29 August 2010

Map of the Holocaust (Shoah)

Map of the Holocaust (click on it to enlarge):
(courtesy of ActsofHope)

Glenn Beck vs. Christ the Liberator

Glenn Beck vs. Christ the Liberator, by Rev. James Martin, SJ (Huffington Post, 29 August 2010)

It's hard to ignore the fact that Jesus chose to be born poor; he worked as what many scholars now say was not simply a carpenter, but what could be called a day laborer; he spent his days and nights with the poor; he and his disciples lived with few if any possessions; he advocated tirelessly for the poor in a time when poverty was considered to be a curse; he consistently placed the poor in his parables over and above the rich; and he died an utterly poor man, with only a single seamless garment to his name. Jesus lived and died as a poor man. Why is this so hard for modern-day Christians to see? Liberation theology is not Marxism disguised as religion. It is Christianity presented in all its disturbing fullness.

Glenn Beck's opposition to "social justice" and "liberation theology" is all the more difficult to understand because of his cloaking of himself in the mantle of devout believer. "Look to God and make your choice," he said during his rally on Sunday.

If he looked at Jesus more carefully he would see someone who already made a choice: for the poor.
Link: Glenn Beck vs. Christ the Liberator, by Rev. James Martin, SJ

Useful U.S. Civil Rights Resources

Useful U.S. civil rights resources (historical, political, ethnic, religious, contemporary):

(1) General

(2) African American

(3) Asian American

(4) Jewish American

(5) Muslim Americans


(7) Im/migration

28 August 2010

John Lewis' Speech Prepared for the March on Washington, August 1963

Speech prepared for the March on Washington, August 1963, by John Lewis, SNCC Chairman (9 September 1963)

This is the text of the speech that the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committe (SNCC) Chairman John Lewis was prevented from delivering at the March on Washington in August 1963. It was printed in in the September 9, 1963 issue of The Militant. John Lewis has since become a Democratic Party Congressman from Atlanta Georgia.
Link: Speech prepared for the March on Washington, August 1963

En Conjuncto: A site on U.S. Latino/a (Catholic) Theology

En Conjuncto: A site on U.S. Latino/a (Catholic) Theology, by Orlando Espin (Professor, University of San Diego)


In Spanish, "en conjunto" means something like "jointly." In U.S. Latino/a theology we use this expression because it highlights one of the characteristics of our way(s) of doing theology-- we do it jointly, as a community and as members of our communities.

The faith, experience and daily struggles of our people are the most important validators of our theologies. Nevertheless, we are academics who take our scholarship seriously and who are fully engaged in the theological disciplines.

Please first read the entry (click on "Blog," above)
+ "Welcome to this conversation!"

Then, and in the following order, read

- "What is theology,"

- "On the meaning of "Catholic" and "western Catholic."

- "Latino/a... Who? What?,"

- "What is Latino/a theology?," and

- "Some history and some resources."

By reading these entries, following the order indicated above, you will understand U.S. Latino/a (Catholic) theology better.

Malcolm X's Message to the Grass Roots

Malcolm X's Message to the Grass Roots (Detroit, Michigan, 10 November 1963)

... And during the few moments that we have left, we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me -- us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand. We all agree tonight, all of the speakers have agreed, that America has a very serious problem. Not only does America have a very serious problem, but our people have a very serious problem. America's problem is us. We're her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn't want us here. And every time you look at yourself, be you black, brown, red, or yellow -- a so-called Negro -- you represent a person who poses such a serious problem for America because you're not wanted. Once you face this as a fact, then you can start plotting a course that will make you appear intelligent, instead of unintelligent.

What you and I need to do is learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don't come together as Baptists or Methodists. You don't catch hell 'cause you're a Baptist, and you don't catch hell 'cause you're a Methodist. You don't catch hell 'cause you're a Methodist or Baptist. You don't catch hell because you're a Democrat or a Republican. You don't catch hell because you're a Mason or an Elk. And you sure don't catch hell 'cause you're an American; 'cause if you was an American, you wouldn't catch no hell. You catch hell 'cause you're a black man. You catch hell, all of us catch hell, for the same reason.

