White Conservatives Using Abortion as Wedge Issue for Black Voters

Race and abortion are not issues I write about as fluently, but I was so riled by some things I’ve read that I couldn’t not write something.

Nothing seems to irk white conservatives quite like the way members of the black community tend to support Democrats, and in particular, President Obama. Clearly, there was a meeting held and/or a memo sent out, and it was decided that a wedge had to be introduced. With support for gay rights higher than ever as evidenced by the support of DADT repeal, the Prop 8 plan would not be effective. How, then, to turn African-American voters against a beloved biracial President?

The answer seems to be abortion.

Religious right discussion of abortion seems to be (re)accelerating, and the latest anti-choice pitch looks like this:

We white conservatives care so much about the black community that we don’t want any more black babies to be killed. You don’t want your race to die out, do you? Of course not. We’re your real allies.

Of course, as Pam Spaulding pointed out to Peter LaBarbera on Twitter today:

Pam_Spaulding: @peterlabarbera It’s been quite clear the Right isn’t interested in minority babies once they are out of the womb and growing up in poverty.

The conservative syllogism is this: Racists want less black people. Abortion results in less black people being born. Thus, opposing abortion means opposing racism.

Nothing should inspire suspicion of racism quite like white people trying to preemptively prove to an audience of color that they’re not racist, particularly when they’re trying to convince that same audience that someone else is. Margaret Sanger, the original founder of Planned Parenthood, is a favorite target, but even Barack Obama himself is not off limits.

(Lest you, my reader, should try at this point to point an ironic finger of blame, please allow me to set myself apart by acknowledging that I’ve got a ton of white privilege to work through and I’m not nearly as good an ally as I surely could be. I welcome all critiques of this and any other post that might help me be a better ally.)

Lila Rose, President of Live Action, is happy to help you assume that Planned Parenthood is inherently racist. It’s a pretty paltry exercise, though she doesn’t hold back to smear PP every chance she gets in every convoluted way she can. In this case, a “racist donor” calls up different Planned Parenthood locations and asks if he can give money and have it earmarked specifically for the abortion of a black baby. The PP representative says “Yes.” Thus, according to prominent pro-lifers like Alveda King (a profit-eager quisling who wouldn’t be anywhere without her uncle’s last name), PP is racist, because they accept money from racists.

To suggest that an organization is anti-black merely because they accept money intended to help provide the very service that they offer seems a pretty far cry. In fact, it could be argued the opposite. If a black woman is less likely to be able to afford an abortion due to her socioeconomic status, that essentially means she does not have equal opportunity—she doesn’t have the same right to choice. Therefore, having money set aside specifically for people of color to access is an effort against racism and white privilege, and it isn’t so different from scholarships that have the same intention.

So should Planned Parenthood be accepting huge donations from the KKK without flinching? Of course not. When Hell freezes over and I start believing in God, let me know, because that’s the day such an offer would ever be made. If PP is committed to social justice as they claim, they should perhaps better coach their personnel for identifying and responding to overt racists like in these baiting calls, but the uncomfortable reactions of a few ambushed administrative assistants do not come anywhere close to representing the principles or intentions of the organization as a whole. According to a New York Times article on this matter last year:

Planned Parenthood has apologized for the employees’ statements and says they do not reflect the organization’s values or policies.

As for Sanger, her support of eugenics is obviously deserving of scrutiny, but her rhetoric does not in any way live up to the blatant racism she is accused of. Regardless of any of her questionable principles, Sanger insisted that it is solely up to the mother to make the decision of whether a child should be brought into the world. It’s surprising that Alveda King is so eager to denounce Sanger and Planned Parenthood, given that her uncle, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., proudly accepted the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger Award in 1966. In his acceptance speech, he pointed out a “striking kinship” between the civil rights movement and Sanger’s early efforts, adding, “the years have justified her actions.”

While the Live Action recordings are not new, Peter Heck’s twisting of Obama’s support of the right to choose is beyond the pale. In his column (re)published yesterday on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Heck actually tried to paint President Obama as a proponent of slavery. Obama is “disgracing his racial ancestors” by embodying the “very dark spirit of oppression” that Frederick Douglass opposed. (Heck is on the same page as Douglass, obviously, in case you didn’t understand what he was trying to imply here). Anyone who supports abortion supports slavery by treating fetuses (“tiny humans”) as legal property. It’s a “slavish mindset” to have, and Barack Obama honors the legacy of “the plantation owners’ ideology.”

He continues to compare the “heinous butchery of abortion” to southern progenitors’ “abusive bull whips,” and Obama (“our first black president”) “has chosen to take up the whip against his fellow man,” warring “against the life work of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln.”

Only a man terrifyingly unmoved by the injustices perpetrated against his own ancestors could, just a century and a half later, facilitate even worse atrocities without a hint of remorse.

Even though Heck is trying to suggest Lincoln was a better black president than a black (biracial) president, I suppose we should at least give him credit for acknowledging that Obama’s ancestors are American. But the Lincoln juxtaposition isn’t the worst of it.

Heck is unabashedly trying to make the case that Obama’s support of the right to choose is so harmful to “black America” (Heck’s quotes, not mine) that it undermines anything else he’s done to support that community. This is a euphemism for: Hey black people, Even though Obama looks like you, you shouldn’t trust him. He’s actually working against you. He’s a racist.

Of course, Heck is not the first white man to try to suggest Obama is racist. And in this case, it’s not even that euphemistic:

…it can rightly be concluded that Barack Obama disgraces his office, his ancestors, and his place in the eternal struggle for the rights of man.

That’s quite a claim. I wonder how successful it is with black readers.

These tactics are deplorable. It’s a farce to think that conservatives actually have the black community’s interests in mind, and it’s downright offensive that these people are trying to paint themselves as allies. Their motives are malicious, attempting to win votes through fear-mongering and hoping that the voters they sway just ignore the rest of their platform.

