Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"The oblivious, casual racism of modern conservatism"

Image result for racist conservatives imagesThe Field Negro education series continues with this timely article from

"Sometimes racism isn’t about vicious bigotry and hatred towards those with different skin color than your own, let alone a willingness to walk into a church and massacre nine of those others because you think they’re “taking over your country.” Sometimes, racism is manifested in the subtle way a person can dismiss the lived experiences of those racial others as if they were nothing, utterly erasing those experiences, consigning them to the ashbin of history like so much irrelevant refuse.
In the last few days, since Dylann Roof’s terrorist rampage in Charleston, we’ve seen some of that on the part of those who steadfastly defend the confederate flag, which Roof dearly loved, from its critics. As the flag has come down in Alabama and is poised for removal from the statehouse grounds in South Carolina, its supporters have insisted that the flag is not a sign of racism, even if the government whose Army deployed it made clear that its only purposes at the time were the protection of slavery and white supremacy.

Those who defend the flag consider the black experience irrelevant, a trifle, hardly worthy of their concern. Who cares if the flag represented a government that sought to consign them to permanent servitude? Who cares if segregationists used that flag as a blatant symbol of racist defiance during the civil rights movement? Remembering the courageous heroics of one’s great-great-great-grandpappy Cooter by waving that flag or seeing it on public property is more important than black people’s lived experience of it. That such dismissiveness is intrinsically racist should be obvious. But what of less blatant examples?

For instance, what are we to make of certain comments by Congressman Louis Gohmert, Senator Ted Cruz and conservative media personality Sean Hannity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage equality nationwide? While those comments were not about race per se, it is hard to deny that their implicit subtext demonstrates a worldview entirely shaped by a white racial frame, viewed through a white racial lens, and one that takes as it starting point a profound disregard for the lives of persons of color: in short, a worldview that is (whether consciously or not), white supremacist to the core.

Start first with Gohmert. Given to hyperbole, one is loath to pay too much attention to the likes of Louis, and yet, his comments in the wake of the marriage equality decision represent far more than his solitary views, so similar are they to the kinds of things heard from many an evangelical white Christian whenever their moral sensibilities are offended. According to the Texas Congressman, because of the ruling, “God’s hand of protection will be withdrawn” from America. In other words, God so loves the world (but hates the gays) that he will either smite us directly, or at the very least no longer offer his thus far really impressive protection from things like economic recession, killer tornadoes, scorching heat waves, disastrous blizzards, a crumbling national infrastructure, and for that matter, racist young men who walk into churches and slaughter nine of his followers in cold blood. Got it? No more “protection” from those things!

At first glance, perhaps this comment seems to have nothing to do with race at all; but think about it. For Gohmert to claim that now God’s protection will be withdrawn is to suggest that prior to this time we were the active recipients of that protection, that to this point God had shined his light upon America, blessing us with all good things, happy at the sight of our superior morality. And yet, for that to be true, one would have to believe that God saw nothing wrong with the enslavement of African peoples for over two hundred years, the slaughter and forced removal of indigenous peoples from their land, the invasion and theft of half of Mexico, the abuse of Chinese labor on railroads, the internment of Japanese Americans—nothing wrong with lynching or segregation. You would have to accept that God is more offended by marriage equality than any of those things, that God was essentially sanguine about formal white supremacy, and willing to extend his protective blanket over us even in the face of that, but somehow so-called “gay marriage” is a bridge too far.

Aside from the loony-tunes nature of such a belief as this, on its face, is it not obvious that the position amounts to an erasure of the lived experiences of people of color? That it diminishes the horrors with which they lived and suggests that those horrors were not horrors after all, at least not in any moral sense that the presumed Creator might recognize? And if so, how can such a belief not be called racist? If I deny your experience, relegate it to the category of the irrelevant, or suggest that the denial of your rights as people of color was morally less problematic than the extension of rights to others, how can I possibly claim exculpation from the charge of holding an implicitly white supremacist worldview? Is one such as Gohmert not clearly implying here that the experiences of people of color do not matter? Or at least not that much? Is he not suggesting that whatever terrors they experienced were basically no biggie so far as the Lord was concerned, and as such, should certainly prove no great distraction for the likes of mortal men and women like ourselves?

Indeed, to believe that God protected America all through those periods of formal and overt white racial fascism is to believe that those days weren’t so bad after all—a fundamentally racist worldview that disrespects people of color by definition—or that God is a white supremacist, which view not only disrespects people of color but would likely displease any Creator should he exist and actively intervene in the affairs of man. In which case, Louis Gohmert might want to chew his food especially well from this point forward.

