Friday, July 18, 2014

Today's Lesson in Recognizing Racism

"A 51-year-old Florida man charged with attempted first-degree murder, among other offenses, refused the help of a public defender on seemingly racial grounds during his first court appearance, WKMG-TV reported on Thursday."

“I said not guilty,” Thomas Thorpe told a judge in Orange County Court. “I pleaded not guilty and I don’t want this negro (sic) standing next to me. I don’t want a negro (sic) standing next to me.”--Arturo Garcia

Hmm, I've gained new insight as to the persistence of the racial divide in this country. Apparently there are people who have difficulty determining when racism is in play. Note how this story is careful to state that the defendant refused assistance from the public defender on "seemingly" racial grounds. Watch the clip from the news; the newscasters also are not sure if Mr. Thorpe was being a racist by announcing that he didn't want a Negro standing next to him.

Perhaps any effort to move to a post racial society should begin with basic instruction in how to recognize racism. Please don't be hurt by this, but the majority of black people will be exempt from these classes as we find it to be an instant indicator of racism when someone announces that he doesn't want a Negro to stand next to him. Especially when that Negro may be all that stands between him and spending the rest of his life in prison. Let's face it; we have superior recognizing racism radar.

By the way, the judge is concerned about Mr. Thorpe's mental fitness and has ordered that he be evaluated as to whether he is mentally fit to stand trial. Thorpe is an idiot, as racists typically are, but it's a stretch to think that spouting racism is an indicator that one is mentally ill and incapable of participating in one's own defense. If expressing racism is a sign of mental illness, we really need to get busy building a lot of new mental health facilities to house the number of unfortunate racists in these United States.

However, the larger issue regarding the ability to recognize racism is a major breakthrough in advancing to Utopia--a post racial society. This uncertainty as to when racism is present explains so much!

I have often heard many white people accuse black people of playing the race card. It's because they didn't see that there was any racism involved in an incident such as the murder of some unarmed black youth by an armed white adult male who claims that he was in fear of his life, until black people pointed it out! Of course they think we made it up because they were unable to see it for themselves!

The problem isn't racism; it's blindness.

Think that I'm wrong? Some white people are quick to assert that they don't see race! That's why they are not racists; they just have Race Blindness Syndrome (RBS). Let's hope that it's curable.

I wonder if anyone has told Mr. Thorpe that he may have to live in a prison cell with a Negro?

Friday, June 20, 2014

On the Road to Equality: Obama Expands Legal Protections for Same-Sex Couples

Friday, June 20, 2014, marked a historic progression on the path to eradicating legalized discrimination against same-sex couples. "The new measures range from Social Security and veteran's benefits to work leave for caring for sick spouses."--Obama Expands Government Benefits for Gay Couples

Well done, President Obama. I only regret the number of people who continue to criticize and insult you on both sides of this issue. You have followed a logical progression of steps to promote equality in the face of extreme opposition from many and constant criticism from others. Somehow, the Courts, and Attorney General Holder have managed to move forward with the spirit of the Constitution's equal protection clause in spite of a recalcitrant Congress and consistently vocal opposition from the conservative right. However, I offer my sympathy most for the uncalled for derogatory comments directed at you by some of those who claim to have once supported you.

I admire your ability to keep your eyes on your goals in spite of the totally undeserved criticism. You have accomplished much--securing congressional repeal of DADT, the expansion of social security benefits to same-sex couples, including survivor and death benefits, coverage under the Family Medical Leave Act for same-sex couples, deciding to stop the Department of Justice from defending DOMA years before SCOTUS struck down part of DOMA in United States v. Windsor, and signing an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Your enemies are already arguing that you have reached beyond the scope of the authority of your office and should be impeached. Your sometimes friends complain that you didn't act soon enough and that you're a liar and a hypocrite. I grow frustrated with your alleged "supporters" more than your detractors; at least the detractors are consistent. I look at results as the measure of success. Mr. President, you have achieved results in promoting equality under the law. I have no idea what some people would like you to do differently. Perhaps they would prefer you to do nothing at all because you didn't act on the timetable to which they wanted you to adhere. After all, six years is...well six years!

