Sunday, January 10, 2010

The one where I make fun of the left and the right

If you look at the title of episodes of the show Friends in your television guide, you will see that they all start with "The one . . ." followed by a brief description. So, in tribute, I called this post, The one where I make fun of the left and the right. It would make more sense, of course, if that title wouldn't describe most of my political blogs.

The part where I gleefully point out how crazy the left is when it comes to white guilt

According to liberal theory, we can not ignore the fact of skin color, even where it much of the effects of it have been outlawed, even, in some cases presumed to exist from appearances, as it would then presumptively lead us to ignore fixing problems caused by color prejudice. Okay, I won’t even argue it here. But, apparently, given the fix Senator Reid finds himself in, when we talk about color, we may only say things which are definitively positive towards so called “people of color”.

Even Barak Obama has stated that color was a factor in some people’s voting. I think he was right – some voted against him because of color and others voted for him because of color. Why can’t Harry Reid say it?

His comments were not the least bit offensive. He, an Obama supporter, said that Obama would win because he was light skinned and spoke without a black dialect. It was a political observation. If he lost, would not everyone on the left have said, he lost because he was too dark (I think everyone agrees he speaks without a “black” dialect). Yet, the liberal world is acting as if Harry Reid said, that incompetent boob Obama will win because he’s black but not too black, the luck stiff.

The amount of what other’s (I believe the first book about it was by a black man) called White Guilt never fails to astonish me. One fellow I know is so guilty, the only athletes he can find to praise are black, even in tennis where there is only occasionally a top rated black man, and can find only right and no wrong with blacks, with the exception of Jesse Jackson, who he waves around as a flag as proof he doesn’t favor blacks. But, that’s just one person, of course. I use him as an example.

Yet, we see this all the time. When Joe Biden, now Obama’s vice president said essentially the same thing, he too felt the need not only to apologize to Obama, who graciously accepts (but I believe is secretly embarrassed), but then also go around and apologize to every black leader they can think of, even Al Sharpton, who, if he has fought for blacks his whole life, has never once apologized for and still defends his actions in the Tawana Brawley case (did you ever pay the judgment against you?) Sharpton, long a media darling, is so racist, that he couldn’t even pile on Tiger Woods for adultery (itself annoying beyond words) without stating that he should be ashamed of himself for not cheating with a black girl too. Yet, I’ve seen him on talk shows lately and no one asks him about that obviously racist statement. Apparently, according to Mr. Sharpton (I can’t call him Reverend) even when cheating, Mr. Woods has to show his diversity by sleeping with a white woman or he is a racist. I checked to make sure this Sharpton thing wasn’t a hoax and sad to say it’s not.

But, I digress. How is it that it is okay to say that being black might hurt you in some things, but you cannot suggest that it helps you in others? Look, if I walked onto a basketball court at the same time as a black man most people who have even the least familiarity with the sport are going to suspect that he’s going to be a better player than me, including him and me. That’s a form of prejudice because it is pre-judging based on something that is probably not a real factor. And, certainly, it’s not always true. The opposite would occur if it was hockey or swimming. That’s prejudice too, even if, in our experience, blacks dominate some sports and white’s others. We know that skin color doesn’t make you good at one thing or another, in general, but certainly, white culture and black culture has led those of different colors to concentrate on different sports. What would be bigotry, as opposed to mere prejudice, by my definition, at least, is if I was not permitted to try to compete in basketball or he in hockey because of our color, as we know used to exist. Or if the foul was called on one of us because of our skin color. That would be bigotry too.

This extreme liberal attitude towards color is inherently bigoted, even if they think it is justified by all of the racism heading the other way. No one seemed to care when Obama said that some people voted for him because of his skin color, and no one much would care if Jesse Jackson said it (except for Jesse Jackson haters). But, Geraldine Ferraro was castigated for saying that Obama had an advantage (during the Democrat primaries) because he was black, in the current climate, even though she acknowledged that she had an advantage in ’84 because she was a woman. She was not forgiven by many of her Democratic “friends,” partially because campaigning going on and the sickness that goes on during that time period is extreme and beyond the scope of this post, but also because she decided to justify, and rightly so, her remarks, rather than call Obama and apologize, and, apparently, the elite list of black politicians and media figures.

I understand that some people cannot even read what I have written above without at least their gut telling them that I am a bigot and must also be a right winger; such is the power of partisanship and white guilt. Nothing I can do about that.

