It’s not about the Constitution.

President Obama released the ‘long form’ version of his birth certificate yesterday.

He didn’t have to. No other president in U.S. history, or contender thereof, has been subject to the kind of xenophobic, racist, bigoted scrutiny that Barack Obama has. There’s no “you must provide a copy of the long form of your birth certificate to your detractors” clause in the Constitutional provisions determining eligibility for presidential office. But this foolishness has gotten out of hand, with four in ten Republicans believing that Obama wasn’t born on American soil, despite his having already produced a birth certificate – and an affidavit – to the contrary. So the president evidently decided, here ya go, crazies.

With the release of the additional, ‘somehow-much-more-convincing-than-the-first-one’ birth certificate, this non-issue can finally be put to rest, hopefully (right? right??). But while the additional documentation “solves” the issue for reasonable folks, it won’t solve it for those who can’t reconcile themselves to the reality of having a president whose race/cultural experience/multicultural upbringing makes him an exotic, perpetually-unknown, mysterious “other.” For those folks it ain’t about facts, proof, citizenship, good faith, logic, or any of that noise. To them, Obama is so clearly not-“American” that no matter what technicalities permit him to be the legal president, he just can’t be. There’s no possible way.

So, in the aftermath of new and improved proof that the president is a citizen, I feel just as unsettled about the reality of racism in America as before. I feel just as unsettled about the reality of xenophobia in America as before. I feel just as unsettled about the reality of religious bigotry in America as before, and I feel all of these things because throughout all of this we still are too cowardly to acknowledge the reality that racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry are at the heart of the “Where’s the birth certificate?” nonsense that has crippled our public discourse for years. And they’re at the heart of Donald Trump’s “where’s the report card?” nonsense, and probably at the heart of the next thing he comes out with too.

We need to start calling this out plainly. The endless efforts at ‘otherizing’ Obama aren’t about reasonable disagreement. Barack Obama is a American, a Christian, and our president. Refusal to believe that he is American – talking to you, 4-in-10 Republicans – is plain xenophobia. Refusal to believe that he deserved to attend the ivy league schools he excelled in – Donald Trump – is plain racism. Refusal to believe that he isn’t a secret Muslim – armchair warriors – is plain religious bigotry. I’m sick of standing by while xenophobic, racist, bigoted nonsense permeates our public discourse as if it were legitimate. It isn’t. It’s time for the media – or the rest of us in the meantime – to start calling things what they really are.

Update: A hard truth from Baratunde:

Thoughts on Christians and Muslims

Some thoughts on the recent controversies between Christians and Muslims:

– Those who oppose the building of a mosque near Ground Zero are unwilling or unable to distinguish between different groups of Muslims. These extremists who want to burn the Koran are simply following that same sentiment to it’s logical conclusion: all Muslims are indistinguishable AND evil. This is precisely why we need a center for dialogue near Ground Zero.

– These so-called “Christians” who want to burn the Koran on 9/11 are no more Christian than those so-called “Muslims” who attacked us on 9/11 were Muslim.

– Christians must unequivocally support religious freedom in America.  That includes the right of a group of Muslims to build a mosque wherever it is legally allowable, such as near Ground Zero in NYC.

– Remembering how our Lord hung out with those who were stigmatized and was himself hated, blamed, falsely accused, and put to death by those religious and patriotic folks who feared him, Christians must unequivocally condemn bigotry whenever it arises at the state or local level.  We should be the first to condemn the slippery slope of anti-Islamic scapegoating wherever it occurs.

Um, thanks…I think…

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

…according to this website I blog like the Da Vinci Code guy. :/

Glaring racism, then and now.

Did you know that people used to name their pets after ethnic groups?

Chalk Talk for Sunday Schools, by Harlan Tarbell

I just picked up an old book (1924) about drawings for Sunday School, and there it is right on page 30: a lovely story about two kittens, Snowball and N—-r. You see, one of them has white fur, and the other, black. I leave it to you to figure out which is which. Then I recalled that large, black dog in Jack London’s Call of the Wild whose name was ‘Nig.’

So people used to name their pets N—-r. Wow! And that was once considered to be completely normal, even as today most people would regard it as blatantly wrong. By our liberated, contemporary standards, this crazy racism seems otherworldly, a totally alien thing that we clearly would never do now, right?

…And then I remembered all the mascots that are named after native folk, today, for the entertainment of the masses: the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Washington Redskins, the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, and many, many more.

So on the one hand, naming personal pets after ethnic groups is totally wrong.

Yet, naming public pets (mascots) after ethnic groups is totally fine.

WTF?  No, it isn’t.

Go Whitehonkies!

