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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 18, 2015

Nov 12

To Mika Edmondson and his review of a new civil rights book by Ta-Nehisi Coates titled Between The World And Me. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

We should note that sometimes, merely pointing out the problems is an accomplishment worth noting. Citing that an author provides few solutions minimizes the work being reviewed. And we should also be clear about the 'theological legacy' of the civil rights movement. That legacy  did not come from white conservative churches. Rather it came from people like King who both theologically and politically leaned away from conservatism. In addition, the civil rights movement saw signficant contributions made by people of all faiths and no faith. Heck, King himself garnered much of his commitment to nonviolence from Gandhi. 

Finally, we need to ask whether the moral arc of the universe is bending toward justice. To answer with 'no' is not to say that that arc won't get there. It is simply an observatiion that some, like Chris Hedges, have made based on what they observe in the world in terms of where it is and where it is going.

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To Isaac Adams and his blogpost stating that Christianity offers a better way of dealing with racism than how it was recently dealt with on the University of Missouri’s campus. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

If we Christians had a better way to deal with the racism on Missouri's campus, why weren't Christians employing that way? 

What is neat about what happened on U of Missouri's campus is that a student led protest provided an opportunity for change. And now isn't the time for us Christians to claim that we have a better way of dealing with those problems as if it was a competition. It's time for Christians and nonChristians to work together to address the problems with racism there. And it is in that way, Christians can employ what was described above to affect how racism should be responded to.

BTW, as for the man complaining that the city is the rape capital of the world, one would only need to point to the FBI crime statistics showing that rapes are commited by far more Whites than Blacks (see https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43 )

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Nov 13

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on whether one should kill baby Hitler if one could travel through time. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.

I agree with the jist of this article but for a different reasons. Suppose there was the claim that science could predict the crimes we would perform in the future and suppose science predicted that person x was going to be a mass murderer. Would there be any significant difference between going back in history to kill baby Hitler from killing person x now? 

So though I agree with most of the article, I would say that the main problem here is the violation of due process. This is especially true if we could travel through time, we could transport Baby Hitler to the future where he would have missed his opportunity in history and perhaps would have grown up in a home that would not make him so hostile while we remain innocent of the shedding of what was then innocent blood.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on Thomas Sowell’s 3 questions that supposed stymie those on the economic left. This appeared in the Acton blog.

First, who is the economic left? Second, I assume that these questions can be asked of any position. So let's give it a go. And what we will do is to look at the raising of the minimum wage for example. Raising the minimum wage increases unemployment is the claim made by conservative opponents of raising or even having a minimum wage.

First, compared to what? We should note that statistics from both Seattle and San Francisco where the minimum wage is being raised or has been raised is not a good comparison for those opposing the raising of the minimum wage. In San Francisco, employment rates have increased slightly after the minimum wage was raised (see http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/studies-look-at-what-happened-when-cities-raised-minimum-wage/ ) and this was favorable when compared with Albequrque, New Mexico which didn't raise its minimum wage. In fact, In other surrounding areas to San Francisco, there was no impact on employment rates. An additional fact was that while food prices at restaurants went up a little, they didn't come close to keeping pace with the percentage increase in wages.

When we look at Seattle, it is important to compare how unemployment fared for the first 5 months with what happened in the  months afterwards. AEI reported a huge increase in the unemployment of restaurant workers from January to June forgetting to mention that the increase in unemployment peaked in May (see https://www.aei.org/publication/minimum-wage-effect-january-to-june-job-losses-for-seattle-area-restaurants-1300-largest-since-great-recession/ ). But since then, employment numbers for restaurant workers jumped significantly exceeding what they were in January when increase in minimum wage started to be measured (see http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/08/25/latest-seattle-jobs-numbers-disprove-foxs-minim/205155 ).

