WHAT'S NEW

About
My Other Blog
Blog Schedule
Activism
Past Blog Posts
Various &
a Sundry Blogs
Favorite
Websites
My Stuff
On The Web
Audio-Visual
Library
Favorite
Articles
This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

SEARCH THIS BLOG

Friday, April 20, 2018

How Should We Respond To Bias And Racism?

How should we respond to racism? That depends partially on the degree of racism expressed and experienced. It also partially depends on how the racism was expressed. And it also partially depends on the context in which the racism was was expressed and experienced. But there is at least one other issue here that determines how we should respond to racism. That issue consists of whether the racism expressed was due to an implicit bias only or was an explicit bias also involved.

What is the difference between explicit bias and implicit bias?  The former is held at a conscious level as a result of deliberate thought. The latter is held at an unconscious level and provides a basis for the former. There are other things to note here. We all have implicit biases. And explicit biases are also a result of fear and feeling threatened. And, in terms of people, what makes us feel threatened? The presence of ose who are different from us can make us feel uncomfortable (click here and there for references on the two kinds of bias ).


Why talk about bias and its different kinds here? It is because the article being reviewed tonight is significantly criticizing the Starbucks response to an incident where a manager quickly called 9-1-1 because of the presence of two black men who were sitting at Starbucks waiting for a 3rd person to arrive. Starbucks responded to the incident by firing the employee involved and announcing a plan to close all of its shops on future date so that all of its employees could learn to address implicit biases they might have. And the article's criticism of Starbucks response to the incident by providing training on implicit bias is an inadequate recognition of the problem and response to the racism that was displayed (click here for the article).

The article being reviewed was written by Hina Tai and published by The Guardian. Before reviewing Tai's opinion, here are two factors that should be discussed first.  Those factors consist of our society's tendency to be punitively oriented and its tendency to think in black-white, all-or-nothing terms.


As for our society's tendency for its response to depend too much on punishment to correct those who do wrong is a hangover from our conservative religious founding which has also found its way to progressives and even leftists. To most errors and mistreatment of others, it seems that punishment is not just the first response people call for, it is the only response. As a result, we have our nation's current prison system where prisoners are dehumanized and sorely chastised by both guards and fellow prisoners. The rule of force reigns supreme in prisons and the attitude of many on the outside, especially the attitude of conservatives, is that by punishing people harshly, they would have learned their lesson. Unfortunately, there are many lessons learned in prison because of the dehumanization that occurs there and hardly any of those lessons help a person who is released from prison to be rehabilitated.

But incarceration is not the only form of punishment. Public humiliation, especially via social media, and shaming are other ways that many in society choose to respond to what they don't like. There is a real hatred and desire to harm that lies underneath our eagerness to punish. And being able to find fault with the target of punishment, gives us permission to unleash our hatred and desire for revenge. The irony is that, quite often, part of the act of punishing others often is an exhibition of displacement. 


Another factor we need to consider before reviewing  Tai's negative opinion of Starbucks' response to the racist incident at their store is our tendency to think in black-white, all-or-nothing terms. The label racist is such an example. When we call someone a racist, we obscure how racist the person actually is. Whether one is racist to small or large degree, we use the same label as if there was no difference. And considering that, as the article on implicit bias reported, since we all have implicit biases and some of those biases could be race-based, we find that labeling someone as a racist often removes any attention and examination of ourselves.

In addition, the label 'racist' carries such a negative stigma, with the stigma showing how punitive we are, that it is difficult for us to examine ourselves as to whether we have any racism in ourselves without experiencing a conflict of interest. Certainly racism cannot be tolerated. But in a society that is all too eager to punish, racism becomes well hidden.


So now we get to Tai's opinion piece from the Guardian. Right away, Tai is angry that any credit is being given to Starbucks for their response to the racist incident at one of their Philadelphia stores. For Tai believes that the racism exhibited by the store employee who called the police on the two black men who were waiting there for a third party was an example of explicit bias. And since the Starbucks response was to train people to come to grips with internal bias, that Starbucks should not receive 'praise' for their inadequate response.

