Archive for August, 2012

As If It Were Somehow Unclear

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, whose inane comments on a woman’s body’s entirely fictional ability to determine whether sperm is “good sperm” or “rape sperm” and thus prevent pregnancy from a sexual attack, continues in his race for the Senate — despite the pleas of GOP statesmen who know that his comments are bad news for the Party in a presidential-election year.

Certainly Akin’s comments are an unwelcome distraction for the GOP, which hopes to prevail in November even with the most bumbling candidate since . . .  well, its last several candidates, come to think of it, and which hopes to do so with an economy-only campaign that steers clear of social issues.  Unfortunately, the Akin debacle comes on the same week as the GOP Platform Committee’s drafting of a draconian anti-abortion platform that calls for the criminalization of all abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or for the life of the mother.  This is more restrictive than Mitt Romney’s views, reflects Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s longtime view, only recently corrected to reflect Romney’s, and is at odds with the majority of voters, who consistently express distaste for abortion but want to keep it available to victims of sexual violence or to save the life of the mother.  This was intended to be a quieter plank in the platform, but Akin has now painted it in bright, neon colors, sprinkled it with glitter, erected the flags and banners, and put a continual-loop feed on a boombox mounted gaudily from it. 

Not a good week for the avoidance of radical social policy, if you’re a Republican, but an important week for voters who have this nagging sense that perhaps a woman and her doctor are capable of making choices regarding her reproductive care.

 Akin’s remark that women rarely get pregnant from rape because our bodies can recognize sperm from what he called “legitimate” rape and thus disable its fertilizing effects on the eggs we release brought an immediate firestorm from women’s groups, Democrats, and Republicans who’d prefer to focus on President Obama’s handling of the economy, not on social issues.  And while Akin apologized for the comment, he also insists that he should stay in the race because he didn’t do anything “morally or ethically wrong.”

Gross and willful ignorance isn’t, it appears, an ethical issue to a GOP whose last several decades have been marked by intemperance, recklessness, bigotry, rumor-mongering, and incivility, but I think most Americans find it unbecoming in those past toddlerhood, and particularly in someone running for Congress.  Nonetheless, Akin’s remarks blew open the GOP’s “economy-only” strategy — bad news for a GOP struggling to articulate a message beyond that of intense dislike of Obama.

Conservatives were busy trying to convince Americans that Akin meant “legitimate” rape as opposed to “statutory” rape, which is to engage in sexual intercourse with a woman under the age of consent, and didn’t intend either to minimize the horror of rape or to suggest that some rapes weren’t “legitimate.”  Women’s groups and the Democrats responded that all rape is rape, and that to  raise questions of “legitimacy” is grossly insensitive to victims while betraying a lack of understanding of the unmitigated evil of all unwanted sexual intercourse.  It might be that statutory rape of young women over the age of 15, perhaps, should be called “unlawful statutory sexual contact” to reflect the near-adult’s volitional consent — but it seems that Akin’s allies are simply unable to assert, confidently and articulately, that rape is rape and always evil, always violent, and always “legitimate.”

The GOP’s cause was hardly helped when former Idaho Values Alliance spokesman Bryan Fischer — named recently one of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “30 To Watch” in its reporting of hate speakers and groups — rushed to Akin’s defense by insisting that the congressman meant forcible, violent, brutal, non-consensual, presumably kicking-and-screaming, rape.  Fischer’s breathless and defiant support of his friend unraveled a week’s worth of GOP spin control by specifying what kind of rape Akin was referring to, even as Akin tried desperately to convince voters that he meant “rape,” period.  Fischer appears hell-bent on differentiating between what he apparently sees as “brutal, forcible rape” and — what?  The “pleasant, amicable” kind?

Akin and Fischer deserve each other, although Fischer is unlikely to get a thank-you note from Party Central, and Fischer’s “defense” ought to give voters a clear idea of how the Religious Right social conservatives who’ve taken over the Republican Party really view sexual assault. 

