Politics

Entries related to things political.

Red Cups Matter

Today, I created an image of a Red Starbucks cup with “Concerned Student 1950” written on it because I believe these two hot topics are closely related to what is going on in the 2016 election and are all part of a much bigger context. I’m also including the Halloween issue at Yale in all of this.

I’m trying to avoid getting mired in the nitty gritty of all of these, although I have had a little run with the red cups, and I’m trying to look at this from a much larger picture and I could easily go off on a thousand different tangents about what is going on at Yale.

It seems that Colin McEnroe tried to do something similar in his column, Yalies Whining For Protection, Not Fighting Adversity.

He says the students are “overindulged”, attempting to place all of this in the context of the sons and daughters of entitled helicopter parents. On one level, what he is saying might have a little validity, but I do worry about painting all students with such a broad brush.

Instead, I see the overindulgence and the entitled helicopter parents as yet another manifestation of the same larger underlying dynamic, the transformation of the American Dream.

Colin suggests

To recap: Most — perhaps not all — of the current uprising is the fallout from a campuswide conversation about Halloween costumes. Not Ferguson. Not Afghanistan. Not immigration. Not Planned Parenthood.

This is where I think he gets it wrong. It isn’t really about Halloween costumes. That is a gross oversimplification. It is about Ferguson. It is very much about Ferguson as I see my friends of color from colleges and universities around the country posting things like

To the students of color at Mizzou, we, Wesleyan alumni of color, stand with you in solidarity. To those who would threaten your sense of safety, we are watching. ‪#‎ConcernedStudent1950‬ ‪#‎InSolidarityWithMizzou‬‪#‎daretobeblackinamerica‬

And it is very much about immigration, and planned parenthood, and all the things that threaten the Christian White Male Hegemony.

Despite the myths of Horatio Alger and the melting pot, the American Dream, until recently has been the primary domain of white Christian men of European dissent. That is changing. America’s global dominance is slipping in this era of globalization. American Empire is heading the direction of the British Empire. We live in a country where a black man, or more accurately, a person of mixed race, has become president. We live in a country where there is a strong chance that the next president will be female. We live in a country where fewer and fewer people identify themselves as Christian; where Christians, Whites, and Men have become, or are becoming, minorities.

We can perhaps learn from the decline of the British Empire. We can perhaps even see parallels. It is little surprise that the shooter in Charleston wore insignias from Apartheid era South Africa and from Rhodesia. People resist their group losing power. They threaten, they exclude, they become violent.

Those gaining new power, may not be great at wielding it. They still carry the emotional scares of being oppressed. They seek to be treated with respect. It is sort of like when the kid who has been bullied in school finds some new allies and starts standing up to the bullies. This is illustrated nicely in the browser extension which replaces ‘politically correct’ with ‘treating people with respect’.

If you are part of the old power structure, you may complain about political correctness, or about having to start treating others with respect.

It is a difficult process. We will complain about not being able to fly confederate flags, about holiday greetings, and holiday coffee cups that don’t acknowledge the dominance, fading though it may be, of our religion. We may suffer white fragility as people of color point out how things we are saying or doing can be hurtful to others.

But all of this is part of the transition to a country, that hopefully comes a little bit closer to the myths of Horatio Alger and the melting pot. As a straight white cis Christian male of European descent who has compassion for those different from myself, all I can say is, it’s about time.

Shootout at the City upon a Hill

The New Republic suggests that “Liberals Are Unfairly Taking Jeb Bush's ‘Stuff Happens’ Out of Context” but goes on to say “There are plenty of problems with his statement about the Oregon massacre, but that wasn't one of them.”

The article quotes Bush as follows

“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this,” he said. “I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor, because, look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not always the right thing to do.”

So, what context should we take this in? One context is comparing it to Jesus saying “For you always have the poor with you.” Yes, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis. You will always have the poor. Yet the quote from Jesus comes in the context of the coming crucifixion, perhaps not the context Bush is looking for.

To me, it seems more like a retreat from American Exceptionalism, something conservatives often accuse liberals of doing. In this case it seems like conservatives response to mass shootings. Either America is not exceptional enough to address mass shootings, or even worse, it is exceptional in its inability to address them.