Harry Reid is a formidable man, despite the anger of his political enemies towards him who cannot stand anything positive said about those they disagree with. But, he certainly understands politics, or he never could have gotten the bill passed in the senate, and has shown himself good at it. The health care legislation is his greatest moment, even if it fails because the other house refuses to play ball. He bought his victory in the Senate with what in any other setting would be considered bribes. But, that’s politics, and not too many people seem to think that there is anything wrong with it (at least, if it is their team that does it). But, if I could have my moment at a town hall meeting with him, and could ask a second question (the first would be about political bribery), it might just be, “Aren’t you embarrassed to have to suck up to bigots who believe you can’t suggest that some black might have a political advantage sometimes, just because you are white?

But, let’s face it, Reid, the cagey politician, is perfectly aware what will happen. The media will have a story. They don’t care that he didn’t say anything offensive. They will put people on the air or quote them to say that they are offended by the remarks. How many of them (excepting the right wing media who certainly won’t defend their nemesis) would likely say, “C’mon, what is wrong with what he said?” That, apparently, would ruin everything for them.

So, Reid got ahead of the story and started making phone calls, cowardly apologizing. Which is why long ago, Mark Twain wrote in a letter of congressmen, “. . . the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes”.

It would be great if people didn’t look at color when they voted, but sometimes they do. Politicians, if they want my respect, have to stop apologizing when they haven’t said anything offensive about race, just because they have lighter skin than others, and made a political observation.

Of course, the suggestion of Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party, and a man I used to think something of, but now I think is a Republican liability, that Reid should step down, is also, almost humorously, absurd.

The part where I gleefully point out how crazy the right is when it comes to religion

According to conservative theory, religion has an important place in society, even government. We should all be religious and something's wrong with you if you are not. It's not like I'm comparing them to the the mullahs or the Taliban, because they are non-violent even in their rhetoric. I don't know if I've ever heard any pundit or politician ever say an aggressive word about it, although occasionally some jerk will say something a little chilling. But, as we know, the slide is not a long one – at least many of the founders and I believe so – and the First Amendment and many State constitutions protect against it – so far.

When Brit Hume, a newsman and commentator I always liked came out with his opinion last week that Tiger Woods should consider become a Christian because it offers forgiveness and Buddhism does not, he offended many people. I can’t go as far as to say I’m offended, but I am embarrassed for him. All the conservative blogs I read last week uniformly defended him as did the large number of those commenting on them. I will say I do personally know some conservatives who were embarrassed by what he said too, but they tend not to be religiously motivated Christians.

Naturally, I know there are those who couldn't read this without thinking I'm saying that he didn’t have a right to his opinion, or that Fox is somehow “wrong” for his saying it, or that something bad should happen to he or Fox because of his statement. Certainly not, and he shouldn’t even have to apologize for it.

But venue matters. Some things said in one forum are embarrassing in another. Think, for example, how offended conservative Trent Lott was, when he went to the funeral of Senator Paul Wellstone, only to listen to Wellstone’s son make a political speech assaulting conservatives. I agreed with him. Wrong place. If I speak at a funeral (which has never happened) I know to refrain, for example, from making dead baby jokes. I love dead baby jokes, but unless it’s my funeral, it’s not the right place. In fact, had Brit Hume said the same thing in many other forums, privately, or on a television show which does not have pretensions of being a news show, or in a speech he was personally invited to make, I’d likely have no problems with it at all.

But, on a news show (even if it is news commentary), to take the position that your mommy and daddy knew best (or, even if it is the minister, guru, rabbi, etc. who changed your life) and only your arational faith is best, well, sorry, but that’s just ignorant and the speaker should be embarrassed. Nor would I care if the speaker was any other religion. And, I don’t even know if Tiger Woods really is a Buddhist or takes it seriously at all. For all I know he is a Christian or an atheist. It doesn’t matter.

Here’s what many conservatives are pretending now. That Brit Hume is being accosted for stating out loud his religious faith, especially because he’s Christian. Please, our country, including the liberals, is largely Christian, who believe much like Mr. Hume believes, and most of whom celebrate Christmas. The constant whining from the right that Christianity and Christmas are being unfairly attacked is as ignoble as the left’s whining I described above. I suppose there are some people somewhere who want to attack Christianity in America, but they are very few. I do not believe going to court because you believe that governments should not be displaying Christian symbols to the exclusion of others is evidence of attacking Christianity.