You are a much better person than I am. I admit that if I were in your shoes, just once I would say to them all, "Kiss my a$$."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Donald Sterling and the Low-life Ignorant Racist Club

I've tried to give LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling the benefit of the doubt.  Audio recordings may be altered. His mixed race (Black and Mexican) girlfriend may have released the tape to get even because the Sterling family is suing her, alleging that she has embezzled $1.8 million from the family coffers. Besides, Sterling can clearly tolerate hanging around at least one person of color.

But Donald, there are some things that bother me.

You haven't unequivocally denied the veracity of the audio tape. Instead, a statement has been issued on behalf of you and the Clippers organization declaring that after listening to the tape on TMZ,  "We don't know if it is legitimate or if it has been altered..."  If you don't know what you said, Donald, who does? The updated, extended version of the audio tape is even more horrifying than the initially released clip. It just seems to me that if you didn't say those things you would be shouting your denials via every available media outlet. Instead, you allege that you're unsure as to the authenticity of the tape while proclaiming that you are not a racist. Someone should tell you this--those things that you aren't certain if you said are racist Donald and if you said them, you are a racist. Email me if you need further clarification.

In addition, you've been accused of some pretty racist behaviors in the past. There have been lawsuits against you, Donald. There are multiple witnesses who have attested to you spouting your racist ideology and engaging in racist practices and policies in your business ventures. You haven't been subtle, Donald.

Perhaps you're mentally deranged and have poor eyesight. Haven't you ever noticed that there are a lot of Black people who help you make money in every game in which they play? What about the Black and Hispanic people who pay good money to attend LA Clippers games? 

Your behavior has been disgraceful, Donald, and you need to own up to it and then start making amends. Find something to do with your massive wealth to improve race relations in this country. You have a lot of company in the "low-life ignorant racists club" based on the comments on the stories about your recorded racist meltdown. Become a part of the solution. It's the least that you can do.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Black Is More Than a Skin Color

Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson is the current darling of the Tea Party Republicans. They eagerly lap up the lies and distortions of their anointed "black" leaders such as Dr. Carson. 

I question their motivations for the seeming adulation that they confer on Carson. I have this theory that the Tea Party Republicans (TPRs) love Dr. Ben Carson because it's politically expedient to do so. Poor TPRs have been accused of racism on more than one occasion, and they have vehemently protested that there is not a racist bone in any of their bodies. Of course, it doesn't help their cause that they display images of the President and the First Lady as monkeys and apes, and frequently aver that the President should be impeached for being uppity enough to believe that his office puts him in charge of this country.

Here's the clever part. The TPRs have figured out if they have their own black folks, in limited numbers of course, then they can refute the accusations of racism and proudly declare, "We have our own black people; we're not racists!"

Carson, Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Allen West, Michael Steele etc. are the proud proof offered by the TPRs that in spite of their failure to do anything to address the disproportionate poverty that impacts people of color in the U.S., including black people, and their repeatedly declared opposition to any efforts to address the economic inequities that are as American as apple pie, they are not racists.

Whoop-ti-do! I have news for the TPRs; being black is more than a skin color. Just because someone's skin is cafe au lait or dark ebony doesn't make them a black person. Black is a state of mind. Black is surviving and growing strong in spite of the yoke around your neck. Black is not living in the past but it is about turning your eyes on that past and seeing it unfiltered and real. Black is believing and knowing that we shall overcome someday. Black is grabbing on to today and turning it into someday.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

All Opinions Are Not Equal

What's up with news stories with totally inaccurate attention grabbing headlines? 

For the past couple of days, headlines have proclaimed some variation of the following headline, Obamacare Will Cost 2.5M Workers by 2024. However, if you read the articles, it becomes clear that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) did not conclude that the ACA was a causative factor in the decrease of workers. The CBO concluded the reduction in worker hours was almost entirely because of workers choosing to work less. According to the CBO report, “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor."

