Archive for the 'diversity' Category

Do We Really Think a Mosque Near Ground Zero Is Offensive?

I am amazed that this story still keeps going around and around but earlier this week the NY Times published another story quoting former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Giuliani said that building a “mosque near ground zero is offensive to families of 9/11 victims and should be built elsewhere.”  He went on further to say that, “if you are a healer, you do not go forward with this project. If you’re a warrior, you do.”

I find this rationale rather disturbing and these statements borderline racist or at a minimum with religious prejudice.  When “white” and “Catholic” terrorist Timothy McVeigh decided to attack his country killing 168 people and injuring 450 (with nineteen of the victims being small children and babies in the day care center on the second floor) he was not labeled as one of “those Catholic terrorists.”  We did not round up all of the Catholics in the country and demand information on their loyalty to the USA or the affiliations to the Catholic Church.  So how is it that America was not up in arms with what happened next… the Catholics of St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral built a “shrine in remembrance” of the event on the site (see location)!  Remember that this is the same Catholic Church that started killing unbelievers as early as the 4th century. The killing (often with torture) of heretics, church splinter groups, dissenters, atheists, agnostics, deists, pagans, infidels and unbelievers was supported by almost all mainstream Christian theology for over a thousand years, starting with the intolerant St. Augustine (died 430 AD).  The Catholics are no less culpable for the heinous acts commited in the history of their religion.

So Mr. Giuliani (Roman Catholic) how easy is it for you to lump the 19 September 11th hijackers in with the rest of their law-abiding Muslim citizens in this country but neglect the fact that your Catholic brothers and sisters have already raised a statue as a shrine of remembrance on the hallowed ground of the OKC National Memorial in Oklahoma City, OK?   Do you not think that the “shrine” might be found offensive to families of victims and should it have not been built elsewhere?

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Truth, Lies, & Taboos… how dearly do they cost us?

I have been doing a lot of think lately about several of our societal taboos… specifically talking about religion, politics, and money.  I have always been a fan of the quote “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which refers to the benefits of openness and transparency.  There was a further suggestion from Louis Grumet, Publisher of The CPA Journal, who offered “We should not only accept criticism and suggestions, we should embrace them.  If questions from constituents, the public, or the media make leaders or other responsible parties obfuscate, the questions are usually valid and the answers are not.  People who feel uncomfortable under the bright light of scrutiny and criticism often have something to hide.”

I am suggesting that this impartive not only holds true for politicians but for all of us and that by conforming to the norms and labeling subjects as taboo we are supporting prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability – we are letting these lies survive in the dark alleyway between Truth & Freedom.  When women like Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee suggested that she didn’t trust Senator Barack Obama and called him “an Arab” at a Lakeville, MN, McCain rally we all thought wow… did she just say that in public?  My next question was, where had Gayle been “hiding” this racism?  Hasn’t she talked with others about the candidates?  Doesn’t she know that Barack is actually a Christian?  If her friends, family members, or fellow parishioners had heard her mention this idea before did no one speak up?  Did no one correct her on the facts?  When we avoid discussing our religious and political beliefs with others who do not agree with us we are protecting ourselves from having difficult or uncomfortable questions that we may not wish to face.  The latest of these taboos is the belief that we should not talk about money with friends, neighbors, or family.  A couple of stories that I thought I would share… 1) two years ago in a local fast food establishment I overheard a couple talking about how their daughter and son-in-law planned to file for bankruptcy immediately after returning from the cruise trip that they were on, 2) a year and a half ago friends were trying to sell their condo and plan for a down payment on their house – they had almost no money in savings but drove new Cadillac and Audi vehicles and spent lavishly on expensive clothes and purses, and finally 3) this weekend I overheard a few patrons talking in a restaurant about how one of them had four different vehicles in four years but had no money.  Where was the sense of responsibility from these people?  Did no one question their actions?  Did no one question their sense of accountability?  We need to again talk about our beliefs and actions… we need to expose them to the light of day… and we need to be more accepting of those who might question us or our motives… or we will continue to provide safehavens for prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability.

Is Rove Advising Clinton?

Read this op-ed piece by Orlando Patterson, a professor of sociology at Harvard.  Then watch Kieth Olbermann’s tirade against Ferraro and Clinton:

With the Eyes of an Immigrant

obamaeyes.jpg

In the December 24th issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria writes an interesting essay on the power of personality in presidential politics.  While the Republicans are competing for who is most anti-immigrant, Zakaria points out that Barack Obama is able to see America with the eyes of an immigrant. 

Born to a Kenyan father, growing up with an Indonesian step-father, then living in the “multi-cultural swirl of Hawaii,” Obama has a different perspective.  Zakaria points to examples in corporate America, where Vikram Pandit heads Citigroup, Indra Nooyi heads Pepsi; in order to run a global company, you have to have a global perspective.  Why wouldn’t you want that perspective from a person running the world’s only super-power?

Broader Sense of “We”

that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.
Aristotle 

Continuing our conversation about the US system of education and the No Child Left Behind Act: Does the America system of education suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons?  Furthermore, are we re-segregating into micro-segments in the long tail, becoming a divided society lacking common concerns?   A couple observations that support this pessimistic view:

  • A bridge falls down because no one wants to pay more in taxes to support our ailing infrastructure
  • Karl Rove leaves a legacy of divisive politics that tear down (Swift Boat) candidates instead of electing them

Gregory Rodriguez writes in the Los Angeles Times that people in the most diverse areas are the most likely to withdraw — even from those with whom they have much in common.  For instance, interracial trust is relatively high in homogenous South Dakota and relatively low in wildly diverse Los Angeles.  But it’s not just people from other races we don’t trust.

It turns out that in the most-diverse places in the country, Americans tend to distrust everyone, those who do look like them and those who don’t. Diversity, therefore, does not result in increased conflict or increased accommodation, but in good old-fashioned anomie and social isolation.

Rodriguez continues, “we may indeed find some sense of togetherness and common purpose in a truly broad, overarching identity called American. Maybe once we achieve that, we’ll volunteer more, vote more and be more willing to pay to fix our bridges.”  

On a separate but related note, I checked on voter turnout and it’s not as bad as I thought.  The United States Elections Project writes: Statistics on voter turnout presented here show that the much-lamented decline in voter participation is an artifact of the way in which it is measured.  The most typical way to calculate the turnout rate is to divide the number of votes by what is called the “voting-age population” which consists of everyone age 18 and older residing in the United States.  This includes persons ineligible to vote, mainly non-citizens and ineligible felons, and excludes overseas eligible voters.  When turnout rates are calculated for those eligible to vote, a new picture of turnout emerges, which exhibits no decline since 1972. 

Presidential Turnout Rates for Voting-Age Population (VAP) and Eligible Population (VEP)

voter-turnout.gif


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