27 August 2010

Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Great Recession

Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Great Recession, by Gary Moore (Christianity Today, 27 August 2010)

I've come to believe there's a connection between Barna's statement that only 10 percent of Christians integrate our beliefs with our lives, and the fact that the Social Investment Forum says only 10 percent of institutional money under management is integrated with a traditional Christian ethic. We apparently have surrendered to Rand's ethic of seeking maximum personal gain—in the hope, I suppose, that charity can repair the damage. Unfortunately, the fate of Ken Lay of Enron, a generous giver with whom I served on a Christian board, disproved that human reasoning to millions of employees and shareholders.

As a Christian, I believe we have a moral responsibility to act in a socially responsible manner toward the poor and fellow taxpayers who are now on the hook for Wall Street's greed. So I was startled to discover that one outspoken evangelical money manager who claims to "invest as Jesus would"—by which he means focusing on sexual issues—was invested in AIG and Goldman Sachs. Evidently, homosexuality and promiscuity have replaced greed as the root of all evil.

Our financial gurus continue to sing in Rand's temple, using quasi-biblical principles to obtain wealth but disposing of God's principles if the investment doesn't lead to "productive achievement." I've long believed that leaders of the Religious Right and our more popular financial advisers, who have attempted to harmonize their philosophies with economic libertarianism the past three decades, have been na•ve. Libertarians usually despise Christian social values, advocating the legalization of abortion, illicit drugs, and pornography while worshiping wealth. The biblical discouragement of unholy alliances should have named that tune as syncretism. But the angry white man of 1994 sings on at today's tea parties. And his anger is still primarily over economic issues.

Link: Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Great Recession

For other articles by Gary Moore, visit financialseminary.org

The End of Christianity in America?

The End of Christianity in America? By Soong-Chan Rah (Patheos, 6 August 2010)


As many lament the decline of Christianity in the United States in the early stages of the 21st century, very few have recognized that American Christianity may actually be growing, but in unexpected and surprising ways. Let's take for example the Northeastern city of Boston in a region of the country that Mohler believes we have "lost." In 1970, the city of Boston was home to about 200 churches. Thirty years later, there were 412 churches. The net gain in the number of churches was in the growth of the number of churches in the ethnic and immigrant communities. While only a handful of churches in 1970 held services in a language other than English, thirty years later, more than half of those churches held services in a language other than English.

Between 2001 and 2006, ninety-eight new churches were planted in the city of Boston. In a city the size of Boston, ninety-eight new church plants in a six-year-time period is not spiritual death, it is spiritual life and vitality. Of the ninety-eight churches planted during that six-year-time period, "76 of them reported the language of worship. Of those 76 churches, almost half of them . . . [have] non-English or bi-lingual [services], 19 worship in Spanish, 8 in Haitian Creole and 9 in Portuguese." The perception nationally was that Boston was spiritually dead, because there was noticeable decline among the white Christian community. In contrast, there has been significant growth among non-white Christians and churches.

Link: The End of Christianity in America?

For more information, visit Soong-Chan Rah's official website.

Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary and author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (InterVarsity Press, 2009) and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Moody Publishers, 2010).

Malcolm X on the March on Washington, 1964

Malcolm X on the March on Washington, 1964 (From The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964. 278-281).

Not long ago, the black man in America was fed a dose of another form of the weakening, lulling and deluding effects of so-called "integration." It was that "Farce in Washington," I call it.

The idea of a mass of blacks marching on Washington was originally the brainchild of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters' A. Philip Randolph. For twenty or more years the March on Washington idea had floated around among Negroes. And, spontaneously, suddenly now, that idea caught on.

Overalled rural Southern Negroes, small town Negroes, Northern ghetto Negroes, even thousands of previously Uncle Tom Negroes began talking "March!"

Nothing since Joe Louis had so coalesced the masses of Negroes. Groups of Negroes were talking of getting to Washington any way they could--in rickety old cars, on buses, hitch-hiking--walking, even, if they had to. They envisioned thousands of black brothers converging together upon Washington--to lie down in the streets, on airport runways, on government lawns--demanding of the Congress and the White House some concrete civil rights action.