Second question, at what cost should we not increase the minimum wage? Supposing that the conservative mantra that states that raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment is true, the cost is a moral one considering how many who are not making an living wage must live on gov't assistance. Here we prohibited from challenging this capitalist system that gives us a choice between wages too low to live on and more unemployment. Besides the fact that the articles cited above tell us that this is a false choice, there is another moral problem. That problem is that the conservative argument rests on the supposition that workers in fast food restaurants and other minimum wage jobs don't deserve living wages because these are learning jobs designed for kids who live at home or retirees who are already on a pension. In short, what conservatives are telling us is that such food establishments that pay millions to shareholders are able to do so by relying on cheap labor that doesn't deserve any increases in pay. 

One conservative response to this is that manufacturing is the place where people should be able to go to to make a living. The 2 problems with that argument is that manufacturing started by exploiting its workers with low wages until they were forced by entities like labor unions and gov't to increase their pay. Thus, what today's restaurant owners and other users of low wage workers are telling us about why they pay their workers is the same as what factory owners of testeryear were telling people in the past. In other words, both industries were based on low wages, or should we say exploited, workers. In addition, we should note that with the offshoring of many factory jobs, there are not enough factory jobs available to provide living wage jobs to those who are in need.

The third question is what hard evidence do we have? Some of that has already been provided. Where Sowell's conversion to conservative economics occurred for anecdotal reasons

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Nov 16

To Denny Burk and his blogpost quoting a Psalm that asks for God to break the arms of the wicked because of how they have hurt the innocent. This appeared in Denny Burk’s blog.

Should we then pray that God would break the arms of those pilots who fire missiles at civilians in Palestine? Should we pray that God would break the arms of those drone operators who fire missiles in countries like Yemen? I ask because innocent civilians are being killed in all those places as well as in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya. And in all places, civilians are being killed because they are being targeted by those who recognize no authority over them.

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To Mike Evans and his blogpost on how Christians should respond to attacks on Paris by ISIS. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.


The list of the reactions above is very good. But like most similar lists made by Western Christians I've seen, it misses the same item. We should seek to more fully learn the historical context of events like the attacks on Paris, the terror atttacks on London in 2007, and 9-11. The western tendency is to think of these attacks, especially the 9-11 attack, as being unprovoked first strikes. But they aren't. Not counting the Crusades, the West has been intervening in the Middle East at least since oil became a valuable resource with France and England dividing up parts of the Middle East for their own benefit and with England trying to solve the problem that came about between European Jewish immigrants and the indigenous Palestinian population in what was then called Palestine.

Then America started intervening with the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president Mossadegh in order to install a business friendly tyrant known as the Shah. Other actions included supporting Israel's occupation of the Middle East, supporting business friendly tyrants such Mubarak and el-Sisi in Egypt, the royal family in Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein, that is until he invaded Kuwait, in Iraq,, and terrorists like Osama Bin Laden as they violently overthrew the Afghanistan government that was supported by the Soviet Union. Of course, we need to include both Persian Gulf Wars from Bush I & II along with the devastating sanctions that both England and the US forced on Iraq after the first Persian Gulf War. The comibation of that first war and the sanctions are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

This learning of history is what distinguishes a Christian reaction to the Paris attacks from a myopically Western, religious reaction to the same. This is particularly true when we only react to the attacks in Paris without mentioning the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad that occurred within a day of what happened in Paris or the series of attacks suffered by Kenya throughout this year. Our spiritual response needs to include an educated, reasoned response.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost asking why Christians killed by ISIS are not considered to be victims of genocide. This article appeared in the Acton blog.

Why aren't Christians who are victims of ISIS considered to be victims of genocide? I don't know, but I have similar questions of my own. Why are Palestinians who are either killed or evicted from their homelands considered to be victims of ethnic cleansing? And why were those Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children, who died during the sanction years considered to be victims of genocide? One could ask similar questions regarding other instances in our history, but it seesm that the most horrific crimes such as ethnic cleansing of a people from the land and genocide are acts that are only possible for other groups than our own to perform.





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