We were all thinking it. Leave it to Christopher Hitchens to go ahead and say it. Glenn Beck and the Tea Party are all about preserving white privilege.
I have to admit that phrases like “The Real America” and “Main Street USA” have always sounded to me like codewords for white people. And the “way of life” and “traditional values” that Tea Partiers want to preserve often seem to mean opposition to the perceived encroachments by Muslims, immigrants and other minorities on the traditions of white Americans.
Followers of the movement insist that these inklings are way off base. But the reemerging conservative values of strict adherence to the constitution, personal liberty and small government do seem to be applied rather selectively in some instances.
The two proposed amendments to the constitution – the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, and the denial of citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants – have both come from the conservative side of the aisle. And conservative support of the Arizona Immigration Law and opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque also seem contrary to the aforementioned principles. We don’t want the government hassling us, but they can hassle Hispanic people. We don’t want the ‘secular socialist’ government limiting our religious expression, but they can limit religious expression for Muslims…
This past Saturday Fox News commentator Glenn Beck held a rally that many have rightly termed a revival at the National Mall in Washington DC. Beck promised that the event, called “Restoring Honor,” would not be political in nature, and even though Sarah Palin was one of the event’s main speakers, it seems he may have stuck (mostly) to his promise. The event has been likened more to an old Pentecostal tent meeting or a church picnic, then to a political rally.
Beck, a Mormon, invoked the name of God as the answer to our nation’s woes and declared Saturday the day that America “begins to turn back to God.” His audience, predominantly white and brimming with Christians, cheered Beck and the other speakers and provided the New York Times and plenty of Jesus-laden quotes about the fate of this country.
Some readers may expect us at Patrol to condemn Mr. Beck and his rally, but I’m going to do the opposite. I’m going to thank him…
I am writing to ask that you stop suggesting I have a baby. It’s true that I’ve been married nearly a year, and though you may think that relationship status, married; gender, female; and birth year, smack in the middle of childbearing range makes for a winning combination for baby advertisements, I’d like to remind you that my husband and I do not require offspring to harvest our Farmville crops.
In most cases, the ads you’ve posted next to my newsfeed are spot on. My current favorite dress is the result of an ad for that hip mail-order clothing boutique you often display. I appreciate reconnecting with friends from high school and college. Without your subtle, square suggestions, I would go on years without even thinking of people who, thanks to you, I can now call friends.
I should also thank you for the integral role you played in those first few electrifying days of my relationship with my now-husband. Because of you, we discovered commonalities like our Texas childhoods and love of beer. You also pointed out a mutual friend, and even though the mutual friend told now-husband that I may or may not be interested in men, it made for interesting first date conversation. Once that was cleared up, we made it official by alerting our Facebook community that we were in a relationship…
Surely you’ve all heard by now that Sufjan Stevens has released a new EP online. This is exciting news for Sufjan fans everywhere, but I would urge you to think twice before paying the 5 dollars to download the music. It was not even 10 years ago when Islamic radical extremists destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11th, and already we’re going to support a man named “Sufjan” as if nothing happened on that tragic day?
It may sound like a good idea at first. Many believe that supporting this man’s music will help heal the wounds left by the terrorists, but come on people, we do not live in a vacuum. The fact of the matter is that this album should be released under another name, something with less Islamic connotation than “Sufjan.” Or, the album should be released in a different format. EP also brings to mind other Islamic names. Ep Shiraa. Ep Sadaar. It just hits a little too close to home.
On the ride home from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Weezer’s “Only in Dreams” came on the radio. Let’s forget for a moment how amazing it was that the obscure final track on Weezer’s Blue Album was being played randomly on the radio some 16 years after its release, and focus on the fact that in high school, I had assigned this song to one of my many ‘dream girls,’ Carolyn Ross.
Carolyn was smokin’ hot and a year older than me. We went to the movies once, she came to one of my band’s gigs and she even went to the Christmas Dance with me. Around the time I was obsessed with Carolyn I was also obsessed with the Blue Album and “Only in Dreams” was her song.
Carolyn would pick me up in the morning in her giant Buick, which she would drive at breakneck speeds through the windy, Northern Jersey back roads leading to our school. One morning, a cop car pulled up in front of my house right behind her with its lights flashing as my dad and I looked out the window. “Well,” I said awkwardly, “that’s my ride.”
“It’s okay,” Carolyn assured me as I got in the passenger seat. “I can’t get a ticket in this town.”
Sure enough, the cop took one look at her license and said, “Ross, huh? Your father’s done me a lot of favors. So I’ll do you one and let you go.”
So that was sketchy. Other sketch-factors included the fact that she had a boyfriend who was in college and spent most of the evening of my band’s show flirting with the bouncer after he confiscated her fake I.D. Oh, and I almost forgot how her cousin threatened to beat me up after he saw us leaving the movie theater together.
How did I dedicate such a great song to this person? Looking back on it this past Friday night, I felt ashamed of myself.
You have a hunch Scott Pilgrim will feel the same way years from now when he looks back on the time he fought seven evil exes to win the heart of Ramona Flowers, the new girl in town with hot style (snow melts when she rollerblades through it), a cool demeanor and a questionable past…
I recently spent several days at the annual sessions of the Religious Society of Friends in New England. Think of it as a Quaker conference, where a good sound system is necessary even though hours at a time are spent in silence. It was the 350th year that New England Quakers had gathered in this manner, and often the gathering had been held, as it was this year, in Rhode Island.