Link: Malcolm X on the March on Washington, 1964

The End of Christian America

The End of Christian America by Jon Meacham (Newsweek, 4 April 2009)

It was a small detail, a point of comparison buried in the fifth paragraph on the 17th page of a 24-page summary of the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey. But as R. Albert Mohler Jr.—president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of the largest on earth—read over the document after its release in March, he was struck by a single sentence. For a believer like Mohler—a starched, unflinchingly conservative Christian, steeped in the theology of his particular province of the faith, devoted to producing ministers who will preach the inerrancy of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means to eternal life—the central news of the survey was troubling enough: the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent. Then came the point he could not get out of his mind: while the unaffiliated have historically been concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, the report said, "this pattern has now changed, and the Northeast emerged in 2008 as the new stronghold of the religiously unidentified." As Mohler saw it, the historic foundation of America's religious culture was cracking.
Link: The End of Christian America

More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians

More Teens Becoming 'Fake' Christians (CNN, 27 August 2010)

If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning: Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem. Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

26 August 2010

Arab Reactions to the New York Islamic Center Controversy

Roundup of Arab reactions to the New York Islamic Center (Cordoba Initiative) controversy:
  1. What the Arab Newspapers Say (Economist, 19 August 2010)
    "HAVING largely ignored the story in recent weeks, the Arab press has begun to take note of the controversy over plans for Cordoba House, an Islamic centre near ground zero in New York, after Barack Obama spoke out on the issue. The commentary thus far has mixed consternation that the project is meeting so much opposition with caution about how those behind it should proceed."

  2. Translations and commentaries of Reports in Arab Newspapers (Meedan)
    - bilingual (Arab originals + English translations)

UPDATED: A Teacher's Guide To The Holocaust

A Teacher's Guide To The Holocaust (produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida)

A Teacher's Guide To The Holocaust offers an overview of the people and events of the Holocaust through photographs, documents, art, music, movies, and literature. Extensive teacher resources are included. Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,College of Education, University of South Florida.
Link: A Teacher's Guide To The Holocaust

UPDATE 1: For additional resources, please visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

25 August 2010

Misusing Jesus: How The Church Divorces Jesus From Judaism

Misusing Jesus: How The Church Divorces Jesus From Judaism, by Amy-Jill Levine (Christian Century, 26 December 2006)

The problem is more than one of silence. In the popular Christian imagination, Jesus still remains defined, incorrectly and unfortunately, as "against" the Law, or at least against how it was understood at the time; as "against" the Temple as an institution and not simply against its first-century leadership; as "against" the people Israel but in favor of the gentiles. Jesus becomes the rebel who, unlike every other Jew, practices social justice. He is the only one to speak with women; he is the only one who teaches nonviolent responses to oppression; he is the only one who cares about the "poor and the marginalized" (that phrase has become a litany in some Christian circles). Judaism becomes in such discourse a negative foil: whatever Jesus stands for, Judaism isn't it; whatever Jesus is against, Judaism epitomizes the category.

This divorcing of Jesus from Judaism does a disservice to each textually, theologically, historically and ethically. First, the separation severs the church's connections to the scriptures of Israel—what it calls the Old Testament. Because Jesus and his earliest followers were all Jews, they held the Torah and the prophets sacred, prayed the Psalms, and celebrated the bravery of Esther and the fidelity of Ruth. To understand Jesus, one must have familiarity with the scriptures that shaped him (or, as a few of my students will insist, that he wrote).
Link: Misusing Jesus: How The Church Divorces Jesus From Judaism

24 August 2010

European Islamophobia Finds A Home In The U.S.

European Islamophobia Finds A Home In The U.S., by Reza Aslan (NPR All Things Considered, 23 August 2010)


For years, scholars like myself who've studied these radicalization trends have confidently argued that the kind of institutionalized Islamophobia one sees in large parts of Europe could never take hold in the U.S. That America's unbreakable dedication to religious liberties would never allow anti-Muslim sentiment to become mainstream. That, in fact, America's Muslim community — educated, prosperous, moderate and integrated into every level of American society — may be our nation's greatest weapon in fighting the ideology of radical extremism.

It seems we were wrong. The same kind of Islamophobia that has made much of Europe inhospitable to its Muslim citizens is now threatening to seize the U.S.

The fear is that this may lead to the same kind of radicalization among Muslim youth in the U.S. that we've seen in Europe. It has already played into the hands of al-Qaida, which has for years been trying to convince American Muslims that the unfettered religious freedoms they enjoy is a mirage — that the U.S. will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.

Are we in danger of proving al-Qaida right?

Link: European Islamophobia Finds A Home In The U.S.

23 August 2010

Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion (E-Journal)

The Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, which is edited by Miguel A. De La Torre is an e-journal that seeks "to assemble the best voices and insights from communities of color, promoting interdisciplinary and innovative investigation, and embracing new technologies of dissemination and empowerment," a point that is further expanded in Miguel A. De La Torre's introductory essay, "Why A Journal Like This." (pdf).