As a Chicagoan, I am truly proud of our hockey team, the Blackhawks. They’ve been kicking ass on ice like they were born to do it.

What, me racist?But their name is ridiculously offensive. (I don’t care if we’re all used to it by now. Stereotyping a brutally decimated minority group into a mascot is wrong on so many levels.)

To illustrate the point, I propose the following name change:  the Chicago Whitehonkies!

Sure, it’s more of a slur than “Blackhawks,” but at least white folks are in the majority.  (And seriously – it’s not like we suffered genocide and displacement at the hands of Native Americans.)  I say, we’re better off stereotyping ourselves than those whom we’ve wronged in the past.

In the meantime… GO WHITEHONKIES!!!

Waiting on Rev. Warren…

I’m coming to this late, but my friend and fellow CTS seminarian Adam Yates took Rev. Rick Warren to task for his silence on the Ugandan parliament’s proposed legislation to make homosexuality a capital offense.  It’s a good read:

…So Rev. Warren, which will it be? Will you be either cold or hot and renounce your tepidity? A person cannot be a Christian and a coward; the conviction of our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to speak out and stand by our beliefs even when there are consequences for doing so. As Christians, we cannot stand by and keep silence while great evil is underfoot.

Rev. Warren, who has considerable influence with the backers of the “kill gay people” legislation, has finally felt compelled to break his silence, and to his credit, he unequivocally condemns the proposed legislation as “unchristian.”  Whaddya say, Adam, did Rev. Warren end up hot or cold?

What's wrong with this picture?

I get email from crazy right-wing organizations:

Here is the last call to stand with us and proclaim to our communities that Christmas is not just a winter holiday focused on materialism, but a “holy day” when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We can do it in a gentle and effective way by wearing the “God’s Gift – Merry Christmas” button. Don’t wait! Place your order by December 1 to receive it before Christmas.

Get that? Christmas is NOT about materialism. So buy our crap!

Meeting Blago

I met Rod Blagojevich yesterday.

He was coming out of Medici, a Hyde Park restaurant, and me and my CTS buddies Shaun and Adam were heading into Edwardo’s, a pizzeria a couple doors down.  The first thing I noticed was his hair.

As we were telling one another that yes, it really was Rod Blagojevich in the flesh, he caught us staring and came over with a grin, hand outstretched:  “Hey guys, wanna meet an innocent ex-governor?”  We shook hands, as he gave a mini-version of the same spiel he gives everywhere these days: it’s been difficult, but I can’t wait until everything gets cleared up, and yes, it’s definitely going to be all cleared up.

BlagoHe asked if we attend the University (of Chicago).  No, says Adam, we go to Chicago Theological Seminary.  Now this seemed to strike a chord.  Eyes widening, he prattled on for a moment about how this experience has really brought him closer to God, you know?  He wants us to know that he’s not just saying that because we’re seminarians, but he really believes it’s true: this is all part of God’s plan.  Maybe so, I think to myself.

Then one of his companions whisked him away to snap a picture with some coeds.  We three seminarians walked into Edwardo’s, and I said, “I don’t think we did a very good job speaking truth to power just then.  Then again, he’s doesn’t exactly have much power these days…”

As a post-script, it has since occurred to me that I need to have some quick theology ready for the next time I run into a famous, influential person, fallen or otherwise.  No more getting caught speechless.  What would you say?  (Photo credit: Adam Yates)

On Obama (maybe) overturning the 'conscience rule'

This just in my inbox, courtesy of the far-right, anti-choice, anti-marriage, anti-family “American Family Association”:

According to several news agencies, President Barack Obama will rescind the “conscience rule” that protects health workers who refuse to participate in abortions or other medical procedures that go against their moral and religious beliefs. If the rule is rescinded, doctors, nurses and other health care workers could lose their jobs or be punished professionally for adhering to their sincerely held religious convictions. Obama’s proposal would take away their religious freedom…

No. It would take away their option to deny medical care to which their patients have a legal right, on the basis of their personal convictions.

Let me be the first to acknowledge that every job is not for everyone.  I, for instance, would never want to work in a far-right, anti-choice, anti-marriage, anti-family organization like AFA. However, in the event hell freezes over and if I did apply for a job there, should I be allowed to opt out of whatever aspects of that job are objectionable to my religious beliefs? Or should I maybe find another job for which I’m better suited for the tasks? I think the latter.

Congressional Republicans vs. Republicans who deal with real world finances

Guess it’s easier to be a grandstanding Congressional Republican than a Republican governor who must balance actual budgets:

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days.

Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

< — snip — >

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington.

Funny how the question of stimulus isn’t actually as partisan in real life as the Congressional Republicans would have us believe.  Not sure why, but this reminds me of all those armchair warriors leading up to war in Iraq.