presidents.

“You’re mumbling, Governor,” said his campaign manager.

“I bet the shooter had an older, stupid brother who stole the political spotlight from his younger, smarter, better looking brother. I bet the older stupid brother left a big stinking political mess for the younger brother to address and that led him to uncontrolled fits of violent rage,” stated Bush.

“Let’s stick with stuff happens,” announced the campaign manager.


“How many times do I have to say it’s our left wing values?” pronounced presidential hopeful Marco Rubio to his campaign staff. “They are undermining our institutions and leading people to pick up guns and just start shooting.”

“But Senator, we need to say something new,” pressed his communications director. “We’ve prepared a few comments for you, tell us which ones you like.”

Mr. Rubio gave his team the nod to go ahead.

“Living in the United States without a plan to address illegal immigrants and rampant abortionists, can make people resort to violence.”

“My Cuban parents fled violence to come to America where they worked hard without killing anyone, why can’t these people do the same?”

“I blame our president for forcing sick people to buy health insurance online. If they didn’t have Obamacare they would be too sick to get angry enough to pick up a gun.”


“Ok boys, what am I saying today about these shootings? I need something provocative to catapult me into the primetime debate,” announced presidential hopeful Chris Christie to his staff while they sat in the limo waiting for the bridge traffic to clear. “You have to give me something. I can’t sit with that nitwit Santorum again.”

His aides shook their heads.

“Do I have to do all the thinking around here?” asked the Governor from New Jersey. “Let’s think of something catchy, pithy.”

“How about if you blame the Democrats?” asked his communications manager.

“Can’t. Cruz already did.”

“What about something from the Bible?” asked an aide with a full beard. “Like blaming adulterers?’

“Pastor Huckabee’s sewn up the Bible business.”

“Should I tell him the idea you all rejected?” asked an aide with a persistent cowlick.

His staff aggressively shook their heads.

“Now I gotta hear it,” exclaimed the former prosecutor.

The assembled staff held their breath.

“Ahem, I went back and looked at some of your previous statements about gun violence and thought we could resurrect one. ‘I believe we already have too many firearms in our community. This recent incident proves it again.’”

“Driver, stop the car. You. Out of the car. Now. You’re fired. Don’t ever remind me of what I said in the past.”