Saturday, October 29, 2005

Breaking news: Girls beheaded

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that three girls were beheaded in Indonesia today as they walked to their Christian high school. There is no official word about who the assailants were but some clues may be 1) the fact that this occurred in a region where many Christians have been bombed and assassinated by radical Muslims, 2) this is part of a wider conflict which intensified soon after the arrival of a group called the “Laskar Jihad” 3) according to another article the head of one of the girls was placed near a Christian Church. Remember that this comes from the same tolerant Muslim country that recently sentenced three Christian Sunday School teachers to prison for allowing some Muslims to attend their classes even though the kids had their parent’s permission!

Anyway, these beheadings happened just hours ago so lets see if any of the networks, major newspapers or news magazines pick this story up. Let’s see if we hear the outrage by Hollywood and the media that we hear when American soldiers “desecrate” the Qur’an or humiliate Muslim terrorist-prisoners (don’t hold your breath).

While we’re talking about radical Muslims, in yesterday’s post I mentioned the news reporting that tens-of-thousands of Iranians had taken to the street in support of wiping Israel off the map. The Associated Press is reporting today that the number was actually over one million! While there are certainly a lot of good, peaceful Muslims in the world (see my October 27 post on the riot for one example) the fact is that militant, radical Muslims are not just the tiny fringe that some people seem to believe.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wiping Israel off the map

During a conference on Wednesday (called “The World without Zionism”), Iran’s president called for Israel to be “wiped off the face of the map.” He also said,

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world…" "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world." This morning’s news reported that tens-of-thousands of Iranians had taken to the streets—in FAVOR of wiping Israel off the face of the map!
What I find interesting is how, when President Bush overthrows a brutal monster (who had been in violation of UN sanctions for years), spends billions to rebuild that country and to give the people free elections and their own constitution—many of those on the left spew their vitriolic, acidic hatred against Bush as if he were evil incarnate (its one thing to disagree, but the left has gone way beyond disagreement). But when the president of Iran publicly calls for what amounts to genocide against a free and democratic ally, the silence by the left is deafening.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Breaking News: Harriet Miers

CBS News is reporting that Harriet Miers has withdrawn from consideration as a Supreme Court justice.

The riot in Alexandria

On Monday I commented on the riot of Muslims in Alexandria, Egypt against a Christian church. For an absolutely outstanding article on this riot written by an Egyptian Muslim journalist, see Asharq Alawsat; “the leading Arabic International Daily.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The United Nations and the internet

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a private U.S. company that administers worldwide internet domains, like .com, .org, .edu, .gov, .ca, etc. It does not do anything with regard to governing or censoring content. There is a movement that would seek to transfer this control to the United Nations! Sure, that's just what we need--internet oversight by an organization with input from such freedom of speech giants as China, Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia! The idea that the organization that brought us the food for oil scandal would have anything at all to do with overseeing the internet, sounds like a potential censorship nightmare!

On October 17, 2005, Senator Norm Coleman introduced Senate Resolution 273 calling on the President “to continue to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet to the United Nations or any other international entity.” This resolution can be found at “Thomas.” If you’d like to express your support for this resolution you can contact Senator Coleman via his website. If you honestly think that United Nations oversight of the internet is a good thing, you might find this site helpful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The (final) solution to the race problem

Kamau Kambon was a visiting professor at North Carolina State University and, previously, a professor of Education at St. Augustine College in Raleigh. He was also the recipient of a “Citizen’s Award” by the Independent Weekly, a local left-wing (of course) newspaper. In a C-SPAN televised event at Howard University Law School, on October 14, Mr. Kambon told the audience that “White people want to kill us” and that white people:

"have retina scans, they have what they call racial profiling, DNA banks, and they're monitoring our people to try to prevent the one person from coming up with the one idea. And the one idea is, how we are going to exterminate white people, because that in my estimation is the only conclusion I have come to. We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem." (WorldNetDaily)

I should probably be furious at this—I know I would be furious if I heard some white guy express such views against blacks—but I really just feel sorry for Mr. Kambon. If he really believes this nonsense, I have to wonder about his mental state (paranoia?). What concerns me more, however, is how someone with violent views like this is hired in to teach students at a college and university.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Muslims riot in Alexandria

A riot broke out last Friday when thousands of Muslims in Alexandria, Egypt protested a play that had been performed in a Christian church two years ago, but was currently being distributed on DVD. The play was apparently about a young Christian who converts to Islam and becomes disillusioned. The word on the street was that the play was anti-Islamic, though few interviewed had actually seen the play or DVD. Security forces fired tear gas into the crowd in an attempt to protect the church from the Muslims who were trying to storm the building. That was like throwing gasoline on a fire and the mob started overturning cars, setting them on fire, throwing large stones, smashing storefronts and looting. Three people were killed and many more were injured.

