Archive for November, 2013

A Chiristian Comes Out of the Closet

November 18, 2013

Ada Calhoun wrote of her experiences of being a Christian in the closet in that bastion of secularism, New York City in this article in Salon.com back in December 2009. I found article through a link provided by a Facebook friend. It turned out to be interesting to read, but a little disappointing, in part because she felt the need to be closeted at all.

It was Sunday morning in my scruffy Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood, and I was wearing a dress. Walking to the subway, I ran into a friend heading home from yoga class. She wore sweats and carried her mat over her shoulder. “Where are you going so early all dressed up?” she asked, chuckling. “To church?” We shared a laugh at the absurdity of a liberal New Yorker heading off to worship.

The real joke? I totally was.

Inside the church, it’s cool and quiet. I read the Collect of the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which urges us: “While we are placed among 
things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall
 endure.” My recent layoff no longer seems like the end of the world. I take Communion and exchange the peace and listen to the sermon. As I’m walking back up the aisle, I feel reoriented and calmer, the indignities of the week shift into perspective.

These moments are not only sacred; they are secret. Outside, on the steps of the downtown Manhattan church, I think I see someone familiar coming down the sidewalk, and I bolt in the other direction.

Why am I so paranoid? I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out — as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.

I can understand her feelings. Most people would rather die than be caught doing something that their peers disapprove of. Still, we live in which in many places Christians are persecuted and even martyred for their faith. The worst that Ms. Calhoun faces are sneers from her cosmopolitan, progressive friends. What would she do if practicing her faith meant ostracism, loss of work, even prison?

I am glad that Ada Calhoun has come out of the closet and I hope that many more will come out in secular, progressive circles. Maybe Hollywood and the media will treat Christians better if they understand that some of us are among them. She seems at pains, however, to assure her readers and her friends that she is not one of those kinds of Christians.

I’ll give the atheists a lot: The Creation Museum is a riot. The psychos shooting up abortion clinics and telling gay couples they’re going to hell are evil, and anyone of faith has an obligation to condemn them. Abominable stuff has been done in God’s name for centuries. The Bible has a lot of crazy shit in it about stoning people for using the wrong salad fork. Up with science and reason!

And yet, atheists are at least as fundamentalist and zealous as any religious people I know, and they have nothing good to show for it: no stained glass, no great literature, no great art, no comfort in the face of death. Just dissipated Christopher Hitchens sounding off on “Larry King Live” and a stack of smug books with childishly provocative titles.

A lot of my best friends are atheists, and there’s no reason they wouldn’t be. They find what I get from religion elsewhere, like from music and art. Not long ago, I told a priest at my church that my friends equated religion with horrible things. I expected her to tell me I had some obligation to stop hiding my faith, but she said, pulling a scarf around her neck to hide her priest’s collar, “Those preachers on the subways make me cringe.” She said she prefers Saint Francis: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”

Her Episcopal church is suitably progressive in its values and unlikely to cause any offense to her cosmopolitan and progressive friends, and she exhibits the progressive tolerance we might expect.

I could reassure my atheist friends that the Episcopal Church is a force for equality and social justice. It ordained its first gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003. It takes the Bible as a mandate to fight hunger and disease and to rebuild after disasters. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other politically involved religious groups who take the gospel as an excuse to spread hate and support specific candidates and propositions should have their tax-free status taken away.

Maybe, though, apolitical Christianity is on the rise. The Obamas are now in office — a good Christian family in the truest sense of the term — and the right wing is more marginalized than it was a year ago. My friend, the young (and kind of ridiculously hot) priest the Rev. Astrid Storm, whom I used to edit at Nerve.com, says she’s sensing more acceptance:

“When I said I was a priest, it was always a conversation stopper,” she says. “Recently someone asked what I did, and when I told him he said, ‘How interesting. There are a lot of exciting things happening right now in the Episcopal Church, aren’t there?’ The diversity of opinion people are reading about in the news — about gay marriage, female priests, poverty issues — are showing how Christianity isn’t monolithic.”