If the lack of racial diversity in Tea Party is indication, the tactics aren’t working. Let’s keep it that way.

White Privilege Memes Reemerge as Tea Party Revs Up For November

I don’t update The Meme Collection too often anymore aside from an occasional tweak here and there. When I first started it back in the summer of 2009, I wanted to create a clearinghouse for the kinds of ideas conservatives and libertarians use to articulate their anti-social justice messages. I obviously wasn’t using “meme” in the way the Internet has embraced it, but it seemed an appropriate word for the the underlying themes that inform privileged arguments. The message transforms and gets passed around, but the substance of the meme doesn’t change much.

I’ve noticed that the memes ebb and flow, and lately a few memes have reemerged as quite prominent talking points, particularly among Tea Party conservatives around race. In an attempt to reject accusations of racism, conservative leaders like Glenn Beck and Joseph Farah of World Net Daily have embraced an addictive new blend of the “Reverse Discrimination“, “Colorblind,” and “Friend/Expert” memes that only accentuates their white privilege.

It looks like this: You call us racist? We support all people, and the proof is that people of color stand with us. We are the ones under attack by your false accusations! You’re the racists.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from Joseph Farah entitled, “Have Dems re-enslaved blacks?” He quoted Kevin Jackson of the Black Conservative Coalition defending the Tea Party, claiming that reducing the size of government would amount to “another Emancipation Proclamation” and “This time, even the white folks get freed.”

Farah goes onto say that affirmative action has hurt blacks because their promotions no longer have to do with merit “welfare-style redistribution schemes” have hurt blacks by creating greater dependency and less self-reliance; and that all of the accusations of racism demonstrate that the word is losing its power and meaning.

Essentially, he’s trying to blame the left for racism. He wants the black community to see conservatives as allies but wants the white conservatives to feel like the real victims because of how their precious money has been wasted. After you make sense of his motives, his words become that much more obvious:

In many ways today the black community is less functional than it was during the worst days of the Jim Crow era. Back then, the family structure – the very building block of community – was still intact. Today, the white family is disintegrating the way the black family did following the manipulations of paternalistic government policies.

In effect, it seems, the Democrats, “progressives” and leftists are trying to put whites in bondage to them and government the way they re-enslaved blacks.

It’s absurd, and of course he’s still hawking that preposterous “Negrophilia” book I wrote about before, which is the epitome of the Expert meme: a black man making money off the black community by throwing them under the bus for the rich whites.

Last week, I got a promotion for World Net Daily’s Whistleblower magazine, entitled “Obama and the New Racism.” Echoing Glenn Beck’s accusations of Obama’s racism, this magazine tests the limits of the Reverse Discrimination meme. The first nine words of the promo should be a huge red flag:

America – without question the least racist nation on earth – is witnessing an outrageous upsurge in hardcore racism during the administration of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

Yeah. The United States set the bar high with its truth and reconciliation commissions. Blacks, Latinos, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans have full respect and equality, Central American immigrants are perfectly welcome, and Middle Easterners are just as free to worship anywhere as any other group. Right.

And Joseph Farah has no hesitation when it comes to showing that he has no clue what social justice is about:

Martin Luther King Jr., dreamed of a colorblind America.

Ummmm… no. That’s what white people who don’t want their white privilege called into question dream of.

Whistleblower’s editor, David Kupelian, really steps in it with an irony too genius even for him to see:

We’re witnessing today a textbook example of the rotten totalitarian tactic called,‘Accuse others of the evil you do.’ Thus, not only do the Obama administration and its media propagandists accuse good and decent Americans of being racists just because they object to having their country stolen. But those currently in power – in pursuit of the twisted Marxist notion of ‘social justice’ – have adopted an utterly racist modus operandi for running the affairs of the nation. This betrayal of the dream of Martin Luther King, and of all decent Americans, is a story that needs to be told.

They’re pissed that whites don’t have as much power as they used to, but that doesn’t make them racist! In case you weren’t sure, both Farah and Kupelian are quite white.

Glenn Beck recently “amended” his comment about Obama being racist; Beck now says that Obama practices “liberation theology.” Given how little Obama has actually talked about his own faith, this seems to be quite a stretch, and honestly just another codeword for “Marxist.” (At least liberation theology is Christian, not Muslim.)

Beck’s recent Restoring Honor rally showed just how prevalent the “Colorblind” and “Friend/Expert” memes are becoming. Much of the message of the day was sugar-coated in platitudes about freedom for all. Of course, you have a bunch of white people there to say something needs fixed restored, so it’s a tricky message to navigate. It helps them, though, to have folks like “Dr.” Alveda King there to disgrace the work and words of her uncle. A quisling if ever there were one, she gives the Tea Party a false sense of validation, just because they have one more black person speaking on their behalf. They never point out that all the black people who speak on their behalf (Alveda King, Kevin Jackson, Erik Rush, etc.) all make tons of money for what they say.

In fact, the few black people that show are celebrated at Tea Party events, because the white people are just that insecure that they might be racist. Take a look at this clip:

At the end of the day, there are several serious problems with this approach. First, it’s white people saying they understand race relations better than anybody else. I’ll admit that I’m a white person talking about race, but I’m not trying to tell people of color what their experience is; I’m telling other white people how wrong they are. Second, it’s a painting of race as a white-black issue, ignoring all the inherent racism in the Tea Party’s immigration platform and libertarian politics in general. Third, it continues the distortion of white privilege and the enabling of real racism in our country.

The only way to counter this nonsense is with education. Privilege is not easy to understand nor can it even be fun to talk about. Nevertheless, we must try to make clear the hurt that Tea Party racism causes. I hope that my little Meme Collection can be helpful in this regard.

As far as I’m concerned, America is still one of the most racist countries on earth.

Who Says Teabaggers Aren’t Racist? Here’s One!

