In the Roanoke Times, the Rev. Kirk A. Ballin, retired Unitarian minister, looks at American history and sees what most Americans deny through silence and a few would defend through arms:

This is because the history of the United States is really a two-track history. One track grows out of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Freedom, equity and justice for all are fundamental to this historical genesis.

The other track of U.S. history, however, stands in stark and disturbing contrast to the idealism of the one rooted in freedom, equity and justice. This other track of U.S. history is rooted in oppression, exploitation, persecution, enslavement and murder.

It is history marked by the violent, exploitive (sic) and dehumanizing treatment of groups of people who were different from the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant establishment of the early United States.

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. . . meets All the News that Fits.

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14 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Chart of when religious liberty is or is not being violated.  Example:  Your religious liberty is violated if you are forced to use birth control if it's against your religion.  Your religious liberty is NOT being violated if you are unable to prevent others from using birth control.

Via Job’s Anger.

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14 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

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08 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

I’ve noted many times how, in news reports of gun deaths, guns seem to just go off all on their ownsome, without the interference of some human agency to cause their triggers to be engaged. It’s not just guns, folks.

In a much longer post about perception and perspective in reporting the events in Ferguson, Missouri, Mikhail Lyubansky gives a telling example–telling in its pettiness–of how the framing of an event affects reporting and consequent perception of it.

A few days ago, high school students in my local community were holding a rally outside the high school to protest the grand jury decisions in the police shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The rally, which was approved by school officials, was designed to take place on school grounds but spilled over to the street in front of the school. While the students were on the street, a woman attempted to drive a car through the group of students [see video]. Students responded by hitting the car and apparently did some damage to the glass. The event was reported by the local newspaper:

    Some of them [students] walked into Crescent Drive in front of the school. As that occurred, a vehicle travelled through the crowd. At least one of the students struck the vehicle’s window and caused damage to the glass, according to police, who were called to the scene.

Notice how the article places the damage to the car in the foreground. The car was not driven through the group of students, it just somehow “travelled through the crowd” — the passive voice. But when it comes to the damage to the car, it didn’t just happen. Rather “one of the students struck the vehicle’s window” — the active voice.

Do read the rest, and remember to read the news with several grains of salt.

Afterthought:

I take no responsibility for the Psychology Today blogger’s ignorance of basic grammar.

“Car traveled” is active voice, even though it is obfuscatory, in that it attributes agency to the car, which is a mechanical device without agency.

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08 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Woman in 1914 In the Bangor Daily News, Wayne E. Reilly reports on a debate that took place a century ago about whether women should be allowed to vote. It’s fascinating. Here’s a snippet:

Women’s ever-changing dress styles, including slightly shorter, tighter skirts that inhibited movement, had become mixed up with one of the great questions of the Progressive Era.

“Mrs. Huntington believed that the woman who had such a narrow skirt that she had to be lifted into a wagon was not fit to vote,” the correspondent for the Commercial reported. Getting into a wagon, of course, was a far more important exercise a century ago than it is today.

It’s a light-hearted little column, but illustrates well the utter bullshit that persons tell themselves–and others–to justify their prejudices.

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07 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

At Psychology Today Blogs, Laurie Essig takes on the myth makers, in this case, those whose myths support and perpetuate racism. Here’s a bit:

Mass incarceration and the resulting policing practices in this country assume Black guilt. But none of this could occur without the racial innocence of Whites. Within the myth of the Black male beast lies the story of the innocent White victim, the delicate Flora running away from the newly freed (and therefore dangerous) Gus.

This uniquely American creation myth– writ not with lightening but a gender binary that marked White women as victims, Black men as dangerous, Black women as excessively sexual and White men as heroic saviors– planted the seed for everything we are seeing today. And therein lies the real danger for not bringing what feminist theory calls an “intersectional analysis” to the history we are witnessing.

An intersectional analysis insists that this is not just about the construction of Black men as beasts, but White women as needing saving by White men and Black women as never innocent.

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05 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

What the Booman said.

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03 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

One of the aspects of privilege is that those who have it think it’s nothing special.

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26 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Werner Herzog’s Bear points out that history matters.

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26 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

When I was an undergraduate, a long time ago, I did not join a fraternity. I never quite figured out why I should pay dues to get drunk, when I could get drunk quite nicely on my own, thank you very much. As far as I could tell from my seat in the bleachers, getting drunk and molesting women was what fraternities were all about.