Now Tai offers more reasons for her anger. She claims that workshops on implicit bias are there to 'mask' explicit and structural biases that reside at the workplace. She calls such workshops a 'neoliberal PR stunt.' Further more, she notes that one of the experts who will be used by Starbucks in their training on implicit bias comes from the ADL, is a strong supporter for Israel and opposes BDS. Why this poses a problem for her is that an organization like the ADL that supports the oppression of Palestinians is used as a reference to battle implicit bias. She then returns to associating how Starbucks is responding with neoliberalism claiming that neoliberals often co-opt efforts at social justice.

So what we should note about Tia's criticisms of Starbucks is that it fits our society's bent toward punishing others and thinking in all-or-nothing terms. It may be that Starbucks's response to the incident is not adequate; maybe a stronger response is needed. But Tia goes beyond saying that by denying Starbucks any credit for their response. She responds to Starbucks as if they didn't care at all about the incident but just wanted to put on a show for the public. That demonstrates all-or-nothing thinking approach to analyze Starbucks's response.

We should note in commenting on Tia's opinion here that she seems to confuse explicit bias with the intensity of the bias demonstrated. Tia seems to believe that the more biased an action is, the more explicit it becomes. And yet, the difference between explicit and implicit bias lies in the consciousness of the person showing the bias. Explicit bias means that there was deliberate thought put into demonstrating bias. Implicit bias means that the bias expressed was not deliberately thought out, but it was unconscious. Here, we might ask if it is possible for strongly expressed biases to be the result of the unconscious only?


Furthermore, since explicit bias is caused by implicit bias, how is it that explicit bias is not being addressed when our unconscious biases are being exposed?

We should also note that Starbucks stores are not franchises, they are corporately owned. And why that is a factor is because with franchise stores, the franchise owner acts as a buffer for the corporation by absorbing much of the operating costs of the store. With this closing of the stores for one day, Starbucks itself is absorbing all of the financial losses while forgoing any any revenue that would be gained if they were open. 


In addition, that a resource Starbucks is relying on for the workshops happens to be a member of the ADL is insignificant. For though the ADL supports the ethnically-base state of Israel, members of the ADL also know all to well  about being recipients of bias and racism.

Finally, the neoliberal label is intended to smear all capitalist ventures. But the smear does not recognize that some companies are more socially conscious than others. And that social consciousness can be the result of real concern about people. I myself oppose Capitalism, but I have seen in the efforts made by companies like Starbucks a significant degree of social consciousness and that is especially shown in how they hire and how they treat their employees. And just as respecting any business's social consciousness doesn't cause me to favor Capitalism, opposing today's Capitalism, which is called neoliberalism, does not prevent me from giving credit to businesses when they exhibit social consciousness.

It might be that Tia's analysis of the actions taken by Starbucks is at least somewhat accurate. But such a fact does not mean that  Starbucks deserves no recognition for its efforts to address any bias and racism that reside in at least some of its employees.

One final point, I should note that I have never been part of a group that has been marginalized by society. So that might play a role in why my response to Starbucks is more favorable than Tia's, though I don't know if she has experienced societal marginalization either. But regardless of that, the eagerness to punish Starbucks as demonstrated in Tia's attempts to shame them and her all-or-nothing approach to interpreting Starbucks's responses is not the way we should respond to the real faults of any group. Such an approach is most likely contains too much error and shuts off both dialogue as well as the motivation for those being corrected to change.




 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 18, 2018

April 11

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that claims that only the Gospel can provide a remedy for Racism. This appeared in Heidelblog.

I agree with everything in this article until we get to the last paragraph. That is because the last paragraph, in conjunction with the title of the article, implies that society might as well not address racism. After all, we have a pluralistic society with an increasing number of unbelievers while Clark claims that only the Gospel can eliminate racism. For Clark writes:

Only the gospel changes hearts. Only the gospel brings peace. Everything else we do and say to address sin only makes things worse.