I wonder what Ms. Calhoun would do if she learned through divine inspiration that God really does disapprove of homosexuality, or He really doesn’t intend for women to act as clergy, or any of the other exciting things that are happening in the Episcopal Church? What if it turns out that the groups who oppose same sex marriage really reflect God’s will better than her church? Would she have the courage to stand up against her cosmopolitan and progressive friends? I wonder.

It may be unfair, but I can’t help but consider that Ada Calhoun’s religion is a little like Mr. By-Ends’ religion in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

It is true we somewhat differ in religion from those of the stricter sort, yet but in two small points; first, we never strive against wind and tide; secondly we are always most zealous when religion goes in his silver slippers; we love much to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines and the people applaud him.

To which Christian replies

you must also own religion in his rags, as well as when in his silver slippers; and stand by him, too, when bound in irons, as well as when he walketh the streets with applause.

I wonder if Ada Calhoun would walk with religion against wind and tide and when bound in irons. To be fair, I wonder if I would. It may be that I also am more than a little like Mr. By-Ends.

The biggest disappointment I have with Ms. Calhoun’s article is that there is something that is missing, or I should say Someone. In an entire article about Christianity there is not one word about Christ. This seems very odd. She says nothing about Jesus or the salvation he brings through His death and resurrection as a reason for becoming a Christian.

Sometime later I got married, and the priest with whom my husband and I did premarital counseling had firsthand experience of closing bars, but he also was smart and eloquent and fulfilled. He showed me the best side of Christianity. Not how it’s right or just, but how — and this may sound stupid, but it’s what I think about religion in general — it works.

All of us need help with birth and death and good and evil, and religion can give us that. It doesn’t solve problems. It reminds you that, yes, those challenges are real and important and folks throughout history have struggled and thought about them too, and by the way, here is some profound writing on the subject from people whose whole job is to think about this stuff.

The idea of an eternal community brings me comfort: I like the image of a long table extending backward and forward in time, and everyone who’s ever taken Communion is sitting at it. The Bible at the 1920s stone church where my husband and I were married was filled with the names of people in the community who’d married, been born and died. When my son was baptized in our church in a traditional Easter eve service, the light spreading from candle to candle through the pews of the dark church made me feel, at least for one moment, we were united in a sense of gratitude for new life and awe in the face of the numinous.

All of these are good things, to be sure, as is feeding the hungry and fighting disease. They are not, however, the primary purpose of the Christian Church. The purpose of the Church is to bring souls to Heaven. If a church tries to make heaven on Earth, however good its intentions, it runs the risk of losing sight of that main purpose. I wonder if the church Ms. Calhoun has lost its way. Does that priest ever preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. Is salvation the goal 0r doing good works and progressive politics?

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Don’t Know Much about the History of Slavery

November 17, 2013

I found this YouTube video by Newsbusters courtesy of Moonbattery.com. MSNBC correspondent Martin Bashir calls Sarah Palin America’s resident dunce for suggesting that the result of our ever growing national debt will be to condemn our children and grandchildren to slavery. He is outraged by the abuses and atrocities that slave owners committed against their slaves and suggests that Palin ought to be subject to the same abuses.

I am sure that what bothers most viewers of thus clip, at least the decent viewers, is the venomous hatred Bashir spews against Sarah Palin. What impresses me however, is that the joke is actually on the man who thinks that Sarah Palin is an idiot. As it happens, one of the most common forms of slavery through the ages and even today is debt slavery.

Debt slavery is a situation in which someone will borrow money and to repay the loan will agree to work for his creditor. Somehow because of interest and other charges levied on the debtor, he never is quite able to work off the loan. This form of slavery was very common in ancient Rome and many other parts of the world, including the American colonies where white settlers became indentured servants in order to pay the cost of passage across the Atlantic. It is still prevalent today even though it is prohibited by international law. So, it may just be possible that Sarah Palin knew what she was talking about.