Reforming the Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse

Link: Reform the Statute of Limitations on Child Sexual Abuse

This website, maintained by activists who are seeking to reform the states' statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse, provides excellent resources for researchers who are interested in the legal issues and other resources.

WomensLaw.org: Legal Information & Resources on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

WomensLaw.org seeks to provide easy-to-understand legal information and resources to women living with or escaping domestic violence or sexual assault through the internet. The site is filled with a wide-range of federal (including immigration), state, tribal and religious (Christian and Jewish) laws on family, divorce and domestic violence, as well as other community information and resources for professionals, advocates, and victims.

Link: WomensLaw.org

U.N. Secretary General's Database on Violence Against Women

UN Secretary General's Database on Violence Against Women

In December 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a comprehensive resolution calling for an intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and requesting the Secretary-General to establish a coordinated database on the extent, nature and consequences of all forms of violence against women, and on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes for, including best practices in, combating such violence.

Link: UN Secretary General's Database on Violence Against Women

How to use the database

Advanced search: The "advanced search" function allows the user to search the database by: type of measure; form of violence; country/region; year; and keyword. This is the most comprehensive and systematic method of searching the database.

Country pages: Each country page provides the user with a comprehensive and easily printable list of available information on measures undertaken by the selected country.

Good practices page: The good practices page provides a full listing of measures identified as good practices, with a particular focus on good practices in law; in service provision; and in prevention. This page will be developed over time to expand the list of good and promising practices.

Unguided search: Users may search the database using the search field in the top right-hand corner of the page. However, this search will return only those records that contain the exact language that the user has entered and is therefore likely not to return as many results as the advanced search option.

American Catholic History Classroom

Link: The American Catholic History Classroom

The American Catholic History Classroom is a continuously-updated primary document site featuring a range of materials related to the American Catholic experience. Aimed at both educators and researchers, the Classroom currently has six fully-developed websites on a range of topics that can be fit into existing curricula. Each site features between 20 and 40 primary documents and photographs, background information sections written by educators and historians, chronologies that help educators and students make sense of the materials in historical context, "So What?" sections suggesting broader issues related to using the site materials in the classroom, and topical reading lists for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge on each topic.

Resources for Biblical Studies

Roundup of resources for biblical studies:

Code of Canon Law Fulltext Resources

Looking for the fulltexts of the Codes of Canon Law on the web? Here are some resources to get you started:

(1) Latin (Roman) Catholic:

(2) Eastern Catholic:

Buddhist Digital Library & Museum (BDLM): Buddhist Studies Open Access Databases/Resources

Link: Buddhist Digital Library & Museum (BDLM): English version / Chinese version

Maintained by the National Taiwan University Library, the Buddhist Digital Library & Museum (BDLM) provides a gateway to open access fulltext database resources for Buddhist studies. At present, the BDLM has 162,046 bibliographical entries and 10,814 fulltext articles in English and Chinese that are freely accessible to all visitors to the BDLM website. Open access is also provided to specialized databases on Buddhist scriptures (Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, etc.), Buddhist art, Buddhist history, Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhism. This is a must-visit destination for Buddhist studies scholars, researchers and students.

22 August 2010

Insights Into Religion

Insights Into Religion is a gateway to information, resources, and insights into religious practices of churches and congregations for religious leaders and the public. The organizations and projects on this portal site are supported by Lilly Endowment’s Religion Division.

Link: Insights Into Religion

Training Pastors, Rabbis, and Imams at the Same School

An interesting experiment at Claremont School of Theology to train pastors, rabbis and imams within the same educational setting. It would be really interesting to see how it works out.

Training Pastors, Rabbis, and Imams at the Same School (Time.com)


When Jerry Campbell became president of California's renowned Claremont School of Theology four years ago, low enrollment and in-the-red books threatened to close the 125-year-old institution. But since Claremont is the only United Methodist seminary west of Denver, Campbell resolved to find a way to stay open.

