Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Conservative: Oh well the weather is confusing, nothing to do here

Last week, Ricochet (a website claiming to target the “center-right and beyond”) published an article claiming that the Left is the party of the Pagan weather gods. Ignoring the fact that the Left is not a monolithic party, here is this author willfully ignorant or does he come by it naturally?

Major points of irritation include:

  1. Trump IS complicit in the destruction of the Carolinas. He is also responsible for the deaths of thousands of Puerto Ricans and the displacement of hundreds more. He is complicit in the poor response to vulnerable areas after Hurricane Harvey. And he’s directly responsible for any other deaths that come from defunding FEMA to build more ICE detention centers. Try to deny this responsibility and incompetence, and I’ll bring receipts.
  2. I have no idea how this author decided that Adad is the Left’s god of weather. Just looking at the Democrats, 70% are religious although their religious demographics appear more diverse than the GOP  with different religious attendance schedules. Off the top of my head, I can name several weather gods; not just Mesopotamian gods like Adad. I suspect the author landed on Adad precisely because he is Mesopotamian and occasionally gets mentioned with Ba’al. Christofascists have an intuitive infatuation with the Mesopotamian/Near East gods, something I’ll go into more in a later post. That said, I’m giving this dude extreme side eye for using a minimal “witchipedia” search instead of doing an actual search about Paganism. Lazy research is bullshit, do better.
  3. Speaking of lazy research, the research is conclusive research is conclusive that climate change is a thing that’s happening. And it’s human-caused.  And that our point of no return is rapidly approaching. This climate change leads to more storms, worse storms, and abnormal weather patterns. This is proven science.  We’ve been talking about climate change since before the 1950’s. This isn’t new, or handwavey, or speculation. Lazy research combined with willful ignorance makes me see red. SOOOOOO MUCH RED.

I’ll be the first to admit that getting angry over these types of posts is only going to help raise my blood pressure. If you actually want to help the people affected by adverse weather patterns or climate change here are some links: Help for Hurricane Florence, Help for Puerto Rico, Climate Change Initiatives, and reducing your carbon footprint.


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Screw Brett Kavanaugh and the cross he rode in on

BrettKavanaugh-CSPAN

Content Note: Christofascism

I’m writing this on the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, and I’m reminded of Fascism: a warning. Secretary Albright’s book is a bitterly difficult book to read, but a necessary one for anyone interested in political Shadow Work. She describes fascism not as a political ideology, but as a method of seizing power. While Brett Kavanaugh may not be the exact flavor of White Evangelical Christian that is oh-so-fashionable in the current administration, he is a good little Christofascist and the first mature product of their long game. Brett Kavanaugh will compliantly support this administrations’ grabs for power. As if that weren’t immediately obvious from Kavanaugh signaling that he would be against indicting a sitting president.

Christofascists use Christianity as a cudgel to consolidate and abuse power. American White Evangelical Christians aren’t unique in this, they’re just the ones doing it here. At a baseline level, Kavanaugh’s record worries. If this were a normal presidency, with a president who behaved according to our norms and institutions, I would focus on specific issues (although I still wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Supreme Court). Combined with the Mueller investigation and the appalling behavior over the Merrick Garland nomination, I don’t want the GOP to have the opportunity to choose their own judges.

All that said because this isn’t normal, I’m specifically worried about how Kavanaugh’s personal religious life will impact his rulings. Because the personal is political. State-run media outlet Fox News is already touting Kavanaugh as someone who will defend the “most sacred right” to religious freedom. The more radical (but still well read) Religion News claims Kavanaugh will do his job to “apply the law objectively, without regard to his personal views….he understands that our founders believed deeply in religious liberty and that the Constitution they wrote protects the free exercise of religion”.  Now, I’m a Pagan and a Witch, I believe all sorts of woo. But you will never be able to convince me that Kavanaugh knows exactly how the founding fathers felt about the freedom of religion, and I will bet all my student loans that the founders did not use the definition that we use today.

