Politics

Entries related to things political.

Panic! At The Le Bataclan

All you sinners stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)
Show praise with your body
Stand up, sing hallelujah (hallelujah!)

The music from Panic! At The Disco blares in the Connecticut Convention Center. My wife, who is still recovering from sinus surgery couldn’t take our daughter to the concert, so I am here instead. My phone is almost dead as is my daughter’s, so I’ve turned them off and they are in my pocket.

We’ve agreed at where we should meet after the concert. As we stood in line, we started talking with a mother and daughter in front us. The other girl is tall and two years older than my daughter. They have both come without friends trusting in that special sisterhood of Panic! At The Disco fans. They are excited and eager to rush to the front of the giant mosh pit. They are also probably hoping to shed their parents, parents cool enough to take them to a Panic! At The Disco concert, but not cool enough to view this night as the most important night of their lives.

We agree that the two girls can rush forward and the two parents will stay towards the back, out of the crowd.

We learn that the girls have gotten separated in the rush. The mother feels responsible and frequently texts here daughter. I try to assure her that our daughters will be fine. We take turns trying to make our way through the crowd to find our daughter, to no avail.

There are three hours of warmup bands, and part way through some girls help another girl out of the crowd. She collapses at the table next to where we are sitting. Other parents are talking about low blood sugar or maybe dehydration. Medics arrive and help the girl out of the venue. I’m wondering if it is really Molly.

I am worried about my daughter. She has her own health problems and I’m not sure how well she can stand for four hours in a crowd. I make a few more trips to try and find her, but the crowd has grown larger and thicker.

I turn on my cellphone briefly in case someone has been trying to get in touch with me. The only messages I see are about the attacks in Paris, at a crowded music venue, not that much different than where I am at. It heightens my anxiety, but I don’t mention it to the mother of the girl who was going to be hanging out with my daughter. I worry that she has enough anxiety, with her frequent texting, and this might compound it.

Most of the warm up bands aren’t all that exciting, but finally Panic! At The Disco takes the stage. The atmosphere is electric. I feel sure that my daughter is enjoying herself now, and that the long wait standing in the large crowd will have been worth it. The lights are done incredibly well, and thousands of fans hold up cellphones to capture moments of this wonderful experience.

I wonder if the band knows about what has happened in Paris, and if they do, if they will say anything about it. The play one of their better known songs, “Let’s Kill Tonight”.

Let's kill tonight!
Kill tonight!
Show them all you're not the ordinary type …

May your feet serve you well
And the rest be sent to Hell
Where they always have belonged

Are there others struck by these words on this night?

On the ride home, my daughter is ecstatic. It has been a wonderful night. She is very sore and thirty. We stop and get her a large bottle of water, we talk a little bit about the concert and what happened in Paris.

It is now Saturday morning. My daughter is still asleep and I am reading the news. A friend is in Paris and has checked in as being safe. Mixed with all of this are more discussions about freedom of speech and political correctness. The idea of replacing ‘political correctness’ with ‘treating people with respect’ comes back to mind as I read Terry Cowgill’s Op-Ed At Wesleyan, A Shocking Disrespect For Free Speech

“Even by the hypersensitive standards of political correctness that dominate the academy…”

“Even by the hypersensitive standards of treating people with respect that dominate the academy…”

Terry seems upset that people used freedom of speech to express displeasure with criticize a newspaper. I comment,

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as the people speaking say things you agree with. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses it to criticize a news organization or suggest the organizations funding be cut. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as no one uses that speech to point out that you say things that hurt other people or that you're racist. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as long as it doesn't injure your white fragility.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, and I’m glad that people like Terry Cowgill and his supporters, as well as those criticizing hurtful, racist, Islamophobic speech shoot off their mouths, and not the music venue.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, when it asks people to pray for Paris and when it asks people to pray for Beirut whose bombings on Thursday have gotten much less attention in the western media.

Yet in all of this, the beginning of Panic! At The Disco’s song Hallelujah remains

A moment you'll never remember
And a night you'll never forget!

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.

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