Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Birthers"

The groups of people and individual people who persist in perpetuating the absolute myth that President Barack Obama is not a U.S.-born citizen is troubling. What is even more troubling than the people who fervently believe this, to me, is the group of people whom I believe to NOT believe it, yet are doing everything they can to keep the rumor mill going, or to avoid stating outright that Barack Obama is, indeed, a U.S.-born citizen, in order to pander to these people for votes or other support. NPR did an excellent article on the subject, which you can listen to here.

One of those people who I believe knows better but is peddling in hate is Lou Dobbs of CNN. CNN is one of the many reputable news sources that has proven satisfactorily that Barack Obama is, indeed, a citizen of the U.S. born in the U.S. in Hawaii. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called for Dobbs' dismissal. Rush Limbaugh is another one peddling this story who I think really does know better:



Other hate peddlers on this issue seem to be just about every Republican that could be cornered, as seen on Rachel Maddow:

and more:
Maddow points at the end of the first part to the fact that Republicans used a similar tactic to the ones Democrats used in putting forth a proclamation on celebrating Hawaii's statehood in order to dispel rumors that they were in favor of the draft. So certainly both sides of the aisle are good at using rumors against the other side that they stand for an issue that they don't stand for, or are going to do something they have no intention of doing.

But this one, I think, is so much worse in a couple of ways. First, the Republicans themselves are not denouncing the birther nonsense as the nonsense that it is. Afraid for losing those extremist votes, they are pandering to it by pretending that there is, indeed a question where there is not one. It's akin to a member of congress saying, "If the Holocaust really existed, why don't the people who say they survived it just produce evidence?" It's complete flat-out denial of the facts. There is evidence for the Holocaust, and there is evidence for Barack Obama's birth in Hawaii. And they, the representatives saying this sort of thing, absolutely know that this is true. It's despicable. It is a fundamental lacking of any real integrity on their part to not call it the outright nonsense that it is.

Second, the birther "he's not a citizen" stance is a obvious stand-in for outright racism. There's no more argument for Obama not being a citizen because he later moved to other countries and had a father who was Kenyan than there is for John McCain not being a citizen because he was born in Panama. On the other hand, Barack Obama is black, and John McCain is not. In the NPR program, there's a bit where they play this clip from a town hall meeting of Republican Congressman from Deleware Mike Castle (who I give total props to for his integrity in saying Obama is a citizen) where a woman who is absolutely fuming about this issue says, "I want my country back!"



This "I want my country back" which seems to come so spontaneously out of this woman, seems to me to be so meaningful. And it's something that was said a lot by Democrats during the Bush years, granted. But Barack Obama's presence in the White House does seem to inspire in some people a deep uneasiness and feeling that this country has become something other than the country they've known and loved. In addition to the racism, I think there's something going on here about what it means to be American, what America means at its heart. America as represented by Barack Obama is a postmodern, multicultural place. You are equally American if you are black or white, if your first language is Spanish or English, if you are Christian or Buddhist. And that's very scary to a lot of people. It's very scary to think that within a few generations America may no longer be a majority white, or a majority Christian, or a majority English-speaking. It provokes a deep fear, a fear that is definitely racist, but more than racist--a fear that is xenophobic, a fear of all outsiders from this America-that-was-in-myth-only of a land of white, Christian, English-speaking citizens. This fear of Obama is partly because he's black, absolutely, but for some, the fact that he had a father from another country and lived in other parts of the world may be even scarier. America is taking a new place as a part of the world rather than oblivious to the rest of the world, and that is frightening to many, too.

I, for one, am excited to see where we are coming to be in America, how we can relate to the world in the future, what the multicultural America that we've always been but are now acknowledging can look like when we more and more fully embrace this reality.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Water

For years, I have been carrying bottled water into the pulpit. I drink and like tap water at home, but I don't like the taste of the church's well water, so I've been porting my own water in, yes, those horrible plastic bottles that fill up our landfills. Now seems like the time to stop. So this summer I've been in search of the perfect bottle to take to church every week (and every other day I'm there, as well). I started by mentioning this to my husband. He had previously purchased some Rubbermaid ones we've been using at home:


These won't work for toting water to church, because (as, yes, I have found) the cap isn't very secure and will leak water all over your bag and onto your sermon. So when I mentioned to my husband that I was looking for one that would work for taking to church, unbeknownst to me, he went and purchased a bottle from "ecousable."
This has the advantage of having the round top where I could clip it to the outside of my bag, if desired. Sadly, I do not like this water bottle. It has two major issues. First, it's way too tall. I want a shorter water bottle, no taller than the 20-24-oz plastic ones I've been using. Second, it has very few threads, making me feel like it will have the same leaky water issue. And it's kinda ugly, as well. So I went and purchased another water bottle:


This one was the right height and had more threads to its closing. And I think it's kind of pretty. It was called the "tree of life" bottle. So I toted it around this week to see how I liked it. My husband does not like it because it's aluminum rather than stainless steel. Sadly, I found I do not like it either, because every time I open it, it spills water and drips water from the cap. When I left it down by my feet in the car, it seemed to get my feet wet, too. It seems to not pass the not-leaky test that the Rubbermaid failed.

Originally, I had wanted something that would be clear, so I could see how much water was in it, and would mark the ounces on it, so I could keep track of how much water I was drinking. The Rubbermaid is both of those, but not very aesthetically pleasing, which was my third requirement. The Gaiam is more aesthetically pleasing, but doesn't have the former two requirements.

And so the search for the perfect water bottle continues. The perfect water bottle would meet a number of these criteria, some of which are impossible with others, yes:
  • it would be clear in some portion so its emptyness/fullness could be determined.
  • it would have markings in ounces.
  • it would be aesthetically pleasing.
  • it would not leak.
  • it would be insulated somewhat so the water would stay cold.
  • it would not be aluminum.
  • it could clip to the outside of a bag if desired.
  • it would have a smallish opening for drinking.
  • it would not be too tall.
  • it would not be too short--I don't want to have to carry five bottles to make it through a board meeting.
Anyone know the perfect bottle?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blog Guidelines

I'm on vacation and study leave for July, so posts to this blog may be brief, sporadic, or even non-existent for the next few weeks. Meanwhile, you're welcome to follow me on Twitter, as that shorter format is more likely to get used by me during this time, since I can post easily from most locations via phone.

I've had a couple of requests for information on when and why I screen comments, so I thought it would be helpful to create a blog post on the subject. Here's my earlier post with guidelines, but it seems a bit insufficiently explained there, because I was new and exploring what things would be like on this blog at the time.

Yes, posts are moderated on this blog. I post most comments, but screen some. Comments that are critical of my posts or of our faith are allowed. I do not want to cut off meaningful dialogue, if possible. Comments will be screened if they are name-calling, if they are discussing personal accusations outside of the content of my blog post, or for offensive langugage, including profanity or racial slurs.

Also, I often do not respond to comments. While I welcome them, I sometimes do not have time to respond, or am content to let your comment stand as is.

Thank you for reading and for your comments. I'm sorry I cannot be individually responsive at this time.