Actually, Martin Bashir doesn’t seem to know very much about slavery at all, judging from his commentary. He seems to believe that slavery was invented in the American colonies in the sixteenth century and that the conditions faced by the black slaves were somehow uniquely horrible. In fact, slavery has existed throughout human history in various forms, some more oppressive than others. The conditions of the black slaves on the North American mainland were more humane than in the Caribbean islands where the slaves were worked to death. Slavery in the Roman Empire was especially cruel as a slave owner had the legal right to kill or rape his slaves. Moreover the Arabs were involved in the African slave trade for centuries before the Europeans and continued the trade  until the European powers ended it with the colonization of Africa

. Of course slavery is always oppressive and degrading but perhaps Bashir should learn that America was not the only place slaves were kept and that there have been many different types of slavery.

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters

November 15, 2013

The recent history of the country known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is singularly melancholy, even by the depressing standards of colonial and post-colonial Africa. In 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium somehow managed to convince an international conference held in Berlin to give him control of the region that now makes up the Congo. He made the entire country into his personal possession and named it the Congo Free State. Without any necessity of dealing with a parliament or any other institution that might limit his control over his colony, Leopold hardly made any pretense of bringing civilization to Africa, as the other colonial powers did. The Congo Free State existed solely to enrich King Leopold with its rubber plantations, by the most efficient or brutal means possible.

The situation in the Congo became so notorious that in 1908 the Belgian parliament took control of the colony from Leopold. The Belgian government ruled the colony somewhat more humanely than King Leopold had but the Belgian colonial officials made no effort to prepare the Congolese for self-government. No African was placed in any position of authority. The colonial army had no black officers. Needless to say, when the Congo achieved independence in 1960, there was virtually no chance that the new nation would be governed in an effective or democratic way. In fact, there was considerable political unrest until Joseph Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko as he came to call himself, took power in 1965.

The only good thing that can be said about Mobutu was that he was not a Communist and so did not slaughter his people by the millions, as Communists invariably do. Unfortunately, Mobutu was dictator and a kleptocrat. He changed the name of the country to Zaire and pillaged it, filling his Swiss bank accounts from the Zairian treasury. Despite this Mobutu might have died in peace, had he not made it a habit to intervene in the internal affairs of Zaire’s neighbors.

Mobutu was overthrow in the First Congo War from 1996-1997. This war and the following Second Congo War which was fought from 1998-2003 is the subject of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns.

dancing-in-the-glory-of-monsters-the-collapse-of-congo-and-the-great-war-of-africa

Stearns begins with the genocide in Rwanda that preceded and sparked the Congo Wars. After the Hutu massacred the Tutsis of Rwanda, Tutsi rebels took control of Rwanda and drove thousands of Hutus into neighboring Zaire. With support from Mobutu, the Hutus began attacking the Tutsis across the border. The Tutsis in response decided to overthrow Mobutu but assembling a coalition of southern African nations and arming Congolese, predominantly Tutsi, rebels. This first Congo War was a success as the rebels drove Mobutu from power and installed Laurent Kabila as the new president of the renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kabila turned out not to be very competent and the policies he favored seemed to be unchanged since the 1960’s. The Rwandans began to be exasperated with him, especially after he began harassing the Congolese Tutsis, so the Rwandans supported a new rebel movement against Kabila. Meanwhile, there was a falling out between the former allies Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Angola, and each nation supported its own movement in the Congo and fought over the natural resources of the Congo. This was the Second Congo War.

Jason Stearns writes the history of these two wars from the perspective of several participants in these wars and the aftermath. Some of these stories are from prominent players in the politics and fighting of the region, some are from people who were simply in the way. Dancing in the Glory of Monsters is not primarily a military history but a story of a disaster that has blighted the lives of millions of people in central Africa. Stearns writes of mass murders and refugees as much as he does of troop movements and political deals, leaving the reader with a true appreciation of the scope of the suffering these wars brought.