Christianity is “tolerated” in Alexandria and while the government says Christians are treated as equals, according the New York Times, “Few Christians hold high positions in the military and security forces, for example, and efforts to build or repair churches are often blocked.” Several Muslims who were interviewed thought their “tolerance” for Christianity was being taken for granted and abused. One Christian who was interviewed thought there must be a mistake about the play, saying “We would never do something like that.” A Muslim agreed with him saying, “I am Muslim, he is Christian, we are like brothers…This is ignorant and irresponsible behavior that must have something to do with the upcoming elections.”

The story above is a summary of “Egyptian Police Guard Coptic Church attacked by Muslims,” by Michael Slackman (October 23, 2005, New York Times). I love the part where the Muslim says to the Christian, “we are like brothers.” I hope there are many more like him—May their numbers increase. I am concerned, however, about the thousands of protesters who seem to have a very warped view of “tolerance.”

Friday, October 21, 2005

Poverty and violence

A guest professor from Syracuse University, said on Hannity and Colmes (Wednesday, October 19, 2005) that poverty was an explanation for the recent riots in Toledo (You may recall seeing video on TV of a mob throwing big rocks at the windshield of an ambulance)!

As someone who knows something about poverty first hand, I get tired of these rationalizations. My parents (and most others of their generation) grew up in poverty during the Great Depression. Due to circumstances in my dad’s life, he never got beyond eighth grade and although he was a very hard worker, I doubt that our family ever lived much above the poverty level. My dad usually had an old used car, was often up to his neck in debt and even had to declare bankruptcy once. My parents, brothers and I once lived in a home that didn’t even have running water. Water had to be carried in from a well on my grandfather’s farm and the water for baths had to be heated up on the stove. My dad rigged up a makeshift toilet so we didn’t have to use the outhouse—but he had to carry the contents out in a bucket every day.

In my upper grade-school years our situation had improved significantly (we had running water!), but then a local economic depression resulted in my dad being laid off from work. Since there were no jobs in the area, he had to move away to look for work. At one point, the money got so scarce my brother and I had to shovel snow from sidewalks just to scrape together enough money for food.

Most people would say the house I lived in during Junior High and High School was a dump, but at least we had a regular paycheck coming in again. And speaking of my Junior High and High School, a guy I know who went through this same public school system was later sentenced to prison. Several years into his sentence he told me that prison life was not as stressful as life in that public school system! The total amount of money my parents contributed to my college education was twenty-five bucks so the only way I was able to finance college was through student loans and the G.I. Bill (which, by the way, was open to people regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, or financial status).

During my university days, my wife and I lived in a small trailer that had been used as a storage shed just before we moved in. During my first professional position, we lived in a small house in an urban area where (I stongly suspect) drugs were being sold out of the house accross the street and where someone had been murdered in a nearby park where we had brought our kids to play.
Of course mine is only one story. Millions of Americans, both urban and rural, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, have experienced poverty (many much worse than mine), and yet have not robbed, raped, burned, or looted. As individuals and as a society we need to help people get out of poverty (I am extremely grateful for the G.I. Bill!), but excusing violent behavior by blaming it on poverty just perpetuates the problem by allowed the perpetrators to shift the blame to something other than themselves.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Condoleezza Rice for (Vice) President

I understand that rumors are flying in Washington to the effect that Vice President Dick Cheney may step down over leaks in the Valerie Plame incident (If Mr. Cheney had anything to do with leaking Ms. Plame’s name to the press, he ought to step down). If the rumors prove to be true and Mr. Cheney does step down, I’d like to put the full weight and influence of the Recliner Commentaries (that and five bucks can get you lunch at McDonalds :-) behind Condoleezza Rice for Vice President. In fact, although she has emphatically denied that she will run for president, I sincerely hope she changes her mind. I think she would make a great president!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Originalists and assisted suicide

On the radio last week conservative talk show host (and lawyer) Laura Ingrham argued that the Supreme Court needs the best constitutional minds that the conservative side has to offer, and that Harriet Miers is not one of them. I think Ms. Ingrham has a good point. On the other hand, I am a little concerned that some of the conservative attacks against Ms. Miers are simply due to the fact that she is not the judicial bulldog conservatives would have preferred. This makes me concerned that some of those on the right would be just as guilty of judicial activism as those on the left.