After graduation, I did a year of graduate work at Mr. Jefferson’s University. One of the traditions was for a fraternity to burn a random car in “Mad Bowl” during some campus celebration I forget the name of.

Consequently, I am confident that this will work out as intended.

Also, pigs, wings.

Afterthought:

AFAIC, the whole United States “Greek” system should be abolished. Doing so will not expunge evil from this world, but it will end a little bit of institutionalized evil.

Addendum, Later That Same Day:

Greek leaders at San Diego State University have announced that they were suspending all fraternity parties and social functions indefinitely after a weekend that not only involved taunting people protesting sexual assault, but also the seventh sexual assault at a fraternity house since the semester began in September, U-T San Diego reports.

The InterFraternity Council admitted that the fraternity members who pelted participants in Friday’s Take Back the Night protest against sexual assault with eggs and waved dildos at them behaved in a manner that did “not reflect the values of the Greek community at SDSU.”

The fact is that this does, indeed, reflect the “values of the Greek community,” and not just at SDSU.

This has been another episode of watch what they do, not what they say.

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24 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Colossal Brit ex-pat poseur twits.

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20 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

The dark side of the self-image of the United States as a “nation of immigrants” is the racism and bigotry that underlies the history of America’s immigration policies.

As I discussed at tonight’s DL, the less white the immigrant stream, the more restrictive the immigration “policies.”

If freedom races through America’s bloodstream, racism courses through its lymph system.

Ask me nicely, I’ll tell you what I really think.

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18 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Bruce Maiman, writing at the Sacramento Bee, considers the case of some kids who were punished for omitting the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. After reminding readers that the punishments were prima facie illegal, he reminds us that things are not always what think they are, including the Pledge:

In 1890, a magazine publisher was selling flags to schools as a premium to solicit subscriptions. When sales declined the following year, the publisher concocted the idea of using the quadricentennial of Christopher Columbus reaching the Americas to revive the flag effort, complete with flag salutes and pledge recitations in schools nationwide. Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, was commissioned to write the pledge, which first appeared in The Youth’s Companion on Sept. 8, 1892:

(snip)

“The United States of America” was added in 1923, then the words “under God” in 1954 – which Bellamy’s family descendants strongly protested. But our lawmakers decided this would somehow be a fantastic response to the perceived threat of those godless commies in Soviet Russia.

Typical, isn’t it? What many believe was about religion and patriotism was really about three dubious American obsessions: money, politics and the empty symbolic gesture.

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10 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

. . . is an oxymoron.

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09 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Writing at the Boston Review, Claude S. Fisher presents a strong case that the religious right is driving Americans away from organized religion. A snippet (the word “Nones” below refer to those who, when asked their religious affiliation on various surveys, answered “None”):

The specific, religiously-inflected politics that alienated more recently-born moderate and liberal Americans from the church were the politics of personal morality (rather than the politics of, for example, inequality or foreign policy). Thus, political polarization around the culture wars seems to have driven the rise of the Nones.

Fanaticism is never pretty. In the long run, those who promote a theocracy in the United States will suffer the same fate as England’s Roundheads, but much unpleasantness lays along the way.

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03 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Even given that this is staged, if you don’t start to feel discomfort by the time you are 30 seconds in, you are incapable of understanding the problem.

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02 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

Caption:  The people opposed to gay marriage are upholding traditional American values.  Pictured:  Slavery (traditional value: discriminating against minorites); genocide against Indians (traditional value: discriminating against minorites); discriminating against Jews (traditional value: discriminating against minorites); excluding immigrants (traditional value: discriminating against minorites).

Via Job’s Anger.

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26 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors

TV Talking Head says,

Via Job’s Anger.

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26 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Culture Warriors, Enforcers

At the Bangor Daily News, a guest blogger marvels at the difference in police tactics in responding to the violent riot in Keene, New Hampshire, and the almost-entirely peaceful demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri. She offers a theory of causation; here’s a snippet:

It seems to me that the “Pumpkin Fest Riots” were met with restraint because A) the rioters were white men, and B) the riot was infused with alcohol, and not infused with a message. Imagine if these rioters were actually protestors carrying signs stating, “We are the 99%” or “Justice for (insert name of young black teen)”!

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