The fighting in the Congo is mostly over now. Joseph Kabila, the son of Laurent rules the Congo and has proved to be a relatively effective leader, though one reluctant to create the kind of institutions the Congo needs. The suffering of the Congolese people continues as they try to rebuild their wrecked country. Still, as Stearns points out in the end of his book, they have an indomitable spirit and may yet overcome the bad hand history has played them.

 

The Sun is Acting Strangely

November 14, 2013
History of sunspot number observations showing...

History of sunspot number observations showing the recent elevated activity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Glenn Reynolds linked to this story at Slashdot.com about the puzzling behavior of the Sun. I wrote something about the worrisome lack of solar activity since the last cycle almost two years ago and it does not look as if things are getting any better. The Sun ought to be approaching the maximum point of its eleven year cycle but so far this maximum has not amounted to vary much.

 

“Robert Lee Hotz reports in the WSJ that current solar activity is stranger than it has been in a century or more. The sun is producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected, and its magnetic poles are oddly out of sync. Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is ‘a total punk,’ says Jonathan Cirtain. ‘I would say it is the weakest in 200 years,’ adds David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Researchers are puzzled. They can’t tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun’s brightness or the wavelengths of its light. To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record, with the sun’s magnetic poles out of sync for the past year so the sun technically has two South Poles. Several solar scientists speculate that the sun may be returning to a more relaxed state after an era of unusually high activity that started in the 1940s (PDF). ‘More than half of solar physicists would say we are returning to a norm,’ says Mark Miesch. ‘We might be in for a longer state of suppressed activity.’ If so, the decline in magnetic activity could ease global warming, the scientists say. But such a subtle change in the sun—lowering its luminosity by about 0.1%—wouldn’t be enough to outweigh the build-up of greenhouse gases and soot that most researchers consider the main cause of rising world temperatures over the past century or so. ‘Given our current understanding of how the sun varies and how climate responds, were the sun to enter a new Maunder Minimum, it would not mean a new Little Ice Age,’ says Judith Lean. ‘It would simply slow down the current warming by a modest amount.'”

 

I’m worried. We could be in for another Little Ice Age, which really wouldn’t be much fun at all. Wouldn’t be ironic, though, if all the carbon dioxide we are emitting was the only thing keeping the glaciers from moving south again? I think I read a science fiction book about that once.

 

 

 

The Future of Fast Food

November 14, 2013

While automation has eliminated many jobs in the manufacturing sector of the economy, so far the service sector, especially the fast food industry has remained labor intensive, employing hosts of young and unskilled workers. That may be changing, however. Perhaps the future of fast food can be found at Bolt Burgers, a new restaurant in Washington D. C. What makes Bolt Burgers a little different is that when the restaurant opens, the process of ordering and getting your food will be as computerized and automated as possible. The Washington Post has the story.

No restaurant in D.C. has been better outfitted for the iPhone generation than the forthcoming Bolt Burgers. It is a restaurant full of screens — touchscreen systems for ordering your food and making your drinks, tablets at every table, and a 16-foot-wide projected TV screen to watch while you wait for your order.

You can order food without having a single interaction with another human being, which, for millennials who prefer texting and online ordering through Seamless to picking up the phone, is a major plus.

Michael Davidson, Joe Spinelli and other partners at Bolt Burgers are banking on it. When the 3,200-square-foot restaurant opens by Thanksgiving at 1010 Massachusetts Ave. NW, they’ll have put more than 18 months into perfecting the computer systems behind Bolt, a concept they plan to franchise.

There are several ways to order a Bolt burger, and one of them can be done from your office. An online pre-ordering system will allow customers to order in advance for both take-out and dine-in: Give the server your order number when you arrive and, if all goes according to plan, your food will be at your seat within 10 minutes.