Take, for example, the assisted suicide case (Gonzalez vs. Oregon) now before the Supreme Court. Many conservatives want Supreme Court justices who will vote against assisted suicide even though (as far as I can tell) there is nothing in the Constitution that would prohibit Oregon (at least in principle) from implementing a voter-approved assisted suicide program. Therefore, regardless of my personal opinion on assisted suicide, if I were on the Supreme Court I would probably have to vote to let Oregon’s law stand (ignoring, for purposes of this illustration, other issues like interstate regulation of drugs, etc.).

Such a vote would outrage many conservatives because, like those on the left, what many conservatives really want is someone who will vote for their side of the issues. But when Supreme Court justices read their own personal preferences into the Constitution, it is a dangerous threat to our freedom regardless of whether such judicial activism comes from the right or the left.

I predict that if judge Roberts, our new Chief Justice, votes to let this Oregon law stand, many conservatives will immediately jump to the conclusion that he has betrayed the conservative cause. But as long as he rules based on what the Constitution actually says and—to the best of his ability to determine—what the framers intended, he will have remained true to conservative values, even if we don’t like the outcome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Legislating morality

The Christian right generally supports laws against abortion, euthanasia, pornography, prostitution, the recreational use of drugs, etc. Many people are fed up with these attempts by the Christian right to “legislate morality.” What some don’t seem to understand, however, is that the “left” also tries to regulate morality. For example, the number of environmental, civil rights and workplace laws and regulations is mind boggling! The Federal Register, the official compendium of these regulations, is over 75,000 pages long (costing the American taxpayer $860 billion dollars to enforce)! I’m not saying all these laws are necessarily bad, but many of them are sacred cows to those on the left and anyone who thinks these laws are not legislating morality is deluding themselves.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rehnquist v. West Wing

West Wing is one of my favorite TV shows, but on Sunday night's episode, the new presidential candidate, Matt Santos, said something about how the framers of the Constitution knew that with all the different religions in America, our government’s official religion would have to be no religion at all. This blather is either a sorry display of ignorance or a blatant propaganda campaign. Contrary to the opinion expressed by the writers of West Wing, our former Supreme Court Chief Justice believed that:

“The Establishment Clause did not require government neutrality between religion and irreligion nor did it prohibit the Federal Government from providing nondiscriminatory aid to religion. There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the ‘wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson…The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned” (Chief Justice Rehnquist, quoted in Men in Black, by Mark Levin, 45).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance and Declaration of Independence

If—as a California court decided—it is unconstitutional for public school students to recite “one nation under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance, is it also unconstitutional for students to recite the Declaration of Independence? The Declaration of Independence speaks of “Nature’s God” and says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” It concludes by appealing to the “Supreme Judge of the world....”

If reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a public school is unconstitutional, then surely it must also be unconstitutional to recite the Declaration of Independence in a public school. On the other hand, can you imagine anything more absurd than thinking that the framers of the Constitution
--men who founded this country--would think that it should be unconstitutional for children to recite their Declaration of Independence in schools?! It is just as absurd to think that they would have dissapproved of Ten Commandments in courthouses, Christmas songs in schools, or nativity scenes in parks. But frankly, I doubt that the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation really care what the founders of this great country wanted or intended.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

America, the great satan

Yesterday I spoke disparagingly of the Indian caste system that ingrains discrimination into the very fabric of their culture. But I shouldn’t just pick on Indian culture. Let’s take a peek at some other cultures as well:

The Shluh people (Morocco) lived in a stratified (racist) society that placed Jews and slaves at the bottom. The Aranda tribe (Australia) historically used rape and the spearing of limbs to punish crimes. The Masai tribe (Kenya and Tanzania) cut the clitoris off their girls and cut the lower incisor teeth out of both boys and girls. Polygamy was the ideal for the Hausa people (West Africa) and men could have up to four wives. Boys learned very early that they were considered superior to girls.

The Garo people (India) considered the position of women to be equivalent to the position of children. The Akan people (Cote d’Ivoire) traded in slaves (both children and adults) obtained from northern Muslim slave dealers. The descendants of slaves purchased by the Amhara people (Ethiopia) were at the bottom of the social scale in their culture. Slavery was abolished in Madagascar by the French in the 1800’s, but being a slave ancestor was considered a shameful thing and resulted in discrimination up to modern times.

The Igbo people (Nigeria) thought it was a bad thing for a mother to have twins, or for babies to be born feet first. In such cases, the mothers were blamed for these “unnatural births” and the babies were taken out of the village, placed in clay pots and left to die. Some of the Bororo tribes (Brazil) killed their infant daughters to make those who survived more in demand by men. The shortage of women, however, led Bororo men to kidnap women from other tribes. Other South American tribes were equal opportunity baby-killers, making no distinction between boys or girls with regard to infanticide. The Bororo, of course, were not the only ones who kidnapped women. For example, the Ahagmiut (Canada) dealt with a shortage of women by wife stealing. This, of course often led to blood feuds and murder.