Zack Ford, you are a Marxist piece of shit! You really can go “F” yourself! BTW, there is a growing concensus that “The only good Marxist, is a dead one!”  Got to say, I can’t find much of a problem with that saying!
You need to keep playing with the unarmed minds of our young and undereducated citizens, because the American public is waking up to the perversions of the Marxist fantasy! Your kind will never win, because the patriots of this country will use armed force to prevent the Marxist dictatorship you and the Apollo Project envision for this country!
Got to tell you, I really do hate ANYONE who espouses that loser belief system!
In the Spirit of AMERICAN Liberty,

Is there really? A concensus? Or did you mean consensus? No worries; it’s an easy mistake.

What is Marxism? I don’t know. It seems that there are quite a few permutations of it. Which do you mean?

I’ll admit, AZRanger, that I am somewhere between a social democrat and a democratic socialist. I don’t trust the free market to ensure the prosperity of the masses. And I hate to point this out, but there’s been quite a lot of evidence lately to remind me why I don’t trust corporations.

Oh, by the way, if you’ve read this far and wonder what this post is about: the above was a comment that was left on one of my posts.

Now, you’d think that AZRanger was concerned about the post I wrote a couple weeks ago explaining why I don’t respect libertarianism and in which I shared recent data that demonstrates the racial motives of the Tea Party. I pretty much admitted my socialist tendencies in that post.

You might be surprised, though, to find that AZRanger posted his comment on my post last week about Negrophilia, a book that attempts to paint white people as the victims. I can’t imagine why calling out racism would prompt AZRanger to defend capitalism and attack my political leanings, except—oh, that’s right, he probably can’t separate the two. An unrestrained free market (a la Rand Paul) almost certainly ensures continued white dominance over our society. Let’s get back to the comment.

So, what’s  a Marxist? I don’t really know. I’m certainly no student of political philosophy. I can’t help  but think this all sounds a bit McCarthyist. Anyone who doesn’t abide by strict Tea Party politics is a Marxist, a socialist, a communist, and a Nazi, even though many of those words contradict each other or have no relation whatsoever.

Let me just say, I don’t want a dictatorship. I don’t want a revolution. Really, I don’t. Is that the only part you’re worried about? Because if so, then we’re cool, AZRanger.

I do have some socialist leanings, but that’s specifically out of concern for the undereducated and unarmed. We might not be living under martial law, but the control that corporations have over our lives is probably much more severe than we can realize. Where you don’t want a political dictator, I don’t want a financial one. Surely we can appreciate each other’s desire to be free of such oppression.

Here’s my problem, though, AZRanger. You’ve threatened me in a public forum. You disagree with me, and that’s fine, but you don’t seem concerned with helping me understand your point of view. I certainly don’t understand where you stand from what you’ve said here on my blog. You’ve indicated that you would rather wipe me and people who agree with me out. Are you defending America for all Americans, or are you defending America just for people who think like you? It sounds like you are the one who wants to use an armed revolution to take control over our nation or a particular ideology, which would be a violation of our democracy. Am I the threat? Or is it your own paranoia?

I had to look up the “Apollo Project.” I honestly had never heard of it. I assume you didn’t mean the NASA’s Apollo program. There is an Apollo Project that does performance recording, which I suppose I appreciate as a musician. The Apollo Alliance promotes clean energy, so that doesn’t seem to fit. Then again, I should never underestimate Glenn Beck’s ability to purvey creative conspiracy theories (watch the video on FOX News). I’ve watched Beck’s bit, but I just don’t understand what’s at stake or what your problem is, AZRanger. Sounds like Beck’s use of “black nationalist” and “communist” successfully scared you, but I’d be interested to know what you think my connection to this random group might be. Also, is clean energy bad? Are jobs bad? How would you propose reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating new jobs? Maybe we can talk each other out of the crazy tree.

I’m an American. I like liberty. I don’t like hate. Thanks for your comment.

Negrophilia: An Invitation To Racism

WorldNetDaily repeatedly sends out a lot of promotional crap for a lot of crap. “Crap” is perhaps a juvenile descriptor, and yet it rings appropriate. It’s just junk geared to reinforce the narrow narrow beliefs of WND readers. (You may recall my humorous analysis of the iLumina Bible Software from last week.) Today’s offer takes the cake.

It’s for a book called “Negrophilia: From Slave Block to Pedestal – America’s Racial Obsession” by Erik Rush, who was apparently the same fellow who exposed the anti-American ravings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Rush (who’s black! it’s really important you know he’s black!), suggests that:

Whites succumb to Negrophilia when, believing that people of color are somehow more benevolent and less corruptible than themselves, they develop an undue affinity for them.

In other words, this is a book about reverse racism (a concept I find to be completely antithetical to social justice). His thesis is not only that there is no white privilege but that there is, in fact, black privilege. I don’t get fired up to write about race a lot on this blog as often as I should, but this is probably one of the most offensive ideas I have ever seen put forth.

I think it’s definitely fair to say that Rush is a Quisling to his community. He’s essentially giving a stamp of approval for whites to persist in looking down upon blacks. While there might be some truth in that “white politicians schem[e] for personal enrichment,” I don’t think that in any way validates this sordid idea.

And when Joseph Farah, king supreme of the teabaggers, endorses your book as “nothing less than the definitive book on racial politics in America,” you know there’s a problem. I wonder if Erik Rush would agree with Farah that President Obama still needs to present his birth certificate.

I’m not going to so much as touch this book, but let’s see what claims Rush makes in this Negrophilia book of his:

That black Americans did not heroically wrest equality from an unwilling white majority.

We turned the hoses off out of love.

That many of black Americans remain poor and ignorant because that’s the way many politicians and activists want them to remain.

That couldn’t possibly be evidence of the persistence of white privilege, could it?

That few are saying anything even remotely resembling the truth when it comes to the politics of race in America.

Is he trying to be ironic?

How for decades, Americans have been sold a bill of goods regarding blacks that contains the worst kind of intellectual garbage.

