Archive for February 2013

The Myth of American Tolerance   Leave a comment

The other day my wife and I were talking with an Iranian-American woman. We mentioned that we might teach English in order to finance travelling abroad. She asked why we didn’t become missionaries if we wanted to travel abroad.

I think that question caught us both off guard. Becoming missionaries wasn’t really something my wife and I had ever talked seriously about doing. For me personally, given my Catholic background, that kind of evangelism is deeply counter intuitive. Evangelism happens in the context of a other ministries to the under-served. But even more  than that, it just seems rude to me now. I have been abroad and I am shallowly aware of how little I know of other countries’ contexts and experiences. Going to another country, any other country, with the message “I know what you need,” just seems presumptuous and arrogant at this point in my life.

But my wife responded a bit more simply, “We have more respect for other religions than that.”

And that’s when it happened. It’s only happened a few other times in my life, but every time it does I get a few warm fuzzies and my heart almost breaks with sorrow.

Our Iranian-American friend looked overjoyed and relieved at the same time. She asked if she could hug my wife and looked as if she might cry.

And so the myth of American tolerance died for me all over again. This woman, this person who had come to my country years ago and started to raise a son here, had found it notable that my wife and I did not want to go to her country and tell them all the ways they were wrong. And not just notable, she had found it moving that my wife and I did not feel comfortable being missionaries.

I have never felt like that. I have never felt like that because the people of America have accepted me in a way they never accepted this woman. I have never felt like that because the people of Morocco accepted me too. I never had to ask my mother not to wear a headscarf when she dropped my son off at school so he wouldn’t be bullied, the way this woman had.

As a white Christian male citizen of the country with the world’s most expensive army, sometimes I’m glad that I don’t know the extent of my own privilege. Because even the glimpses of the unprivilege of others  shake my soul.


Posted 02/28/2013 by reluctantliberal in Generic Post

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Repost: Slacktivist links to good articles.   Leave a comment

Find the links to all of them here. This one is my favorite:

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee says there’s no need for an increase in the minimum wage, since she never struggled back when she was earning a minimum wage of only $2.15 an hour.

Trouble is, she forgot about that old debbil inflation, and didn’t seem to realize the $2.15 an hour she was getting paid in that worker’s paradise of Mississippi would in today’s dollars be worth significantly more than the wage Obama is calling for now. Even the minimum wage of $1.60 in 1968-70 was the equivalent of $10.56 today. So Blackburn was inadvertently making Obama’s point for him.

Posted 02/28/2013 by reluctantliberal in Repost

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Repost: “Argo” as Propoganda   Leave a comment

The movie Argo propagandistic and political. Read about it on Mondoweiss.

One of the actual hostages, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie “cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.” The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful.  “If asked, we were going to say we were leaving Iran to return when it was safer,” Lijek recalled, “But no one ever asked!…The truth is the immigration officers barely looked at us and we were processed out in the regular way. We got on the flight to Zurich and then we were taken to the US ambassador’s residence in Berne. It was that straightforward.”

Furthermore, Jimmy Carter has even acknowledged that “90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian [while] the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA…Ben Affleck’s character in the film was only in Tehran a day and a half and the real hero in my opinion was Ken Taylor, who was the Canadian ambassador who orchestrated the entire process.”

Taylor himself recently remarked that “Argo” provides a myopic representation of both Iranians and their revolution, ignoring their “more hospitable side and an intent that they were looking for some degree of justice and hope and that it all wasn’t just a violent demonstration for nothing.”

Posted 02/26/2013 by reluctantliberal in Repost

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Five Suggestions for the Catholic Church   Leave a comment

I have some suggestions for the Catholic Church that I hope I will elaborate on in future posts, but for now I just want to get out there:

1. Take the incidence of suicide, bullying, and denial of medical care that affect LGB people at least as seriously as their sexual preference. And if taking one thing seriously requires legal action, then so should the other. Or at least the action should be proportionate to the time and resources spent on taking legal action.

2. Take the incidence of suicide, bullying, and denial of medical care that affect trans and intersex people at least as seriously as the possibility of their using a public restroom.

3. Launch an investigation into the abuse cover ups that is at least as wide in scope as the investigation of the LCWR for not being vocal enough about abortion and birth control.

4. Stop accepting bad science about abortion and birth control as fact. There should be a debate about the long term effects of birth control and it is prescribed too freely. But that is an entirely different matter from quoting woefully inadequate studies as if they were the final word. More research needs to be done, so either do it (and do it well, preferably through a third party) or shut up.

5.Reclaim your teachings about the poor and marginalized. The Catholic Church used to consider a living wage to be more than just a post-it note attached to the back of a book about sexual issues. Either human dignity is the driving force of Catholic moral teaching or abortion is. If it’s the latter, please continue what you’re doing. But if it’s the former, then please start acting as if all matters of human dignity were interrelated. Please.

There you go. None of these suggestions require removing the least word from current Catholic teachings. Any or all of them would make the Catholic Church look more consistent because all of them are things Catholic Church teaching  essentially call for. I love the phrase “human dignity.” I use it all the time. And it comes from the Catholic lexicon. I didn’t make it up, the Catholic Church did. The Catholic Church should take its rightful place as a leader on issues affecting human dignity (like denial of medical services to LGBT people, which is shockingly common), and I hope it will.

Repost: Some Catch Up   Leave a comment

Everyone should go read this excellent post. Here’s a snippit.

I started to see that God’s grace was perhaps bigger than I had ever imagined.  That, perhaps, I as a woman had been freed from more than just the grip of sin and death, and perhaps the confines of patriarchy and male dominance were undone as well.

And Slacktivist is at it again:

Privilege can’t be preserved by keeping others down — that will only lead to everyone being kept down with them. If you want to preserve your privileges, insist that they are not privileges at all, but rights — and that they are the right of everyone.

Juan Cole has two good recent articles, one about Palestinians and one about green energy.

Arafat Jaradat was detained by Israeli authorities near Hebron last Monday at a protest of illegal Israeli squatting on Palestinian land. On Saturday the 30=year-old was reported dead in an Israeli jail cell. Thirty-year-old men are so healthy that the major cause of death for them is accidents, so the death is very suspicious. Palestinians rallied to protest Jaradat’s sudden demise, and thousands of Palestinian prisoners are said to have gone on hunger strike.

The Palestine issue is heating up at a time when two Oscar contenders for best documentary are shedding light on the human rights plight of the Occupied and stateless Palestinians.


Post-revolutionary Tunisia is also looking for 1 gigawatt of new green energy in the next few years. It is starting with putting a solar panel on a water desalinization plant. Since water and fuel shortages are drivers of the region’s political discontent, Tunisia is hoping to deal with both problems at the same time.

Posted 02/25/2013 by reluctantliberal in Repost

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