Troubling Times

May 1, 2022
   Damn, things seem really frustrating, disheartening, confusing, and downright scary these days. On the international news front, we’re witnessing terrible, heart-wrenching examples of death, suffering, and carnage being wrought by Vladimir Putin’s vicious, bloody, unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.  On the domestic side here in the United States, bitter divisions in politics and society have gotten so bad that it often seems virtually impossible to get anything done. Despite it being the 21st century, we’re seeing far too much intolerance, prejudice, ignorance, and hate throughout the nation, and what’s even more disturbing is how many social conservatives are pushing for policies that actually worsen these problems.
   Think about it. In numerous states, there are social conservatives trying to pass laws that knowingly hurt the LGBTQ (Queer) Community, a community that was already suffering. A 2021 survey conducted by the Trevor Project of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (ages 13 to 24) found that 42% had seriously considered suicide during the previous 12 months. That number rose to 52% for Transgender youth. Only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. Yet despite evidence such as this, numerous Republicans are working hard to pass laws that would clearly hurt Queer kids instead of helping them. And what’s worse is that these laws will almost certainly increase LGBTQ suicide rates.
   There’s also been a move by many conservative Republicans to make a big deal about critical race theory and wanting to ban it from being discussed in schools. Well for one thing, it’s clear most of these individuals don’t even know (or don’t care) what critical race theory actually is because it’s a theory that is dealt with at the post graduate education level and not K through 12. But it seems that many Republicans are using the attack on this term to go after general discussions about race relations in American history classes. This effort by conservatives is extremely dangerous because in order to learn from past mistakes, people need to look at American history honestly (warts and all), and that clearly has to include race relations. There’s a lot of truth to the old adage: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The brutal reality is that racism and other forms of prejudice (like that which is aimed at the LGBTQ Community) are still widely prevalent today, and as a result, it’s that much more important to include honest, frank discussions about such issues in school.
   So the thing is: we need to speak up and educate others about what is going on and what we can do to try to make things better. People should stand up for open-mindedness, tolerance, and be honest about America’s history and current situation, not stick their heads in sand ignoring the problems. We should all strive to make things better.

Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Harms People And Increases Suicide Rates

April 10, 2022
   The LGBTQ Community still faces ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice despite the fact that it’s the 21st century. And what’s more troubling is how social conservatives in states around the country are trying to pass legislation that is deeply harmful to many Queer people, especially Queer youth. And that makes it so much worse.
   There are numerous “Don’t Say Gay” and anti-Transgender type bills and laws being pushed by conservative Republicans in state legislatures around the country such as in Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana. What makes these bills so destructive and abhorrent is how they target an already suffering community, that being LGBTQ youth. To prove my point, here are some statistics compiled by The Trevor Project, a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for Transgender/Nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only 1 in 3 indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice.
   Think about those numbers for a minute. I mean really think about them. They are tragic and scary. LGBTQ young people need understanding, tolerance, love, and support, but these laws provide anything but that. Instead, “Don’t Say Gay” and numerous anti-Transgender legislation being pushed around the country promote intolerance, misinformation, and downright prejudice. They make Queer kids think that there’s something wrong with them which in turn fills them with confusion and guilt. These bills also increase the likelihood that LGBTQ young people will be bullied and mistreated by other students, and they limit the ability of school staff from being able to reach out and help LGBTQ students when they are in need. And since many Queer minors live in homes that are not LGBTQ affirming, it is not uncommon for them to want to turn to school counselors or teachers for help. But with these bills, Queer students who are in need will be less likely to do this for fear of backlash and intolerance, plus many teachers and counselors will be afraid of getting into trouble if they try to help. Also remember how 52% Transgender/Nonbinary youth considered suicide in the 2021 survey. Anti-Transgender laws that limit or even prevent the ability of doctors to provide health care (such as temporary puberty blockers that are reversible and proven to help Transgender youth) will increase that suicide rate. Anti-LGBTQ legislation such as these result in LGBTQ young people having to endure greater suffering than they already do which in turn increases their suicide rate.
   It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and open their minds. Let go of intolerance and prejudice. Try to imagine what it’s like for other people and strive to provide support and acceptance to others, especially when they are in need.
   So please join me in speaking out against these destructive, intolerant bills and laws so that we can work towards making this a better, more accepting society for all.