Warfare was a way of life for the Yanoama people (Brazil). The goal of their numerous raids was to kill as many enemy as possible and to abduct the enemy’s women. Keeping their own women in line was probably easy since their culture considered it legitimate for husbands to beat, burn, cut or even shoot their wives with barbed arrows—as long as they shot their wives in non-lethal body parts. In fact, in Yanoama culture, men who were brutal to their wives were respected by other men.

For Bemba (Congo) women, being beaten by their husbands was accepted as a way of life. If the wife happened to get a drop of menstrual blood on her husband’s bed, she would be punished by having her skin burned. The Bemba chief maintained his power with methods like mutilation, slavery and death. In the Trkano tribe (Brazil) a researcher reported that a madman killed and ate his children, then cut off, roasted and ate one of his wife’s breasts. None of the tribe intervened because “it was his own wife and children.” At a victory dance in the same tribes, the men wore the smoked genitals of enemy warriors and gave the women of their tribe the severed penises to eat for fertility.

Warfare was also a way of life among the Aymara tribes (Bolivia and Peru). The victors often ate and drank the blood of their captives after the victims were tortured. The Azande people (Central African Republic and the Congo) also engaged in cannibalism. Treachery and murder was honored by the Orokaiva people (Papua New Guinea). In fact, men who had not yet murdered someone were sometimes mocked by the village women. In one case, girls were sent to marry men from an enemy tribe. They brought their new husbands home to a welcome party—after which the new husbands were killed and eaten. Beating women is an accepted part of this culture also.

All of this information comes from primary research reports contained in a database known as the Electronic Human Relations Area Files. I wrote the summary above in the past tense even though some of these practices apparently continue to this day. I haven’t even begun to touch on all the tribes covered in this database, neither have I mentioned the millions and millions of people who, at various times in history, have been tortured, starved, slaughtered or enslaved by countries like Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Iraq, Uganda, Cambodia, Japan, Sudan etc.

My purpose is not to demonize all these tribes and countries, nor is it to let America off the hook for our own national sins (and they are many)—but I suspect that some people have heard so much of the endless harangue against the evils of America that they began to conclude that America is the world’s great satan and source of the world’s evil. This is shear nonsense. St. Paul wrote that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and I am quite convinced that this is just as true of cultures as it is of individuals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Indian Supreme Court and Discrimination

On October 18 an important hearing is scheduled before the Supreme Court—not in America but the Supreme Court in India. India’s caste system ingrains discrimination and bigotry into the very fabric of Indian culture. The Dalits (Untouchables) are at the bottom of a pecking order that often denies them jobs and education, and traps them in poverty and illiteracy.

Under British rule lower classes were granted limited affirmative action rights. The Indian Constitution, therefore, allows the president to designate castes or groups as “Scheduled Castes” which provides opportunities in education and jobs in order to correct the historic disadvantage. In 1950 the President of India introduced a Constitutional Order that limited “Scheduled Caste” opportunities to Hindus. The Order was later amended to include Sikhs and Buddhists, but Christian and Muslim Dalits still do not have these rights—including some legal rights which is why Hindus often commit, and get away with, violence against Dalit Christians.

On October 18, India’s Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging the legality of the 1950 Constitution Order. The outcome could potentially liberate millions of Christian and Muslim Dalits. Hindu nationalists are strongly opposing this freedom (summarized from Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin).

Americans often focus so narrowly on our own problems that we don’t even realize that there are other countries—India being only one example—in which discrimination, bigotry, and hatred are so ingrained in the fabric of the culture that they make America look practically perfect by comparison. Hmmm, I wonder if that could be one reason we have an immigration problem.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Police brutality and racism in New Orleans?

TV news has been showing a video clip of some white police officers beating and kicking a 64 year old black man who had allegedly assaulted one of the officers, was resisting arrest, and was intoxicated (the victim, Robert Davis, says he hasn’t had a drink in 25 years). The beating looked severe and Mr. Davis, lying on the ground with two police officers on top of him, looked like he was either resisting or trying to avoid the blows—what would you do if you were being beaten?

I’ve been hesitant to weigh in on this one yet because short video clips don’t tell the whole story. Judging from the video clip alone, we don’t know what happened before the video and we don’t know if the guy was on drugs making him very difficult to subdue. But on the other hand, when one of the officers saw an Associate Press cameraman videoing the incident, even though the cameraman showed his press credentials, the officer grabbed the cameraman by the shirt, slammed him up against a car, and read him the riot act in very, shall we say, colorful language. So if the officers were just performing their duties by the book, why were they so concerned about an AP cameraman?