Further, the political is personal and the personal is political. Much like systemic racism makes “white” the perceived default race; White Evangelical Christianity makes “Christian” the perceived default religion. I very much doubt Kavanaugh, who was the chair of the Federalist Society’s religious liberty practice group, has the self-awareness to see that. After all, the Federalist Society is the incubation tank for baby Christofascists who want to be judges with they grow up.

In all the articles about the nomination are Christofascist dog whistles, the loudest of which are “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”. Let’s be honest when Christians say that, they mean “religious liberty for us” and “religious freedom for religions like ours”; not for anyone else. Those whistles ring loud and clear for Trump supporters. But there is a second set of whistles for the rest of us, where well-known conservative groups say Kavanaugh isn’t conservative enough. The Federalist has an article like this. Large media outlets like Slate report on how the American Family Association, the National Review, and the Human Coalition are lukewarm on Kavanaugh.

This supposedly ambivalent response to Kavanaugh is just as dangerous at the blatant support of Kavanaugh. He only seems conservative in comparison to the literal shit storm raging around us. This fire is not fine. This isn’t a moment when we should sit down and take the “lesser evil”. This is a moment when we should realize the lesser evil is a greater evil hiding behind a bland mayo exterior.

And by his own actions, Kavanaugh is definitely a Christofascist mess.

His origin story in the Federalist Society set Kavanaugh up to be a religious crusader, and he was even before he sat down at the White House or on a bench. Kavanaugh did pro bono work on Good News Club v. Milford Central School and in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, both cases that focussed on students ability to have Christian after-school groups and student-led prayer at football games. Where someone puts their unpaid pro bono hours is a good indicator of what they value.

Some may point a third pro bono case where Kavanaugh worked to change the zoning for a synagogue that wanted to build in a residential area. At first glance, this may seem like a sign of equitable religious tolerance. But consider for a moment, Evangelical Christians and hyper-conservative Catholics have an affinity for Judaism because they expect the Jews to kick start the apocalypse. So his defense isn’t unexpected. Further, this case was in the 1990’s and since then we’ve seen White Evangelical churches popping up in residential areas like daisies. Correlation is not causation, but it does cast suspicion.

On the bench, his stance on four cases are equally suspicious and concerning.

Priests for Life v. United States Department of Health is one of the most well known of Kavanaughs cases, and likely to be covered more in depth during the confirmation hearings. I will point out this nugget of joy though regarding the birth control mandate regulations that “substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs (submitting the form) or else pay significant monetary penalties”.

The Archdiocese of Washington v. WMATA focuses on proselytizing on public transport. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted to put an ad in the public buses at Christmas time that said: “Find the Perfect Gift” with shepherds following the Star of Bethlehem. WMATA rejected the ad, and the Archdiocese sued. The case hasn’t been settled yet, but during oral arguments, Kavanaugh called the ban “pure discrimination” and odious to the First Amendment.

In Boardley v. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service stopped a man from passing out Christian material at Mt. Rushmore. Currently, a park official has to issue a permit for those types of activities. Boardley didn’t have a permit, and when the National Park Service made him stop he claimed that they were limiting his ability to exercise his religion. Kavanaugh was in the majority agreeing that “the regulations in their current form are antithetical to the core of First Amendment principles.”

Last is Newdow v. Roberts, atheist activist Michael Newdow sued Chief Justice Roberts over the phrase “so help me God” in Obama’s first inauguration, as well as the prayers delivered by Reverend Warren and Reverend Lowery. Kavanaugh responded with “stripping government ceremonies of any reference to God or religious expression…would, in effect, ‘establish’ atheism”. While that particular quote demonstrates a fundamental inability to understand or empathize with the 26% of Americans who aren’t Christian there’s a worse one. “In our constitutional tradition, all citizens are equally American, no matter what God they worship or if they worship no god at all” however, they “cannot dismiss the desire of others in America to publicly ask for God’s blessing on certain government activities and to publicly seek God’s guidance for certain government officials”.

Let that sink in for a moment. Kavanaugh just tried to say we’re all equally American, but some Americans religion supersedes the religion of everyone else. Pair that with the rest of his rulings, and Kavanaugh doesn’t look like a Christofascist. He is one. This is very bad for Americans who aren’t the specific flavor of Christianity that’s in vogue when Kavanaugh makes his rulings.