Drawing from classic American entrepreneurial wisdom — when faced with extinction, innovate — and a commitment to engage today's multi-faith culture, this fall Claremont will commence a first on U.S. soil: a "theological university" to train future pastors, imams, and rabbis under one roof. The experiment to end isolated clerical training brings together Claremont, the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) and the Academy for Jewish Religion California. The hope of officials at all three organizations is that when leaders study their own religious traditions together alongside friends of other faiths, they will develop the respect and wisdom necessary to transform America's fractured religious outlook.
Link: Training Pastors, Rabbis, and Imams at the Same School (Time.com)

Taking Bin Laden's Side (Nicholas Kristof)

Nicholas D. Kristof's op-ed piece in the New York Times on the implications of when critics of the proposed Islamic Center in New York play right into the Jihadis' hands: Taking Bin Laden's Side

Osama abhors the vision of interfaith harmony that the proposed Islamic center represents. He fears Muslim clerics who can cite the Koran to denounce terrorism. It’s striking that many American Republicans share with Al Qaeda the view that the West and the Islamic world are caught inevitably in a “clash of civilizations.” Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who recruits jihadis from his lair in Yemen, tells the world’s English-speaking Muslims that America is at war against Islam. You can bet that Mr. Awlaki will use the opposition to the community center and mosque to try to recruit more terrorists. It’s striking that many American Republicans share with Al Qaeda the view that the West and the Islamic world are caught inevitably in a “clash of civilizations.” Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who recruits jihadis from his lair in Yemen, tells the world’s English-speaking Muslims that America is at war against Islam. You can bet that Mr. Awlaki will use the opposition to the community center and mosque to try to recruit more terrorists.
Link: Taking Bin Laden's Side

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's Balancing Act in the New York Islamic Center Furor

For Imam in Muslim Center Furor, A Hard Balancing Act (New York Times)


Not everyone in the Cairo lecture hall last February was buying the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s message. As he talked of reconciliation between America and Middle Eastern Muslims — his voice soft, almost New Agey — some questioners were so suspicious that he felt the need to declare that he was not an American agent. Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them, the imam said; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West and Israel. But one young Egyptian asked: Wasn’t the United States financing the speaking tour that had brought the imam to Cairo because his message conveniently echoed United States interests? “I’m not an agent from any government, even if some of you may not believe it,” the imam replied. “I’m not. I’m a peacemaker.”
Link: For Imam in Muslim Center Furor, A Hard Balancing Act

Tim Wise's Two-Part Series on Reading Racism Right to Left

Tim Wise is a prominent anti-racism writer and activist, and author of Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity. He has written a two-part critique of racism from both the right and the left.

Part 1: Reading Racism Right to Left: Reflections on a Powerful Word and Its Applications
This is part one of a two-part series on racism on the right and left of the United States’ political/ideological spectrum. Part One provides the reader with a working definition of racism, and then explores how racism at both the ideological and institutional levels is connected to and enhanced by American conservatism. Part Two will explore the ways in which American liberal and left ideology, rhetoric and policy prescriptions also manifest or further racism at the ideological and institutional levels.
Part 2: With Friend Like This, Who Needs Glenn Beck? Racism and White Privilege on the Liberal Left
This is the second part of a two-part series on racism on the right and left of the United States’ political/ideological spectrum. Part one [see above lb, which can be found here, provided the reader with a working definition of racism, and then explored how racism at both the ideological and institutional levels is connected to and enhanced by American conservatism. In this essay, I will explore the other side of the equation: namely, how even liberals, progressives and leftists, despite our advocacy for equity and stated commitment to racial justice, still manage to manifest and further racism — whether deliberately or not — in our activism, messages and policy prescriptions.

Tim Wise: Imagine If The Tea Party Was Black?

If Black Panthers were to carry assault rifles in front of a white US President, they would be seen as troublemakers. If White Tea Partiers were to carry assault rifles in front of a black US President, they would be seen as exercising their Second Amendment rights. If Black Panthers were to carry racist signs against a white US President, they would be accused of being unpatriotic. If White Tea Partiers were to carry racist signs against a black US President, they would be regarded as exercising their First Amendment Rights.

Tim Wise
has penned a provocative reflection that challenges the double standards between whites and blacks (source: Ephphatha Poetry). He is a prominent anti-racism writer and activist, and author of Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.

by Tim Wise

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.

Game Over.
A Pittsburgh rapper has accepting his challenge in true Hip Hop form. Jasiri X has released a video called "What if the Tea Party was Black." The Hip Hop artist says that he got the idea when Paradise,a member of the pro-black rap group X-Clan, forwarded him a copy of Wise's article. "I saw the article and I liked the concept," says the rapper. So Jasiri hit the studio with producer Cynik Lethal while Paradise grabbed his video camera and they went on their mission to defeat the Right Wing propaganda machine.