The theme was Jubilee. Friends were asked to approve all agenda items together, with minimal discussion, so that the bulk of our time together could be spent waiting to hear God’s call for our witness in the world. This required an incredible amount of trust, but despite some hesitation, the business was completed quickly and we began to wait.
Some Quakers would say it’s not possible to explain what happens in the silent worship we share. Often, silence was interrupted by sounds of fidgeting and shifting, but every so often, this white noise would cease as the silence grew palpably thick…
Two years ago, in the spring, my wife and I were planning a move to New York City. We didn’t have jobs or even a sense of where in the vast region we should live. All we knew was that Steph was starting graduate school in the fall.
I was scared. I know that many “moving to New York” stories don’t tell you this, but it is scary. It’s scary to make a move toward the unknown in any situation, but when the unknown is New York City, the trepidation multiplies.
This experience might have been completely unbearable if it hadn’t been for a happy accident in the month of May. As a last assignment in the freshmen writing course I was teaching I asked my students to write an evaluation essay, a review – music, film, book – anything. I love this assignment because it is fun for the students and I get to learn about new albums, movies, and books. One student took it upon herself to review the then latest album by mewithoutYou, “Brother, Sister.”
I had heard of the band from a friend who thought, correctly, that I would like them. He showed me “January 1979” from “Catch for Us the Foxes,” and though I thought it was great, I didn’t get around to purchasing the record or following up on the band. But after reading my student’s review, which was very well written (I hope I gave her an A), I downloaded “Brother, Sister” immediately.
That album, in no small way, made the move to NYC not only possible, but truly a life changing experience. There is a refrain that both opens and closes the record and is weaved throughout; Aaron Weiss, the lead vocalist, proclaims, “I do not exist.” Concluding in the last track, “In A Sweater Poorly Knit,” “Only you exist.”
I’m not sure why this refrain had such an impact, or continues to move me so strongly. Something about getting myself out of the way felt right and made our move easier. Coincidentally, the very month we arrived, after I found a job through a set of miraculous circumstances and we fell in love with our new neighborhood, mewithoutYou was playing a show at Maxwells in Hoboken. Here I learned my first lesson about the music scene in NYC: tickets must be bought far in advance. The show was sold out. I would have to wait for my chance to see them live.
Last night, the wait ended…
Like it or not, we are judged by headlines. “America Invades Iraq” or “United States Passes Health Care Reform” can be the only impression people in other countries get of our complex political and military systems. The headlines that accompanied our election of an African American with a Muslim name changed the world’s perception of America. And simply being that man seems to have been enough to garner a Nobel Peace Prize.
Headlines matter. Currently, we are questioning the potential headline, “New York Builds Mosque Near Ground Zero.” Personally, I believe that headline would send a positive message to the rest of the world about the United States. But many oppose the project…
Peggy Ornstein recently wrote an article for the New York Times entitled “I Tweet, Therefore I Am.” Check it out (it’s got a beautiful picture with it, too). In it, after recounting a story of tweeting about an intimate moment she was having with her daughter, she asks the question: “How much, I began to wonder, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?”
It’s a good question.
One of the most important living philosophers has turned his attention to the relationship between faith and reason. In doing so, Jürgen Habermas has continued to fulfil his exemplary role as a public intellectual committed to the practice of reasonable communication as a model for politics. Given what some have called the “return of religion” to the public sphere, Habermas’ contribution is sure to be widely-discussed. It also deserves a wide hearing among North American Christians.
Allow me to simplify Habermas’ ideas and put his project into slightly more mundane terms. He posits that one important way of understanding the pursuit of truth and the good life is as a shared quest. This obviously places a good deal of weight on the nature of human communication. Our ability to communicate with one another cannot hinder our ability to realize the good life, otherwise such a view is doomed. In practice, many of the more extreme voices present in North American society – a good number of which are religious – thrive on obfuscation that undermines communication, however much they pay lip service to objectivity…
We didn’t have to wait long for the reactions from conservative Christians to yesterday’s decision in the Prop 8. They’re predictably hyperbolic:
Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:
“Judge Walker’s decision goes far beyond homosexual ‘marriage’ to strike at the heart of our representative democracy. Judge Walker has declared, in effect, that his opinion is supreme and ‘We the People’ are no longer free to govern ourselves. The ruling should be appealed and overturned immediately.”
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
“In one brazen act of judicial energy, California’s voters were told that they had no right to define marriage, and thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational. … The central institution of human civilization suffered a direct hit, and its future hangs in the balance.”
Daniel Blomerg of the Alliance Defense Fund:
“What’s really chilling about this decision is the way the plaintiffs and the judge directly attacked the faith of millions of Americans. They presented doctrinal beliefs about marriage as evidence of bigotry, as unreasonableness.”
Let me first comment on the hilarity of Ms. Wright saying that overturning a ballot intiative is a challenge to “representative democracy.” Ballot initiatives are themselves challenges to representative democracy, as they seek to bypass legislators and allow voters to essentially write law from the voting booth. California is a mess on their account. Prop 8 was the real challenge to representative democracy, and it should have been overturned on that fact alone.
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