There’s a lot to discuss about Kavanaugh. But by any and every metric, he’s a bad judicial pick for Americans, America, and the American dream. And you should call your Senator because this shouldn’t be allowed to stand.

 

 


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Sephora offers “witch kits”. Just no.

In October, Sephora will start to sell a “Starter Witch Kit” from Pinrose. It’s a box of perfumes with tarot cards, sage, and a rose quartz, and it sells for $42 plus tax.

I’m going to put this warning right here, I love Halloween. As a Libra, I love October. As a white girl, I love pumpkin spice. But this time of year also makes me super irritable, because people turn witchcraft into a capitalist boost.

I get it, October is the perfect time to use witchcraft as a capitalist/consumerist gimmick to more people to buy your product. And thanks to irresponsible representation and claims by foolish celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, the beauty industry is incorporating mysticism and magick into its toxic portfolio. I am not ok with that.

I, like most women, do use cosmetics. I have a bag full of them, and my bathroom counter is littered with serums and eye creams. I will cut someone if they take my mucin serum. I do incorporate magick into my cosmetic routine: my clay mask has rose oil in it, and I use as part of a self-love charm/meditation. But using magick as a selling point to wealthy white women who want to dabble in the mystic arts like sneaky school girls? That’s both the beginning of The Crucible and white Christian feminism at its finest.

Witchcraft is not your marketing gimmick. It’s an art form that should be practiced with care because it can be messed up. Yes, you can (and should!) have fun with it, but sometimes a little caution is warranted.

And while this seems innocuous and “good fun”, it feeds into the cultural paranoia around witchcraft. Just yesterday, I got a link to a webcast calling Burning Man the “biggest religious festival in the US” dedicated to Moloch and witchcraft.  Two days ago I wrote about a White Evangelical Christian pastor preaching against witchcraft from the pulpit. Sermons have been going on for decades about the dangers of mainstream witchcraft. “Good fun” for non-Pagans or non-magickal practitioners can have real impacts on the rest of us.

It’s not cool to use our religion and spiritual beliefs as your sales pitch. And it’s really not cool to use it when it could have real-life implications on us.

 

 


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White Evangelical Pastor is a bigot. No one is suprised.

Content Note: Bigotry

On August 19th, Reverend John Kilpatrick preached against witchcraft being used against Trump. Since they post their sermons on Facebook, the video has gone mildly viral. Kilpatrick made claims that “when Elijah faced Jezebel, he was facing witchcraft” and that “what’s happening right now in America, is witchcraft’s trying to take this country over”.  Other statements include “I’m not being political, but I don’t see how President Trump bears up under it…here’s what the Holy Spirit said to me last night and what He said for me to tell you. He said, ‘Tell the church that so far, Trump has been dealing with Ahab. But Jezebel’s fixing to step out from the shadows.’ That’s what the Lord said to me…He said ‘Pray for him now, because there’s about to be a shift, and the Deep State is about to manifest, and it’s going to be a showdown like you can’t believe.'”.

Now, I personally find this to be a gross violation of church and state, and that this church should lose its tax exempt status. But that’s neither here nor there.

Witchcraft and Wicca do have a history of using magick against people they don’t like. Doreen Valiente said that she and some friends attempted to use magick against the Nazis during WWII. Witches have been cursing Trump since day one. I, myself, put small curses on his name every time I spit on it. And if his policies kill someone in my family or close to me, I will eat his heart. The fact that Trump is so hated and cursed makes it difficult to refute these types of claims, which may explain why no Pagan or Witchcraft group has called Kilpatrick out and said his claims are bullshit.

Here’s my statement: Trump is a sexist, racist, classist, ableist bigot. He is a traitor to the United States, and guilty of collusion with Russian agents and Vladimir Putin. Many magickal practitioners have cursed him as part of their First Amendment rights to practice their religion freely and as part of protest activities. However, the most effective curses aren’t the ones cast by others, but the ones we put on ourselves.