It’s tragic that the GOP has ceded control to a largely ignorant, largely misinformed, largely bigoted demographic that knows little of societal issues and less of nuanced understanding and reasonable analysis.  On the other hand, the Party seems to have no particular mission beyond hatred of the “other,” in this case President Obama, and the coddling of the rich.  There’s a lot of room in that bed, then, for those with single-issue axes to grind and far-away windmills to tilt toward, and until the GOP finds its soul by jettisoning its religious extremists, it’ll be found clearly on the fringe side of American society.  There’s been a violent seizing of the Republican Party’s very nature — but this was utterly consensual, made possible, even welcome, by the power-hungry whoremongers within it. 

And this, I think, may very well explain where their confusion over rape comes from.

Todd Akin’s Grasp Of Female Reproduction, Or "The Council On Fertilization And Highly Motil Sperm"

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Of course this is going to be graphic.  We’re talking about the thought processes of a man who, a week after suggesting that the Voting Rights Act of 1964 be repealed, has now weighed in on the likelihood of pregnancy after rape.

Akin, a congressman who is running for the Senate as a Republican, is convinced, having spoken to doctors and other experts, that when a woman is the victim of a “legitimate rape,” her body does some kind of trick to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting against the uterine wall.  Women, he says, don’t generally get pregnant after “legitimate rape” because of that, so all of the hysteria against his and the GOP’s national platform, which would criminalize rape even in the case of rape and incest, is unnecessary.  If it’s really rape, the Toddster avers, the woman likely wouldn’t get pregnant.

But if she does, then, well . . . it probably wasn’t a “legitimate” rape.  In the words of one boneheaded North Idaho state legislator, it probably was “normal marital relations” she had forgotten about, an incident that her kindly physician nudged her toward remembering.

So, yes, in my attempts to portray just how stupid and offensive and grotesquely ignorant and preternaturally insensitive Akin’s comments on something he’ll never experience, I will have to be graphic.  Worry not, though.  I promise not to call him names or make fun of him.  What I will do is set up what must be going through his little mind when he ponders the miracle of conception, although I imagine that the grown-up vocabulary would escape him, it being so woman-y and all.

Imagine a Council On Fertilization operating in the beautiful, powerful, nurturing body of every woman of childbearing age.  We’ll call the members Terus, Fallopia, Ovaria, Clita, and Cervica, whose meetings are called to order by Gina, the most public, most well-known, member of the Council, who acts as its public liaison, although she herself is  very discreet and naturally quite private.  Here they are, discussing the processing of a spermatazoa spilled onto Cervica’s walkway, knocking on the door, as it were, of Terus’ warm and cozy home.

GINA:  OK, ladies, thanks for gathering around.  We’ve all done this before, so let’s take up the case of Highly Motil Spermatazoa #486739571, which I alerted you to just a few seconds ago.  Fallopia and Ovaria, great job, by the way, of producing the egg.  You gals rock!

FALLOPIA: Well, you know, last month’s was wasted, since The Woman was gone on her women’s retreat during my busy season.

OVARIA:  Doesn’t she know that I only have a limited number of these things?  Honestly. I mean, each one’s a work of art, but I can only do so much.

GINA:  OK, OK, we’re getting off track.  So, considering HMS #486739571, currently making his way from Cervica’s to Teras’, whaddaya think?  Let him in as usual, or toss him?

OVARIA starts to hum the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?,” for which she is soundly rebuked by FALLOPIA.

GINA:  Ladies, please!  We’re on a timeline here.  Terus kinda needs to know if she’s gonna have a visitor or not.  Focus, please.

TERUS:  I mean, I’m totally up for company, but I’m picky.  Kinda need to know about this one.  How’d he get in?  You know, was it, like, good?  Like, normal?  I’m assuming so, right?

GINA:  Clita, I think you probably can best speak to that . . .

CLITA:  Yeah.  (sigh) Well, you know, I’m good at my job, if you don’t mind my saying so . . .

CERVICA:  You do remind us of that fairly often, dear.  No need to brag, for goodness’ sake.

CLITA:  OK, OK.  It’s just that . . . (she breaks off)

OVARIA:  CLITA, what’s wrong?