Oh, so blacks really are inferior?

Why white guilt is still encouraged, despite unprecedented opportunities for blacks.

Umm… if there are unprecedented opportunities for blacks, why are they still poor and ignorant?

Why, if “whitey” had really wanted to “get” black Americans, they’d be “got.”

Wait! So you’re saying whites really do have supreme power over blacks?

That prior to 1970, blacks were among the most socially conservative groups in America.

Such a Quisling. It’s okay to be conservative racist because for the longest time, all blacks were conservative too! (And I still am! (Because I know I can make money off you idiots at the cost of my own community’s respect!))

That the global financial crisis was brought on in a large part due to well-organized activists, ostensibly acting on the behalf of black Americans.

I got ya. All those greedy white guys that abused the financial system for their own gain were actually trying to help black people, and that’s why our economy collapsed!

How the worldview promoted in America is just as racist as that held by many whites prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

That’s right, Erik Rush! The continued study of white privilege and black oppression is RACIST!

That in America, there are freedom fighters and there are those who would enslave all of us, regardless of race – and it’s time to choose a side.

If you’re sick of kowtowing to black people like I am (as a black person), it’s time to fight. We don’t need to be enslaved as nigger-lovers anymore! We’re going to reclaim America! Yeah!

This is complete filth. You have to love the ironic way Rush is the exceptional proof of his own claims. He’s the one using the ongoing oppression of blacks for his own financial gain.

You want to talk about race in America? Take a critical race theory class.

Below are two clips. The first is a promotional video for this tome of hate. The second is a clip from Time Wise about White privilege. Take a listen to both and decide for yourself which point of view has a leg to stand on.

Continue listening to Tim Wise’s The Pathology of White Privilege: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Brilliance in Advertising – The “So Obnoxious” Kotex Tampon Commercial (Plus “Vogue”)

Like pretty much everybody who dares think of themselves as a friend of mine, I tuned in last night for the return of Glee! And, as expected, it was FABULOUS. If you haven’t watch it yet, who are you? Seriously.

But one of the highlights of the 9:28-10:28 hour came not from Glee itself, but from a commercial that aired during it. At first, it was almost hard to tell if the commercial was actually a commercial or somehow a part of the show. Watch, and you’ll see why:

This commercial was so brilliant that I wanted to buy these tampons.

Okay, maybe not. But, it did make me want to buy those tampons (U by Kotex) more than any other tampon commercial has ever made me want to buy any tampons. Like, I think a lot of guys would feel awkward having to buy tampons for a girl, and I wouldn’t, but if I had to buy tampons for a girl, I would be excited to get to buy these tampons, because if the quality of these tampons in any way resembles the brilliance of their advertising, they are amazing tampons.

I just took a deep breath, and I’m ready to talk about the commercial now.

This is a remarkable commentary on both advertising, race, and patriarchy. Let’s go through it one step at a time, shall we?

Hi, I’m a believably attractive 18-24-year-old female.

See that? Believably attractive. She’s hot, but not too hot. And why 18-24? The market would more realistically look like 12-45, right? Points for superficiality!

You can relate to me because I’m racially ambiguous.

I probably can’t analyze the spokeswoman’s looks without sounding racist myself, but if you think about it, she really is racially ambiguous. She is still white enough to match “flesh-tone” bandaids though, and that’s probably important.

And I’m in this tampon commercial because market research shows girls like you love girls like me.

Who are “girls like you”? In this case, she is talking to the 12-45 crowd! There is a clear distinction to be made between “girls like you” and “girls like me.”

Don’t all these angles make me seem dynamic?

She can kick-box, cheerlead, and blow on a dandelion. She’s both active and delicate! (Women are always delicate. You knew that right?)

Now I’m going to tell you to buy something.

Note the kind of “up the leg” view as she lays on the bed.

Buy the same tampons I use. Because I’m wearing white pants, and I have good hair, and you wish you could be me.

So much for the racially ambiguous. There are extensive commentaries that could be (and have been) written about “good hair” and the racial implications of what “good hair” is and is not. Straight (read: “white”) is still the ideal… we don’t want to see any color in those pants, do we?

Anyways, that brief analysis of the commercial was unnecessary except to demonstrate that this was an extremely effective commercial that appeals to those of us who like to rise above. Haha, I just said “us,” and I’m not even in the market for tampons.

Seeing as how you’ve probably heard enough about tampons for one day, watch the Sue Sylvester “Vogue” video. You know you want to.

Religion Motivates Racism: The Supporting Research

Yes! It’s another research study being featured on ZackFord Blogs! As per usual, I’ll break things down and share some highlights so you get the most out of the research without digging through the whole report yourself.

Today we’re looking at “Why Don’t We Practice What We Preach? A Meta-Analytic Review of Religious Racism” by Hall, Matz, & Wood, published December 16, 2009 in Personality and Social Psychology Review (hat tip: Joe.My.God.). The goal of this study is to look at how religiosity impacts racism. The results may or may not be surprising, but they’re certainly interesting.

Before we even look at the abstract, I just want to clarify what a meta-analysis is. In this study, the researchers looked at 55 studies conducted between 1964 (when the Civil Rights Act passed) and 2008 and developed measures to synthesize the results of all of those different studies into one cohesive report of conclusions. In other words, the report we’re reading today tells us what we can learn from 40 years of studies on the topic of religious racism.

The Abstract

Here’s the gist:

A meta-analytic review of past research evaluated the link between religiosity and racism in the United States since the Civil Rights Act. Religious racism partly reflects intergroup dynamics. That is, a strong religious in-group identity was associated with derogation of racial out-groups. Other races might be treated as out-groups because religion is practiced largely within race, because training in a religious in-group identity promotes general ethnocentrism, and because different others appear to be in competition for resources. In addition, religious racism is tied to basic life values of social conformity and respect for tradition. In support, individuals who were religious for reasons of conformity and tradition expressed racism that declined in recent years with the decreased societal acceptance of overt racial discrimination. The authors failed to find that racial tolerance arises from humanitarian values, consistent with the idea that religious humanitarianism is largely expressed to in-group members. Only religious agnostics were racially tolerant.