Here’s the other part of this video that worries me. Kilpatrick isn’t fringe. Kilpatrick has a large platform and he’s using it to spread hate against Pagans and magickal practitioners. His congregation applauded his words. He may have backtracked by saying “it’s not a witch after him, it’s a spirit of witchcraft trying to muzzle him”; but it’s not an apology, and it’s just as hateful as the words he said from the pulpit.

White Evangelical Christians want us gone, and they will do what they have to to get rid of us. Hate crimes start at church.


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White Pagans, time to collect our racist Uncle Wotan

Content Note: Racism, Nazism, Trumpism

Authors Note: Nazism has close ties to Odinism and Asatru, and both Nazis and Neo-Nazis often use Heathen symbols on their images. We can’t afford to ignore this connection, because regardless of what happens, the impact on Paganism and Heathenism is either “bad” or “worse”. I am aware that my own Hellenic and Wiccan traditions struggle with racism as well, and this will be addressed in other posts, primarily because racism takes many forms which deserve their own discussions. I am also aware that not all Heathens, Asatru practitioners, or Odinists are Nazis or racists. However, I will point out that people who use “not all *blank*” tend to be part of the problem as well. For purposes of this post, I will refer to Odinism attached to the Nazi/Neo-Nazi movement as Nazi Wotanism, as Wotan is the High Germanic name of Odin and the name has strong associations with the white separatist movement. If you are a member of any racist or hate group and want to leave, Life After Hate is there for you. Please reach out for any help you need.

Barely a year ago, literal tiki torch-bearing Nazis marched in Charlottesville. They terrorized the town, and their actions led to the death of a brave Antifa activist Heather Heyer (may she return in power). If you paid any attention to the banners and have a passing knowledge of runes, you probably noticed some familiar symbols: elhaz/algis, othala, tyr, and the valknot. These are all symbols used by Nazis during the Third Reich and in use today by Neo-Nazis. Nazis love themselves some Pagan symbols and imagery, they loved the Pagan gods, and that love has been passed down to the Neo-Nazis of America. Which makes them our problem to collect and police.

Nazism and racism have long been part of Paganism’s dark underbelly. The much-admired Madame Blavatsky who influenced many Pagan traditions started it off by popularizing the swastika (seen on the emblem of the Theosophical Society) and endorsed the concept of a “superior race”. One of her followers, Guido von List   Ariosophy, the philosophy of the supposed Aryan priest-kings. Von List was one of Heinrich Himmler’s greatest inspirations and he modeled the Schutzstaffel SS on that Ariosophy. The Thule Society, which was based on Blavatsky and von Lists teachings, is basically a who’s who of the Nazi leadership. The Thule Society’s influence extended past politics and into the private world: women were considered priestesses of the home, and popular holidays such as Christmas were re-branded as Pagan celebrations. This becomes important after WWII because Else Christensen, a housewife, peddled her toxic mix of white supremacy, sexism, and Wotanism in America.

If you recognize Ms. Else as a Pagan activist who pushed to have Odinism and Wotanism recognized by the prison system, good for you. That doesn’t negate her sins in the least.

Many Pagans think that because we’re a minority religion we can hide this association between Nazism and Wotanism. That because we’re often overlooked for things like a holiday, we’ll be overlooked for things like this. They’re wrong.

Nazi Pagans already made headlines in the Washington Post and Vice.

Nazi Pagan Facebook pages exist. And Facebook ignores it when people report the hate. I know that for a fact because while I was researching this, I reported several. And each one was ignored.

Wotanism loves a particular kind of toxic hyper-masculinity and sexualized violence. Scrolling through any of the hate pages on Facebook reveals a consistent pattern in their posts. Memes proclaiming the superiority of the white race and calling for the defense of the traditional family, white women, and children are mixed with Barbie doll Valkyries in impractical armor and near-nude Freyas’ posing provocatively with swords. The message is clear: protect the racist and homophobic ideas of Nazism and this is your reward. This is exceptionally dangerous in the era of Trumpism when calls for stochastic terrorism ring from every rally.