I can understand the conservative view that ‘more government’ isn’t necessarily the answer to every crisis, but whether or not the solution is more government, we are all called to show compassion and to show leadership in finding solutions to the problems our country faces. Jeb Bush failed to do both.

The Pope and Kim Davis

Seems like everyone is talking about Pope Francis meeting with Kim Davis and it is a Rorschach test, confirming most people’s pre-established views of the Pope, Kim Davis, or both of them. So, I’ll take the Rorschach test and come out with a different view than many of my online political friends.

I view the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis in the same way I view his meeting with Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove. I view his meeting with Kim Davis in the same way I view his meeting with Speaker Boehner or President Obama.

We live in a world where people vilify those who disagree with them.

I believe this is contrary to teaching of Christ. I believe that Pope Francis understands this and lives it. Jesus spent his time meeting with the vilified in his society, the tax collectors and sinners, lepers and prostitutes. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute you.

It seems as if Kim Davis has become a symbol of persecution, both for her persecution of those she doesn’t approve of, and for the persecution she has received for holding onto a belief that is out of step with American society. Is persecution too strong a word? Is suggesting that she considers people seeking same sex marriage licenses her enemy, or that those who fight for marriage equality consider her their enemy too strong? I’m not sure persecution or enemy are too strong in this hyper partisan atmosphere of vilification.

To me, it seems as if the Pope has communicated the core message of Christianity incredibly well by meeting with Imam Khalid Latif, Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, Speaker Boehner, President Obama, those who care for the homeless, and even Kim Davis. He has met with people that are hated and are symbols of hate for some, across the political and religious spectrum.

I also imagine the Pope having some of the same frustrations with people that just don’t seem to get it as Jesus had with people he met that just didn’t get it, and yet the both showed love to those that just didn’t get it.

Now, I’m not saying that loving your enemy is easy, or that I do a good job of it, but it does seem like something we should all aspire to.

Praying for The Pope and for Speaker Boehner

American politics today is about seeking power and vilifying those who get in their way. It is in stark contrast to the message of Jesus, a message I believe the Pope is calling us all back to.

American politics today is in stark contrast to the Gospel lesson from last week where Jesus, confronting the disciples who had been arguing who was the greatest, said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

American politics today is in stark contrast to the Gospel lesson for tomorrow:

John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

All of this comes to mind as I read the Washington Post article, What John Boehner told me the night before he said he was quitting

Speaker Boehner is quoted as saying, “The pope says to me, ‘Please pray for me.’ ”

Now I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I have great respect for the Pope and I believe we should all be praying for Pope Francis. I’m certainly not a Republican, but I believe we should be praying for Speaker Boehner, for the Republican Party and for our nation.

We need to move past the seeking for power and vilification of our political opponents and start working together to love those who are different from us, whether they be people of color, immigrants, people of different faith traditions, those with different genders or sexual orientations than our own, and even those with very different political beliefs than our own.

The Republican Congress and Domestic Violence

The other day, I was listening to the director of a local domestic abuse shelter talk about domestic violence and pregnancy coercion. Abusers often try to control the reproductive choices of the women they are abusing. If you have a child together, you are tied together for life.

An article in the National Library of Medicine, Pregnancy coercion, intimate partner violence, and unintended pregnancy, puts it this way:

Studies have highlighted the association between partner violence and unintended pregnancy. Recent evidence suggests these associations co-occur with reproductive control, i.e., male partners’ attempts to control a woman’s reproductive choices.

The article goes on to note:

Family planning clinics provide an important venue for examination of these phenomena, as family planning clients are known to experience a higher prevalence of partner violence than the general population

All of this comes to mind as I read about the Republicans in the House of Representatives “attempts to control a woman’s reproductive choices” especially when it comes to an effort to defund the family planning clinics of Planned Parenthood.

I am not suggesting that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are domestic abusers, although I sometimes wonder about several of them. However, they are acting in a manner that could enable domestic abuse and lead to more unwanted pregnancies.

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