Muslim or Black in America

Muslim or Black in America

I think, if there’s one thing I will like about President Obama’s term coming to an end, it is that perhaps the extreme right-wing of this country will go back to their classic culture wars tropes – wars on the poor, black people and a little misogyny thrown in for good measure. Actually a lot of misogyny if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. (Yes, the Left has its own classics so shut up).

Eight years of people screaming about creeping shari’a law. Eight years of the President supposedly being a Muslim and facilitating the rise of militant Islam in the USA. Eight years of not understanding what the hell the President Obama’s speech in Cairo meant. Eight years of people posting stupid bullshit taking the President’s tolerance completely out of context while throwing their hands up in the air saying, “No really I don’t hate Muslims!”

Did you hear that [insert geographic location] was bombed the other day? Whodunit? Too late – almost every single Muslim in the USA already thought, “oh please let it not be a Muslim!” How relieved I was when the Oklahoma City bombing was found to be done by a non-Muslim. Praise Jeebus!

But I was struck tonight, after reading another half-assed attempt to tar and feather Islam and President Obama, that this ain’t shit compared to what blacks in this country have and continue to endure. Read more about Muslim or Black in America

Hillary Clinton and the Theatre of Stupid

Hillary Clinton and the Theatre of Stupid

… Or Hillary Clinton for President! Because Rednecks, That’s Why…

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton finally officially announced that she’s running for Pres-o-dent of the Amrika. I’m sure Fox News freaked out and MSNBC spun and spun and spun. I was pleasantly surprised that my Facebook feed didn’t blow up too much; perhaps because it’s still pretty early in the madness election cycle.

There were a few pretty predictable responses. Some folks excited and others already complaining that they (Republicans) would be tarred and feathered for being sexist or misogynist because they oppose her candidacy. I love seeing these sort of “[s]he hate me” laments on both sides.

It’s the culture wars, people! Republican accuse Democrats of being lilly-livered godless communists who hate America. Democrats accuse Republicans of being sexist or racist or homophobic. And if you actually believe all this political palabra, whether you’re slinging it or receiving it, then you’re falling into the trap of being distracted by the parties. Read more about Hillary Clinton and the Theatre of Stupid

Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

Prajwal Kulkarni makes an interesting statement about diversity in an essay entitled, “Who Speaks for the Black Pentacostal”:

Whatever their differences, they [Christians] should remember that the Church is ultimately one body that is united by the blood and Spirit of Christ above all else. As a first step, such Christian unity is more than diversity enough. That alone would achieve a level of racial and socioeconomic diversity the secular left can’t even dream of.

At that point, after they have realized it’s possible to fellowship and form bonds with people much different than them, white Christian conservatives will hopefully find it easier to relate to people like my deeply Hindu aunt. Maybe then they will see that she considers home-schooling her daughters for the same sorts of reasons some of them do. Maybe then they can also reach some of my Muslim — yes, I did say Muslim — college friends, many of whom valued abstinence as much as the average member of Campus Crusade for Christ. Maybe then they’ll understand that they’re not the only ones uncomfortable with a hyper-sexualized culture, and that social conservatives can include more than white Christians.

Click here to read the whole essay.

The ideological lines of our political parties used to be blurred. When Texas was blue but still socially conservative. When a Tennessean could be liberal, advocate for farm policies and be a Republican and not accused of being a RINO. Such characters still exist in public life but their numbers are dwindling.

Religion symbols

There’s no reason why the current ideological positions of the parties should be so fast and hard. Being religious shouldn’t mean that you automatically have to sell out to free market libertarianism. Being a social liberal shouldn’t mean that you must accede to increasing government regulations on businesses. Rod Dreher describes himself as a Crunchy Con and the subtitle on his first book reads, “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature… America (or at least the Republican Party).” Read more about Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

The Moral Therapeutic Deism of ISIS

The Moral Therapeutic Deism of ISIS

Rod Dreher, in a characteristically brilliant post entitled When ISIS Ran the American South, reminds us that no society is too far removed, historically-speaking, from the brutality inflicted by the likes of ISIS.  There is a time within recorded memory, not ancient history, when Americans did unspeakable things to each other and made a religion out of their actions. Lest we forget, lest we start to navel gaze too much.

ISIS filmed that poor Jordanian pilot burning to death as an act of revenge and terror. We call those Islamist fanatics animals. But white people did this often, and sometimes even made a public spectacle of it. “The white men, women, and children present watched the horrific murders while enjoying deviled eggs, lemonade, and whiskey in a picnic-like atmosphere.”