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction

Why Is There So Much Prejudice Against The LGBTQ Community? Why?

   Why is there still so much prejudice against the LGBTQ (Queer) Community?
   Why?
   LGBTQ people have been around for the entire history of humanity, and LGBTQ behavior is also seen in other animal species.
   So where did all this prejudice and hate come from?
   The answer isn’t simple.
   Numerous factors are involved in creating intolerance and prejudice because I don’t think people are born that way.
    Lack of understanding is a big one. Many people don’t understand what it means to be LGBTQ. They don’t know the challenges and pain many LGBTQs face on a regular basis. They don’t seem to grasp that being Queer is part of who a person is and cannot just be switched off (and shouldn’t be switched off). There is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. Being LGBTQ can and should be a wonderful thing.
   Now, add on influences from people, organizations, schools, churches, leaders, family, and friends. If many of those  surrounding influences are prejudiced themselves, that can affect a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, especially if the individual already has a lack of understanding about the LGBTQ Community. Think about it. Imagine an individual who doesn’t really understand the LGBTQ Community and may have some insecurities and misconceptions about the subject. Now, picture a scenario where many of the important people in this person’s life don’t get the Queer Community either and often make derogatory jokes at the expense of LGBTQs. This often encourages and can worsen the individual’s intolerant views and behaviors.
   Something else to keep in mind is how intolerance and prejudice can be insidious so that individuals frequently don’t recognize that they are prejudiced themselves. Of course, there are other people who know they themselves are but have so much hate that they don’t care. Either way, they are harming innocent people.
   Such hurt can manifest in many ways. It can occur when people make fun of someone just because that person is LGBTQ. Or when an organization refuses to help because those in need are Queer.  Another example is how many people categorically refuse to date someone they would be interested in otherwise just because that person is LGBTQ (Bisexual+, Non-binary, and Transgender individuals are frequently the victims of this).
   In early 2020, Tennessee signed into law new regulations that allow religious based adoption agencies to automatically reject prospective parents just because they are LGBTQ.  This is legalized discrimination. And now there are multiple “don’t say gay” laws as well as other legislation targeting the Transgender Community being pushed in states around the country.
   All this prejudice against the LGBTQ Community needs to change.
   Everyone should take a good hard look at themselves, their views, and the factors driving those views. All should educate themselves to better understand other people, including those who are different.
  It’s the 21st Century! Time for people to open their minds and let go of the intolerance and prejudice pervading society these days.
  It’s time…

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/most-lgbtq-americans-experience-harassment-discrimination-harvard-study-finds-n823876 https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/12/19/anti-lgbt-discrimination-has-huge-human-toll-research-proves-it/ https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-bisexuals-shut-out-of-the-lgbt-club

The “Don’t Say Gay” Bills In Florida Are Dangerous For LGBTQ Youth

Feb 12, 2022
   In the state of Florida, there are two education related bills (Senate Bill 1834 and House Bill 1557) being considered that would be seriously detrimental to LGBTQ youth to the point that if passed into law, their suicide rate would almost certainly increase. You may be wondering how I can make such a bold statement. Well, I can because it’s based on facts that I will explain.
   The Trevor Project is a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for transgender/nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice.
   Think about those numbers. I mean really think about them. And here’s another one to consider: of minors who have experienced homelessness, around 40% identify as LGBTQ. These statistics are scary and prove how far society still needs to go in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, understanding, and rights.
   Now, let’s go back to the two bills I mentioned that critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bills. They are dangerous because they place serious limitations on schools’ abilities to discuss and deal with LGBTQ issues. In their current form, they say, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The latter part of this in particular is quite vague and could easily be abused so that older students would likely be affected as well. The result would be teachers being afraid to discuss LGBTQ history and issues which in turn would make LGBTQ students feel even more isolated, marginalized, and confused.
   Another extremely disturbing part of the bills say, “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” must be told to the parents. What this essentially means is that unless they can prove doing so would lead to harm (something that would be extremely difficult to do), school faculty would be required to out LGBTQ students to their parents whether the students were ready for this or not. Why is this important you may wonder? Well, go back to the numbers above, in particular the part where only one in three youth say they live in an LGBTQ affirming home. The fact is: many minors have parents who are very prejudiced against the LGBTQ Community, and because of this, many students are more likely to come out to a school counselor or teacher before they are ready to tell their prejudiced parents. If these bills become law, this important outlet for these students will be taken away.
   The cold hard reality is that these bills, if passed into law, would certainly worsen situations for many LGBTQ youth (especially their mental health) as they became more isolated, marginalized, closeted, confused, and frightened. Instead of being able to seek out and receive support when they need it, too many would end up suffering in silence, afraid of anyone discovering their secret. This in turn would worsen quality of life and undoubtedly lead to increased suicide rates.
   So I hope you will join me in spreading the word in opposing these bills as well as other anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in states around the country because lives are literally at stake