Now it is obvious that Clark was writing about what pertains to the Church, he doesn't mention society.  But there is even a problem with what Clark claims in that last paragraph. For that last paragraph seems not to be supported by history. We see that both activism by a variety of groups and laws did help in alleviating some racism while many conservative Christians opposed those efforts. In addition, many Christians defended slavery back when it was legal. Prominent Christians like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield both owned slaves and defended slavery.

Even now, 81% of Evangelicals supported Donald Trump for President despite his appeal to White Supremacists and his racist remarks such as his descriptions of Mexicans and his calling some of the White Supremacists who took part in the Charlottesville protests 'fine people.'  Certainly, if those Trump supporting Evangelicals took Clark's above article to heart, they should experience a change in heart regarding racism for most of his article is very good. But any racist views on their part and history show that Clark  overstated his case in the last paragraph.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



April 13

To Bradley Birzer and his blogpost on how America’s imperial moments were only started by progressives. That appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

It is good to read the Birzer spoke against empires and imperialism. That a nation cannot maintain both an empire and a republic was an observation made by the American non-conservative historian Chalmers Johnson. He made that observation about the Roman Empire and the British Empire and that sooner or later, a nation has to decide between the two.

But it is puzzling when Birzer says the following:

Just how much imperialism is in the DNA—so to write—of the American character?

or

Whether Prof. Nugent is correct or not in believing that Americans had always been expansionistic, America had certainly experienced at least one devastating and blatantly imperial moment prior to the 1890s—in the Mexican War, 1846-1848.
With the latter quote, we should note the interchangeable use of the terms 'expansionistic' and 'imperial moment.' For what we should note is that our founding father saw America as an empire from the very beginning. George Washington referred to America as an 'infant empire' (see  http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/letter-to-marquis-de-lafayette-5/  ). Thomas Jefferson spoke of America being an 'empire of liberty' that puts a check on Britain's Canada (see https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/empire-liberty-quotation   ).

Now that Birzer may not have been aware of how some of our founding fathers referred to America as a budding empire is not disturbing.  What is disturbing is that Birzer, could not see the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land for an expansionist America as well as plans to expand the territories where slavery is allowed as providing other examples of American imperialism. It seems that, according to Birzer, unless America is taking land from an established European-based nation, America is not being imperialistic when it takes land from  Native Americans and extends the use of slavery. And though that slavery was halted did not take away from the fact that American expansionism costed Native Americans their land, culture, and way of life. Somehow, taking such land means America was taking what belonged to it in the first place.

Of course by denying that the expansion of America which came through taking land from Native Americans was imperialistic, Birzer could use a charade that only Progressives start empires. And as a result, Birzer illogically claims that there never has and never will exist a 'humane progressivism.' His claim is illogical seeing how empire has been a part of America, not just progressivism,  from the beginning and that such a claim for the future cannot be proven by example as Birzer set out to do. Also we might question Birzer as to the roots of America's current empire. Were progressives the only ones who established our current situation? And we might also ask Birzer about his definition of 'progressive.' After all, it was the progressive Woodrow Wilson who put the Socialist Eugene Debs in jail because he opposed America's entry into WW I. Now if Birzer doesn't see Debs as a progressive, what does he see him as?

In any case, Birzer's intentions are obvious. His intentions are to scapegoat progressives for the ugliness of America's past so that conservatives could rhetorically ask: Can there be any good coming from progressives? The answer that is obvious to Birzer would give conservatives permission to rule over progressives rather than share power with them. And yet, since imperialism is in America's DNA, which means that it is not unique to progressives, such a position held by conservatives would be delusional and would cast such conservatives into the role of the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April 17

To Edwin Benson and his blogpost describing how well-meaning progressives still share the same ideological faults as power hungry progressives. This article was posted in the Imaginative Conservative.

One problem with Benson's article is that it still regards even the nice and sincere progressives as having little to nothing to teach traditionalists/conservatives while having everything to learn from them. And that makes any rule by traditionalists/conservatives into a tyranny of the past. That is because for the most part, conservatives/traditionalists view the present with its problems and solutions solely in terms of the past.  And the problem with that is not that conservatives/traditionalists look to the past for understanding the present and helping in providing solutions per se. The problem is with how conservatives/traditionalists look to the past; it is exclusively..