But, I digress again. What exactly did I find embarrassing (for him) about his stating his personal beliefs? Now, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe that there is any being which created the universe, although I am perfectly content to say that I have no idea how it happened either. Someday, I expect that some future Einstein aided by the accumulation of human knowledge will give us some reasonable theories which we might never be able to confirm or deny, unless they can duplicate the big bang out of nothing. But, that’s for the future. Right now, no one knows the answer to these questions. Some people, I would say by far the majority of people in America, have arational faiths, that is they believe in supernatural phenomena, admitting that there is no proof one way or the other. That is often true even of those who are very certain in their faiths. I have debated many of that stripe.

For Hume to suggest on a news show, and not, say, a show about religious faith – that his religion is essentially superior way for Tiger Woods to feel better, that’s just silly. Now, he could have said “I hope he turns to whatever religion he has, as in my experience, that can really help in tough times,” or, “You know, in my faith we (blah, blah, blah) but . . . ," or, "It's for God to forgive, not me," but, he didn’t do any of this. He indirectly but certainly asserted on a news show as a news person the superiority of his faith over someone else's. Again, he has every right to his opinion, but poor judgment as to where to state it. I guess, getting older and being semi-retired, he just doesn't care.

First, call it instinct - Brit Hume doesn’t know much about Buddhism (not that I’m any expert, but at least I can say I’ve read a half dozen to dozen books about it and related religions), but like Christianity, has many sects and variety of beliefs. However, in my understanding, he is only partially correct that “forgiveness” is not a tenet of Buddhism, in the sense of a deity forgiving sins. In one of the main divisions of Buddhism, there is the destruction of negative karma through certain rituals, which I believe would be analogous to divine forgiveness.
So, there.

But, even among those Buddhists for who this is not the theology, the act of forgiveness towards others itself does play a role. In very general terms, the practitioner seeks to live and think in such a way that he becomes enlightened (bodhi or nirvana), and hopefully, will stop being reincarnated into the wheel of life, instead becoming a buddha at one with the universe. Forgive me for the brief generalization. There are actually many similarities between the theology of Christianity and Buddhism – some Buddhists entwine the two or mix Buddhism with other religions. You can Google that yourself.

Reading Ann Coulter's blog this week, I was not surprised to see her mock Buddhism by saying that practitioners try to become God. I won't even say that she is completely wrong, in a sense, if you take becoming a Buddha the same as becoming a god, but, even taking her assessment, she writes it in a way that those who don't know anything about the religion will presume some great arrogance or stupidity on the part of Buddhists for so believing. Yet, personally, I don't see why that belief would be logically any less likely than the belief of Christians that a man was the creators's son, came to earth to die for our sins, was resurrected, etc. (I think you know the story). But, Ann Coulter is not exactly famous for her fairness (although, she is one of my favorite conservative writers).

Besides all that, and not that I would ever dream of throwing Hume's own religion in his face, but, didn't Jesus say, when asked by Peter if he should forgive a transgressor seven times, that no, he should forgive him seven times seventy times (my math skills are just good enough to know that's 490 times; that's just a masochist in my book). Perhaps Hume should offer personally offer that to Woods, particularly as he is not God and has no say in who shall be forgiven.

I also suggest that Hume’s statement diminishes his own religion. He is suggesting, apparently, that as a selfish act, Woods at least pretend to be a Christian. That would certainly be a very cynical and hypocritical thing to do. I don't think it is what most theologists would approve, but, I don’t think Hume and many others would mind. I’ve always believed that people are more concerned that others accept their irrational or arational opinions, more than their rational ones. It just makes them feel better. I’m sure that Hume would say to that, “No, I meant that he should really believe it," but, sorry, I wouldn't buy it.

Last, I ask, who is Hume or anyone in the media to question Tiger Woods, knowing nothing about him or his marriage, and, keeping their own secrets as to their own and their famous and wealthy friends' pecadillos. Perhaps it is the media that should seek forgiveness.

It was as a result of those like Hume that many years ago I created the religion of "Oopsiism" (which was divinely inspired while I was reading an Archie comic book). In this religion, you did not have to fast and go to Temple to be absolved of your sins, or go to confession, or anything similar. You just had to say "Oops". Of course, we are not yet a major religion. So far, just one of us.

I will say one thing in mitigation of Hume's behavior. Sometime in the 1990s his son died, committing suicide. He has said that Christianity has become very important for him as a result of it. I can't imagine the pain of that, and, I imagine he might feel a great desire to share whatever relief it provides him. That's not justifying the remark, but maybe explaining it to some degree.