Basically, religious people see other races as other religions. Because they see their own religion as morally superior, they are more likely to see other races (religions) as morally inferior. Also, the more likely people are to conform and uphold tradition, the more likely they are to be racist. As we know from recent disaster relief efforts in Haiti, religious groups are more concerned with helping (or converting and then helping) members of their own religion, which reflects what the researchers found that humanitarian values do not motivate racial tolerance.

And yeah, did you see that last little part? The only group who was found to be consistently racially tolerant was the group that regularly questioned religion. Huh.

Read on for more detailed excerpts from the study!

Considering Religious Identity

First, consider the ways that simply identifying with a religious group might motivate racism (p. 3, emphases added):

To the extent that religion tends to be practiced within race, people of other races may appear to belong to religious out-groups. Thus, one basis for the religious identity–racism link is that race serves as a proxy for religious affiliation. Another reason for this link is that people who strongly identify with a religion may be ethnocentric in general. Especially when people undergo early socialization into a particular religion, they might develop a strong tendency to differentiate their own faith from others, and social categorization that contrasts an “us” as opposed to “them” might generalize to other social distinctions including race (Altemeyer, 2003). Further supporting race distinctions, people who appear to be different from the self may be judged to hold different values, perhaps values that are in competition for resources such as political representation or even religious converts. Such perceived competition promotes intergroup prejudice (Sherif, 1966). For example, religious fundamentalists discriminated against homosexuals and single mothers to the extent that these groups were judged to threaten their personally important values (Jackson & Esses, 1997).

It seems as though subscribing to religious belief motivates a characterization of “other” as “bad.” This fits with what Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Slate today about how people’s disgust with homosexuality leads them to condemn it (a worthwhile read itself).

Religious racism also correlates with fundamentalist religious beliefs as well as extrinsic religiosity (religion motivated by social status, security, and acceptance from others) (p.3, emphases added):

Like religion, racism is a set of beliefs that explain societal traditions, especially those associated with social hierarchies involving White dominance in America. Consistent with this reasoning, stronger values of social conformity and traditionalism are associated with greater intergroup prejudice (Schwartz, 1996). Similarly, political conservatives in the United States are more likely than liberals to endorse ethnocentrism and racism (Federico & Sidanius, 2002; Napier & Jost, 2008). Also relevant, the traditional values associated with the Protestant work ethic are central components of ambivalent racism (I. Katz & Hass, 1988) and have been linked with the expression of modern racism (McConahay, 1986) and symbolic racism (Tarman & Sears, 2005).

Studies have also shown that highly religious people “endorse benevolent values of humanitarianism, which reflect selflessness in relations with close others…but not universalism, which involves accepting diversity and expressing concern for the welfare of all people and nature” (p. 4). In other words, humanitarianism itself does not promote racial tolerance because it does not explicitly address out-groups.

Individuals who were intrinsically religious (i.e. “committed to religion as an end in itself”) were more overtly racially tolerant, but were not necessarily less racist (p. 4):

…intrinsically religious people may report racial tolerance largely because of a desire to appear nonracist (Batson & Stocks, 2005) but nevertheless may show racial prejudice when it is indirectly measured.

They talk the talk of tolerance, but they don’t walk the walk of tolerance.

The study also looked at agnosticism, or what they call a quest motivation (a spiritual quest or readiness to face existential questions,  acknowledge religious doubts, and accept change). This definition totally confirms my point of view that some clear distinctions can be made between agnosticism and atheism, though the study found that “quest and racial tolerance in the general population are best understood in terms of a lack of religiosity” (p. 4). The important piece here though is that there were positive associations between quest and racial tolerance.

Some Interesting Findings – Imagery, Cognitive Style, Doubt, and Sex Differences

Here are some of the other interesting ideas from the discussion and conclusion (p. 10, emphasis added):

A related reason why religious in-groups may be prejudiced toward dissimilar others is that the divine in religious worship is often imbued with in-group attributes. That is, religious figures are constructed in believers’ own images. As Xenophanes in the sixth century B.C. noted, “Greek gods were invariably fair skinned and blue-eyed whereas African gods were invariably dark skinned and dark-eyed (joking that cows would surely worship gods that were strikingly cowlike)” (quoted in Epley, Waytz, & Cacioppo, 2007, p. 865).

This discussion point reminds me so much of the movie Dogma (the linked clips have spoilers!). How different would Catholicism be with “Buddy Christ” instead of a crucifix? What if Jesus was black? What if God really was a woman? Imagery reflects and impacts believers in profound ways.

Here we see the way dualistic thinking or belief in one truth over other ways of thinking has profoundly negative consequences (p. 10):

Religious fundamentalism is associated with a rigid, dogmatic cognitive style that preferences one truth and way of being over others and thereby promotes in-group favoritism and out-group derogation. In support, the positive correlation between fundamentalism and prejudice disappeared after controlling for authoritarianism. Thus, the religious fundamentalism–racism relation plausibly was because of authoritarian beliefs as well as conformity values.

In other words, if you don’t believe that there is only one true set of answers to life’s questions, you’re less likely to be racist.

Their research found that “quest” more often reflected agnostic doubt about religion than it did a type of religion itself. Since it was the questioning agnostics who were more likely to express racial tolerance, this added to their conclusion that “religiosity is not associated with racial tolerance” (p. 11).