Another problem with Benson's article is that the progressive's reliance on the state is stated without qualification or acknowledgment  that conservatives rely heavily on the state as well. In terms of national defense, I see no conservatives who are advocating the replacing of our standing armies and air force with militias. And yet, according to our founding fathers, government's reliance on militias, which were put under the command of the President, btw, was the real hedge against federal tyranny. It was not the right to bear arms that was to protect us from federal tyranny.

But the conservative complaint is that there should be no reliance on the government outside of national defense and the prosecuting of criminals. To do so was to rely on the state rather than on God even though God ordained the leaders of the state (See Romans 13). The problem with the conservative approach here is that the definition of the state is implied and never spelled out. What if the state is a working democracy? Would reliance on such a state to provide protection from poverty or exploitation be wrong? Wasn't the real issue between socialists and capitalists not the reliance on the state per se but who had control of the state? After all, Karl Marx happily noted how some of the states in the USA allowed for the election of non-landowners. He described that the ideal abolition of private property because it consisted of freeing the state from the control of those who own private property. And the same applies to the abolition of religion. Thus, Marx's version of the abolition of religion and the abolition of private property assumed both religion and private property to exist.

As a leftist, one of the same criticisms I have of conservatives is one I also have of progressives. Both believe in elite-centered rule. Thus, their conflict is over which elites should rule. And for religiously conservative Christians, the ruling elites should be from the Church. This points to a possibility that the objections religiously conservative Christians have to progressives is really caused by a turf war over who is in charge of society.









Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Playing Russian Roulette With Authoritarianism

There seems to be a somewhat positive correlation between authoritarian regimes and violent states. Some would point to the US as an exception to that rule. But here we should note how the US determines many of its foreign policies. They are forged in secret and secrecy is the guardian of authoritarianism.

Many of the main players in the Syria Civil War are authoritarian. Whether we mention ISIS, President Assad, Vladimir Putin, President Trump, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, all of them tend strongly toward silencing others to get their way.

We should note that the Syrian Civil War started with the Arab Spring movement. President Assad responded to Arab Spring with violence with the intention of silencing the movement. In addition, Assad's regime is to Russia what the regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are to the US: they are significant recipients of military aid. And the most immediate beneficiaries of American military aid are American weapons manufacturers. The more we give in military aid, the more profits these manufacturers enjoy. As a result, part of our economy depends on how many weapons we give to the rest of the world. Is it wrong to assume that such a deal is significantly similar to what occurs in Russia? All we need to do is to follow the money.



And how is Netanyahu involved? Netanyahu seems to be employing his version of the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East. That is that Israel will not let any rival become competitive in terms of development and military power. For if a nation in that region becomes a military rival with Israel, it would threaten Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. And speaking of the Palestinians, we should note that Israel's implementation of the Bush Doctrine for the Middle East rules out any possibility of Israel allowing a Palestinian state that is in any way close to being equal with Israel. And thus, the Palestinians must be kept in a beggars must be choosers role.

We know that Russia's Putin is very authoritarian from those who have seen his work like Anna Politkovskaya and Mikhail Gorbachev,  as well as from those who have experienced is his use of power like those who have assassinated by Russia, those in Chechnya, and Putin's political rivals.


And of course there is President Trump. His authoritarianism is on full display on social media. Always insulting those who provide content-filled criticisms of his behavior and policies. Only the collateral damage of his venting through military action in Syria could include the Russians to an extent that they might eventually respond in kind. And think about how authoritarian Trump is acting in Syria. It wasn't Trump who took his complaints about military attacks to the UN, that was Putin. Not that Putin is innocent here; after all, he backs Assad. But instead of deliberating the gas attacks at the UN, Trump assumed that right to militarily retaliate for those attack. Such a response shows that Trump sees no need for the US to prove its accusations against others.


Though we Americans have no power over or bear no responsibility for how the other authoritarians are acting, we do have responsibility for and can try to gain power over our nation's pet authoritarian: President Trump. For if we don't, we risk a great deal and not just for ourselves, but for the whole world. For the more Trump flexes American muscle in Syria, the more he risks Russian retaliation. And once that retaliation starts, who knows how and when it will end? And considering that we will, in the near future, eventually be risking military confrontation with China as its military grows to the size of its desires and ambition, knowing how to get one's way as much as possible without even risking military confrontation is now a world survival skill.