Then there’s Ted Cruz. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, Cruz took to Sean Hannity’s radio program, where he proclaimed that the previous twenty-four hour period (in which the court not only legalized marriage equality but also saved affordable health care for between 6-8 million Americans) had been “among the darkest 24-hours” in the history of the nation itself. It was a claim to which Hannity responded that he could not have said it “more eloquently” himself.

Really? A 24-hour period during which the court extended rights to millions of people and guaranteed that upwards of eight million wouldn’t lose their health insurance was among the worst 24-hour periods in history?

As bad or worse than any 24-hour period under slavery, under segregation, or during which day-long progression multiple black bodies may well have been strung up from tree limbs?
Worse than the 24-hour period in which the same court issued its decision in Dred Scott, holding therein that blacks had no rights the white man was bound to respect?

Worse than the 24-hour period in which whites bombed and burned the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma or slaughtered dozens of African Americans in East St. Louis, Illinois in orgies of racial terrorism?

Worse than any 24-hour period in which multiple slaving ships pulled into port in cities like Charleston or New Orleans and offloaded their human cargo for sale at market?

Worse than any 24-hour period in which Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Muscogee Indians were forcibly marched westward during the Trail of Tears, or any 24-hour period in which Lakota and Dakota peoples were being hunted in the Black Hills, or the 24-hour period during which Colonel John Chivington led his forces in a sadistic massacre of Cheyenne families at Sand Creek?


It would seem axiomatic to rational people that any day under enslavement or Jim Crow segregation, or debt peonage or the Black Codes, or the virtual re-enslavement of African Americans that existed even well into the twentieth century in many parts of the South, would have been worse than the 24-hour period about which Cruz and Hannity are so exorcised. But then again, that would only be true for black people, and as such, would not count to the likes of men such as they. And that’s the point: to disregard the racialized horror that defined the black experience every single day for centuries, or to consider it somehow less horrible than a 24-hour span in which LGBT folks were treated as full and equal citizens and eight million people were kept from being thrown off of health care rolls, is to possess a worldview that is not only stupendous in its thoroughgoing mendacity, but also embarrassingly white and implicitly racist. Only someone who didn’t care about the history of America as regards people of color could say such a thing; and one who doesn’t care about said history is engaged in a form of racism by default—guilty of committing racial memoricide by way of their dismissiveness." [Read more]

What's that saying? "Not all right wingers are racist, but all racists are right wingers."

The "rhetoric of modern racism", as Tim Wise calls it, always comes from the right.

Coincidence? I think not.

And I take issue with the title of this piece. They are not "oblivious" to it, and there is certainly nothing "casual" about it.

*Pic courtesy of

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"The atheist atrocities fallacy ."

Image result for pol pot images  I am often accused of being an atheist, which I most certainly am not. (There is a big difference between an atheist and an agnostic. And if you want to see why a rational person can be skeptic when it comes to religion you might want to start by reading a wonderful book by Timothy Freke called The Laughing Jesus) And because folks believe that I am an atheist, Christians, particularly those to the right of me politically, like to bring up terrible people from history and accuse them of being non-believers when they argue with me.

I suppose this has something to do with the fact that the Klan proudly claims to be a Christian organization, and I am quite sure that most of its members are in lockstep politically with my right wing conservative friends. 

Anyway, I was thinking about all that when I read the following article by Michael Sherlock. (h/t to the commenter over at the Mediaite website. )

"Religious apologists, particularly those of the Christian variety, are big fans of what I have dubbed, the atheist atrocities fallacy. Christians commonly employ this fallacy to shield their egos from the harsh reality of the brutality of their own religion, by utilizing a most absurd form of the tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy, mingled with numerous other logical fallacies and historical inaccuracies.

 Despite the fact that the atheist atrocities fallacy has already been thoroughly exposed by Hitchens and other great thinkers, it continues to circulate amongst the desperate believers of a religion in its death throes.  Should an atheist present a believer with the crimes committed by the Holy See of the Inquisition(s), the Crusaders and other faith-wielding misanthropes, they will often hear the reply; “Well, what about Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler? They were atheists, and they killed millions!”

Given the obstinate nature of religious faith and the wilful ignorance it cultivates in the mind of the believer, I am quite certain that this article will not be the final nail in this rancid and rotting coffin.  Having said this, I do hope it will contribute to the arsenal required by those who value reason, facts and evidence, in their struggle against the fallacies perpetually flaunted by those who do not value the truth above their own egocentric delusions, delusions inspired by an unquenchable thirst for security, no matter how frighteningly false its foundation.

Before addressing the primary weaknesses of the atheist atrocities fallacy itself, I would like to attend to each of these three homicidal stooges; Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler, who are constantly trotted out to defend a religious worldview.  I will lend Hitler the most time, as the claim that he was an atheist represents a most egregious violation of the truth.