The problem is straightforward. A lot of people never read past a story's headline so their conclusions are based on a misleading headline. Some of those who read the article have poor reading comprehension skills and come away still believing that the ACA will cause 2.5 million people to lose their jobs. All of these misinformed people like to share their invalid information and the chain of people firmly believing information that is false grows by leaps and bounds. Couple that with the American belief in individualism and that all opinions are equally valid, and ill-informed opinion becomes fact for millions.

I think one of the dumbest statements that I see far too often is, "I'm entitled to my opinion." When people declare, "I'm entitled to my opinion," what they really mean is my opinion is of equal value to all other opinions.

There's no entitlement to be ignorant. If my opinion is that a giant turtle carries the world on his back around the sun, then my opinion has no value; it's worthless. Stating that I'm entitled to have it doesn't make it have merit. It's still worthless and of no value. 

All opinions are not equal. We do ourselves a disservice when we pretend that they are. All we need do is examine how many publicly funded schools in multiple states are allowed to teach creationism under state science education standards as an alternative to evolution. Additional states are poised to pass legislation this year to expand the science curriculum to include creationism.

Replacing intellectual analysis with personal opinion undermines our ability to make decisions based on facts and knowledge rather than belief. Ethics play second fiddle to a mish-mash of personal beliefs and emotions about groups of which we are not a member. A key tenet of our constitution's Bill of Rights is that the government shall not establish or govern religion, yet hot button issues such as abortion and gay marriage that divide us at present, center around the attempt of some Christians to impose their belief system on our system of secular law.

We have many issues confronting us that we must address as a nation and as a part of the world. Climate change is a reality, not an abstract theory. Access to clean water, clean energy, and clean air are essential to the survival of all of this planet's inhabitants. Working together is necessary, but to do so we have to develop diplomatic strategies and policies for resolving our differences and not fall back on wars and police actions as problem solvers. We need to work collectively on solutions to these issues, not cling to opinions shaped by misinformation and narrow belief systems that we have elevated to the level of absolute fact.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Subway Partners with Michelle Obama, Sincerely Ignorant Respond with Hate

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."--Martin Luther King Jr.

Conservatives have gone rabid yet again and focused their animus on Michelle Obama. So what has them foaming at the mouth this time?

Last week, the Subway Restaurant chain announced on its Facebook page that it was joining First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, and teaming up with the Partnership for a Healthier America. Nothing shocking in this partnership; Subway has offered healthy alternatives to fries and burgers for years. 

We've been bemoaning the fattening of America for at least the last decade, with a particular focus on the increasing obesity of America's children and adolescents. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. So the addition of Subway's support to an initiative to provide information about eating healthy and to encourage all of us to make healthier food choices seems like a great idea unless you're a mad dog conservative. They're out in full force on Subway's Facebook page, decrying Subway's joining the First Lady's campaign against childhood obesity and vowing to take their business elsewhere. 

It's their right to do so, and I'd be the last person to insist that anyone is obligated to support any business. What I have a problem with is their racist insults directed at the First Lady and the President. The comments comparing Mrs. Obama to cows and apes, the comments denigrating her intelligence, the comments calling her a traitor to her country. Then there's Regine Wilson who calls the First Lady "ghetto trash," and Judy Stewart who can't seem to recall how to spell the First Lady's given name and calls her "Mooshell." (public comments, no expectation of privacy, ladies). Of course, Regine and Judy aren't the only ones using disparaging terms to refer to Mrs. Obama. They are joined by a chorus of the radically hateful. Hate feeds off hate.

I can only assume that the loony bin conservatives who are having conniption fits at the idea of the First Lady advocating for a healthier America felt that the Subway Facebook was too limited a forum, so they created their own page: "I Reject Michelle Obama and Subway." Read at your own risk; it's vile, contemptible, racist, and filled with stupidity.

What truly disgusts and offends me is that these lunatic, ignorant fools who are too worthless to even shine her shoes don't give a damn that they are not only insulting the First Lady but every African-American in this country. I have heard this type of crap my entire life. I'm long past childhood and I'm immune to words of ignorance causing me personal hurt any more, but it still pisses me off that black children in this country are regularly exposed to this type of sh*t. 