Monday, April 16, 2018

ONIM For April 16, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.

Christian News

World News

Israel-Palestine News

Donald Trump News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Just For Fun 








Friday, April 13, 2018

A Neglected Blast From The Past Which Can Refresh Our Protests

Julia Marks runs a website called thevalueofsparrows.com (click here).  Marks calls herself a Christian mystic. But her blog is full of articles from other writers some of whom are far from Christian mysticism. In addition, the list of blog articles occasionally includes an article written by her.

One of the blog articles Marks posted on her blog comes from a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King Jr on how the value of managing opposites not only makes one strong, but prepares one for engaging in nonviolent activism. The sermon, posted in May of 2014, was based on Jesus's exhortation to His disciples to be as 'wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.' It comes in three parts. Part 1 deals with our need to be tough minded rather than soft minded, which is being as wise as serpents. Part 2 tells to had being tenderhearted to our tough mindedness. Being tenderhearted makes one as harmless as doves. Part 3 tells us how the combination of being tough minded and tenderhearted control how we engage in nonviolent activism (click here for the article). 

In part 1, Martin Luther King Jr. tells us to be tough minded rather than soft minded. The former forms judgments on situations and people after evaluating as much information as possible. Being tough minded seeks the truth over what is convenient. Being tough minded means putting in the work in order to arrive at a 'realistic appraisal' of a situation and requires a firm commitment.

Being soft minded seeks to maintain a comfortable place in the status quo. Thus, unlike being tough minded where one 'postjudges,' being soft minded leads one to prejudge people and situations. Being soft minded doesn't require a person to think through things, it settles for a non-strenuous thinking that quickly comes to a convenient assessment. Being soft minded moves one to be gullible especially when listening to or reading those who pass themselves off as authority figures.

Being soft minded causes one to be susceptible to accepting superstitions and 'irrational fears.' In terms of religion, though I disagree with the example King uses, he states an important preference by those who prefer to be soft minded. King says:
Soft-minded persons have revised the Beatitudes to read, “Blessed are the pure in ignorance: for they shall see God.”
Thus, it is easy to see why King calls on us to be tough minded and engaged rather than soft minded with an attention deficit disorder when thinking through today's issues and injustices.

King then deals with being tenderhearted in the second part of his sermon. Why? Being tough minded but hardhearted only leads one to objectify others and thus make others disposable. Being hardhearted leads one to being cold and unable to love others. Being tough minded emphasizes God's justice. But God's grace is neglected unless one is tenderhearted as well.

Then King talks about how being tough minded and tenderhearted moves Blacks to seek 'freedom and justice.' In contrast to that, King states that being soft minded allows people to settle for being victims and being dominated. King mentions how some of the Hebrews preferred the comforts they had as slaves in Egypt to the challenges they had in seeking their own freedom.


According to King, being hardhearted makes a place for bitterness and even violence. And employing violence can only bring 'temporary victories' at best.

In part 3, King culminates his message in showing how being tough minded and tenderhearted leads one to pursue change through nonviolent methods. Being tough minded and tenderhearted combines both God's justice and His grace, for we need both.

There is so little to criticize in King's sermon that it is not worth the time mentioning any errors.  But if we use this sermon by King as a canon for today's activism, especially activism of liberals and leftists, we find that our current forms of activism are found wanting-- and wanting to a great degree. For while we may refrain from employing physical violence in our activism, our violence of the spirit shown in our bitter denouncements of our rivals can only make our pursuit of social justice more and more impossible. For instead of trying to win people over with the combination of our tough mindedness and tenderheartedness, we find ourselves seeking to conquer all with whom we disagree. And besides the fact that we lack the numbers to conquer others, such a method of victory carries a too high a cost that is repaid in inevitable blowback.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the Left in America has such an insignificant impact is because our hardheartedness makes people defensive and thus impossible for us to gain them as allies. Thus, our hardheartedness puts us in the impossible position of having to conquer them.