Another interesting metaregression used distinctions between men and women’s motivations for religiosity to confirm the way values and prejudice are related (p. 11, emphases added):

Additional support for our inference that basic life values underlie religious racism comes from supplementary analyses on the sex composition of the samples. Religious racism should vary with sex because women, compared with men, tend to hold stronger benevolent values that promote religiosity and stronger universalist values that promote tolerance toward out-group members (Schwartz & Rubel, 2005). ….

studies with higher percentages of women were more likely to report that religiosity promoted racial tolerance. In summary, analyses on the attributes of the participants in the original studies were consistent with our claim that basic life values underlie the religion–prejudice relation.


In addition to concluding that “the intergroup dynamics established by religious identification along with conventional life values appeared to drive religious racism” (p. 11), the researchers also defend the generalizability of their findings (p. 11, emphases added):

The participants in the studies we reviewed were predominantly White Christians in the United States. To what extent can our conclusions about religiosity and prejudice be generalized to other cultures and religious faiths? Given that divinities are accorded attributes of the religious groups and that all religions teach moral superiority, we anticipate that religious group identification is typically associated with out-group derogation. An additional reason to suspect that our findings hold across world religions comes from evidence that the conservative values that promote both religiosity and racism are stable across cultures and across religious faiths. …

Moreover, we found no relation between the endorsement of religious doctrine specific to the Christian faith and racial prejudice. It thus seems that the motives to be religious also are a motivator of racism, and these motives appear to be broadly applicable as a framework for understanding religious racism.

So, next time you hear someone arguing that religion can be a force for good in the world, ask them, “at what cost?” and use this study to support your argument. If we want to have a real conversation about “Science vs. Religion,” we can just look at the mounting evidence confirming the negative impacts of religion on society. It’s disturbing and alarming, but honestly, it’s not that surprising.

Some related posts:

» Society Is Better Off Without Religion: The Supporting Research (12/7/09)
» We Have To Stop Letting God Be A Crutch For Hate (11/6/09)

Five Important Similarities Between LGBT Americans and American Immigrants

[Click here to watch all of Thomas Saenz’s speech.]

The opening plenary session at Creating Change featured Thomas Saenz, President of the Mexican-American legal Defense and Education Fund. He spoke at length about comprehensive immigration reform, reminding us that undocumented immigrants and the queer community have significant overlap and commonalities. (THERE ARE LGBT IMMIGRANTS AND THEY HAVE FAMILIES!)

In fact, all weekend, immigration has proven to be an important and salient issue. It’s important to be allies to other causes, of course, but the connection between these two issues informs the salience of talking about comprehensive immigration reform at a conference on LGBT Equality.

Saenz pointed out to us that there are five significant similarities to consider. Here they are, paraphrased:

1. Many members of both communities have to live in silence and the shadows about their status, with fear of violence and hate crimes and anxiety about whether law enforcement will step up and protect them.

2. Both communities have experienced the phenomenon of being characterized as single-issue movements.

3. Both face forces that seek to discount them in the 2010 census.

4. Both are victims of the “deficit of courage” in Washington, DC.

5. Significant portions of our communities remain outside constitutional law by not being identified as suspect classes.

Much in the same way we’ve seen in the Prop 8 trial that the court is the only check available against a voter initiative, there is similarly not due process for the immigration system. Congress has all of the power to determine how folks can immigrate.

One of the unifying opportunities to create progress for both our communities is the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that often goes unnoticed as an LGBT issue.

The most important goal is achieving full equality. We have to get there one way or another. Saenz pointed out that “We must demand comprehensive immigration reform, whether it’s one bill or many small ones.”

These issues aren’t just about sexual orientation or race and ethnicity. We are talking about families.

Social Justice Education = “Indoctrination” and “Reeducation”

Do you know what microaggressions are? Have you ever been in a situation where you were tracking disparities in privilege? Have you ever thought about triggers and the ways you tend to respond to them? Do you understand what white privilege is and why every single white American benefits from it? Do you understand the concept of patriarchy, the way that our society continues to be male-dominated, male-identified, and male-centered? Have you ever stopped to consider the heteronormativity of our society and the way same-sex couples are often condemned for doing the very same things opposite-sex couples do all the time?

Chances are, a lot of the concepts in the above paragraph might be somewhat new to you, and I think that’s totally unfortunate. The important thing to understand is that nothing in that paragraph represents an ideology. It’s social science. It’s an enhanced understanding of the dynamics of identity in our society. More and more, these cultural competencies are recognized as essential skills for educators so that they can better support and respond to the diverse perspectives their students bring into the classroom.

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, is among the universities adding these concepts to their teacher education program. As part of their Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, the task group on Race, Class, Culture, and Gender, has proposed several related outcomes. The following are just a few of these outcomes from the categories of SELF, SELF & OTHERS, SELF & SCHOOLS, and SELF & SOCIETY:

» Our future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.

» Future teachers will understand that they are privileged & marginalized depending on context.

» Teachers will demonstrate the capability for consciousness and awareness of actively monitoring one’s behaviors, cultural assumptions, and knowledge around cross-cultural interactions. It also reflects a level of cultural strategizing during cross-cultural interactions.

» Teachers demonstrate the ability to direct attention and energy toward learning and functioning in culturally diverse situations. It refers to the extent to which teachers are confident about their ability to engage in cross-cultural interactions and the extent to which they find intrinsic satisfaction in these interactions. In other words, it is the extent to which a teacher has the intrinsic drive to learn, perceive, and adapt to culturally diverse students and their culturally complex circumstances.

» Future teachers are able to explain how institutional racism works in schools.

» Future teachers can articulate how schools is a process of social and cultural reproduction.

» Future teachers create & fight for social justice even if it’s just in their classroom – avoiding common and often inappropriate use of suspensions and referrals to special education.

» Our future teachers will be able to construct and articulate a sophisticated and nuanced critical analysis of this story of America, for what it illuminates and what it hides or distorts. In pursuing this analysis, students will make use of, among other concepts and theories, the following:

– myth of meritocracy in the United States

– historical connections between scientific racism, intelligence testing, and assumptions of fixed mental capacity

– alternative explanations for mobility (and lack of it)

– history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values

– history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology

There’s a lot of good stuff in there. As an educator myself, I’m quite impressed with the U’s expectations for their future teachers. American meritocracy is a myth that maintains the hegemony of male and white dominance over society (and let’s not even get into capitalism). It is the myth itself that is the ideology, not the understandings that undermine it.