If you haven’t pre-ordered, a server will present you with a table number if you plan to dine in. Use that to place your order at one of the touchscreen kiosks, or through the touchscreen tablet at your seat.

One of the technological centerpieces of Bolt Burgers is a no-flip burger grill. The device can cook a six-ounce burger in exactly three minutes, to the exact same level of doneness every time. It can make 1,200 burgers an hour. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Clayton. “I have the confidence that the guy at the grill will hit a button and get a perfect burger every time.”

The restaurant’s opening, in approximately three weeks, will depend on getting all of its systems up and running. “There’s a lot of complicated electronics that have to work,” Davidson said. When Bolt opens, it will seat about 80 people indoors and about 40 on the patio. It’s located in an area near the D.C. convention center that doesn’t yet have much competition — until the restaurants in the new Marriott Marquis open, at least — but is at the intersection of daytime workers, evening residents and out-of-town guests.

I don’t expect to see McDonald’s or Taco Bell doing anything like this soon. The costs of retooling and automating their restaurants would, at present, be far greater than any benefits they might gain from reducing their workforces. That could change if well meaning activists manage to have the minimum wage increased or making fast food restaurants pay their workers a living wage. Then,we could see a lot more places like Bolt Burgers opening up. I know that trying to make a living on $7 an hour is not much fun, but it is better than making $0 an hour, which might very well happen. It is not enough to be well meaning. You have to consider consequences.

 

NoThanks to the Troops

November 12, 2013

That is what Justin Doolittle would have liked to say to the veterans yesterday. Mr. Doolittle wrote a piece that appeared in Salon.com this Veteran’s Day which has gotten some little attention from conservatives and veteran’s groups. Doolittle does not believe the troops really deserve any thanks from us for protecting our freedom because they do not, in fact, protect our freedom. Here are a few excerpts.

The millions of Americans who regularly watch nationally televised NBA games are, by now, familiar with the “NBA Cares” commercials that run quite frequently during the season. The series of promos is meant to illustrate the league’s commitment to serving the community in a variety of ways. One particularly touching example involves a collaboration between the NBA, the V Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; in the spot, several prominent players are shown visiting children stricken with cancer, many of whom look genuinely thrilled to be meeting their heroes. The league deserves credit for encouraging its players to put their fame to good use by bringing some badly needed joy to these children’s lives.

Not all of the “NBA Cares” promos are about serving the least fortunate members of our society, though. The league is determined to show its commitment to both ends of the spectrum of power. In one spot, NBA stars can be seen, not playing board games with children devastated by cancer, but, instead, touting the greatness and indispensability of the most powerful institution in the world, the United States military.

We discover that Brooklyn Nets star Paul Pierce is incredibly grateful, at a deeply personal level, that the men and women of the U.S. military are willing to “protect” him and his country (“I’m so thankful that they are able to do that for me, to make this a safer place for me to live”). Roy Hibbert, starting center for the Indiana Pacers, sees Pierce’s gratitude and raises him in a big way, making the latter’s sentiments seem woefully weak by comparison:

They’re protecting our country, they’re protecting the world, and, you know, obviously we wouldn’t have freedom without them.

This is just an extraordinary sentence. It contains three distinct, factual claims. While the first two are highly debatable, let us suspend consideration of them in order to focus on the third, which is actually an outright falsehood. Not only does Hibbert confidently assert that “we wouldn’t have freedom” were it not for the beneficence of the U.S. military, but that this is “obviously” so.

The corollary to the claim that our freedom exists only at the pleasure of the military, of course, is that the same military can revoke said freedom if it so desires. Indeed, as Hibbert so bluntly put it, “obviously we wouldn’t have freedom without them.” This widely held belief, that our freedom is bestowed on us by soldiers, has obvious implications for how the public views the military. One such implication of the ubiquity of this myth is that people will feel they owe boundless gratitude to the military as an institution and all the men and women who serve in it.