What if the tea party was black
Holding guns like the Black Panther Party was back
If Al was Rush Limbaugh and Jesse was Sean Hannity
And Tavis was Glenn Beck would they harm they families
If Sarah Palin was suddenly Sistah Soaljah
Would they leave it with the votes or go and get the soldiers
Yall know if the tea party was black
The government would have been had the army attack

What if Michael Baisden was on ya FM dial
For 3 hours every day calling the president foul
Would they say free speech or find evidence how
To charge him with treason like see he's unamerican now
What if Minister Farrakhan prayed for the death
Of the commander in chief that he be laid to rest
Would they treat it as the gravest threat or never make an arrest
Even today he's still hated for less
What if President Obama would have lost the election
Quit his job so he could go talk to the left and
Bash the government for being off of direction
Fraught with deception
And told black people they want all of our weapons
And we want our own country and called for secession
Would he be arrested and tossed in corrections
For trying to foster aggression
Against the people's lawful selection
Our questions

What if the tea party was black
Holding guns like the Black Panther Party was back
If Al was Rush Limbaugh and Jesse was Sean Hannity
And Tavis was Glenn Beck would they harm they families
If Sarah Palin was suddenly Sistah Soaljah
Would they leave it with the votes or go and get the soldiers
Yall know if the tea party was black
The government would have been had the army attack

What If black people went on Facebook and made a page
That for the death if the president elect we prayed
Would the creators be tazed and thrown in a cage
We know the page wouldn't have been displayed all these days
What if Jeremiah Wright said that everybody white
Wasn't a real America would you feel scared of him
If he had a militia with pictures that depict the president as Hitler
They would kill and bury that
What if Cynthia McKinney lamented the winning of the new president
And hinted he wasn't really a true resident
With no proof or evidence
Would the media treat it like a huge press event
They would have attacked whatever group she represents
They would have called her a kook on precedent
And any network that gave her due preference
Would be the laughing stock of the news so our question is

What if the tea party was black
Holding guns like the Black Panther Party was back
If Al was Rush Limbaugh and Jesse was Sean Hannity
And Tavis was Glenn Beck would they harm they families
If Sarah Palin was suddenly Sistah Soaljah
Would they leave it with the votes or go and get the soldiers
Yall know if the tea party was black
The government would have been had the army attack

21 August 2010

Bruce Reyes-Chow, pastor of Mission Bay Community Church and outgoing Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) shares his thoughts on the problems of race and race relations in the United States.

Why We Must Keep Talking About Race

I have heard these all before and usually from well-meaning White "allies" who I believe yearn for a genuine place of peace and reconciliation in terms of race. But, to be honest, it seems that most of the conversations about race that I have in my predominantly White denominational context only seek to suppress or justify the reality of an American culture that is still driven by the idea that White - however folks will define that culture - is the norm . . . reminding people of color EVERY DAY, not of the blessed complexity that is brought to the larger human family, but just the opposite: after all you have done, after all these years, after all that we've done for you . . . you are still the "other."

Link: Why We Must Keep Talking About Race

See also Bruce Reyes-Chow's Blog.

17 August 2010

Olbermann: There is No Ground Zero Mosque

An excellent critique of the irrational Islamophobia that is sweeping the United States.

Transcript: Olbermann: There is No Ground Zero Mosque (MSNBC)

Finally as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the inaccurately described "Ground Zero mosque."

"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Pastor Martin Niemoller's words are well known but their context is not well understood. Niemoller was not speaking abstractly. He witnessed persecution, he acquiesced to it, he ultimately fell victim to it. He had been a German World War 1 hero, then a conservative who welcomed the fall of German democracy and the rise of Hitler and had few qualms the beginning of the holocaust until he himself was arrested for supporting it insufficiently.

Niemoller's confessional warning came in a speech in Frankfurt in January, 1946, eight months after he was liberated by American troops. He had been detained at Tyrol, Sachsen-hausen and Dachau. For seven years.

Niemoller survived the death camps. In quoting him, I make no direct comparison between the attempts to suppress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan, and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust. Such a comparison is ludicrous. At least it is, now.