Enter Katherine Kersten. You may recall her absolutely brilliant reduction of the many (flawed) arguments against same-sex marriage. (If you don’t, click here to read my thorough debunking of it.) She caught wind of the U’s efforts and wrote another brilliant column attacking it.

She gets her bias out of the way right off the bat:

Do you believe in the American dream — the idea that in this country, hardworking people of every race, color and creed can get ahead on their own merits? If so, that belief may soon bar you from getting a license to teach in Minnesota public schools — at least if you plan to get your teaching degree at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.

If you know anything about white privilege (I confess to not knowing as much as I should myself), you know that statement is dripping in it. The basic assumption that everybody has the same access to opportunity regardless of dimensions of identity is so ignorant it boggles my mind that people get away with publishing such ideas in major newspapers these days. But sure enough, that’s what she thinks and there she is in print. You can read her scathing article to see the full extent of her misguided views, but here’s one little fun variation of Godwin’s Law she spins:

The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China’s Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

She goes on to quote a lot of the same objectives I quoted above, but draws a different conclusion:

After indoctrination of this kind, who wouldn’t conclude that the American Dream of equality for all is a cruel hoax?

No indoctrination at all, ma’am. It’s just a more enlightened perspective than you seem to have.

But Katherine Kersten is not the only person FIREd up about this. The good old Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is now involved. Sometimes I respect what The FIRE stands for, but a lot of times not. Protecting Christian student groups from having to abide by sexual orientation non-discrimination clauses doesn’t win you a lot of points in my book. Neither does being the feature topic of an article on WorldNetDaily.

Adam Kissel, an “officer” of The FIRE, is not a happy camper:

“If the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group achieves its stated goals, the result will be political and ideological screening of applicants, remedial re-education for those with the ‘wrong’ views and values, [and] withholding of degrees from those upon whom the university’s political reeducation efforts proved ineffective.”

By any “non-totalitarian” standards, he wrote, the the plans being made so far by the school are “severely unjust and impermissibly intrude into matters of individual conscience.”

I don’t know, but I don’t think the right to be narrow-minded is a right of individual conscience. The mere fact that people pursue degrees in education means that they are, in fact, seeking to learn. The competencies listed above and the others proposed are not indoctrination, but rather unindoctrination, an education that broadens and deepens people’s understandings of the world around them. And it is an education that will have huge positive impacts on the the teachers those students become.

The bottom line is: you can’t teach others if you don’t understand yourself and the role you play in society. That’s what social justice education is really all about. There is no political ideology at stake here, despite what The FIRE seems to think.

Social justice education is scary, because, as I said, it often undoes what many people have wrongly learned over the course of their lives. But just because it is new knowledge and results in cognitive dissonance does not make it wrong, disagreeable, or indoctrination.

I am proud to be a social justice educator, and I commend the University of Minnesota for offering challenging expectations for the future educators they are training. I surely hope they do not let these paranoid know-it-all conservatives intimidate them into backing down from teaching a quality curriculum that would produce incredibly qualified educators.

Teacher Education Redesign Initiative

Why I Have Mixed Feelings About Thanksgiving

Let me be honest, there are a lot of things I like about Thanksgiving. I think it’s nice to get together with the ones you love. I very much enjoy the food that is served. And I like the idea of modesty and not taking things for granted. Showing each other gratitude is never something I would oppose!

But Thanksgiving troubles me for some reasons too.

First of all, how we think about the history of Thanksgiving is blatantly racist, in my opinion. I mean, it was all about how the Native Americans saved the Pilgrims and they all celebrated together! How happy and wonderful! I think these kids do a much better interpretation of what actually happened (Hat Tip: The New Atheist):

Secondly, the roots of the celebration are inherently religious and the holiday continues to maintain a religious connotation. There is an assumption that “giving thanks” means “giving thanks to God.” (It reminds me of Astin’s “Spirituality” study when he asked students if they were “thankful for opportunities in their lives.” Thankful to whom? He claimed the study was not biased against nonbelievers. Right.) If you say you are thankful for anything abstract in your life, you are acknowledging that someone or something is responsible for it.

So, as an example, I am not thankful for my health. I’m healthy, and I’m glad I’m healthy, but I’m not thankful that I’m healthy. No one is responsible for the quality of my health right now except me. Now, there are people who have contributed to my health that I could thank. I might thank the people who farmed and produced the food that keeps me healthy or the people at the grocery store who stock it so I can access it. I might also thank the doctors that helped take care of me when I had surgery last year. But if I’m going to thank those people, I should actually thank them. Sitting around the table with my own family and calling out their names does nothing for them.

Maybe Thanksgiving is supposed to be an exercise in modesty, but then let’s call it that. Gratitude should be targeted at the people worthy of it. To say it at Thanksgiving either assumes that prayer will help deliver the message or that acknowledging the gratitude for ourselves is enough. That seems pretty self-serving, doesn’t it? I think giving thanks is important, but only if you actually give it. Maybe we should rename the holiday to Thankshaving.

Mostly, though, I think people are thanking God. He sure never gets tired of praise, does he? We’re thankful for the harvest, we’re thankful for our family getting here safely, we’re thankful for this food, we’re thankful for the Macy’s parade, we’re thankful to have a roof over our heads and a safe place to sleep, and we’re thankful for the love that fills this home. It all sounds great, until you realize how ludicrous it sounds to give some unknowable unprovable force credit for every damn thing that happens in our lives.