My brilliant summation where I condescendingly forgive all and say something nice about our country that often goes overlooked

Truth be told, it doesn’t make much of a difference what either Senator Reid or Mr. Hume have said in the big picture. I disagree with them, but they are not horrible things in any sense of the word. Probably it's just a slow news week. However, the motivations underlying what they said, being largely held by the opposite parties in general, is a little troubling to me or I wouldn’t have bothered writing this.

What Senator Reid and Brit Hume said trouble me for different reasons. With Senator Reid, I cannot believe that he thinks that he said anything wrong. To believe he does is so illogical as to have very little probability. With Mr. Hume, I am sure he does believe what he said, and am embarrassed for him for his ignorance and arrogance, even if it was good hearted.

Yet, in saying that, I do think how much better it is now than it has ever been before in our country concerning race and religion. For what rational person cannot say that race relations in America are not much better than they ever were and that tolerance between religious groups also is at its highest point in history. I am glad that in my little Southern town, for example, where most people are conservatives and on the average, older than most places, a black and white couple can walk hand and hand down the street and not be accosted, even if some people silently disapprove, as can a gay couple.

Think about Malaysia, where a group of Muslims have so far successfully sued a group of Christians to make them stop using the word “Allah,” which is not even native to Indonesia, but the Arabic word for “God”. Many Christians in the Middle and Far East use it exclusively for that purpose. They don't even learn the English word. This, is, of course, religious insanity, and compared to it, what either Brit Hume or Harry Reid had to say is bupkis. And, as I believe I’ve written on recently, in Jolly Old England, the high court has ruled that the government may determine who is a member of your religion if they decide you are ethnically discriminating EVEN where there doesn’t appear to be any actual ethnic discrimination.
So, thank God, says this atheist, that we live in America, which after all, is in some respects, a rational, wonderful and peaceful place.

Please write in with your comments stating how correct you believe my opinion is.

9 comments:

  1. Good post , in general. I think there is some of flip sides of the coin on this on this one. neither religion nor race can be spoken about openly (and more importantl honestly) in our current culture.
    I do think the Sharpton judgment was paid (but by someone other than Sharpton directly).
    I am totally suppotive of Reid on this one. And I agree with you on almost all the other examples as well.
    I think that we are constantly defining down the word racism and it is dangerous for society. People, as a whole, need to stand up to this type of debate stifling.
    -Don
    BTW Who could disagree that the best quarterback of ALL time was Joe Gilliam?????

    ReplyDelete
  2. An amazingly insightful comment by Don the Barbarian.

    But, I think you meant Redskin quarterback, Doug Williams. For those not in on the joke, Doug Williams is the only black quarterback ever to win the Super Bowl. A black columnist, William Raspberry, once wrote a column indicating pretty much that anyone who didn't acknowledge him as the greatest all time quarterback was a racist, despite the fact that aside from his great Super Bowl win, he barely started that year before the playoffs and didn't have any other good years, even really in the USFL. But, despite your botch, I got the joke and it is funny.

    As to your comment re people opposing open mention of religion, I couldn't tell if you agreed or not. I think people only care depending on the circumstance, such as when and where it is said (as with my Lott/Wellstone example).

    Thanks for writing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Actually your Doug Williams reference would have been a better joke than my Gilliam one. I was remembering a column by the old (racist) Newsday columnist Les Payne who one time wrote about Gilliam being the best ever...oh well.

    My comment was to the effect that open mention of religion (except among the like-minded) is as fraught with danger (sadly) as raising the issue of race. Unfortunately we have allowed the ad hominems relating to both to stifle any serious discourse regarding the topics.
    -Don

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe you are right about Payne and I have slandered Raspberry (although I was pretty sure), but, I just checked the stats - Joe Gilliam threw 9 touchdown passes his entire career and 17 interceptions. I'm pretty sure no one would think he was the best anything. At least, Douglas won the Super Bowl.

    As for religion, I do disagree that there is any substantial attack on it in this country. Most Americans believe in God (in fact, the number is overwhelming) and believe they are religious. I think with Brit Hume it was the venue and the competitive comparison to another religion that bothered people. I'm sure Christians would be annoyed to hear a Jew or Muslim, etc. say that their problems were due to being in the wrong religion, particularly on a news show.

    Just my humble opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Would you two please kiss already?

    ReplyDelete
  6. C'mon Bear- do you really want david coming out of the closet after all these years???
    -Don
    PS This verification system on comments is a pain in the ass!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, the verification system is a pain, but so is getting comments trying to sell viagra or in languages I can't even read.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like English????

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are welcome.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .