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Friday, January 19, 2007

Further evidence that we enjoyed more freedom under Gerald Ford than we have before or since 

I never really cared for Norman Lear.

I thought that the characters on his shows were, for the most part, one-dimensional stereotypes representing various positions, rather than living breathing human beings.

But as we get further and further into the twenty-first century, I'm appreciating him more and more.

I've already talked talked (sorry, listening to a new CD) about modern-day attempts to ban the use of the word "nigger." Well, as Evelyn Erives and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bill Handel reported this morning, there is a concerted effort to ban the use of another word. Let's have Harvey Levin get out of the water and tell us what's going on:

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is demanding an apology from "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington for continually making homophobic remarks. In the past four months, Washington has used the offensive term "faggot" twice in reference to co-star T.R. Knight....

In an interview at Monday's Golden Globes, Washington denied using the offensive term by ... using the offensive term. "No, I did not call T.R. a faggot."

And it's not just GLAAD that's complaining:

Katherine Heigl has had more than enough of the F-word (the gay slur), and thinks her co-star Isaiah Washington should quit using it, forever....

Heigl is "not cool" with Washington's hurtful comments.

Well, someone didn't get the message from the political correctness brigade. To wit:

Once upon a time, I worked with a super-liberal group of people, where we regularly debated issues of racial, gender and sexual orientation equality. My first week on staff, I attended a weekend retreat to discuss race as it related to HIV prevention and care.

I was young and naive, but the facilitator opened my eyes to some interesting definitions of racism.

Blacks, Latinos, Asians -- any racial minority living in America -- can't be racist. They can have prejudices, for sure. They can hate other races and discriminate all they want. But they can't be racist, because racism is a construct of power. Those who have power -- white people -- can discriminate in ways minorities cannot. And that makes it racism, which is not simple prejudice.

I also learned that everyone has prejudice. And every white person is racist. Living in our society makes it so. No matter how liberal your thinking is, how open to learning you are, how many black friends you may have -- something deep inside you makes you racist, even if just a little bit.

So, not everyone is racist. But every white person is.

It goes on:

There was another event at that little lefty agency that defines who I am, right now, even more.

One morning I came to work infuriated. The night before, I had watched some 20/20/Primetime Live/Dateline/60 Minutes program. One of the reporters made a statement about gender that perhaps showed some minor insensitivity to sex or sexual orientation issues.

I was 26 and fired up. I marched into my boss's office upon arriving. "You will not believe what I saw last night!" I exclaimed, and told her about the show.

"You know, Brian," she sighed, "I never want to watch TV with you."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because, long ago, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted some peace in my life, if I didn't want to be angry at the world all the time, I just had to let some things go," she said. "When I watch TV or a movie, I concentrate on the moment. I try to be entertained because so much in the rest of our lives is so difficult."

In retrospect, I find that a tremendously valuable lesson.

So true. Look at some of the things that have been lumped under the term Christian persecution:

Recently, a woman in Houston, Texas was ordered by local police to stop handing out gospel tracts to children who knocked on her door during Halloween. Officers informed her that such activity is illegal (not true), and that she would be arrested if she continued. In Madison, Wisconsin, the Freedom from Religion Foundation distributes anti-Christian pamphlets to public school children entitled, "We Can Be Good Without God." The entertainment industry and syndicated media increasingly vilify Christians as sewer rats, vultures, and simple-minded social ingrates. The FBI and the Clinton White House brand fundamentalist Christian groups as hate mongers and potential terrorists. The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago warns that plans by Southern Baptists to hold a convention in the Windy City next year might foment "hate crimes" against minorities, causing some Christians to fear that speaking openly about their religious beliefs will soon be considered a crime.

Sorry, but this is not persecution. Perhaps these events may be precursors to persecution, but these events in and of themselves are not persecution. Slacktivist put it this way, citing Matthew 5:10-12:

scarcely a day goes by, regardless of whether or not it is "Justice Sunday," in which some group of American Christians does not claim that they are facing "persecution."

They dare to use that word.

This is delusional, pathological. These people are insane. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ -- and the brothers and sisters of those Christians facing actual persecution in the world's forgotten corners -- but they are insane.

When protected, privileged and pampered American Christians claim to be facing persecution they spit on the wounds of their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world and in history who have known firsthand what religious persecution really is. They mock not only their fellow Christians in this great cloud of witnesses, but also those of other faiths who have suffered or are, now, today, suffering genuine persecution.

Apply this lesson, and extend as necessary.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

Thank you for pointing out the ridiculousness of crying "persecution" over the dumbest things. It really drives me crazy.

I agree that all of us have prejudices, and most of us don't realize we have them. I like to think I don't, but then I am surprised to find myself thinking something which proves otherwise and I am ashamed.
We tend to be self-centered (I believe we're born that way), so we're more likely to magnify things that happen to ourselves, and discredit things that happen to others.

For example, if there were a plane crash in India in which all of the passengers died, including 3 Americans, there are probably some of us who would focus on the deaths of the 3 Americans and ignore the others.
Yep. Pretty sad.
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