Regardless of how the next couple of months and years play out, Pagans are going to suffer from this representation. We live in a nation that firmly embraces White Evangelical Christianity. Make no mistake, the Wotanist Nazis are tolerated only so far as they can support the nationalist agenda. White Evangelical Christians will throw Wotanist Nazis under the bus when it becomes politically expedient; a movement that gleefully justifies separating children with the Bible isn’t going to make distinctions between the flavors of Paganism. In the event that the elections are free and fair and there is a blue wave, these Wotanist Nazis will just blend back into the Pagan crowd, hiding behind the idea of a progressive minority religion. A cancer hiding until it can grow unchecked again.

So what do we do?

If you are safe and capable of staying safe, we call them out where we can and when we can. And if you can stay safe, keep your connections to the people you know who are Pagan Nazis.

First, call out their behavior. Don’t let them hide in your communities. Don’t let them melt back into Pagan spaces without scrutiny. Don’t let them post their hate speech in your social media pages unquestioned. Circle is supposed to be a space you enter in perfect love and perfect trust. You can’t enter anything in perfect love and perfect trust when there are Nazis. Don’t let them hide behind the claim of minority status. We, as Pagans, are uniquely placed to call out their racist, Nazi, homophobic bullshit, because we hold space and status within their own communities. It’s hard for a Wotanist Nazi to claim they’re being discriminated against because of their religion when the person calling them out is from their own community.

Because it can be difficult to tell Wotanist Nazis from Odinists, Asatru practitioners, and other Heathens; be thoughtful in how you approach this. Educate yourself on what symbols and in what configurations these Wotanist Nazis use them in. And always, always, always keep your safety in mind.

Second, if you have connections to Wotanist Nazis, keep the lines of communication open. Individuals who leave cults and hate groups do so because they have connections to the outside world. You don’t have to help them yourself or approve of what they do. In fact it’s good if you make it clear that you don’t. But let them know that you have resources if they need help with their rage or hate. People can’t access resources they need if they don’t know those resources exist.

Or if neither of these options appeals to you, you can do what I did: plastered links to Life After Hate all over their Facebook pages.


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XI: Prisoner gets Justice for the tarot

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So, today we got a win for religious freedom in the Americas. Serial killer Paul Steven Haigh had 4 tarot cards returned to him. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled the prisoners have the right to practice their religion without unreasonable incursion from the government or guards (obviously, athames and swords are still verboten). Haigh uses the the cards as a meditative doorway and a spiritual tool; like many other Pagans.

I’ve done tarot meditations, and I think the interweaving circles and themes are quite soothing and philosophical. I’m glad that this man is getting some comfort from them. When the guards took 4 cards out of the deck because they showed breasts, it rendered the deck useless as a meditative tool: all the arcana move from one card to the next like stepping stones, take one out and you can’t make the next leap.

I don’t jive with the artwork on the Deviant Moon deck (the deck in question), I personally prefer the Herbal Tarot. But it’s far from pornographic or obscene, which were the reasons given for the card confiscation. I think I’m rather like US Supreme Court Justice Stewart, I know obscenity when I see it. And to a degree this reads like a petty confiscation to me.

I’m glad that the Canadian Supreme Court ruled on the right side of this. Religious freedom is a positive for all of us.


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A Dark Horse on the Horizon

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While my musical tastes are broad and sometimes “auditorily offensive”, Katy Perry is by no means a favorite, and not someone I normally associate with Paganism. So when I saw Katy Perry mentioned on The Wild Hunt, I was a bit confused. Apparently, Perry is in the hot seat again for her 2013 hit “Dark Horse”. For me, Perry is hugely problematic not-fave for reasons you can see here, here, here, and here.

And honestly, even if none of her homophobia, cultural appropriation, or sexual misconduct was a factor, I’m not super enthused by the music video. As a Hellenic practitioner with no real ties to the Egyptian pantheon, I don’t have a horse in the race in terms of divine representation; even if the color scheme in the music video is the hue of my depression. The song is meh and I have no comment on the use of Aphrodite’s name in the lyrics. In an early version of the music video, Perry destroyed a necklace with the name of Allah on it which is really just another sign of her inattentiveness as an artist. Although I did find her Grammy performance of “Dark Horse” distasteful and concerning for a whole host of reasons.