By Fred Gildersleeve (1881-1958) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The whole post and the comments section are well worthy of your time. Of particular import is this comment:

I had to understand how all of this happened. How could Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians in the South NOT have put a stop to this when they had the social and cultural power to do so? Why did Southern Evangelicals become chaplains to the racist South? So, I investigated it and wrote a book about it. I had to get answers. What I ultimately found is that their main concern, initially, was that they protect their own way of life and their own prosperity. Racism was a way to do that for Southern whites and religion became useful when it was seen as was a way to give their impulse sanction. But, we still do this today. We still remake God in our own image and see Him as a means to an end – our own end of blessing our life. That is what Southern Christians (and non-Christians did – but you know like I do that everyone thought they were a Christian, or claimed to be. Almost everyone, anyway). They were the original Moralistic Therapeutic Deists. They devised a religion that worked for them and supported them in the construction of the society that they wanted. It was a mess. [emphasis mine]

It occurs to me that this is the very thing which ISIS is doing. Not simply that they are using my religion, but that they are constructing their very own religion. Years ago, while traveling through Morocco, I watched a BBC Asia interview of a Malaysian Islamic terrorist who was serving a long prison sentence. The interviewer held up a Qur’an and asked the man to point out what passage he used to justify his violent views. The terrorist declared that his justification lay not in the Qur’an. But that he and his ilk were following the teachings and orders of Osama Bin Laden and other ‘leaders’ who had called for violent jihad. It’s worth repeating the comment from above:

They devised a religion that worked for them and supported them in the construction of the society that they wanted. It was a mess.

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India’s Pragmatism – Staying the Frak Out of the Middle East

India’s Pragmatism – Staying the Frak Out of the Middle East

In a provocative essay in Foreign Affairs, Shashank Joshi lays out the reasons why India has, by and large, stayed out of Middle Eastern affairs. Of particular interest to me are the ideological reasons:

New Delhi has deeper ideological reasons for its opposition to intervention in the Middle East. Indian policymakers tend to view recent Western intervention in the Middle East as comparable to the U.S.-funded and Pakistan-led effort to support opposition forces in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979. In the Indian view, it was the West’s intervention that primed Afghanistan for the growth and spread of radical Islam. Suhasini Haidar, strategic & diplomatic affairs editor of the Indian newspaper The Hindu, summarized the feelings of many Indians in a July 2014 op-ed: “Each of the countries today at the center of the world’s concerns over extremism is, in fact, a country that has seen direct or indirect Western intervention, not Western absence — Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Iraq.”

Well, imagine that! You mean to say that Western action in the Middle East (ostensibly usually led by the United States under both Democratic and Republican regimes) isn’t a magical panacea to what ails that troubled region?!


It’s true that India has enough on its regional plate with rather ornery neighbors in Pakistan and China. Regardless, I don’t consider it an isolationist move to stay out of Middle Eastern affairs. It just pragmatic. There is little to be gained by wading into the morass of complicated, centuries-old grudges, alliances and enmities that tangle Western Asia.

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Kick Rocks, Jamaat

Kick Rocks, Jamaat

Welcome news from Bangladesh via the Economist:

A High Court in Bangladesh ruled that the country’s biggest Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, is unfit to contest national polls scheduled for later this year. The Supreme Court, after hearing Jamaat’s plea on August 5th, refused to issue a stay on the High Court’s ruling. It had found for a group of petitioners, led by the head of the Bangladesh Tariqat Federation (a smallish Islamic political party), who argued that Jamaat’s charter violates Bangladesh’s constitution and party-registration rules. Indeed the charter does not recognise parliament as the sole institution to pass laws; it bars non-Muslims and women from leading the party; and it has party offices abroad—each an apparent violation. Bangladesh’s Election Commission said that it would cancel Jamaat’s party registration.

Now, I have no problem, in principle, with the idea of a religious party or religious folks participating in elections, in Bangladesh or here in the USA . If they have a different vision for the country, so be it. Let them compete for votes and the country gets to choose its constituency.

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Intersection of Sports and Politics: the Rope-A-Dope

Intersection of Sports and Politics: the Rope-A-Dope

Behold the Rope-A-Dope: The rope-a-dope is performed by a boxer assuming a protected stance (in Ali’s classic pose, lying against the ropes; by leaning against the ropes, much of the punch’s energy is absorbed by the ropes’ elasticity rather than the boxer’s body) while allowing his opponent to hit him, providing only enough counter-attack toRead more about Intersection of Sports and Politics: the Rope-A-Dope[…]