 


references
  • https://thevalueofsparrows.com/2014/05/04/sermon-a-tough-mind-and-a-tender-heart-by-martin-luther-king-jr/

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 11, 2018

April 5

To Lester DeKoster and his article on his criticisms of Marxism from a conservative point of view and Marx’s belief in a utopia consisting of a classless. This appeared in the Acton blog.

The constant problem that Conservatives demonstrate is that their view of the present is determined solely by the past. The evaluation of Marx and Marxism is just one example as well as their responses to wealth disparity and economic exploitation, gun control, and climate change. Generally speaking, the conservative mantra is that all problems could be solved by correctly implementing what has already been learned from tradition. This is why, when discussing gun control, many conservatives promote the idea that what is needed to head off our problems with gun violence is the proper implementation of current gun control laws or having society return to holding traditional values rather than the introduction of new laws.
Take the above analysis of Marxism. The writer of the article, Lester DeKoster, paints Marxism as a monolith as if those who followed Marx have never added to or deviated from what Marx taught. Thus, it seems, that DeKoster seems to suggest that all Marxists believe the same thing. But History, a favorite subject of DeKoster, begs to differ. We have significant differences between Socialism and Communism (see http://www.businessdictionary.com/article/1030/communism-vs-socialism-d1412/ ), we have differences between Marxists in and around the time of the Russian Revolution (see https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch08.htm ), and, as Ezequiel Adamovsky has pointed out in his book entitled Anti-Capitalism (see https://books.google.com/books/about/Anti_Capitalism.html?id=WZrbehZVb0EC), there are significant differences between the Leftists of yesteryear with today's Leftists. Or one can read Mikhail Gorbachev's book, The New Russia and see how Gorbachev embraces Lenin while denouncing Stalin and praisesKhrushchev for denouncing Stalin as well. But then listen to Noam Chomsky as he describes why Lenin could not be considered a Socialist from the Marxist tradition (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsC0q3CO6lM&t=850s ).

Or you have Marxists like the economist Richard Wolff, who speaks favorably of what he calls German Capitalism, which is really a hybrid between Capitalism and Marxism. For in Germany, you have codetermination laws that give workers a real voice on the running of the company as workers almost achieve equal power on the supervisory board of any company that exceeds 2,000 employees (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aznS1LvxXmo ). He still called the setup Capitalism in the video, but this model has been called a hybrid at times.

But not only that, there seems to be an absence of fair criticism of its chief rival: Capitalism, which like Marxism, is not a monolith. Here we should compare one of Martin Luther King's criticisms of Capitalism with Marx's materialism noted by DeKoster (see http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ows/seminars/aahistory/Pilgrimage.pdf ):

that capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.

Or take the claim that Marxism preaches how we can reach a utopia. Not all Marxists promote such an idea. On the other hand, those Capitalists who believe that their ideology cannot learn from or be surpassed by other ideologies have implied that their ideology produces a relative utopia. And conservatives, with their heavy reliance on tradition and their own set of ideologies are naturally inclined to be insular and thus are set against learning from those outside their group.

But perhaps one of the biggest criticisms that can be made of the above article is that while DeKoster criticizes Marx's view and use of History, he never gives any specifics regarding where Marx was wrong. Certainly some of Marx's solutions to the problem he saw were deficient, but his analysis of Capitalism has correctly observed the exploitation of workers which is an inherent part of Capitalism. But those conservative ideologues who are committed to Capitalism have reason not to acknowledge any of the contributions Marx made because Marx had his own faults and made errors. Why? Because Marx lies outside of their traditions and challenged them.