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction

Too Many People Get Hurt Because Of Being Seen As Too Different

1-29-22
   People’s fear and/or discomfort of what they don’t understand hurt others far too often. And unfortunately, there are plenty of examples in society today.
   In general, it seems that many people only want to be involved with individuals, organizations, places, ideas, and so on that fit into their comfort zone. This means they tend to just associate with others who are similar to them. It can manifest in many ways, like people only socializing with others who share their views (such as in religion, politics, and interests). Whether they consciously realize it or not, these individuals frequently avoid those whom they see as too different, and this can be detrimental to all concerned in numerous ways.
   For one thing, this tendency can insulate people far too severely so that they often fail to open their minds. As this happens, they don’t adequately consider other ideas and points of view and as a result, usually don’t give such things anywhere close to a fair chance. The consequences of this sort of behavior end up hurting themselves as well as others.
   We can see the effects of this in a plethora of ways. One is in politics. Many people today focus their political discussions and fervor only with others who already agree with them and immediately reject ideas coming from individuals they see as too different. Just because one may disagree with another in numerous ways politically, doesn’t mean the other person doesn’t have some good points or ideas. If both parties would open their minds, they may find some common ground in places and perhaps the potential for compromise. They may also learn from each other and thus broaden their minds even further.
   Another area where the consequences are seen far too often is in the social realm. It is terribly common how so many people only socialize with or date others they see as similar enough (and not too different). The result is that many people get hurt and end up feeling rejected and lonely. This is especially true for individuals whom too much of society don’t understand and end up closing their minds to. For example, many bisexual+ people find dating brutally difficult despite the fact that they can be just as faithful as anyone else. Numerous others (such as individuals who are transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, asexual, and so on) have terrible challenges in trying to date because of being seen as too different. Most people automatically reject them in a kneejerk type of reaction without even trying to get to know them. The result is that far too many individuals feel isolated and alone. Plus, those who are so quick to reject them may be missing out on what could potentially have been a wonderful relationship.
   These are just a few examples. People in general need to open their minds and cease being so quick to judge. They should stop being so fearful of what they don’t adequately understand and instead, work to educate themselves and broaden their horizons, for doing so would likely make the lives of themselves and others so much better.