“Besides that, I believe one thing: there is a Lord God! And this Lord God creates the peoples.”  [1]    ~Adolf Hitler

 “We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations; we have stamped it out” [2]   ~Adolf Hitler

Hitler was a Christian.  This undeniable fact couldn’t be made any clearer than by his own confessions.  Yet, I will not merely present you with these testimonies, as damning as they happen to be on their own, but I also intend on furnishing you with a brief history of the inherent anti-Semitism of the Christian religion.  I will do so to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that Hitler and his Christian Nazi Party were acting in complete concordance with traditional Christian anti-Semitism.
To begin, here are just a few of Hitler’s Christian confessions:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter.  It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth!  was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.  In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.  How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.  To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross.  As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” [3]....

...POL POT (See pic)

Pol Pot, possibly not even an atheist, but almost certainly a Buddhist, believed in the teachings of the Buddha, no matter how perverted his interpretations may or may not have been.  His violence, much like the violence of many earlier religionists, wasn’t the result of a lack of belief in a god, whether Zeus, Osiris, Yahweh, or the god-like Buddha of Mahayana Buddhism, but in the megalomaniacal belief that heaven or destiny was guiding him to improve the state of affairs for all those who could be forced to share his misguided utopian delusions.  Not only was Pol Pot a Theravada Buddhist, but the soil in which his atrocities were sewn was also very Buddhist.

In Alexander Laban Hinton’s book, Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide,’ Hinton drew attention to the role that the belief in karma played in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, particularly with regards to the cementation of a docilely accepted social hierarchy, not too dissimilar from Stalin’s ready-made Russian religious tyranny, as well as highlighting the Buddhist origins of Pol Pot’s ideological initiatives.

Hinton remarks:

This [Pol Pot’s regime’s] line of thinking about revolutionary consciousness directly parallels Buddhist thought, with the “Party line” and “collective stand” being substituted for dhamma…One could certainly push this argument further , contending that the Khmer Rouge attempted to assume the monk’s traditional role as moral instructor (teaching their new brand of “mindfulness”) and that DK regime’s glorification of asceticism, detachment, the elimination of attachment and desire, renunciation (of material goods and personal behaviors, sentiments, and attitudes), and purity paralleled prominent Buddhist themes…  [30]

I have only presented a small snippet of the available evidence that points to religion’s role in Pol Pot’s crimes, and there is not one single piece of solid evidence that Pol Pot was an atheist, so let us once and for all dispense with that speculative piece of religious propaganda.  Pol Pot spent close to a decade at Catholic school and nearly as long studying at a Buddhist institution, so religious education was something he had in common with both Hitler and Stalin, but I would never use such data-mined facts to assert that religious education invariably inspires tyrants to commit atrocities, although a case for such a proposition could probably be made without committing too many logical and historical inaccuracies.  I won’t even bother sharing the un-sourced quote from Prince Norodom Sihanouk that Christians present as “proof” that Pol Pot was an atheist, as its origin is not only dubious, but its contents reflect a belief in heaven, which, if genuine, negates any claim that Pol Pot was an atheist.


The atheist atrocities fallacy is a multifaceted and multidimensional monster, comprised of a cocktail of illogically contrived arguments.  It is, at its core, a tu quoque fallacy, employed to deflect justified charges of religious violence, by erroneously charging atheism with similar, if not worse, conduct.  But it is much more than this, for within its tangled and mangled edifice can be found the false analogy fallacy, the poisoning of the well fallacy, the false cause fallacy, and even an implied slippery slope fallacy.

Tu quoque (“You Too”) Fallacy

The Tuquoque fallacy is an informal fallacy used to dismiss criticism by means of deflection. [31] Instead of addressing an accusation or charge, the perpetrator of this fallacy will offer an example of their opponent’s alleged hypocrisy with regards to the allegation.  This is precisely how Christian apologists employ the atheist atrocities fallacy.

To give you an example of this fallacy in action, we need only examine the reply of renowned Christian apologist, Dinesh D’Souza, to charges of religious violence:

And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? [32]

“…it is interesting to find that people of faith now seek defensively to say that they are no worse than fascists or Nazis or Stalinists.” [33]
    ~Christopher Hitchens~

This fallacy will be often employed with an added sprinkle of one-upmanship, with the apologist using the immense scale of secular atrocities to argue that atheism is worse than religion.  However, if we were to honestly calculate those victims of ritual and religious sacrifice across the entire planet, the total number of witches burned and drowned across Europe and in America, the near genocides of the Pacific Islanders by the London Missionary Society, and similar missionary organizations, the dismembered bodies of the Saint Francis Xavier’s Inquisition in Goa, the disembowelled remains of the Anabaptists in Europe, the men, women and children murdered by Muslim conquerors from the Middle-East to Spain, the stoned and strangled blasphemers in Christian states of the past and Muslim ones of the modern age, and all of the unmarked graves of all of the victims of religion, from the dawn of that plague to now, I am quite certain that the numbers game would prove to be an unfruitful one for the desperate apologist." [Read More]

You can thank me for the education later.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Before Dylann, there was Edgar.