What DeKoster did in writing about Marxism was to criticize some of what Marx believed without taking note of the deviations from Marx some of his believers took and thus the multiple variations of today's Marxism. In addition, DeKoster offers no criticism of Capitalism, even today's Capitalism. If one accepted that Marx had contributions to make, one would think DeKoster would provide such criticisms. Instead, today's Marxism is described and criticized only as DeKoster understood Marx and his implied acceptance of Capitalism without realizing that today's Capitalism is not the same kind of Capitalism that brought the US egalitarian growth after WW II. Thus, DeKoster has not really provided a fair criticism of Marxism. Instead, it seems that he is content on trying to discredit it lest anyone would use what Marx taught to challenge the economic system of the status quo.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April 6

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost showing a person at a downhill meeting complaining that gun control measures considered after a shooting incident ignore the concerns and rights of the law-abiding citizen. This was posted in Heidelblog

If one takes the gun owner's statements consistently enough,  then we should allow any law-abiding citizen to own any weapon they want until they break the law. But what if their first breaking of the law involves using one of the weapons our laws allowed them to own. What if that person's first breaking of the law involved the use of a fully automatic weapon, and RPG, a bazooka, a tank, or something more powerful? The YouTube shooter passed a criminal background check when purchasing her gun. And while the Fox and Friends hosts suggested that it's liberals who are the perpetrators in mass shootings, the ADL reports that more terrorist attacks committed in the US are performed by right-wing white males.
American conservatism's problems consist of its overemphasis on the individual to the denial of any externals and the sole use of conservative traditions and the past to both analyze other groups and  understand and solve today's problems. The conservative approach to gun control fits that MO nearly perfectly. We don't need to change the laws, many conservatives say, we need to both change people to accept conservative ideas and allow the individual to arm themselves to the hilt so that the individual can respond to an active shooter. But considering the fact that many guns used in crimes are stolen or are illegally purchased, the mere availability of such weapons to the law-abiding public puts everyone at risk.

And we should consider how too many conservatives are making the false association between more gun control laws and the elimination of 2nd Amendment rights ignores the reality that the vast majority who want more gun control laws accept the 2nd Amendment. One only needs to read the manifesto of the Parkland high school students to realize that (see  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/mar/23/parkland-students-manifesto-americas-gun-laws  )

The game changer that conservatives seem not to understand is that as advancing technology makes us more powerful, it also makes us more vulnerable. That is as true with internet and computer technology as it is with weapons. And why the conservative approach to gun control is posted on a Christian blog without posting any nonconservative counterpoints gives evidence to the allegation that religiously conservative Christianity is too tied at the hip to political conservatism.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April 7

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that draws from a radio broadcast discussion with Chris Gordon. The discussion revolved around distinguishing Christianity and liberal theology. This appeared in Heidelblog.

There are really two concerns that religiously conservative American Christians have with liberal theology: its theology and its political leanings. Regarding the latter, many of those leanings can be shared by Christian Fundamentalists especially since some of the Scriptures seem to express the same concerns.
One of the basic theological tenets of many liberal theologians is that reality can be reduced to what is physical. Another basic theological tenet of many liberal theologians is a denial of the exclusive claims made about the Gospel if not the leaning toward universalism. From these two tenets comes a moralism that sometimes sees no need for God's mercy and grace brought by the Gospel because there is no situation that demands it.

One of the errors conservative Christianity can make about liberal theology is to assume that it has nothing to teach us. That includes liberal theology's moral concerns. Since both the holding of those moral concerns are independent of the need to believe in the Gospel and that religiously conservative Christians hold to moral concerns of their own, what religiously conservative Christians really teach when it claims that liberal theology has nothing to teach us is that we should embrace all-or-nothing thinking: that because we correctly find fault with liberal theology's refusal to acknowledge the supernatural and/or our need for God's grace and mercy found in Christ, that we have nothing to learn from anything else that liberal theology teaches.

There is a karma from religiously conservative Christianity's all-or-nothing approach to liberal theology. That karma produces the same all-or-nothing rejection of religiously conservative Christianity and similar embrace of liberal theology when conservative Christians become disillusioned with religiously conservative Christianity for whatever reason.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Is It Better Late Than On Time To Write About King

Last week, there were understandably numerous articles about Martin Luther King Jr. That was because April 4th was the 50th anniversary of his assassination. And, with the violence in the world and at home along with the Trump Presidency, if the world seems to be spinning out of control, it even felt more that way back then. For back then, we had the real Cold War along with the Vietnam War, we were in the last year of the Civil Rights Movement, we had the Hippies vs the establishment, the feminist movement had started, and we had major riots in our cities. And we witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. The song title Eve Of Destruction seemed to be an apt description of the times.