People Need To Educate Themselves And Open Their Minds

12-14-21
   Think about the fact that transgender women are four times more likely to be murdered than cisgender women. I mean really think about that. It’s heartbreaking, disgraceful, and a real sign that intolerance and prejudice are still far too common in today’s society.
   It begs the question: why?
   Why are so many people so intolerant towards others just because they are different from themselves.
   People often are uncomfortable with, fear, and sometimes even hate things that are different and that they don’t understand. While some strive to overcome this by opening their minds and educating themselves, others don’t and sometimes sink further into prejudice and hate.
   The current state of affairs needs to change. People should open their minds and educate themselves. They also need to stop automatically believing stereotypes that are frequently untrue. So I’m going to use this piece to try to educate people on some terms and ideas that many in today’s society don’t have a good grasp on. And I’m going to be clear about the fact that I am queer myself having a fluid sexuality (bisexual+) and a fluid gender (genderfluid).
   A transgender person is an individual who identifies as a different gender than the person was physically born with. For example: a transgender woman was born physically male but identifies as a woman. Transitioning is the process of trying to get her physical body to match how she identifies. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They don’t relate with the traditional male/female binary. A genderfluid individual is someone whose gender identity is fluid (a mixture of male, female, and in between); how much they feel one way as compared to others can fluctuate. Thus, the fluid aspect of the term. Genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t subscribe (either fully or in part) to the traditional gender binary. Bisexuality refers to the potential to be attracted to more than one gender (male, female, non-binary, etc) while pansexuality is attraction to someone regardless of that person’s gender (like gender doesn’t matter in a way).  Bisexual+ (bi+) is an umbrella term used to describe anyone who can be attracted to more than one gender (or regardless of gender), whatever term(s) they prefer (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, etc). Queer is essentially a catch-all word referring to anyone who is LGBTQ+. Clearly, there is overlap and interconnection with some of these terms, and many people will use more than one to describe themselves.
   People who are bi+, transgender, genderfluid, non-binary, genderqueer, and so on are living, breathing human beings who deserve open-mindedness, tolerance, decency, and respect. We are not disturbed or diseased. We are not a bunch of confused, cheating sex maniacs. We want to live happy, productive lives just like everyone else. We want to have friendship and love too. As to romance, most of us are monogamous individuals while others choose polyamorous or open relationship lifestyles.
   So please, take some time to educate yourselves and open your minds. Be respectful of others and don’t automatically be intolerant against someone just because they are different from you.

Time For People To Open Their Minds About Bisexual+ Individuals

   Here’s the thing folks: bisexual+ people can be totally faithful and monogamous.
   Why don’t we look at it another way. Bi+ are not a bunch of confused, lying cheaters.
   It’s sad that I keep having to say this, but I do. The reason is that there are still so many people out there who believe unfair stereotypes about bi+ sexuality. Far too many people seem to think that individuals who can be attracted to more than one gender must be confused or that they would never stay faithful to somebody. There are some individuals who actually think bi+ sexuality doesn’t even exist, which is completely preposterous considering that more people identify as a bi+ sexuality (bisexual, pansexual, fluid, etc) than gay or lesbian.
   So let’s get something straight here (no pun intended lol): bi+ sexuality is quite real, and bi+ people can be faithful and monogamous. Now, like with any community, bi+ come from all walks of life and have a plethora of views on life. Some prefer open or polyamorous relationships while many others are monogamous. Are there some who are lying cheaters? Sure there are, just as there are straight and gay people who are lying cheaters. People don’t assume all straight and gay individuals are cheaters because of the actions of a few, so it’s wrong and hurtful that so many unfairly stereotype the entire bi+ community like they do. As a result of these biased attitudes, far too many bisexual+ people feel isolated and alone. Dating can be brutally difficult to near impossible, especially for those who are older, and far too many bi+ suffer in the closet afraid of what might happen if their sexuality was discovered.
   Things need to change.
   People need to educate themselves. Don’t make broad, stereotyped assumptions about an entire community. That’s not right. Instead, everyone should open their minds and their hearts. Get to know a person before jumping to conclusions. Give an individual a chance.
   Think about how amazing this world could be if everyone would do this.
   Think about it…
  

People Need To Open Their Minds About Transgender, Genderfluid, Genderqueer, Non-binary Individuals