Edgar Ray Killen was convicted
in 2005 of overseeing the 1964
slayings of three civil rights workers.Today is a good day to talk about Edgar Ray Killen, the unapologetic racist who was responsible for killing three civil rights workers in Mississippi back in 1964.

Sadly, there were many Dylann Roof types back then, and he was just one of them.  

Today he sits in jail after finally being convicted of that terrible crime.

"And he steadfastly refuses to discuss the “Freedom Summer” slayings of three civil rights workers, which sparked national outrage, helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and landed him behind bars.

Killen was interviewed by the Associated Press inside the Mississippi state penitentiary, where he is serving a 60-year sentence; it was his first interview since his conviction on state charges of manslaughter in 2005, 41 years to the day after James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed and buried in a red clay dam. An earlier trial in 1967, on federal charges, resulted in a mistrial.

Killen wouldn’t say much about the 1964 killings. He said he remains a segregationist who does not believe in race equality but contends he bears no ill will toward blacks.

The three civil rights workers – black Mississippian Chaney and white New Yorkers Schwerner and Goodman – were investigating the burning of a black church outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, when they were stopped on an accusation of speeding and held for hours in the Neshoba County jail. Witnesses testified that Killen rounded up carloads of Klansmen to intercept the three men upon their release and helped arrange for a bulldozer to hide the bodies.

The bodies were found 44 days later, buried miles away in a red-clay dam." [Source]

It's important to remember this monster because now, 50 years later, the kind of hate that drove him and others to do what they did , is still permeating throughout certain segments of the country.

Over the past few days at least six black churches have been burned to the ground, and we are all collectively sticking our heads in the sand as if it didn't happen.

Were it not for black twitter (shout out to the #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches? movement) these stories would be getting even less publicity than they are now. It's sad, but the story has to actually get worse before the producers at cable news networks will have the courage to put stories like this front and center.

Look, we get it, a lot of Americans have Negro fatigue, so stories about black churches being burned to the ground just won't get their attention.  It's just too depressing to think that the country we love and cherish is going through this. Heck we are just getting over what happened in Charleston for crying out loud. Leave us alone!!!

Field, you don't even go to church, why do you care so much about these churches burning?

Because I understand the importance and historical significance of the church in the black community. And because church folks are such a forgiving bunch that I am sure that whoever is doing this will get nothing but love and another cheek from my church going brothers and sisters.

"Chaney’s sister, the Rev Julia Chaney Moss of Willingboro, New Jersey, said she was not surprised Killen wouldn’t talk about the slayings.

“I can only wish Mr. Killen peace at this juncture in his life ... If he can achieve a modicum of peace, I wish that for him,” Chaney said."

See what I mean?

Anyway, I sure hope that Rev. Julia and others at least believe in Proverbs 20:22.

~Do not say, "I'll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.~

Hurry Lord, we are getting tired of waiting.  



Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Burn notice."

Image result for black church fires imagesWhile America is busy patting herself on the back for recognizing that the flag of the traitors who fought for the confederacy is an abomination to people of conscience, I would like to remind everyone that at least six African American churches have been burned since that horrific tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina.

Maybe our enemies are putting us on some kind of notice: This war is just beginning.

'“What's the church doing on fire?'

Jeanette Dudley, the associate pastor of God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia, got a call a little after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, she told a local TV news station. Her tiny church of about a dozen members had been burned, probably beyond repair. The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco got called in, which has been the standard procedure for church fires since the late 1960s. Investigators say they’ve ruled out possible causes like an electrical malfunction; most likely, this was arson.

The very same night, many miles away in North Carolina, another church burned: Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, which was set on fire some time around 1 a.m. Investigators have ruled it an act of arson, the AP reports; according to The Charlotte Observer, they haven’t yet determined whether it might be a hate crime.

Two other predominantly black churches have been the target of possible arson this week:  Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina, which caught fire on Friday, and College Hill Seventh Day Adventist, which burned on Monday in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Investigators in Knoxville told a local news station they believed it was an act of vandalism, although they aren’t investigating the incident as a hate crime. (There have also been at least three other cases of fires at churches this week. At Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee, and the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Officials suspect the blazes were caused by lightning and electrical wires, respectively, but investigations are still ongoing. A church that is not predominantly black—College Heights Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio—was burned on Saturday morning. The fire appears to have been started in the sanctuary, and WKYC reports that the cause is still under investigation. The town’s fire and police departments did not immediately return calls for confirmation on Sunday.*)

These fires join the murder of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as major acts of violence perpetrated against predominantly black churches in the last fortnight. Churches are burning again in the United States, and the symbolism of that is powerful. Even though many instances of arson have happened at white churches, the crime is often association with racial violence: a highly visible attack on a core institution of the black community, often done at night, and often motivated by hate.'' [Source]

OK, so maybe these churches are all burning by accident and this is all purely coincidental.
Just one of those freaky things that go down in bunches.

