Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Commentary: Mosque Con’t

I found this video of Keith Olberman.

Amen.

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Commentary: Ground Zero Mosque

I am sure most everyone has heard about the potential “mosque” near ground zero – in reality it is an islamic-based community center open to all peoples. Newt Gingrich and other primarily politically and socially conservative public figures have becoming increasingly outspoken about their disdain for this idea and claim that it is offensive and un-American – ignoring that 10 percent of those who died in the attacks were Muslim and that the American quilt consist of Muslims. Some have lighter opposition and simply do not want the mosque close to 9-11.

To speak truth, 9-11 was the result of a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. The tragedy is terrorism not Islam. Yes, they were influenced by passages in the Koran, but it is kin to Christian slave owners proliferating modern slavery in colonial and early America. These Christians were inspired by and utilized the Bible as their defense. Slavery, not Christianity, was the issue. Now I am not making a plea for the theological correctness of Islam and I am not an unitarian. Arguments towards such ends are mere strawmen. I believe that the Christian faith, towards which I am unwaveringly committed by the redemption that is in Christ, is concerned with hospitality, even towards those who are quite different. Christianity is concerned with love, even towards – if not especially – towards those who do not know the love of Christ. Christianity is concerned with reconciliation. This reconciliation is perhaps the most potent of points. The terrorists want us to be like them, evil in its simplest, wants to beget more evil. Unjust war begets unjust war. Hatred begets hatred. oppression begets oppression. This is the cycle of sin of transgression. This is the reason why the Father God sent the Christ incarnate; to reconcile us to take us out of the cycle and put us back into right relationship with God. Allowing . . . welcoming, the Islamic center, is a picture of that reconciliation. It is not the full reconciliatory process which we receive through Christ  – to suggest that is blasphemous -,but it is a mirror of that ultimate reconciliation and a means for Christians to be Christ-like and to show the world who the Christ is and what the Christ has done for and offered us all.

Cutting Corners, Costing Safety

I get frustrated with buying things that are made in China Mexico or the like, but because EVERYTHING is made outside of the United States it is pretty much inevitable. I try to buy used goods or find things made ethically but it is difficult when the overwhelming norm is clothes made by underpaid workers (sometimes children), but ubiquitous and cheap for the U.S. consumer

There are a number of reason’s why I despise how much we outsource manufacturing, textiles etc. (reasons such as: jobs, social equality, justice, globalization, etc.), but now I have a new reason; safety.

WASHINGTON – June 14 – Key components of high-tech American “e-passports” are assembled at a manufacturing plant in Thailand with precious little security, according to inspection reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

The U.S. Government Printing Office, the agency charged with producing the new e-Passports, has been warned repeatedly since 2006 by its own security officer that the Thai manufacturing site posed a “potential long term risk to the USG (U.S. government’s) interests,” according to the reports.

The sweeping concerns ranged from the political instability of Thailand and difficulty in getting security background checks for factory workers to poor police protection.  And that country is just one of several serious vulnerabilities to the e-Passport production system flagged recently by the agency’s internal watchdog.

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Really? We are outsourcing our national security? Now, I am not a national security fanatic, I actually think we are pretty neurotic and arrogant about some of our thoughts/ideas behind national security. However, passports are valuable tools that do protect the “borders”, if you will, and regulate who is inside the country and who is not. Moreover, it offers freedom for Americans in that they can travel abroad and arrive back home without much frustration. What bewilders me is the fact this move was probably made to save money. The federal press can pay workers less in Thailand than they could in Huntington, Indiana (where I just moved from).

So capitalism wins again – this time by influencing the philosophy of our government – and what matters is not people or even safety, it is saving and making money.

To be honest though, all Americans are  partially to blame. Think about passports costing $20 more than they do now – which there would be some increase if they were made in the U.S. – people would be complaining all the time. Just as our desire for cheap goods helps to drive the negative capitalistic chain via Wal-Mart, Gap etc., it drives the federal government’s desire to save money and offer an inexpensive passport.

So just as with anything, we are all involved.

*The irony is that having passports made in the U.S. would create more jobs for Americans.

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black

Tim Wise anti-racist writer and activist wrote an interesting piece on the Don’t Tea on Me Blog (my friend Timmy tipped me off to it)

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

THOUGHTS?


Thoghts about pop-culture, ethics, morality and value ispired from a conversation on facebook.

Although we have moved away from overtly signing songs and telling folk tales or myths as ways to convey ethics, values and meaning in our culture, popular culture has become the town square, campfire and village gathering that the contemporary person covertly learns societal values through. The tragedy is not the vehicle of information. The tragedy is that the stories and songs are no longer mediated by elders seeking to guide the community they are mediated by some guys trying to make a buck.

Glen Beck & “White Culture”

Why is it so hard for Beck to define White culture – especially when he says Obama has a hatred of it?

What is “White culture”?

