Thursday, March 8, 2018

Recommended Commentary: White Evangelicals, U.S. Culture of Violence, "Pro-Life" Politics, Intersectionality, Etc.

I'm now over the hump of having my bad tooth removed and am thankfully on the mend. Because I've been distracted by all of that, I haven't been able to follow the news as systematically as I usually try to do — but I still do have bits and pieces of commentary from recent days to share with you today, commentary on many different topics that interest us here, which I think is worth sharing. I hope you'll agree. Here goes:

Henry A. Giroux, "Killing Children in the Age of Disposability: The Parkland Shooting Was About More Than Gun Violence":

People in the US need a new language to talk about violence in order to capture its many registers and the threads that tie them together. Under such circumstances, school violence cannot be understood outside of the deeply inordinate influence of money and power in US politics.

Ed Morales, "Emma González: La nueva cara of Florida Latinx": 

"It's interesting that she chose to say she belongs to multiple communities," said Jorge Duany, a professor of anthropology and head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. "It was a recognition of shared interests between communities." 
NYU's Dopico said that Gonzáles's "queerness connects her both to a U.S. politics of social justice and to Cuban and Cuban American struggles for queer rights. She is part of a generation that feels freer about claiming identities and loyalties." 
Can Emma González be the future of Latino politics in Florida as well as a new intersectional movement among America’s youth to roll back conservative political trends decades in the making? 
Even though Emma claims, in her Harper's Bazaar essay, that "I'm so indecisive that I can't pick a favorite color," perhaps it’s not all that much of a drawback. By acknowledging all her varied spaces and identities, she has found the strength to draw them together to advocate for a single issue that might define a generation.

My takeaway: if there is to be a future beyond the present moment of international fascist backlash driven by angry white men, that future is intersectional. That future has to be intersectional, if the fascist machine driven by angry white men is to be decisively derailed. 

Lois Beckett, "Getting it right: the best reporting on white supremacists and neo-Nazis": 

As part of the joint project by WNYC’s On the Media and Guardian US on how to improve coverage of white supremacists, here is a look at some of the best reporting on white nationalists and neo-Nazis over the past year, from classic follow-the-money stories to investigations of lesser-known, extremely violent groups.

Mark Ames, "How Ayn Rand became a big admirer of sadistic serial killer William Hickman": 

There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be so hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population that thought like this, but the U.S. is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude? 
It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the U.S. 
One reason most countries don't find the time to embrace Ayn Rand's thinking is that she is a textbook sociopath.

John Pavlovitz, "When Your Leaders are Liars": 

Over the weekend, Georgia Senator Michael Williams declared in an interview with Brianna Keiler, that Georgia-based airline Delta had been giving discounts to Planned Parenthood. It was a seemingly off-the-cuff, matter-of-fact declaration dropped in as an afterthought. 
It was also a lie. It was a fabrication. It was not truth by any objective standard—just something he said. Keiler pressed Williams on the statement, and he danced and stammered and talked around her—and in the end continued on. 
The scene plays out hundreds of times each day: A leader willfully lying, being called out, brazenly gaslighting his accuser—then and doubling down on the lie. With these people, the truth need not be at all considered anymore. 
Williams isn't an outlier. He is simply doing what his President has campaigned on, modeled daily, and emboldened in both word and deed: he is molding the truth as if it were soft putty, and building whatever narrative he needs in the moment—facts, data, and reality be dammed.
Tragically, this is one of those rare times when trickle-down actually works: Liars are yielding more liars. 
FoxNews fills its slate with phony headlines, falsehood-spewing pundits, and egregious perversions of reality, on-screen crawls. The fully manufactured fiction disguised as news, plays on repeat in kitchens and car repair shops and fast food restaurants—and like frogs in a slow-simmering pot, millions of people gradually lose any semblance of the truth. They never see it happening, until one day statements no longer require scrutiny to be ratified into belief. They only need to have been spoken. 
As a Christian and a pastor, the President and his party's allergic reaction to the truth has made the vast Evangelical Christian support for them all the more disheartening. Pastors and celebrity evangelists become complicit in amplifying and amening lies; giving them credence in the eyes of the faithful, who leave their Sunday gatherings and bible studies prepared to passionately spread the False Gospel According to Donald on social media, in their living rooms, at their workplaces, and on their college campuses. 
For a group of people so supposedly compelled by the Bible, they conveniently misplace one of the commandments, and a few thousand verses from the revered prophets, their spiritual forebears—and from Jesus himself. 
And day by day, millions of people who used to know better, who once valued the truth as a nonnegotiable—no longer give a damn about it. It is relegated to a very distant afterthought. 
These co-conspirators in untruth, then daily raise children who grow up with no desire for veracity, because they’ve seen the upsides of the opposite. 
They've watched a man who lies as easily as breathing, ascend to the very highest position in the country.

Bradley Onishi, "Pro-Born: A Former Evangelical on the Single-Issue Politics of White Christians": 

When concern about the fate of Iraqi innocents crept into my consciousness, I thought about all the angels who would die if we didn't work to overturn Roe vs. Wade. When immigration debates raged in California, there was no imperative to think hard about how my faith would inform my vote. Whoever and whatever was against abortion would get my support. Problem solved. . . . 
[T]he abstract compassion for "the unborn" is easier than the fleshy, bodily, messy love for those annihilated at the hands of an AR-15 (or a drone). Evangelical love for the innocent is ad hoc; it doesn't apply to everyone. It's selective outrage masked as holy indignation. 
But it serves a key function. First, you get to deny the messy stakes of loving the born and bodied—those with melanin in their skin, different kinds of hair, genderqueer expressions, immigrant parents, and non-Christian faiths. Second, you get to deny the messiness of the social contract—of the political realm and all its irreducible details and multiple voices. You are absolved of responsibility for the brown skin of Dreamers, the unwashed hair of refugees, the cry of bullied trans teenagers, the mourning songs from families of black men and women killed by police. Myopic and unwavering focus on abortion is the way to avoid the carnality of living, breathing beings. The way to get away from bodies. Away from the bodies of murdered children. Away from the body politic. It's a way to render love for angels, while pretending you are one.

Max Brantley reports on Reverend Mike Huckabee's explanation for why he was recently forced to resign from the board of the Country Music Association, after leading figures in CMA denounced his homophobic prejudice: Reverend Huckabee stated in response,

They are so full of hate and bitterness that no one can help them unless they are exactly like them.

In the thread discussing this story at Arkansas Times, a reader named Earl responds to Reverend Huckabee's claim:

Boy, if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black I don't know what is.

The following tweet is Wayne K. Spear's opening statement in a thread I highly recommend, about why Billy and Ruth Graham's son Franklin was so insistent that his parents both be buried at the Billy Graham library in Charlotte — despite their wishes not to be buried there: 

In Jana Riess' recent article, "Can American evangelicalism be saved?," what interests me is that it features Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, who edited the recent volume of essays Still Evangelical?. Riess cites Labberton to say American evangelicalism needs more racial and gender diversity in order to be saved from its cultural captivity (i.e., to white male Republican idolatries).

Here's Mark Labberton in a photo featured by Riess courtesy of InterVarsity Press:

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