Sure, and Lauren London keeps blowing up my phone to sneak off with her to Paris, but I have to pass on her invitation  because I am happily married.  Riiight.

Anyway, racists in America will not go down without a fight. All this talk about the confederate flag coming down but as I write this; there it flies, bolder and brighter than ever on the capitol grounds of South Carolina. And, depending on what the state's lawmakers do, it might never come down. In fact, had it not been for the actions of one brave soul and her accomplice, that racist symbol of tyranny would continue to fly uninterrupted in spite of all the hue and cry from different voices in the country.

"The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state we can survive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. We respect freedom of expression, and that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

But the statehouse is different and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way. Fifteen years ago, after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to move the flag from atop the Capitol dome. Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds."

We will believe it when we see it.

*Pic courtesy of



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Caption Saturday.


I need a caption for this pic.

Play nice.

*Pic from

Friday, June 26, 2015

Amazing week.

Confederate flagLittle known fact about my family: My daddy actually taught homiletics to university level theological students at one time in his career. He loved to talk about preachers and preaching styles, and, as a result, I learned a thing or two about the art of preaching.

So having said that, I will give O's mini sermon today  four out of five possible stars. His spontaneous rendition of Amazing Grace could  have used a little work, but I am not going to quibble. The church was with him, and that's all that  matters.

"As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us for he has allowed us to see where we've been blind," Obama said. "He's given us the chance, where we've been lost, to find our best selves."

He might have given "us the chance", but unfortunately a lot of us are not taking it.

Quite a few of our so called leaders still do not realize that they have been blind, and it has taken them a hell of a long time to  find their "best selves."

I am thinking of people like Clarence Thomas. A man who has found himself on the wrong side of history because of his ignorant and misguided dissent in today's historic (and long overdue) decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that has given same sex couples the same rights and protections under the Constitution as heterosexual couples.

"The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Thomas went on to write that one's liberty and dignity should be shielded from the government — not provided by it.

"Today’s decision casts that truth aside. In its haste to reach a desired result, the majority misapplies a clause focused on 'due process' to afford substantive rights, disregards the most plausible understanding of the 'liberty' protected by that clause, and distorts the principles on which this Nation was founded. Its decision will have inestimable consequences for our Constitution and our society."

See, this is the problem with this man: He thinks that slaves should have been "Dignified". Sorry, it's kind of hard to maintain your "dignity" when you are being stripped and beaten and sold like cattle. But I digress.

This twisted and sick dissent thinks that majority decision by the court will have a "inestimable consequences for our Constitution. "  Huh????

He is wrong. Had he and his right- wing buddies had their way, that would have had a devastating affect on our Constitution. And, as a result, our country would have taken two steps backwards instead of moving forward into the 21st Century.

So in one eventful week the country wakes up and starts to denounce a symbol of hate that has long been ignored, and we legalize the  the rights of our fellow Gay citizens to legally marry each other.

Amazing Grace indeed.  

Pic by Getty images from 



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Obamacare lives. (For now)

Image result for health insurance marketplace obamacare imagesIt looks like the supremes upheld the most important portions of the ACA today, and that's a big win for this president.

Now, as is to be expected, the right wingers are losing their collective minds.

"an act of judicial activism" from the Supreme Court designed to "protect the Affordable Care Act." ~Karl Rove~

"With today's Obamacare decision, John Roberts confirms that he has completely jettisoned all pretense of textualism. He is a results-oriented judge, period, ruling on big cases based on what he thinks the policy result should be or what the political stakes are for the court itself. He is a disgrace. That is all." ~National Review~

"[Roberts] will undermine his own credibility as a fair-minded jurist, because he has reached to bizarre and odd contortions in order to save this statute twice." ~Andrew Napolitano, Fox News~

 "an absolute disaster" and wondered "what does [this] mean for the rule of law?" ~Rush Limbaugh ~

"I braced for this decision by SCOTUS still shocked....folks country has fundamentally changed...another giant step toward Banana Republic" ~Fox's Charles Payne~

And on and on it goes.

It seems like only yesterday that Chief Justice Roberts was a darling of the right wing. But this just goes to show you how dangerous it is to throw all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to politics.

Of course this decision will never cause me to change my mind about Chief Justice Roberts. That Citizens United decision will forever tarnish him and his legacy in my book.

 "I am disappointed in the Burwell decision, but this is not the end of the fight against ObamaCare "

Jeb, I am sure you are.

"Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate," the law is finally and firmly entrenched, Obama said, .....Health care, he said is "not a privileged for a few, but a right for all.".... The setbacks I remember clearly." However, "as the dust has settled, there can be no doubt that this law is working."

Show off.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Membership without "obstacles".

Image result for white privilege images  We are trying to have an honest and open dialogue about race in this country. (At least some of us are, others, on the other hand, not so much. They just want to hear themselves talk into the echo chamber that surrounds them.) So because of that I want to feature the writing of someone from the other side of the racial divide .

He takes issue with the label "white privilege", and he wrote an interesting post to tell us all why.

"White privilege" is a term guaranteed to set off a white male like me.

I grew up poor with a single mom. I moved to one side of the country and back; as the new kid, I was a frequent target of bullies. I had an abusive relationship with a stepfather. From early high school, the income from my after-school jobs covered our family's monthly shortfall.

I waited tables all through college, my bank account hovering just above zero. No one showed me the ropes, and I mostly figured out on my own what it meant to be a man.
Don't tell me I had it easy.

On the other hand...

Although my mom struggled to make ends meet, my broader family was financially comfortable. Attending college was so embedded in my childhood context that I don't ever recall considering that I wouldn't go. And while I was poorer than some of my college friends who received a monthly check from their parents, my scrappy work ethic was supplemented by no less than five different sources of extended family financial support.

I had a lot of help climbing over some of the hurdles in my path.
So was I "privileged"? Hell, no (okay, maybe a little).

Calling me privileged implies I didn't earn what I've created. That it was easy for me. That's not my experience. I got where I am with blood, sweat and tears. Telling me otherwise (especially with a charged word like 'privilege') just makes me defensive. I don't want to appear elitist, arrogant, selfish, or like an exploiter. Combine it with "white privilege" and I'm a quasi-bigot.
Except that's not what women and people of color are talking about.

We are talking past each other

The real issue is one of obstacles. Moving up the socioeconomic ladder in America involves leaping over certain hurdles: poverty, the color of your skin, the education level of your parents, if they are immigrants, where you live, how good the public school system is, if anyone in your context has gone to college before, whether your parents read to you at night, are you male or female. The list goes on and on. The more obstacles you face, the more challenging upward mobility becomes.

The breakdown in our public dialogue begins with our inchoate perception of these obstacles: We see the ones we confronted; we simply aren't aware of those we didn't.

Instead of the "special rights and benefits" of privilege, let's talk about the "absence of obstacles." As a white male from an educated, single parent, mostly middle class family, I had more obstacles than a rich kid raised by two parents and sent to private schools. On the other hand, I'm not black, a woman, or from an inner city with a broken school system. In this sense, I benefited not from privilege, but from an absence of several very challenging obstacles.

I don't want to feel guilty (because I had it easy) or prideful (because I had it harder than you). I'm not interested in yelling matches about who is right, who is wrong, and whether white privilege is reverse racism. All that is a diversion.

I am grateful for the obstacles I was spared without thinking I'm superior to those who weren't. I am curious about and respectful of the obstacles others faced without needing to deny their difficulty because it makes me feel less worthy.

The great cost of our addiction to labeling and being right over each other is that it distracts us from moving towards what (I believe) we most want: a society where people from every rung of the ladder can receive the support, and learn the gumption, to overcome the obstacles on their path.
Be the starting point of dialogue, not diversion:
  • Notice how you get defensive. When we feel criticized, accused or devalued, we lash out, typically in ways that cause others to feel mistreated. Defending your position creates no progress.
  • Actively seek out what you don't know you don't know. It's not your fault you didn't encounter certain obstacles. Be grateful. But also be curious about the challenges that people not like you had to overcome.
  • Embrace your own obstacles. When I look back at my life, my most meaningful accomplishments were my most difficult obstacles. I can feel jealous that others had fewer, or I can embrace the growth that my next obstacle is offering me.
  • Expand your empathy. Suffering and difficulty aren't a competition (neither is success, by the way). Acknowledging what others have gone through can inspire our own courage and commitment to growth.
  • Focus your energy on obstacle busting. For both yourself and others, acknowledge the vulnerability we feel when we face a daunting challenge. Create a context where people feel safe and inspired to go for broke.
Beyond our own social mobility, one of the greatest "privileges" (and responsibilities) of having fewer obstacles is empowering people who have many. Let's get to it. [Source]

Hmmm, "obstacles", seems like just another cute name for racism. But I won't quibble. If  Shayne Hughes wants to start a dialogue I am all ears.

*Image from 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

White glove treatment.

Image result for arrest of roof south carolina imagesS I was thinking about how the police stopped to get that monster who shot up the church in South Carolina a hamburger, because, bless his depraved little heart, he happened to be hungry.