The undercurrent of all this is that “support” and “gratitude” for the military and those who serve in it is intrinsically apolitical. It’s just something that all decent Americans understand and respect. This approach serves a very important purpose, which is to further blur the lines between patriotism and support for the military. Americans of conscience who do not “support” the troops, particularly those who volunteer to fight in wars of aggression, are not allowed a seat at the table in this paradigm. Their existence is not even acknowledged, in fact. These are “very different times,” in the words of Yastrzemski, and our society has progressed to the point where such shrill voices are no longer relevant.

Supporting the military, though, and expressing gratitude for what the military is actually doing around the world, are nothing if not explicitly political sentiments. To suggest otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. It reduces sincere dissent on these matters of such tremendous consequence to our culture and our politics to nothingness.

He has more to say but these are representative samples. I suppose I ought to get upset over all of this, but somehow I’m not. I am not going to rebut, parse or analysis Mr. Doolittle’s screed. The reason is that I know what kind of game he is playing. There will be the usual expressions of outrage and Salon.com will issue a mealy-mouthed non-apology apology expressing their regret if anyone was offended, as if they didn’t know already that his sentiments would offend a great many people. Maybe Salon will issue a homily in which they explain how much they are in favor of free expression, even when it is offensive to some. That is a lie. I have no doubt that if someone had written something that any member of a liberal protected class might conceivably find offensive, that writer wouldn’t write for them again.

Well, if Justin Doolittle is not grateful for the ones who really have protected the freedoms we cherish, that is his right. That is what generations of Americans have fought for. Most of us do appreciate their sacrifices and if Mr. Doolittle doesn’t like it, that is really too bad.

 

Veterans Day

November 11, 2013

Today is Veterans Day. This day began as Armistice Day, November 11 1918 being the day that Germany signed the armistice that ended World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in 1919 to celebrate the courage of the men who fought and died in that war. The day was changed in 1954 in order to honor the veterans of all the wars of America.

I don’t have anything else to say except Thank You to all of the veterans who have served your country. You are better men and women than I am.

 

Repressive Tolerance

November 9, 2013

Most conservatives believe that progressives are hypocrites because while they often claim to be tolerant and open minded supporters of freedom of speech and thought, their actions often show that they are not. Take, for example a recent incident at Brown University as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A small but vocal group of protesters Tuesday shouted down New York City Police CommissionerRaymond Kelly at Brown University , leading administrators to cancel his lecture after he delivered only a few words.

The backlash to Mr. Kelly’s appearance at the Taubman Center for Public Policy has been brewing for days—several student groups and Providence residents attempted to get the university to rescind Mr. Kelly’s invitation, which was denied.

Mr. Kelly has been heralded for bringing crime in New York City to the lowest point in more than 50 years, but he has also been in the spotlight after a federal judge ruled that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice was unconstitutional because it disproportionately targets minorities.

Mr. Kelly was scheduled to give a short lecture followed by a question and answer session. The speech was intended to cover the NYPD’s approach to policing and stop-and-frisk.

Students booed Mr. Kelly as he was introduced by Marion Orr, the director of the Taubman Center, and began loudly talking over him when he began to speak.

At one point, Mr. Kelly asked: “Are we ready to go forward?”

The protesting continued—some students shouted about rights being violated—and after about 30 minutes administrators canceled the lecture.

“The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront both to civil democratic society,” Brown University President Christina Paxson said in a news release.

Protesters said that Mr. Kelly was a divisive figure and students should have been consulted about the event.

“They decided not to cancel the lecture, so we decided to cancel it for them,” said Jenny Li, 21, an environmental studies student.

This is, by no means,an isolated incident, as any conservative speaker who has dared to show his face any many college campuses can attest. I could probably devote an entire blog just to  reporting examples of leftist intolerance and attempts at censoring opposing viewpoints. In fact, I myself, witnessed such an action many years ago.