CLITA:  I . . . I . . . it’s just . . . something was different this time.  I’m, like, always up for a party, and when I’m happy, The Woman’s happy.

CERVICA:  Please, dear.  You’ve told us.  When you’re happy, She’s happy, and when She’s happy, you do your best work.  We’re all aware.  Would you just answer TERUS’ question?  We’re running out of time here.  For all I know, It’s coming up my driveway.

CLITA:  Yeah, yeah.  OK.  (coughs)  It’s hard to talk about, and I never thought it would be like this, but this time was different.  The Man was . . . so awful!  He was MEAN! It’s like he just TOOK Her, CONQUERED Her, almost, like She was just . . . a receptor or something, like nothing more than an object for Him to use.  Like He owned her, or She was just a . . . a thing, you know?  It wasn’t what I was used to.  I was . . . I was scared.  GINA, you tell them!  You’ve gotta know what I mean, right??!!

GINA:  Oh, CLITA, I’m so glad you’re being so honest.  I felt the same way.  Worse, even.  He opened me up and . . . and . . . he just broke in!  I heard The Woman saying “No, no, no!” and she was crying and then I felt this horrible, horrible thing . . . like a collision or a crash or something!  I hurt . . . it felt so bad, like I’d never felt before, and I’m . . . I’m sad and I’m scared and it hurts so much I can’t believe I’m, like, even still part of Her Body.  It wasn’t what I usually have.  It was like everything went dark and caught on fire and broke open and bruised me and tore me up and battered me and even though The Man’s gone, He left us this . . . this . . . this PIECE of him!   

OVARIA:  GINA!  Sweetheart, we had no idea!

FALLOPIA:  Oh, honey, we’re so sorry!  To think something I brought Terus in love . . .

OVARIA:  . . . And I made in love! In LOVE! 

FALLOPIA:  To think The Man’s Piece wants to be part of our gift — I, I just can’t bear it! We’ve just got to do something!  She needs us . . .

CERVICA:  I feel sick that It’s here, in us!  Girls, we don’t have much time!  It’s on its way to Terus’ place now!  We can’t let her bring him in!  We’ve got to DO something!

GINA:  I know this isn’t what we want.  I know we’ve never done this — we’ve never kicked out an HMS before!  But if we don’t act now, he’s gonna reach Terus’ place!  Ladies!  It’s time to invoke the Emergency Sweep Of Violent Ejaculate!  It’s our only hope!

CLITA:  Yes!  We have to!  We’ve identified the enemy, and It’s in us!

FALLOPIA and OVARIA:  Sweep It away!  Kick it out!

CERVICA, CLITA, TERUS and GINA:  Sweep It away!  Kick it out!

GINA:  It’s time, then . . . are you all ready?  I’m hitting the Sweep Out button now . . .

(silence)

GINA:  (quietly)  It’s gone.  It’s out.  I felt it leave, and it won’t come back.  It’s over.  If only we could tell The Woman it’s over . . . there’s no more of Him in Her.  It’s over.  Good work, sisters.  Thank God we knew It for what It was . . . can you imagine what it would be like if we couldn’t recognize Enemy HMS?

CERVICA:  I know.  It’s so scary.  But we can tell if it’s an Enemy, even if we’ve never seen one before.  You just know.  Right?  We just know.

OVARIA:  Yeah.  Thank God we KNOW.
************************************************************************

Basic fact of biology:  Sperm is sperm, and it doesn’t announce itself to organs unable to grasp its identity even if it could.  Perhaps Akin thinks that “rape sperm” is like the urine secreted after eating asparagus — obvious, easily recognized.  I think that speaks volumes about his fear of and contempt for women’s bodies. 

As Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues, wrote today, a woman’s body is unable to differentiate between love sperm and violence sperm, and to suggest somehow that it can — that it will recognize “rape sperm” and flush it out, thus preventing pregnancy — is not only ignorant to a degree unrealized by anyone other than Republican men of the last quarter-century or so, but also manages to put the burden on women to make use of this extraordinary “gift.”  Ensler is right in contending that Akin monstrously forces rape survivors to re-live their experience when he contends that some rapes are, somehow, “illegitimate;” any time a woman has to re-examine the details of her assault to reassure herself that she wasn’t at fault, she’s made to submit to another harrowing visit down a Memory Lane that’s terrifying in its degree of evil and viciously degrading in its re-examined reality.

Here’s a fun exercise in philosophy:  Is Todd Akin more stupid than he is bad, or more bad than he is stupid?  Now, extend that to the prevailing voices of the Republican Party.

That the political party that’s become more of a failing parachurch organization than a reasonable, responsible platform for political ideas and governing philosophy would attract men like Akin tells us a lot about its values.  But the fact that American evangelicalism and the GOP have become virtually synonymous in mission and in makeup is even more frightening.  After all, reasonable people presume that faithful worshipers will make every effort to conform their behavior and character to that of the One they’re devoted to. The Religious Right that Akin aligns himself with is leaving a world full of people wondering why they ought to consider the claims of Jesus Christ if he’s anything at all like the bigots and bullies on the Right who claim him.  If Jesus were truly the model and inspiration for today’s GOP, why would anyone want to seek him?

Would the poor, or the rejected, or the immigrant, or the sexually victimized, or the hungry, or the disenfranchised look to a GOP Jesus?  No. 

The millstones around their hypocritical necks are weighty; the axe of judgment is poised at the tangled roots of their willful ignorance and unchecked avarice, and only a great move of the Holy Spirit will rescue the GOP and other Gospel-mocking powerbrokers from the wrath of the One whose patience is generous, but whose nature is not only Holy, but wholly unlike that of the ignorant, greedy, abusive, and hard-hearted demagogues who claim him. 

I’d Love To Hear From . . .

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

My New Hampshire correspondent . . . would you drop me a line at siyocreo@live.com, which, for anyone else who wants to get in touch with me, is the official Prevailing Winds email address, no matter what Blogger insists on saying!

There’s This "Bearing False Witness" Thing I’d Like To Bring Up

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Folks, we’ve got hyperbole.  We’ve had an outbreak of hysteria.  We’re about to be taken by the hype and holler of the Right — and we will use capital letters in an attempt to preview the excitement coming to voters in this, the waning months of the 2012 Presidential campaign. 

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the GRIPPING AND TRUE story of the (Black man) Obama White House’s EXTENSIVE AND DEVASTATING NEWS LEAKS . . . well, to pretty much everyone who’ll listen, it seems . . . regarding the TOP-SECRET RAID last year that killed Osama bin Laden.  It’s the 20-minute DOCUMENTARY titled “Dishonorable Disclosures” THAT’S SHAKING THE WORLD TO ITS CORE as it reveals how the CONNIVING BASTARDS surrounding the Chief Conniving Bastard/Usurper have RECKLESSLY SPEWED INTELLIGENCE LEAKS that have put, and continue to put, the lives of our BRAVE SOLDIERS in TREMENDOUS PERIL in the aftermath of the RAID THAT KILLED BIN LADEN.

Pass the popcorn and nail down the Constitution — this thing’s gonna be a smash.

And it’s no doubt utterly fascinating, what with the plaintive pleas of former Navy SEALS and the anguished looks on the faces of good, middle-class (white) Americans who beseech God, or Congress, or someone, to stop the madness of the leak-driven, security-reckless Obama White House.  I haven’t seen it — alas, I’m not a Republican donor — but it sounds like a corker, full of serious, specific charges that the anti-colonialist Kenyan President and his staff have spent the almost year-and-a-half after the killing of Bin Laden doing little more than bursting pipelines of secrecy and emptying wellsprings of intelligence for pure political ambition laced with a deep-seated contempt for America, Americans, and the American soldiers who defend their freedoms.  It’ll have even greater impact on the base — by which I mean the culturally and morally base, as well as the foundational demographic of GOP support — than the Swift Boat attacks two presidential elections ago against Sen. John Kerry, whose brave service in Vietnam was portrayed as a masturbatory exercise in grandstanding climaxing in gross cowardice and dereliction of duty.

But virtually nothing in the GOP-funded Swift Boat line of attacks turned out to be true, although it did hand the election over to a man against whom charges of going AWOL have been levied, George W. Bush.  And, according to a point-by-point analysis by CNN, virtually nothing in “Disclosures” is, either. 

Check it out athttp://www.cnn.com/2012/08/17/opinion/bergen-obama-swift-boat/index.html?iref=allsearch.  The author is an expert on the hunt for and killing of bin Laden, and while there are some who scream that CNN is just a front for the liberals — I mean, Anderson Cooper’s gay, so there you go — I think it’s more than safe to say that by any objective standard, the “documentary” is nothing more than a slickly produced example of a deliberate violation of the commandment not to bear false witness against one’s neighbor.  It’s true that the Obama-hating GOP has devoted itself over the last four years to making sure we all know that Obama isn’t in any way our “neighbor” — or anyone else deserving of decent, honest treatment — and it would be hard not to conclude that the Christians who energize and enable the Right hold to a less-than-neighborly view of their President.  And, Biblical literalists that they are, it’s possible to assume that they feel free to lie about him because the Decalogue refers only to lying against neighbors and — whew! — he isn’t.  “One of us,” a neighbor, that is.

And it’s not like they’re in court or anything . . . right?  Isn’t there a context somewhere?

Yes, but not the “testifying-in-court” one they’d like to cling to.  There’s a larger, more profound and expansive context wherein believers in the Almighty not only refuse to lie about other people, but also speak out against those who do.  That doesn’t permit them to parse through the wording of the Eighth Commandment to find opportunities where it might be OK to toss out a few widely- and wildly-disseminated lies and false accusations against someone.  Even someone they hate — in violation also of the LORD’s command.

But in a Church tucked tightly in bed with a political party that’s influenced it more than the Church has influenced the Party, these things happen.  And if they happen more regularly every four years during a Presidential election, and if they need to be ramped up because the guy who won the last race is particularly . . . well, particularly “not like us” in ways that the GOP and the Religious Right have been thrilled to exploite . . . then it’s necessary to spin the Commandment a little.  You know — the greater good and all.

Whoring will do that.

But these whoring members of the Church, as conservatives, hold to an unwaveringly high view of Scripture, as they often remind us.  If we “take the Bible at face value,” we take it to mean that it’s a sin to knowingly testify falsely — to lie — about anyone.  Period.  The makers of the documentary know their claims are wrong; they know their low opinion of Obama isn’t a “fact,” and they know what it is they’re trying to accomplish — and likely will.  Tragically and terrifyingly for them, however, the LORD who gave us the Commandments isn’t fooled.  The creators of “Dishonorable Disclosures” risk tremendous dishonor when all that’s hidden will be disclosed (Mark 4:22).  Only their repentance can save them from the judgment of the Righteous One.  I pray it comes, and comes quickly.

Preach It, Woman!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

My friend, the Rev. Whit Trumbull, is one of those wonderful Christian women you could easily be stranded on a desert island with while thinking only that the rescue boat just CAN’T come until you’ve talked about the zillion things you both have on your mind.  She is wise, witty, and entirely wonderful, and I thank her for her words regarding one African nation’s attempts to outlaw the butchery known as “female genital mutilation,” or clitorectomy — the forcible carving out of a young girl’s clitoris to “ensure her purity” and, not incidentally, rob her of any sexual pleasure while guaranteeing that she remain the transferrable property of her father first, then her husband.

It’s patriarchy at its most horrific.  And while I’m grateful that some in Somalia are trying to outlaw it, I agree with Whit that making it illegal won’t eliminate the practice from cultures in which it’s taken hold for reasons such as this, offered by a Somali elder:

“We have had it (female genital mutilation) in our culture . . . we cannot abandon something that helped our girls to stay pure.”

The emphasis, here and abroad, on young girls’ virginity is disturbing at best, even when it goes right past creepy “purity balls” and into the realm of rusty knives and little girls bleeding into the dirt.  But Whit is absolutely right in saying what I want to shout from every rooftop:

“(This) is a prime example of the violence and degradation of human beings that results from prioritizing any moral standard over the total well-being of the person created in the image of God. Jesus stood against that, and so do I.”

Potent words, and I pray God blesses us with more women and men like Whit Trumbull — Christians who see so much farther than the one-note Masters of the Pulpit whose masculinity, willful ignorance, cultural blindness, and gleeful inability to think through complex arguments don’t hamper their rise to power, but fuel it.  God bless you, Whit, and may the “loving God with your whole mind” that you exemplify here prevail throughout the Church.

A Quick Note On Homophobia And Responsibility

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

As an evangelical Christian, I pray for the efforts of LGBT groups in reaching church people who believe that the only faithful way to understand Scripture and serve God is by being anti-LGBT rights as well as being resolutely opposed to gay people themselves, and claiming that theirs is the only “right” approach for the believer.

It would be a good thing if groups dedicated to marriage equality and the civil rights of the LGBT community could join forces with organizations like Evangelicals Concerned to reach Christians so that they can come to understand the love God feels for our precious, valuable GLBT sisters and brothers who call Jesus Lord — as well as grasp that you don’t become a “better” Christian the more and more homophobic you are. 

This will bother some of my progressive readers, but here it is:  I don’t believe all conservative Christians who are opposed to marriage equality are necessarily true homophobes or bigots, but are simply trying to remain faithful, in a rapidly-moving world, to the traditional teaching of Scripture as they understand it.  It is, after all, a characteristic — and not usually a good one — that individual believers struggle mightily to be sure they’ve “got it right” and are walking in step with the Christiandom, if not the true Christianity, around them. 

But you can’t rightly just rest on your conservative Bible-reading laurels.  The conservative believer does have to grasp the special responsibility she or he has in holding to that position.  If one’s opposition to gay marriage is “taken from Scripture,” then the Scriptural mandate to exercise humility, peace-making, justice, and defense of the outcast has to be equally present in their positions and their behavior.  If it isn’t — if there’s any hint of smugness or superiority or slander, or if they fail to defend the basic rights and safety of the LGBT people around them — then I believe they can truly be identified as bigots and not just traditionalists.  And if they are so identified, they ought to be held to account for their sin just as any other sinners are.

Unfortunately, we have local “ministries” here in Moscow, and certainly throughout the country, whose rise to prominence is fueled by just such anti-gay smugness and insult.  But I don’t imagine there will be a great move from the pulpit, the elder board, or the pews to practice Matthew 18-style church discipline against people, pastors and laypeople alike, who use their conservative reading of the Bible to liberally engage in the mistreatment of the LGBT community and thus violate the core principles of the Gospel.  We’re very selective, after all, in our approach to sin, and until being righteous becomes a far more passionate goal of the Body of Christ than simply being “right,” we’ll continue to hide our bigotry behind bonded-leather shields of piety.

It’s a sin to use God’s Word not to guide our understanding of sociopolitical issues of right and wrong, but to marginalize and do harm to people deemed by that same Word to be precious to their Creator.  To do so under the guise of fealty to its teachings is, sadly, a sure ticket to prominence and power in evangelical circles, but it results in harm very real and very profound to the Bible and to the people for whom its message is intended.  I respect people who, if unable to reconcile gay marriage with their understanding of the Bible, nevertheless demand of themselves and others a commitment to humility, justice, and mutual, sacrificial submission as they seek ways to genuinely love their LGBT brothers and sisters through a grid more narrow than my own — but not, by definition, a hateful one.

Nonetheless, as long as the Church in the United States believes that buying a chicken sandwich from a business owned by an anti-gay rights brother is a bold, passionate expression of true Gospel revolution, nothing much will change.  Traditionalists will embrace bigotry, call it Scriptural, and presume that they’ve taken a strong stand for the faith — unless other traditionalists and other Christians who differ with them don’t together boldly and passionately rebuke any and every hint of insult, mockery, and contempt. 

The choice is fairly clear to me:  Strive to understand rightly and, in doing so, act righteously, or focus on “getting it right” while calling “cowardly and compromising” the attempts of others to both believe rightly AND behave righteously.  It’s easy to see where the big-name evangelicals are in this, and most of them aren’t standing where their Savior is — and proud of it.

Lots Of Ways

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

“There are 3 1/2 billion women in the world, so there are 3 1/2 billion ways to be a feminist.”

Author Caitlin Moran (who probably should’ve noted that there are millions of good men who can also be feminists for every Phyllis Schlafly and Beverley LaHaye who choose not to).

Back In The Saddle

Monday, August 13th, 2012

It’s been a week since I’ve posted, but my son’s computer was in the shop and because he needs it for work, I, as a loving mother, loaned him mine.

Longest. Week. Of. My. Life.

But I’ve got it back and after I take care of some laptop housecleaning tasks, I’ll be back.  After all, I’ve got a Wilsonian Man-Grace Agenda Conference to look forward to next month, the Paul Ryan Veep choice, and, four days after my birthday in November, a verdict on what kind of country the Christians in it will countenance.  As summer winds down, I suspect the Prevailing Winds will begin to blow with increased ferocity.

Bigots, bullies, and blowhards beware . . .

Justice For Chavis Carter, Judgment On This Nation

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Departing for the moment from the various examples of white privilege run rampant here in Moscow, I’ll turn now to the tragic death of another young Black man at the hands of cops, wanna-be cops, security guards, and those others who purport to keep white America safe while unleashing horror on the African-American community and its sons.

You know what?  I’m gonna scratch “tragic.”  It’s tragic when any young man dies.  This is criminal.  Because if lefthanded, handcuffed, twice-searched 21-year-old Chavis Carter wasn’t shot in the right temple yesterday by one of the Jonesboro, Arkansas, cops who arrested him, then he was shot while in their custody — in their charge, as their responsibility — by someone else.  They are either utterly accountable for his murder or accountable for negligence if someone else murdered him.  To suggest suicide, however, is nauseating.

Let’s go over it again:  Twice searched for weapons, handcuffed, the left-handed Carter, busted initially for suspicion of marijuana possession, or marijuana-baggy possession, was further detained on a warrant out of Mississippi, where he lived.  They loaded him into the back of the squad car and then heard a “metallic” sound — the sound, they said, of the apparently preternaturally agile young man killing himself. 

Over a weed bust.  His mother, who knew him best, says he wasn’t suicidal.  I didn’t know him, but I don’t need to to be more than a little suspicious.  From my own position of unearned, at-birth privilege, I know this country.

I have, as any reader knows, two sons — white men, one 19, the other, 23.  They have, I imagine, used marijuana once or twice (not nearly as much as I did at the younger one’s age, I’ll add).  It’s illegal, it’s not a good idea, my strong belief in its legalization notwithstanding, and maybe I’m wrong.  But I don’t worry that if they get arrested for anything — anything they’ve done or merely been suspected of having done — that they’ll get killed, beaten, or otherwise abused while in custody.  I don’t worry that when they go into Wal-Mart, a frustrated, self-important guard will follow them out of some bizarre notion that dark skin lends itself to a predilection for theft.  And I don’t worry that, like Trayvon Martin, they’ll be shot by a twisted manifestation of racialist-fueled testosterone while walking home with Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea in their parents’ own neighborhood.

My sons are men of sterling reputation, and that matters not at all here.  The reason I’ve been spared these worries is because of the reality of sinful white privilege (note to those who want a comma between “sinful” and “white privilege”:  None needed; all white privilege is sinful, and so its use here isn’t as a descriptive or modifier).  The cops’ hands-off approach to my kids isn’t because of their good character, just as the immediate suspicion with which young Black men are met by law enforcement has nothing to do with their own good character, bad character, or anything else.  Having Black skin in this country, if you’re a young man, is apparently sufficient these days and in years and decades and centuries past to mark you as a target.  The life of a young Black man isn’t worth much to too many whites, and you don’t have to pull the trigger or even actively applaud those who do to be guilty. 

In the face of the noxious stench of white privilege, the silence of the privileged is applause enough.