I grew up in an era where racial epithets and denigration of black people was common. Those who dared object risked being taught a lesson, from losing a job, to being dragged out of your house and beaten, to being killed. I learned as a child to keep my mouth shut and my eyes down because even a glance at a white person could be interpreted as being insolent.  

I had hoped that this country, my country, was beyond overt racism, but since Obama's election the ignorant have risen and feel free to to insult both the President and the First Lady with the most vile of racial insults and it's as if we have stepped back into an era that should have long been dead and buried. I have no patience for such people and quite frankly they're not worthy to shine my shoes either.

I vent here, using my words as a weapon, so that I can resist the impulse to slap the first white person that pisses me off on any given day with nonsensical talk of how they are victims of reverse racism and how President Obama has divided this country when it comes to race. I try to keep my anger and disgust down to a simmer rather than letting it come to a full, rolling boil. I work hard to ensure that my Aunt Dorothy's prediction fails to come true and my head doesn't explode one day because I think too much.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

About Drone Attacks, Politics, and Joshua Black

Maybe it's something in the water down in Florida. On Monday, while most of us were celebrating the Dr. King holiday, Joshua Black, a candidate for a seat in the Florida House (District 68) tweeted that President Obama should be hanged for treason, "I'm past impeachment. It's time to arrest and hang him high."

Black subsequently tweeted denials that he called for hanging the President, insisting that he merely agreed with a tweet posted by someone else. Of course the tweet with which he agreed advocated arresting and hanging the President. He also addressed how he has been misunderstood on his Facebook page.

Mr. Black is a 31-year-old African-American. On his Twitter account he has reacted with indignation to some suggestions that the tweet in controversy is racist. Upon giving it some thought, I am willing to concede that Mr. Black's attack on President Obama, his agreement with the tweet calling for the arrest and hanging of the President, may not be based on racial animosity. Mr. Black isn't a racist; he's just an idiot.

He appears desperate to curry favor from the Republican party in the belief that he will be the Republican nominee for a seat in the Florida House for District 68. His efforts aren't working. Chris Latvala, a Republican candidate for House District 67, tweeted a response: "You aren't seriously calling for the killing of Obama are you? I know you are crazy but good heavens. U R an embarrassment." On his Facebook page, Black alleges that Florida's governor has contacted him and asked him to withdraw from the race. Black refused, "Having done nothing illegal, I will not be withdrawing from this race. If I lose, I lose, but I will not cower away." 

What elicited Black's agreement with the tweet that President Obama should be hanged? According to Black, the President is guilty of treason, a modern incarnation of Benedict Arnold (Contrary to Black's belief, Arnold was not executed; he died at the age of 60 in his own bed.) He is emphatic that the President should have a trial first, then we should hang him. Black points specifically at two drone attacks in which two American citizens, a father and son were killed, the son was 16-years-old. A sad and nasty affair, in which the father, Anwar al-Awlaki, had taken his son with him to Yemen where the father worked with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Two weeks after the father was killed in a targeted drone strike, his son was also a victim of a drone strike. The administration has stated that the son was not a target and was an unintended victim of the second attack. 

Black seems particularly concerned about what he views as Obama's criminal attacks on American citizens, and calls on Jesus as justification for killing Obama for the crime of treason. There would be a bit of dark humor in the rantings of a novice who has never before held a public office if it weren't for the Tea Party members who are gleefully celebrating Black's attack on the President, offering praise for the black man speaking out against the President and in doing so, somehow prohibiting any characterization of the rabid right's ongoing attack against the president as racist. 

I find it fascinating how there is so much outrage at the use of drones by this administration and how little outrage has been expressed in the past when the U.S. has engaged in creative methods of killing that have resulted in substantial deaths of men, women, and children. 

I don't like war, whether declared by Congress or entered into based on a lie at worst or at best, massive misinformation about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction or some other imagined threat.  People die in wars because everyone involved uses weapons to kill each other. War is about killing. Amazing how outraged people who had no problems with previous administrations killing people, including civilians, are willing to go so far as to call for the hanging of the president of the United States for alleged war crimes. Of course he is the first black president. But wait, I'm just imagining that his race has anything to do with it. 