   I’m going to be up front about the fact that I am queer with a fluid sexuality (bisexual+) and a fluid gender (genderfluid). As such, I unfortunately have first-hand experience about how so many cisgendered people often have a serious lack of understanding with regards to genderfluid, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender (GfNT) individuals. This in turn leads to intolerance and prejudice.
   Maybe I should start with explaining who we are. A transgender person is an individual who identifies as the opposite gender than the person was physically born with. For example: a transgender woman was born physically male but identifies as a woman. Transitioning is the process of trying to get her physical body to match how she identifies. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They don’t relate with the traditional male/female binary. A genderfluid individual is someone whose gender identity is fluid. A mixture of male, female, and in between. How much they feel one way as compared to the others can fluctuate one minute to the next. Thus, the fluid aspect of the term. Genderqueer refers to individuals who don’t subscribe (either fully or in part) to the traditional gender binary. Clearly, there is overlap and interconnection with some of these terms, and many GfNT people will use more than one to describe themselves.
   Often, people fear, ridicule, and make fun of things that they don’t understand or are uncomfortable with. This is especially common among cisgendered individuals with regards to GfNT people. But when a person makes fun of and ridicules a community that is hurting and suffering, it worsens the pain and intolerance that community is already being forced to endure.  It reinforces and exacerbates the lack of understanding and prejudice that is so pervasive in this society.
   Consider this: many GfNT people are afraid to use public restrooms because of the risk of verbal and even physical abuse. Using public restrooms is something cisgendered people take for granted. Dating is another area that GfNT individuals such as myself often find brutally difficult because most cisgendered people won’t even consider dating us, even if they were interested before realizing our gender identity. The result of all this is that too many GfNT people feel very isolated and alone. Studies have shown that the transgender community suffers higher rates of depression and suicide than the cisgendered community. This is obviously connected to intolerance, prejudice, lack of understanding, isolation, and loneliness.
   For things to get better, people need to educate themselves and open their minds. Put themselves in other people’s shoes so to speak. Imagine being afraid of the simple act of using a public restroom. Think about how hard it would be going through life feeling isolated and alone because you are trying to be true to who you are. If more members of the cisgender community would do this, perhaps there would be fewer ridiculing and making hurtful jokes about the GfNT community.

I Like DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. Yes, I Do!

9-15-21
   I really like DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW Network.
   Yes, you heard me right.
   You’re probably wondering why. Is it a deep, thought-provoking show? No. Absolutely not. Is it addressing contemporary problems plaguing society today? Nope. So why do I enjoy it you might wonder. Well, let me tell you. It’s a fun, entertaining show that allows you to escape your troubles for a little while and also has surprisingly good queer representation. Yep, it does.
   I don’t want to give away plot lines because this show has been going on for 6 seasons with number 7 coming soon. The general premise is that a misfit group of gifted individuals with a variety of abilities and powers was organized by a time traveler who had stolen a time ship called the Waverider. Together, they try to fix aberrations in time with the help of Gideon, the Waverider’s powerful AI computer. The show is an entertaining mixture of action and comedy. It can be campy in places and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not trying to be deep. And frankly, this combination makes it quite fun, entertaining, and endearing. Another aspect which makes it really enjoyable is how they often screw up lol. They make mistakes. These are not perfect superheroes. Sometimes they are total screw-ups, yet somehow or another, they find a way to get the job done.
   Another thing that makes it a really good show is its strong, positive queer representation. There are multiple important regular characters in the show who are queer, and refreshingly, their being LGBTQ is not a big deal and is totally accepted by the rest of the crew. For example, Sara Lance and Constantine are openly bisexual+, and in the last couple of seasons, Sara Lance has been in a monogamous romantic relationship with another important female character in the show. As a matter of fact, in addition to their relationship being completely normal to the rest of the crew, it’s also been included into some of the show’s plot lines.
   So, is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow going to win Golden Globe Awards? No.
   But is it a fun, entertaining show that will allow you to escape your worries for a little while and also includes strong queer representation? Absolutely yes!
   You can catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW Network, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.