This might seem the height of hypocrisy for the supposed supporters of tolerance and diversity to be so intolerant and anti diversity of opinions, but I am not sure that it is hypocrisy at all. Hypocrisy is defined as professing standards, beliefs or principles contrary to one’s real character and behavior. If you have no principles you cannot really be a hypocrite. If you are in fact acting according to your principles, you are not really a hypocrite.

The key to understanding this apparent inconsistency of behavior is the concept of repressive tolerance. This seems to be an oxymoron, but it is a concept developed by the German-American Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin  in 1898. He studied at the University of Freiburg, earning his PhD in 1922 and he joined the Marxist Institute for Social Research also called the Frankfort School. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Marcuse being a Communist and of Jewish descent, decided to immigrate to America. During World War II, he worked in the Office of War Information, producing anti-axis propaganda. He also worked in the Office of Strategic Services. After the war, he remained in the United States and taught at Columbia University, then Harvard, and finally Brandeis University. He died in 1979.

Marcuse was a Marxist, but he and the Frankfort School were somewhat unorthodox Marxists. He tended to focus on the earlier works of Marx, which he believed were more humanitarian than his later writings. Marcuse was less interested in the class struggle but emphasized the alienation which he believed that capitalism produced in the working class. By this, he meant that under Capitalism the workers are alienated from the products of their labor and in a way they become mere commodities, too satisfied by the things they make to be a truly revolutionary class. Marcuse’s ideas resonated in the New Left of the 1960’s and he became a popular figure with young radicals, such as the ones that Barack Obama used to hang out with.

The only idea of Herbert Marcuse’s that concerns us here, however, is his concept of “repressive tolerance”. Marcuse wrote about repressive tolerance in an essay titled “Repressive Tolerance” which was included in a book called “A Critique of Pure Tolerance“, published in 1965. Put simply, Marcuse believed that since the majority of the people in Western liberal societies were repressed by subtle means to the extent that they accept their repressed and even welcome it. In order to fight this repression, tolerance should only be extended to progressive movements of the Left. Counter-Progressive movements of the Right must not be tolerated since they are the ones responsible for the repression. You can see then why a Leftist who professes to believe in tolerance and diversity can be opposed to tolerance and diversity when it comes to conservative institutions and ideas. Tolerance is only to be extended to the Progressives and Socialists.

Now, I don’t imagine that Jenny Li or the rest of the campus progressive know-nothings have ever heard of Herbert Marcuse. I would be very surprised to learn that any of them knew anything at all about history or philosophy or political theory, beyond the Leftist nonsense their instructors have instilled in them and in which they repeat parrot like without any real comprehension. Still, the idea of repressive tolerance is part of their mental equipment. They don’t need to know what Raymond Kelly did. They only need to know he is a racist and should not be allowed to speak, rather like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm, who only knew to keep bleating, “Four legs good. Two legs bad.”

Terror in Albuquerque

November 9, 2013

Something terrifying is about to happen in Albuquerque, New Mexico according to Organizing for Action.

David —

Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now.

Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions.

This is a serious attack on women — and it’s a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.

We can’t let this initiative succeed in Albuquerque — add your name right now and fight back against this attack on women’s health.

The groups behind the ballot initiative are extremely well funded and — if they win in Albuquerque — you can bet they’re going to take this approach to cities and states across the country.

OFA is working with a strong coalition of organizations that are dedicated to fighting back on the ground in New Mexico. But we need anyone who cares about this fight to stand in solidarity no matter where they live.

Join in and stand up for women in Albuquerque and anywhere else their rights are threatened:

http://my.barackobama.com/Stand-with-Albuquerque-Women-Today

Thanks,

Kaili

Kaili Lambe
Women’s Issues Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

—————-
The other side will spend millions to maintain the status quo. We’re fighting for change — chip in $5 or more to support OFA today.

Actually it seems that the other side are the people who want to change something while Organizing for Action is trying to maintain the status quo.

Whenever I see the word extreme these days, I can’t help but think of Inigo Montoya.