After all, there has never been another U.S. president who ordered the military to take military action against our perceived enemy. Oops, I'm wrong. There was Truman and I'm certain that Obama's critics would also want Truman lynched. Under Truman's orders, on August 6, 1945, the United States used a massive, atomic weapon against Hiroshima, Japan. This atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, flattened the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians. Three days later, the United States struck again, this time, on Nagasaki. This was the big bang but the U.S. had been bombing cities in Japan for some time wiping out cities of 100,000 with conventional bombs. Rumor has it that subsequent Presidents ordered military actions that killed civilians in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Then there were the wars prior to WWII.

War is a nasty, evil thing and by its very definition it results in deaths, hundreds of thousands of deaths. Obama didn't start this trend and he won't be the last president to order strikes that result in the deaths of civilians, the young and the old, and even American citizens who give aid to countries that are waging terrorists attacks against the U.S.

I don't like the U.S. use of military might and I believe that we have failed to devote sufficient effort to using diplomatic channels to resolve differences among nations. I support a stronger UN with the authority to resolve disputes among disagreeing countries. 

I reiterate: I don't like war. But what I like even less are hypocrites who look for any excuse to declare that President Obama is evil personified, the anti-Christ president, all under the pretext of being appalled at his exercise of the same powers as every commander-in-chief that has preceded him. Such hypocrites aren't anti-war; they're anti-Obama. They are so shallow that they cannot bring themselves to confront their own animus toward his position as President of the United States. They get hyperactive about his use of military force as if he invented the concept. Frankly, I have more respect for the blatant racists who don't hide their beliefs. At least they're honest and I know not to waste my time on attempting to communicate with them.

As for Joshua Black, he's seeking his 15 minutes of fame. Let's hope that his moment in the spotlight is over.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Is Net Neutrality and Why Should You Care?

On Tuesday, January 14, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit said, "No, no, no," to the FCC's Net neutrality rules passed in late 2010. The story managed to give Gov. Christy and his bridge a bit of a nudge out of the limelight but I found most of the coverage to be inadequate at clearly defining the issues and what is at stake. 

First, it's important to know who the players are. There are (1) Internet broadband providers such as Verizon and (2) content providers such as Netflix and Facebook, and (3) consumers (those of us who use the Internet). The court's decision impacts content providers directly, not consumers, but the impact of the court's ruling is likely to ultimately affect consumers.

Second, it's useful to understand that prior to this federal appeals court decision, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Net neutrality rules required Internet service providers [aka broadband providers] to provide consumers with equal access to all lawful content without restrictions or tiered charges, treating all web traffic equally.

Verizon Communications, Inc., a broadband provider challenged the FCC's rules asserting that the FCC had no authority to impose anti-discrimination rules  (Net neutrality rules) on broadband providers. This is a victory for Verizon and other broadband providers. (Think of who you purchase Internet service from like Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, AT&T etc., these are all Internet service providers/ broadband providers).

Internet content providers are all of the websites that we visit or join like Netflix, Facebook, Blogger, Word Press, state, federal, and local government sites, etc. This ruling has the potential to interfere with the ability of content providers to provide their content at higher speeds unless they pay a higher cost for access to the Net to the broadband providers.

The FCC continues to have authority to regulate broadband access which means that if can regulate content providers but under this ruling, the FCC cannot regulate broadband providers. The concern is that the broadband providers, which are much larger than content providers, will levy higher costs on the content providers for providing higher speed Internet connections. 

Increases in costs for higher speed Internet connections would likely put some content providers out of business, and prevent smaller content providers from ever setting up their Internet site. Content providers who can pay increased fees for higher connection speeds will have an unfair advantage over sites with slower connection speeds and Net neutrality will be a thing of the past.

The court's decision is unlikely to result in any costs for use to be passed along to the consumer as the FCC continues, under this ruling, to have authority to regulate broadband access. However, this ruling, if it stands on appeal, will impact consumer access to a broad variety of content providers and have a chilling effect on the development of new content on the Internet.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I do think that if this decision survives appeal, it's reasonable to believe that content providers will be chomping at the bit to get the FCC to lessen its control of content providers and allow them to pass on some of their increased cost for high speed access to consumers.