But Niemoller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the willingness of a seemingly rational society to condone the gradual stoking of enmity towards an ethnic or religious group warning of the building-up of a collective pool of national fear and hate, warning of the moment in which the need to purge, outstrips even the perameters of the original scape-goating, when new victims are needed because a country has begun to run on a horrible fuel of hatred — magnified, amplified, multiplied, by politicians and zealots, within government and without.

Niemoller was not warning of the holocaust. He was warning of the thousand steps before a holocaust became inevitable. If we are at just the first of those steps again — today, here — it is one step too close.

Mandaens in Struggle for Existence

Mandaeans in struggle for existence (Asia Times, 18 August 2010)

Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist and moved from the Holy Land to the expanses of today's southern Iraq and southwest Iran around the second century AD. Their religious origins are thought to have been drawn independently of Christianity and may even be older. They are monotheists - thought to be the oldest in the Middle East - believing in a single god.

Mandaeans are also Gnostics, believing in mysticism and a heightened role of the natural world. Very little has been recorded of the Mandaean religion and traditions and in principle people cannot convert to, or leave, the religion. They speak their own language and have quietly been struggling to keep their customs alive for almost 2,000 years.


Today, only about 5,000 Mandaeans remain in Iraq, with about 70,000 spread across 22 countries from Europe to Australia and the United States, with the vast majority in Damascus. Many now fear for the future of their religion. "In around 30 years I believe there will be no Mandaean religion left. Because of the war we have been thrown to the four corners of the world,” said Youseff, (the name is changed to protect his identity), an elderly man.
Link: Mandaeans in struggle for existence (Asia Times, 18 August 2010)

See also: Mandaeism (Wikipedia)

10 Historical Anti-Immigrant Quotes That Sound ... Familiar

Yesterday's Catholics, Jews, Germans, Chinese, etc., are today's Latino/as, Muslims, etc. The Yellow Peril or Anti-Semitism of yesteryear is today's Islamophobia. History is destined to repeat itself unless we learn from it to improve ourselves as a nation and people.

10 Historical Anti-Immigrant Quotes That Sound ... Familiar (Change.org)

2. We should build a wall of brass around the country.
- John Jay, first chief justice of Supreme Court, regarding “Catholic alien invaders,” 1750s


3. What means the paying of the passage and emptying out upon our shores such floods of pauper emigrants — the contents of the poor house and the sweepings of the streets? — multiplying tumults and violence, filling our prisons, and crowding our poor-houses, and quadrupling our taxation, and sending annually accumulating thousands to the poll to lay their inexperienced hand upon the helm of our power?
- Lyman Beecher, Leader of the Second Great Awakening, on English immigrants, 1834


5. Standing behind them are Christian employers of this land, who would rather import heathen willing to work for barely enough to sustain life than retain a brother Christian at a wage sufficient to live as becomes a Christian. We do not want Opium or the Chinese who grow it.
- Terence Powderly, Irish-American labor leader, 1892
Link: 10 Historical Anti-Immigrant Quotes That Sound ... Familiar (Change.org)

14 August 2010

And Now For Some Good News...

An eye-opening piece about the the human costs of shiny gadgets and toys that are produced on the cheap in China for the First World. Consider the ethical issues and implications of exploitation of labor in Dickensian-style factories...

Commentary: And Now For Some Good News (Johann Hari, The Independent, UK)


This isn't a distant struggle: you are at its heart, whether you like it or not. There is an electrical extension cord running from your laptop and mobile and games console to the people like Yan Li and Liu Pan dying to make them. So you have to make a choice. You can passively let the corporations and governments speak for you in trying to beat these people back into semi-servitude – or you can side with the organisations here that support their cry for freedom, like No Sweat, or the TUC's international wing, by donating to them, or volunteering for their campaigns.

Yes, if this struggle succeeds, it will mean that we will have to pay a little more for some products, in exchange for the freedom and the lives of people like Yan Li and Liu Pan. But previous generations have made that choice. After slavery was abolished in 1833, Britain's GDP fell by 10 percent – but they knew that cheap goods and fat profits made from flogging people until they broke were not worth having. Do we?

Message of Pope John Paul II on Undocumented Migrants (World Migration Day, 1996)

Message of Pope John Paul II on Undocumented Migrants (World Migration Day, 1996)

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community.

Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. "What have you done to your brother?" (cf. Gn 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.
Link: Message of Pope John Paul II on Undocumented Migrants