My personal take is that there is “White culture” just like there is “Black culture”. But just as within Black culture, White culture is not monolithic, nor should everyone who is White be stereotyped into a rigid Whiteness.*

An interesting characterization of “White culture” -in the shallow expression of culture** – is the Stuff White People Like Blog and the subsequent book Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. If you haven’t seen either they both contain a list of things that typically White people enjoy: farmer’s markets; bookstores; wine tasting; etc (Our of Ur and Urban Faith posted a interesting article about the potential of small groups being a White Christian thing.)

I actually don’t like the book/website because it is limited and Lander, the creator, is making misinformed generalizations. It is really only touching on one section of White America. I think about lower-class Whites, or blue-collar Whites, or inner-city Whites, or rural Whites, the book/website it isn’t really stuff “White” people like, it is stuff a certain level of educated and socialized White like.

But there is something important in the book/website. It affirms that there is a culture typical to Whites – more appropriately various White cultures within a boarder American experience. White folks who deny that they have a culture and assume that  their actions are universally normal hinder actual multiculturalism, diversity and reconciliation because that perspective naturally color-blinds the world.

But again, it is also dangerous to ignore the diversity within Black and White folks  – as well as Asians, Latinos etc.  We literally make things black and white and don’t examine the variations and blending. So many Black folks have to fight the assumption that we ALL like, fried chicken, rap, baggy jeans, the N-word, basketball etc. and fight Being called “White” when we don’t like those things or happen to like NPR. Also, some white folks fight being called a “wigger” ( a common expression I heard when growing up) when they are genuinely a child of Hip Hop culture.

So I return to the original question, what is “White Culture”?

*The conversation is beyond just  Black/White – but Beck’s comments and interaction with the issue of culture was/is mainly Black/White.

**There are deeper culture values that are help differently in different cultures (i.e. preception of eldery, perception of time, gender roles, role of religion etc.). These are perhaps the real difference that divide folks. Which is why people of different ethnicities seem to be able to increasingly feel capable of working together – a fairly shallow exercise – but struggle with worshiping  and living together.

Interracial Injustice

What is this 1967?

A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

. . . Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

. . .  Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

Read more

This article simple astounded me, not solely because of the interracial marriage issue but because of the nuances and details of the issue.

One the one hand, we have a loving man and woman who want to get married. This is the story of millions of individuals and additionally many interracial couples – I was included in this when I was married.  This couple must have simply been blindsided.  When I was in high school I dated a girl who was euro-American (white) and her step-father had some issues with our relationship,  a couple years ago when I was married to my wife Alyssa there were some minor issues with my wife’s – who is Taiwnese-American – family. But those were unfortunately expected.

What occurred in Louisiana couldn’t have been expected. A governmental agent said “no”. Although he qualified and says that “I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it” he is basically thwarting the law. Somehow he has been able to let his personal preference to usurp law.  This situation is simply ridiculous, but what do we take from this, what insight does it give us?

1. Mis-conception of interracial difficulty –

It is interesting that the justice of the peace mentioned the difficulty of the children. This is an age old argument against interracial marriage. It is predicated on assuming that difficulty – if present – is a bad thing and that difficulty will occur in the first place. And although this was a white man saying this – which includes issues of power/history etc. – this sentiment is held by those of all races who oppose interracial marriage.  But this is somewhat of a straw man argument.  Few, is any, proponents of interracial marriage hinge and argument on the difficulty or lack of difficulty in an interracial relationship. Most individuals who enter into interracial marriages are quite aware of the societal push backs (i.e. my wife and I know that groups of black women and groups of Asian men are prone to stare, un-lovingly, at us ). The assumption that someone is protecting the children by opposing interracial marriage is pretty naive , especially given the emergence of multi-racial figure such as Obama, Tiger Woods, Heinz Ward, Jessica Alba, Keanu Reeves etc. Futhurmore it is patronizing and suggest that those getting married don’t care about their children. Again, this is not a white issue it is an issue for folks in various cultures and racial backgrounds.

2. White American individualism –

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

There is no better example than this. First, the comment that he is not racist. There is a difference between being a racist and doing something racist. And this was the latter. I don’t know this man, he may not be a person who is wholly racist, but this act was racist. He and we as a society must address that. Second, claiming that “I have black friends”. This is often a way that white individuals push back. White Americans often  individualize (Divided By Faith). This issue of race, including interracial marriage, is not solely a person to person issue it is a societal issue as well. Individualizing it devalues the societal impacts. It is a both/and nor either/or issue.

3. The importance of slowing assumptions –

I can read this ans assume that this justice of the peace doesn’t like Black people. I can even read into his defense and understand the context of where he is living and assume he has issues with Black folk.

But that would be wrong of me.

This man probably spoke reality when he said folks in BOTH Black and white communities wouldn’t be accepting; in Louisiana – in many states – many from both groups may have issues.  His folly was not having some concern – though he should have kept it to himself – but it was in refusing to marry the couple and various others in the past.  We have to take this issue at that level. No more and no less.