In addition, the only guarantee that we have that Internet broadband providers will provide equal access to all consumers is their pledge to do so. The lawyers for the broadband providers insist that nothing will change for consumers and we will continue to be able to roam merrily about the Internet. However, consumer advocacy groups fear that the broadband providers will begin charging content providers for higher Internet speeds, causing some sites to shut down and others to curtail their offerings or restrict access to some areas of their sites to fee paying consumers. In other words, no one is clear as to exactly what repercussions there will be as a result of this ruling.

The President sums up the administration's position in support of continued Net neutrality. According to the administration, "The President remains committed to an open Internet, where consumers are free to choose the websites they want to visit and the online services they want to use, and where online innovators are allowed to compete on a level playing field based on the quality of their products."

The simplest solution would be for Congress to redefine the FCC's authority to make it clear that it includes setting rules that govern the broadband providers, a step which the Democrats have offered to take. However, the Republicans are advocating a hands off position, agreeing with the Internet providers that the FCC rules "inhibit investments and are not necessary to ensure unrestricted access to Internet content."

This is the short version of a somewhat complex decision. There's a decent article on the federal court's decision here.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbus Circuit is also available online.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Yes, Mr. Robertson, There Are Consequences for Hate Speech

Let's be clear about the facts. Phil Robertson, the bearded patriarch of Duck Dynasty fame did not simply declare homosexuality to be a sin or against the Bible's teachings. Robertson condemned homosexuality as a perversion, a step on the slippery slope to bestiality. Robertson expressed a hatred and condemnation for gay people in vile and filthy language that reflects the garbage that rumbles around in his head.

Two examples from his GQ interview:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus," Robertson told GQ. "That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine," he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

The A&E network has responded to Robertson's declarations by suspending him from his television show on that network, Duck Dynasty. Conservatives and some Christian groups are crying foul and insisting that Robertson's first amendment rights have been violated.

Freedom of speech and the first amendment have nothing to do with Robertson's suspension. The 1st amendment prohibits the government from restricting speech (note, even that prohibition isn't absolute, there are types of speech that can be regulated by the government). The first amendment protects us from laws being made that restrict freedom of the press, of religion, and of speech. However, it doesn't protect us from all the consequences of making ignorant and bigoted commentary. The government didn't do anything to Robertson; his employer did.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. --U.S. Constitution
The A&E network isn't the government nor an agency of the government, and like any employer, unless there is an employment contract to the contrary, can suspend or fire an employee at will. The big exception is that an employer can't fire someone for discriminatory reasons if it can be shown that the individual belongs to a protected class as defined by law and the rational for the dismissal is directly linked to the person's status as a member of a protected class.

Bigots aren't a protected class and A&E consider Robertson to be bad for business. There are consequences for expressing your views. He can continue to express them but I'm not losing a bit of sleep because A&E said, "Not on this network!"

Of course, there are those who declare suspending Robertson is another prong in the liberal anti-Christian movement. After all, the man was quoting the Bible and he has a right to do so.

Except, Robertson isn't quoting the Bible. There are only seven references in the Bible that appear to be about homosexuality and Robertson quoted none of them. Just making up crap and attributing it to the Bible doesn't make it about Christianity. Robertson did not quote the Bible, he interpreted the Bible according to his understanding and beliefs.

I have a Bible quote for Robertson, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1 (KJV)

Here's a more conservative view of the Bible's statements on homosexuality; still only seven references and nothing even remotely echoing Robertson's alleged Bible quoting tirade.

We live in a country of at-will employment laws. Employers can fire employees for no reason, for cause, for anything that is not prohibited discrimination under the law. Robertson stuck his foot in it.