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In the case of abortion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll taken at the end of last July, 20% of respondents thought abortion should be legal in all cases, 38% legal in most cases, 25% illegal in most cases, and 18% illegal in all cases. What is more, 55% thought abortion should be legal without restriction up to 20 weeks, and 30% legal up to 24 weeks. Those were the only two options given in the poll but 7% stated that abortion should never be legal and 1% that abortion should always be legal.

It would seem then, that the mainstream public opinion in America is disapproval of abortion but a reluctance to outlaw it. Americans generally support legal abortion up to 20 weeks and a large minority up to 24 weeks. Beyond that, Americans grow increasingly uncomfortable. With all this in mind, the proposed ballot initiative is well within the mainstream of public opinion while the position taken by Organizing for Action, which seems to be for legal abortion right up to birth, is the extreme position.

As long as we are speaking of women’s health, I wonder if Ms. Lambe is aware that one of the most popular reasons for abortions world wide is sex selection. In many cultures, particularly in Asia, boys are much preferred over girls and parents will abort the fetus if they think it is a girl. There is a real war against (unborn) women in countries like China and India. I don’t expect Organizing for Action to ever say very much about these women’s right to be born.

 

 

UC Berkeley Bans Illegal Immigrants

November 8, 2013

Not actual illegal immigrants of course. They are welcome at UC Berkeley. They have banned the term illegal immigrant because, well I had better let them explain it. I found this story at thecollegefix.com via the Drudge Report.

The UC Berkeley student government has banned the term “illegal immigrant” from its discourse, deeming the phrase racist, offensive, unfair and derogatory.

In an unanimous vote, student senators passed a resolution that stated the word “illegal” is “racially charged,” “dehumanizes” people, and contributes to “punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color.”

The “resolution in support of drop the I-word campaign” was approved 18 to 0 with one abstention on Oct. 30, according to a copy of the meeting’s minutes obtained by The College Fix.

Its approval marks at least the second time this semester that a public university’s student government has voted to eradicate the phrase. UCLA passed a nearly identical measure in late August.

There are an estimated 900 students in the country illegally who are currently enrolled in the 10-campus, University of California system, according to UC officials. These students live in “fear” because former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano is now president of the UC system, according to the resolution, which aims to “create a safe campus environment for all students.”

The term also happens to be accurate inasmuch as it refers to a person who has immigrated to this country illegally, but who cares about that?

“The ‘I’ word is legally inaccurate since being out of status is a civil rather than criminal infraction,” states the resolution, which notes some journalists have stopped using the term.

“No human being is illegal,” the resolution continues. “ ‘Foreign nationals,’ ‘undocumented immigrants,’ ‘immigrants without papers’ and ‘immigrants seeking status’ are examples of terms we can use that do not dehumanize people.”

The resolution also calls for administrators and faculty to attend an “UndocuAlly training workshop.”

Several student senators praised the resolution, the meeting’s minutes state.

Student Sen. Wendy Pacheco said it was not just symbolic, but aimed to shift how people see their “fellow human beings,” that it’s not OK for someone to feel comfortable calling another “illegal,” while student Sen. Sean Tan said discouraging the word will help ease the negative psychological harm undocumented students face by the label.

They are in violation of our immigration laws. A person is not illegal, but his actions can be. An illegal immigrant’s action is illegal, even if this current administration prefers not to actually enforce the law. Changing the term used does not change the facts. It only confuses the issues involved, which is precisely what these people want.

The lone abstention came from student Sen. Solomon Nwoche.

Nwoche said while he sympathized with the situation, he thinks the resolution does not accomplish anything substantial. He added he was disappointed in how a student who spoke against the resolution at an earlier meeting was treated by student senators, who laughed or had their backs turned when the lone protestor addressed the dais.

Once again we see the tolerant liberals in action. There is only one side to every issue and that is the progressive side. People who think otherwise are to be belittled, harassed or ignored.

 


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