If we’re going to commit a day to recognizing what we appreciate in our lives, then I’m going to be real about it:

I recognize the ridiculously inequitable amount of privilege that I have for the color of my skin in this nation, a privilege I can trace back hundreds of years. I recognize the incredible amount of privilege I still have as a man, privilege that will surely play out at dinners across society as the woman toils to make most of the food but the man sits at the head of the table and cuts the turkey. I recognize that evolution is responsible for the human brain developing the flaw that looks to find meaning in all things that happen in life and I appreciate the fact that I can intellectually rise above and see circumstances for what they really are: merely circumstances. I can recognize that I have a lot of great things going for me in my life, and I probably don’t do enough to show appreciation to those who contribute to making it that way.

And lastly, thank you to all of you who have read ZackFord Blogs since I started it back in January. It means a lot to know that people are interested in reading what I have to write and taking the time to do so. Truly, thanks. To those of you traveling this week, be safe! I sincerely hope you have a wonderful, loving holiday with your family, friends, and loved ones.

South Park, The F-Word, and The N-Word

FAIR WARNING: I use the words in their unabbreviated versions in this post.

South Park Gays Against FagsThis week’s South Park episode took another stab at the interesting way language is used in American society. The boys spend the episode convincing everybody that “faggot” and “fag” should refer to annoying Harley riders, going so far as to try to change the printed dictionary definition. Even the gays rally against the fags. By my count, permutations of the word appeared 86 times in the episode.

GLAAD says they got the joke, but it wasn’t funny:

This is a slur whose meaning remains rooted in homophobia. And while many South Park viewers will understand the sophisticated satire and critique in last night’s episode, others won’t – and if even a small number of those take from this a message that using the “F-word” is OK, it worsens the hostile climate that many in our community continue to face.

Joe over at Joe.My.God noticed an excellent comment on the NYT piece that I’d like to expand upon: “If they had used the “n” word instead of the “f” word, what would the response have been?”

Let’s get real for a second. Words are combinations of sounds created by different contact points in our mouth. They don’t have any higher power other than what humanity has determined they should have. Humans have been naming things since we could. Naming is so important that when someone wrote a book about the supposed “first” humans, they were given names and given the responsibility to name just about everything else. We needs words to describe things, and unfortunately, when people are looking to describe things negatively, there are words for that too.

There are a lot of words that society considers “profane” (reminding us of the religious privilege to set standards in society by what pleases and displeases God). There are the words that refer to things we find to be gross (fuck, shit, douche, asshole, piss, cunt, etc.) and the expressions that directly disrespect God (“Go to hell,” Goddammit,” etc.). The gross words earned their disgust because of their literal definitions and the sensitivity of believers helped the direct profanity of God develop its literary power. But then there is a whole different category of words designed to specifically target people because of who they are. These are words that have no other possible meaning and that can never be reappropriated.

The existence of these words is a permanent stain on humanity. The fact that there was a time that people thought these words needed to exist or thought there was reason to use them is an ugliness we can never undo. We can’t forget them, we can’t hide them, we can only do our best to not say them. Their etymologies are irrelevant because in modern American English they can only mean one thing.

“Nigger” only means one thing. I cringed typing it, and you probably cringed reading it. It’s there. It’s never going away. We have to recognize that we cannot escape the hate behind it. Members of the black community might find strength in attempting to “reclaim” it, but I see nothing to reclaim. It only means one thing. There are members of our species who did (and still do) think that one race of people was intellectually and morally inferior to another by their very existence, and this was a word to convey their hatred and disgust for those people. It can mean nothing else and there is no way to use it that would not imply the deepest offense and hatred to an entire segment of our population. Some might be unforgiving in my choice to type it out in this post, but I hope you come to see that is the very point I wish to convey about it. (Go back and read my first paragraph—were you as upset by my three uses of the f-word?)

I typed the n-word out once, and the paragraphs of disclaimer for why I did so are probably not enough to appease those who are infuriated by its existence. We are all right to be furious that we cannot escape the past and to be unforgiving to those who might try to ignore that past for their own devices.

This is what South Park demonstrated this week in the most hypocritical way, though I expect Trey Parker and Matt Stone would admit as much. They fell on this one to make their point. GLAAD is exactly right: the f-word causes immense pain and anguish for our community. Regardless of its intricate etymology (which the South Park episode actually details accurately), the f-word only means one thing in modern American English. Unlike the way I wrote this post, South Park used an offensive word often and unapologetically, and it is easy to see how the satire might be lost on viewers.

As a member of the gay community, I openly despise the f-word to the same extent I despise the n-word. I have been called it enough times to know the pure spite behind it. I don’t use it, and I refuse to humor other gay men who might choose to openly identify by it. When I hear someone say, “Omigod, I KNOW! I’m like a total fag!” I hear an invitation for abuse. I see a disrespect for those who have been so hurt by the word. Some have committed suicide for such taunts. For some it’s the last word they hear as they are beaten to death. There is nothing gained by trying to embrace it.

South Park is amazing art. Its goal is to make us think and engage in dialogue and to that end it continues to be very successful. But think about if you had casually heard the word “nigger” about once every 15 seconds for an entire episode of television. Would it take the existence of an organization like GLAAD to be the sole voice defending the defamed group? I doubt it. We would all condemn it (as I still expect many will condemn me for using it in this post, a condemnation I would welcome because it proves my point).

We got a harsh reminder this past week from Maine that we are a long way from queer equality. People can unflinchingly vote away marriage equality. People are susceptible to myths and lies that portray the gay community in a negative and hurtful light. While some like to think everything is peachy keen when it comes to LGBT issues, we have a long way to go in changing not just the laws, but the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens.

Watching this South Park episode can be extremely painful, but in a week full of pain, it should serve as an extra reminder of how far behind we are. The point of the episode isn’t just that you can’t change the definition of an offensive word. The mere fact that South Park could get away with this episode should be a wake-up call to how insensitive the public is to the continued plight of the gay community.

You can watch the full episode here.

South Park Fag Flags