By the way, Robertson's anti-gay bigotry has caught so much attention that his comments on race have been ignored. Please note, that according to GQ, Robertson volunteered much of the controversial information in the interview. He wasn't asked about his views on homosexuality or race.
Phil On Growing Up in Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Louisiana:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Maybe during his suspension, Robertson will have time to visit some of those happy black people with whom he worked, and sing a few songs. I'm certain they're also longing for the good old days, pre-entitlement and pre-welfare.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Santa Claus Is a Dead Ringer for Barry White

My Santa
Okay folks, let's reconnect with reality. I've been reading some odd comments on Facebook regarding Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly's assertion that Santa Claus and Jesus are white and everybody knows it. 
For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.--Megyn Kelly
Kelly was responding to an article by Aisha Harris, a black writer, who proposes that in an America that is culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse, perhaps it is time that Santa's image as an old white guy gets a makeover. 

Most of you appear to think Megyn Kelly is a flake, but I've read these lengthy discussions in which people dismiss Kelly as a nitwit but engage in serious debate that Santa is white or that there's no reason to mess with Santa's traditional appearance (white, fat, bearded guy).  

Kelly is a twit, but her assertion of the whiteness of a fantasy figure does reflect white privilege at its overblown best, as do some of the comments that I've read on Facebook. As Santa is not real, he can be any color that we like, including purple with green polka dots and red stripes. So why should a little black child have to imagine that Santa Claus is white? I have more than one black Santa in my house. My favorite does a sassy dance to "Jingle Bell Rock." Declaring that Santa is white is just as nonsensical as declaring that the Easter Bunny is a white rabbit and everyone knows it. 

We can adapt folklore and legend to reflect our own cultural identity. One of the biggest misunderstandings that I frequently encounter when it comes to white people interacting with black people is a failure by so many whites to step into the shoes of being black in a culture which has consistently and traditionally devalued blackness. 

Imagine living in a country in which you see nothing that reflects your image. When I was a child, I remember very clearly the first time I saw a black doll in a store, a pretty black doll with brown skin and brown eyes and curly hair. I also remember having to reach adulthood before black dolls with kinky hair like mine became available. Our mother brought black dolls for me and my sister after we first spotted them in the store and I was in love with that bundle of plastic parts because she looked like me.

Oh Megyn look, I have a black angel!!

Megyn Kelly's assertion was thoughtless and arrogant. However, I would never waste my time trying to explain that to her because she wouldn't get it and I would only end up frustrating myself. I am sharing this with you dear readers because I believe that some of you, a lot of you, will listen to what I am saying and truly hear me. That's all that I ask. Step out of your comfort zone and try to understand why I've taken the time to write about a fantasy man who exists only in the imaginations of children. 

I also noticed that quite a few people seemed a bit confused as to the origins of Santa so I've provided a bit of clarity on that topic.

1. Santa Claus is not real (if you're under the age of 10, I'm sorry.)

2. Santa is a fantasy figure cobbled together out of Nordic, Scandinavian, Turkish, Greek, and Germanic (includes English and Old English) cultures. The Catholic church does not recognize Santa Claus as a saint. There was a 4th century Christian Bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra who contributed to the concept of Santa Claus, but he is not Santa Claus.

3. In addition to St. Nicholas, Santa Claus is a mixture of the Norse God Odin, Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, and Christian beliefs in the Christ Child. The essential quality of the benevolent figure was as a gift-giver to children.

4. The image of Santa as the jolly guy in red with reindeer and a house at the North Pole emerged in the 19th century based on the poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas (aka The Night before Christmas) by Clement C. Moore. Cartoonist Thomas Nast solidified Moore's description of Santa in an illustration for Harper's Weekly in 1863. Note, this image of a large white man with a beard and a bunch of elves is an American concept fabricated from old legends by Clement in his poem and Nast in his drawings. 

5. I repeat, Santa is not real. The fantasy figure reflects American and European cultural norms, he is therefore depicted as white. The growth of media has made the image available worldwide but do not arrogantly presume that Santa Claus is eagerly awaited by children all around the world. Different cultures have different images of the gift giver. American traditions are not the traditions of the world. Santa does not fly around the world on Christmas Eve.

If you want more information on the origins of Santa Claus, follow this link to an informative history.