Archive for February, 2017

N_2009_1_2There’s a lot of talk about racism in the American Right, and especially in the Religious (or Christian) Right movement. Rightists themselves deny any racism on their part, and the more religious among them point to two things: First, that the Abolition movement of the 19th century was primarily a Christian movement; and second, that the Republican Party, to which nearly all Religious Rightists belong, was founded as Abolitionist. What’s more, they say, the Democratic Party had done more to block the advancement of civil rights, during the 50s and 60s.

All of those things are true, particularly that many Abolitionists were devout Christians and many strongly motivated by their faith. But that doesn’t mean that it’s Leftists and Democrats who’re now (according to the Right) the chief promoters of racism. The reality of the Religious Right movement is that it was founded on opposition to desegregation (in other words, it was predicated on racism). Also, those conservative southern Democrats who once tried to stonewall civil rights reforms, have since then moved over to the GOP.

Put bluntly, “the Party of Lincoln” has become something very different from what it was in Lincoln’s time.

If anyone needs an example of how religiously-inspired racism still lurks deep within 21st century American Christendom, here’s an example to consider. As WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, LA reports, a shitstorm was kicked up over a Catholic school student’s essay (WebCite cached version):

Parents and students of a Catholic high school received a letter, apologizing after a student’s essay that chastised African Americans circulated on the internet.

The essay, assigned to a class at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, was about Black History Month. Instead of writing about events in February in support of equality for all races, a white student wrote she was “unpleased” with having to write such a paper and continued not everyone is created equal.…

The student referenced what she thought were passages from the bible, supporting a claim that the only race on the earth during biblical times were Caucasians.

The school has disavowed the essay, and I have no reason to assume the student who wrote it learned her racist theology there. But, she learned it from somewhere. She didn’t come up with the idea that Jesus’ apostles were all white and there were no “different ethics” [sic] in Jesus’ time on her own. Someone — and an adult someone, at that! — had to have taught her this bullshit. To be clear, there were most assuredly different ethnic groups in Jesus’ time. There were even different ethnic groups coexisting in the Levant, back then. They spoke different languages and followed different religions, and they didn’t always get along … but they were definitely there.

It’s easy to dismiss this sort of thing as a kind of “one-off,” a unique expression of Christianist racism that doesn’t reflect what others think. But I’m not sure it can be dismissed that easily. Along with the B.S. about there being no “different ethnics” in Jesus’ time, the author complained about blacks wearing ill-fitting pants, and more. Tropes like this have been going around for a long time. This student absorbed them, and will — along with other kids her age — carry them forward into the next generation.

What I’m getting at is that this story is an indicator of a larger phenomenon, one that has a very old pedigree and which doesn’t seem to be going away.

Photo credit: State Archives of North Carolina, via Flickr.

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Alternative Facts / Mike Licht, via FlickrOne wouldn’t think that much changes, simply due to an election — even a presidential election. Yes, offices change hands, with prior officials leaving and new ones coming in … and yes, some weep and wail that their side lost and the other won, and generally carry on as though the world were about to end. But no apocalypse ever comes! The outgoing and incoming officials all work within the same underlying milieux, and American life generally doesn’t change much.

But that was before the unprecedented 2016 election.

As I’ve noted already, we’ve entered a new world, one in which not only the national governmental milieux, but reality itself, is changing … unraveling, even. In their effort to rationalize their specious actions and policies, the Groper-in-Chief’s retinue freely rewrites history and alters reality as though it’s theirs to change, as they see fit. Case in point: Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway cited a “massacre” that never even happened, as reported by the Washington Post, as the reason to ban entry from seven different countries, even for those already awarded green cards (WebCite cached article):

Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level [cached].

During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”

“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.

The Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else.

No, what actually happened in Bowling Green, KY was that a couple of terror supporters were arrested there, and have since been convicted and given long prison sentences. There hadn’t been any “massacre” there. At all. What’s more, Conway lied when she said the incident hadn’t been reported, as WaPo explains:

The arrests in Bowling Green were indeed covered, contrary to what Conway initially said. A Lexis search of major papers turned up about 90 news stories. That’s not counting TV coverage, as in the ABC news story she attached to her tweet.

Conway has since defended herself by saying she’d misspoken, and should have talked about the “Bowling Green arrests” instead. But in the process, she doubled down on her contention that, in the wake of those arrests in 2011, Barack Obama had blocked all immigration from Iraq. That also, as WaPo relates, is not true:

Obama administration officials told The Post that there was never a point when Iraqi resettlement was stopped or banned. In the aftermath of the arrests of the two Iraqis living in Kentucky, the Obama administration imposed more extensive background checks on Iraqi refugees, and the new screening procedures created a dramatic slowdown in visa approvals.

So there had been a slowdown, but no ban, on entry from Iraq under Obama.

Conway and the rest of the Apricot Wonder’s crew has been doing this consistently, and not just since he announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. No, the Groper-in-Chief has been living in a weird alternate universe for years. One could argue it goes back at least to when the Apricot Wonder was the world’s most vocal and best-known “birther” (cached). He lied outrageously about that issue — and expressed implicit support for birtherism — for years afterward (cached). He even claimed to have received a phoned-in tip that Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent (cached). That was in August 2012 — a full four and a half years ago, in which time he has never once produced any evidence of this supposed “fraud.”

Of course, the GiC at last publicly disavowed his birtherism, but could summon the courage and maturity to do so only at the height of the general-election campaign (cached).

At any rate, we’ve reached the point where “alternative facts” now rule the day, and media outlets that dare report that the Apricot Wonder or his people have lied about something, are derided for promoting “fake news.” Their own statements, of course, aren’t “fake news” … supposedly.

Clearly the US has become a land where the ability to think is no longer desired, and dependency on veracity is unwelcome. That, apparently, is how all the angry white men in flyover country want this nation to be, because they’re the ones who elected the Groper-in-Chief (cached), and clearly they approve of his weird alternate universe full of distortions and lies. They disdain facts and care only about whatever makes them feel better about themselves. (How the scion of an upper-upper-class east-coast family, educated at the elite Wharton School, with homes in New York City and Palm Beach, FL can possibly ever do this, is beyond my ability to comprehend. I guess I just don’t understand the psychology of angry white men in flyover country — but if this is how they are, I never want to!)

So by all means, please count this cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen among those who plan to resist the takeover of “alternative facts” — to the death, if need be. No one will ever be able to convince me that veracity and true facts don’t matter.

Photo credit: Mike Licht, via Flickr.

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