Why am I writing about Martin Luther King Jr. now when the anniversary of his death was last week. It is because I am accidentally on purpose. I say accidentally on purpose because on one hand, because of busyness I was not aware of the anniversary of King's assassination. On the other hand, had I been aware, I might delayed writing about it anyway because I wonder if it matters. For whenever many of us pay homage to a recognized hero, we do so selectively. By selectively I mean that we filter out the deeds done and the messages spoken by a given hero so that we can publicly show appreciation for a given hero in ways that, in the end, are self-affirming. Thus, celebrating a hero often becomes more of an exercise in praising ourselves. And this is especially true with a person like Martin Luther King Jr. whose words, when not filtered, convict all of us as being guilty.

Consider King's speech against the Vietnam War exactly 1 year before his assassination (click here for that speech). King's public approval downfall began when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. And when tested his stance against the War with a number of people, they objected. And King's response was the following:
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
 
Note how King stated that to question why he opposed the war was to not really know what he was about. I suppose King would have received similar responses had he lived to see and object to the Persian Gulf Wars and our protracted war in Afghanistan, as well as our military use of drones in assassinating people in parts of Africa and Asia. After all, in the eyes of many, as well as what seems to be the view of the NFL, not supporting the presence of our troops and their use of weapons in some nations would be equated with not supporting the troops or being patriotic. And for many Americans, not being patriotic is the unforgivable sin.

King went on to say that with the war-driven expansion of the military budget came cuts in social programs which deeply hurt the war against povery. Isn't that even more the case now as we have a different form of Capitalism than we had in King's day. For in his day, the maximize profit ethic was not as pervasive as it is today. What we see today includes many more with wealth seeking to cut their social responsibility ties with the vulnerable than than existsed when King was near the end of his life. In addition, the same group of those with wealth is now seeking to be excused from any responsibility to not harm the earth while they seek to forever expand their fortunes. If King was not even a fan of the more restrained form of Capitalism in his day, imagine his indignation at today's Neoliberalism.


For many of us, we restrict King to speaking against racism in a very narrow sense. And yet, King saw the interconnections between a few somewhat popular beliefs and practices with racism. For note what he said in a speech that was given in August of 1967 (click here for the source):
I am convinced that this new life will not emerge until our nation undergoes a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Note how in calling them triplets, King is describing how racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are linked together. Then note what King identifies the driving force for these beliefs and practice to be: it's society putting a higher value on gadgets, profits, and property rights than on people. Here we should note that at this point, many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians who have canonized Capitalism to sainthood with its emphasis on the individual, the  protection of property rights and the glorious seeking of profits would have to part company with King. But perhaps so would many of us who are enslaved by our gadgets that both entertain us and connect us not just to world outside of our own circle, but to those live in it. Note how King partially described Capitalism back then:
Again we have diluted ourselves into believing the myth that Capitalism grew and prospered out of the protestant ethic of hard word and sacrifice, the fact is that Capitalism was build on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor both black and white, both here and abroad.

In celebrating King's opposition against racism, a task which all sane people should enthusiastically support, we forget that King opposed the Vietnam War as well as the distribution of wealth that occurred through the Capitalism of his day. BTW, imagine what King would say to the decades long growth of wealth disparity which we still witness. Rather than looking at the causes of racism, many of which we might be complicit in, we filter King's words so that we can continue in our own racism. We filter out those words so that we can fully agree with King in judging people by the content of their character rather than color of their skin. But then we support systems that greatly impair the character development of many and who are subject to a racist enforcement of the law.

Martin Luther King Jr. is not special in how the general public selectively celebrates him so as to honor itself more than him. Others fall into that group as well. So why celebrate King's life when many of us are going to do so with the purpose of applauding ourselves? Perhaps, when done right, we can use the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as others, to speak prophetically, as King would have done, to everyone around in order to give them a chance to change.