The issue here is that Perry is being sued by Marcus Gray, Lecrae Moore, Emanuel Lambert, and Chike Ojukwu for plagiarism of their song “Joyful Noise“, as well as tarnishing the reputation of “Joyful Noise” with “Dark Horse”s “association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in Dark Horse. Indeed, the music video of Dark Horse generated widespread accusations of blasphemy and an online petition signed by more than 60,000 demanding removal of an offensive religious image from the video.” Given that Perry has a background as a Christian music singer, and that the songs do share a remarkably similar beat and melody I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Perry didn’t give credit where it was due. And that’s really shitty of her if she did. But I take serious issue with where this fits into the larger cultural narrative, particularly the cultural narrative in Trump’s America. 

Right out of the gate, I will say I don’t expect my celebrities to use their platform politically. I do think that individuals with that kind of reach have an ethical responsibility to use that platform wisely, but having a responsibility doesn’t mean you have to do something. However, I do know for a fact that people who claim minority status have to behave like the eye of the Moirae is on them; because the eye of the public is and it’s not much kinder.

Why does that matter? Perry has claimed to be a New Age practitioner.

Now, if we’re talking labels, “New Age practitioner” isn’t Pagan isn’t pagan isn’t Wiccan isn’t witchcraft isn’t Illuminati (what even is an Illuminati when it’s at home?). But those are differences without a distinction to most of the populace, as we see in the “Joyful Noise” lawsuit.

In terms of the claims from the lawsuit, most of the pagan imagery comes from the music video. Excluding the army of sexy-Bastet, I can somewhat understand it. Ra and Anubis have probably never been so ripped, but many who reject the Christian faith often go through a phase of strongly connecting with the Divine Feminine. Most people don’t have such a large artistic venture to express it though, and others who do have certainly done it better (the bold mixture of Isis and Christianity in The Cranberries “Zombie” and Beyonce as Oshun come to mind).  I can tolerate Perry’s bubblegum attempt at Isis, even if I give it a healthy dose of side eye.

More concerning was her Grammy performance. I’m not going to claim that witchcraft is always rainbows and fairies: in my magickal pantry I have grave dirt, bones, and menstrual blood. But that performance. I was a child during the Satanic Panic, and the evangelical school my parents sent me to clung to the panic even after it passed out of the mainstream media. That Grammy performance was EXACTLY what my parents and the school said witchcraft was: skeletal trees, hooded Baphomet, dancing demons, witches branded with red crosses, women getting sexual pleasure from being burned. I swear, joining my first coven after that build up was such a letdown.

Outside of a very wise group of Cassandras, I don’t think any of us really expected the political rise of the White Evangelical to play out the way it did. In 2014 I remember Pagans talking about LGBTQ rights and evangelism; Trump, Russia, and the malice of White Evangelism were hidden for the most part. Most of us didn’t think it could or would happen. Except it did, and we’re seeing all sorts of human rights violations and bullshit go down. After all, evangelical lobbyists sell access to the president at the Prayer Breakfast, the DOJ uses the Bible to justify separating children at the border, and Jeff Sessions formed the Religious Liberty Task Force (ostensibly to protect the voices of religion in the government, but let’s be real about how that’s going to play out).  In the grand scheme of things, this lawsuit seems small and insignificant. But bigger atrocities are built on the small and insignificant, so this case very well should be watched closely.

Perry has the wealth and resources to inoculate herself against the discrimination every Pagans and magickal practitioners face. Regardless of the outcome of this case, Perry will continue on making money by the boatload and will present an air of the effortless New Age practitioner. She will not struggle to find employment or days off, and should things in America turn against minority religions she has the means to protect herself and her empire. But if Perry claims to be a New Age practitioner, she’s the representative we have in the wider world even if she isn’t one we would have chosen for ourselves. Which means she needs to step up her game, and we need to call her out about it. Because it’s not her neck on the line. It’s ours.