Just the way he was arrested: So calm. So respectful. It's almost as if he was just being escorted to an  autograph signing.

And then there was how the Judge in his bond hearing seemed to have more sympathy for him and his family than he did the actual victims.

Compare that to the police shooting  death of Tamir Rice, and...well... you get the picture.

I was thinking about all of that as I read the following post over at

"The Charleston shooting is a textbook example of White Privilege. Let’s start with the manner in which the cops apprehended Dylann Storm Roof, the murderer and domestic terrorist.

Note that at the time of his arrest, Roof was an armed and dangerous fugitive, who heartlessly gunned down nine church members — and still received the utmost care when he was taken into police custody. The cops gave him a nice bulletproof vest to assure that he wouldn’t receive any damage on his way to the station and genteelly guided him out to the squad car. When the cameras flashed, he was clean and spotless, with every hair of his Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber” cut in place.

If he were black, he probably would have ended up like the innocent, unarmed Cleveland couple, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, who fled in a similar manner as Roof, but received no love or restraint — just 137 shots for being on the wrong side of privilege. And this is the norm; there’s a collection of contemporary cases that display similar results.

Walter Scott was black and unarmed. He died at the hands of law enforcement while Craig Stephen Hicks, a white male who shot three unarmed Muslims over a parking space in North Carolina, is alive and well.

Michael Brown was an unarmed black teenager who was on his way to college before he was murdered by a white police officer. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the white guy who bombed runners in the Boston Marathon, is alive and received his day in court.

James Holmes, another white domestic terrorist, shot up a movie theater during a Batman movie; Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old kid. was murdered for having a toy gun.

Freddie Gray, black and innocent with a pocket knife equals dead. White killers like Roof get award-winning restraint. The list goes on and on: White privilege allows you to survive and being black could get you killed.

Always remember that talking about white privilege makes white people uneasy — probably because no one wants to feel like they have an unfair advantage over another person solely based on skin color. However, if you are white in America, you have an unfair advantage solely based on skin color.

You’ll probably go to a better school, never be profiled by police officers, get lower interest rates, and always have the luxury of walking around convenience stores in peace. It is that way, it has been that way, and chances are it will remain that way.

Karl Alexander of Johns Hopkins University recently completed 35 years of research dealing with the poor white experience vs. the poor black experience. He published his findings in his book “The Long Shadow,” where he wrote that whites use more drugs, but are less likely to be charged — and in Baltimore, where 97 percent of the black people who are born in poverty die in poverty, it’s easier for a white person with some jail time to get a job over a black person with some college.

Sometimes it’s hard to get white people to wrap their heads around the idea of privilege. I have white acquaintances who struggle with the idea of white privilege, so I take my time and try to explain it in the most non-divisive way possible. I start off by saying, “It’s not your fault. You did not ask for this privilege but you need to acknowledge that it exists so that we can all move forward.” Then I talk about some of those simple things that come with privilege before putting it into a simple historical context.

We can even venture past the way that Africans entered America because that’s too obvious, skip right by the hundreds of years of chattel slavery, and dive into those post-Civil War years where race began to trump ethnic identity.
In “Making Whiteness,” Grace Hale argued:
“Racial identity becomes the paramount spatial mediation of modernity within the newly reunited nation. Race nevertheless became the crucial means of ordering the newly enlarged meaning of America. This happened because former Confederates, a growing class, embattled farmers, western settlers, a defensive northeastern elite, woman’s rights advocates, and the scientific community simultaneously but for different reasons found race useful in creating new collective identities to replace older groundings of self. As important these mass racial meanings were made and marked at a time when technological change made the cheap production of visual imagery possible and the development of a mass market provided finical incentive, selling through advertising, to circulate the imagery.”
Hale then noted that this new way of advertising was responsible for cheaply exposing products to the masses and to paint the new picture of America and Making Whiteness what it should look like. Affluent whites masterfully executed their plan by enforcing Jim Crow, practicing white vs. colored, and by portraying blacks in the media as slaves, servants and clowns over and over again until it became tradition." [More]

Poor whites will say, Where is my privilege?

All I have to say to them is this: It has been with you all along. You just never made good use of it.

*Pic from

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stars and scars.

Image result for confederate flag imagesMan these right-wingnuts needed this confederate flag flap like they needed a hole in their heads.

It's been interesting to see all the twisting and "pretzel-logic" going on as they try to avoid calling that despicable symbol of hatred for fear of turning off their base. I mean Mitt, bless his Wonder Bread heart, came out against the flag. But then he is no longer running for president. The others...well, not so much. Although Nikki Haley played the good party soldier by finally coming out against the flag and giving the republican candidates for president some cover.

And before we start treating what Haley did as if it was some profile in courage, let's not forget where she stood on this subject not too long ago. I guess there is nothing like a little pressure from the business community to make some of these governors all of a sudden find moral clarity.

"Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds," Haley, the state's first non-white governor, said. "This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state."'
Why just a little over a year ago the governor said this:
"What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state,” Haley said. “I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
Maybe it took a conversation with a CEO or two to help her see the light.   
This is all very interesting. It's not only governor Haley. Republican politicians have been all trying to prove to the rest of us that many their supporters are not racist. (Good luck with that.)
We learned today that Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Rick Santorum gave back money that was given to them by the same racist organization that inspired Roof to kill those nine innocent people last Wednesday night.  
"The campaigns of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rick Santorum said they would donate the money received from Holt to a fund set up by Charleston's mayor to assist the victims' families.
"I abhor the sentiments Mr. Holt has expressed," Santorum said in a statement. "These statements and sentiments are unacceptable. Period. End of sentence"
Let me translate that for you: Now that the rest of America knows what I  have suspected all along, that this man and his organization are racists, I cannot take this money from him without being exposed as a possible racist myself.
It's been funny to see George Will and the folks over at FOX VIEWS throw themselves into a tizzy over the president saying Nigger (whoops, sorry, I meant n-word) in a candid moment while doing a popular podcast.
You have to wonder why some folks get  upset when folks who have a license to use that word do just that. It's almost as if they are angry that they can't say it  themselves.

"George Will was troubled by Obama’s comment about how the legacy of slavery and racism is “still part of our DNA that’s passed on; we’re not cured of it.”  

Will said race relations can’t possibly be getting better if that’s the case, calling it a “most unfortunate rhetorical reach” by Obama.

And if his point is, Will concluded, that America is “by nature racist,” “'it’s an unfortunate indictment of the nation and he should take it back.'”

What the president really said:

"I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you've lived through being a black man in the 1950s or '60s or '70s. It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours," Obama said."

You know what's worse than being a racist? Being a liar and a racist.

*Pic from


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Going along to get along.

I read somewhere that black Americans are suffering from "racial battle fatigue".  Sadly, given what has been happening in our country over the past few months, it 's not hard to see why.

And still, through it all, black folks remain the most forgiving and God- fearing people I know. Just check out the images and commentaries from the people on the ground in Charleston. All that hugging. All that loving. All that praying together. It takes a special kind of person to endure all that and still have love in your heart. (I keep hearing Hillary pandering to a church full of black folks with that James Cleveland quote in my head.) 

A lot of my brothers and sisters here in America are built like that. I guess it's a kind of coping mechanism. How else are they going to survive? Better go along to get along. Don't rock the boat, look down when you talk, and step to the side when crossing paths on the sidewalk.
Lord knows we don't want to set off another racist and have him act out his hatred in a very real way.
Although, given what happened just today in Richmond, Virginia, it might already be too late.   

I think I posted this anecdote once on this blog, but this is a good time to tell it again.

So I am playing golf at this very exclusive course in Gonzales, Louisiana. A friend of mine is a hot shot lawyer down there and he happens to be a member. On one of my visits down there we got a foursome together and he invited us to play a round at his club.

 One of the people in the foursome was the head of the local NAACP in a very large town in Louisiana at the time. One or two of the guys in the group were hackers, so our round was not moving along at a very good pace.

Behind us a group of gentlemen started yelling for us to speed it up, and someone in the group threatened to call the golf course Marshall to have us thrown out. My friend, the member, told them to play threw, but they were having none of it.

Eventually someone from their group approached us and asked us if there was a problem. Why is it, he wanted to know, couldn't our group play faster? This is when it got interesting, because, well, I just couldn't take it anymore. I told him in no uncertain terms to go f*^* himself and that we will take our time and enjoy our round of golf because we were still within the time limits set by the course Marshall. And that if he and his group didn't want to play through, as they have every right to do, they could wait.

My friend, Mr. NAACP, was beside himself. He wasn't mad at the arrogant prick and his friends; he was mad at me for having the nerve to talk back to them. "Wayne, that's not how we do things down here. Would it have hurt to apologize and explain that we have a couple of guys in our group who aren't very good?" My reply went something like this: Actually Alvin, it would have. And if you are the president of the NAACP down here I feel sorry for your members.      

Needless to say that our relationship has been strained ever since. The point is, even as the leader of the NAACP,  he saw nothing wrong with taking this guy's crap. Maybe it was out of fear. (I later learned that the guy was some powerful and wealthy businessman in South Louisiana.) Maybe it was out of  some form of survivalist conditioning or Stockholm Syndrome. Who knows? In his world that's just the way it was.

I don't know. On one level I admire the courage and the resilience of the people of Charleston. And yet, on another level, I just keep going back to that golf course. "Wayne, that's not how we do things  down here." 

Well maybe it's time y'all started doing things a little differently.