Tragedy In Afghanistan

8-17-21
   Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban as the entire world has seen with tragic images and stories of fear, despair, and horror unfolding before us.  On TV, we saw Afghans clinging to planes as they desperately tried to escape the victorious Taliban. Women have virtually disappeared from Kabul’s streets as they hide in their homes fearful of what the Taliban may do to them. There is serious concern that a horrendous humanitarian disaster is in the making.
   So what happened? How did things come to this?
   There is no simple, easy answer.
   Afghanistan is not like many other countries around the world. It’s still a very tribal society with powerful warlords and chieftains who hold great power over their own territories. It has never been a strongly united nation. It has also been a very male dominated society for ages, especially in the rural areas. Men run the villages and have the power. For many generations, severe limitations have been placed on women in terms of education, jobs they are allowed to do, clothing they must wear (particularly in public), and so on.
   When the Taliban were in power before, they enforced an extremist, draconian form of Sharia law where men were in control. TV, movies, and most music were banned as was media, photography, or art that showed people or other living things. Girls were not supposed to go to school over the age of 10, and women were not allowed to hold almost any job outside of health care (the only reason they were allowed in this area is because male doctors were not supposed to directly treat women). People who committed adultery could be publicly executed, and individuals who stole might have a hand cut off.  Men were required to have beards, and women had to wear a burka (that covered their head and most of their body) when in public.
   The United States got directly involved in the Afghanistan conflict after 9/11 (the Taliban had harbored Al-Qaeda terrorists including Osama Bin Laden). With US involvement, the Taliban were swept from power pretty quickly, but the war did not end. The Taliban retreated to the countryside and continued fighting. The US attempted to establish a democracy in Afghanistan in the hopes of creating a more stable ally in the war on terrorism. Efforts were made to try to improve women’s rights and opportunities in life. But the conflict dragged on.
   Thing is: it’s very difficult to establish a stable democracy in a society that has no real history of it. And when you consider the tribal nature of Afghanistan, warlords, much of the population lacking the opportunity for education, poverty, and so on, the chances of establishing a strong democracy get even worse. It’s a safe bet that many of the warlords and other tribal leaders had no desire for true democracy since it could decrease their power. The Taliban certainly didn’t want democracy with their extreme version of Sharia law. And many of the everyday people were just trying to survive. There has been conflict and war in Afghanistan for decades. As a result, many people will switch sides quite readily depending on who has the most power in their area because folks are trying to survive. A consequence of all this is that the elected Afghan government was weak and many people were hesitant to fully commit to it. There was also a significant amount of corruption going on. Whereas the Taliban combined politics with a twisted, extremist, often barbaric version of religion so that many of their soldiers thought they were fighting a holy war and were more willing to die for their cause. 
   The United States (with NATO involvement at times) spent 20 years trying to train and build up a strong Afghan security force to help keep the Taliban in check and uphold the Afghan government. But due to the situation I just described, Afghan security soldiers were not as committed to their cause as Taliban troops were committed to theirs. So with the US pullout, the morale of the Afghan forces disintegrated.
   The Trump Administration had talks with the Taliban and signed an agreement with them that committed the US to pull out of Afghanistan by May 1st, 2021. The Taliban agreed to stop attacking American forces and promised to separate from Al-Qaeda. While they seemed to uphold the first provision, they likely did not honor the second. Once Biden came into office, he decided to go along with the agreement, though he did extend American presence beyond May 1st.
   Then we all saw how quickly things unraveled. The Taliban had clearly been planning for this. As a result, once enough American forces were out, the Taliban launched large scale attacks on Afghan security forces, and the latter fell apart. The Taliban seized control in less than 2 weeks.
   As to the blame game, there is plenty of blame to go around. Trump is the one who set this final American withdrawal in motion by signing an agreement directly with the Taliban in February of 2020. The Afghan government was left out which seriously weakened it and led to further plummeting of security force morale since they felt abandoned by the United States. Biden inherited this situation and then decided to go along with the agreement. The Biden Administration also seemed to seriously underestimate how quickly the Taliban would overrun the country. This likely played a role in why thousands of people (many of whom are Afghan allies who had helped the United States and NATO) are currently trapped in Afghanistan with unknown futures. Another factor in why so many Afghan allies didn’t get out in time is that the special visa program used to get them to the United States was mired in bureaucracy and staff shortages. It appears the Trump Administration made no effort to fix the issues so that almost a year was wasted. This had to have strongly contributed to why far too few of our Afghan allies got out. Biden did try to improve the program’s quagmire so that the number of approved visas rose from 100 per week in March of 2021 to 813 a week more recently. Plus, don’t forget that this war involved 2 other American presidents as well. There are also the factors of Afghanistan itself (that I’ve already described) which played major roles in the tragedy that is unfolding before us.
   So, what will the future hold? We’ll have to see. Will America be able to get our Afghan allies out of the country? Will the lot of women and LGBTQ people become as bad as last time? Will Afghanistan become a training site for terrorists like before?
   Time will tell.