I generally sympathize with police—they have a very tough, almost impossible, job—but I’ve read that the New Orleans police department has been plagued by complaints of brutality, and it certainly looks to me like this was one of those cases. If the investigation demonstrates this to be the case, or worse yet, if the incident is found to be racially motivated, the officers need to be fired and face criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. The new police chief needs to send a very clear message that there will be a no-tolerance policy for brutality and racism on the new, New Orleans police force.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Multiculturalism and diversity

I spent a whole day in multicultural/diversity meetings last week. It seemed to me that my views are out of the mainstream, even in the Christian community, which, in large part appears to me to have bought into contemporary multiculturalism. Some of my views on the issue are summarized below:

First, the ultimate goal should be to work toward a having a culture in which ethnicity and skin color are about as relevant as the color of ones eyes. I think Martin Luther King was exactly right, that people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Unfortunately, it seems to me that too many Americans want to relativize character and emphasize race.

Second, I am convinced that our national obsession with multiculturalism and diversity is the wrong way to go about achieving unity, as evidenced by the fact that some colleges have become even more segregated, not less so (I understand that some colleges have experimented with segregated dorms, lunchrooms and graduations). There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s ancestry, but we will never arrive at unity by obsessing on superficial things that make us different, like skin color or national origin.

Third, no one should be held personally responsible for the behavior of their parents, grandparents or other ancestors. Holding people responsible for the sins of their ancestors is the root of endless and horrendous racial hatred and bloodshed around the world. This kind of perpetual hatred can go on for centuries as evidenced by the fact that some Muslims still hate Christians for the Crusades which happened a thousand years ago! Literally everyone could find something in their past to hold against another nation, race or religion. The Jewish prophet Ezekiel (18:20), who is respected by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, insisted that, “The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.” If the world had only learned this lesson, countless lives might have been spared.

Fourth, the fact that no one should be held personally responsible for the sins of their ancestors does not necessarily rule out government efforts to make amends for its past sins. Kind David, for example, tried to make amends for the evil his predecessor, King Saul, had committed against people known as the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21). That doesn’t mean David was personally responsible for King Saul’s evil, but it does indicate that it is an honorable thing for a nation to make amends for its past sins. For thirty years America has been making amends for its past sins with affirmative action. Maybe America needs to do more (reparations?), but at some point the debt needs to be cancelled or forgiven and everyone needs to move on. Maybe its time to move on to discussions of what remains to be done, and when enough will be enough—because if it will never be enough, see the third point above.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Gay panic and murder

A man named Estanislao Martinez was drinking with someone he thought was a women. When they went back to Martinez’ apartment together, Martinez soon discovered that the “woman” he had picked up was in fact a man (Joel Robles). This so shocked and infuriated Martinez that he murdered Robles by stabbing him 20 times with a pair of scissors! Martinez’ lawyer got him off with a mere four years in prison using a novel new defense: “gay panic.”

The idea that that a man would deliberately lead another man into a physical relationship by posing as a woman is disgusting to me (there ought to be a law against it)! And yet, as disgusting as this is to me personally, it is a terrible miscarriage of justice when someone can stab another human being to death and spend only four years in prison for his crime!

I might have been able to understand the four-year prison sentence if—when Martinez discovered that Robels was a man—Martinez became so enraged that he struck or pushed Robels in a way that unintentionally resulted in Robels’ death. But for Martinez to murder Robels by stabbing him twenty times and only get four years in prison…that is not justice! Rather than four years, forty-four years in prison would have been something a little closer to justice.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Racism at Northeastern

The following is an article that appeared in the “ifeminists” column of the Fox News website, entitled “A White Oppressor? Who, Me?” The article is copied below in its entirety with the permission of the author, Wendy McElroy.

Your daughter is enrolled at a major university that has well-defined policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race. She decides to attend a campus event. The organizers forbid her entry because of her skin color: white.

Under concerted pressure from the Student Government Association, which prohibits racial discrimination at school-sponsored events, the organizers grudgingly admit your daughter. But they make a point of publicly humiliating her from the podium for the color of her skin.

On Sept. 25, the Women's Studies and Graduate Consortium at Northeastern University in Boston held a public on-campus meeting called “Breaking Bread: Women of Color Dialogue.” White women were barred.

The SGA demanded that no student be denied entry to a public, on-campus event because of skin color. This was not merely a moral stand but also a demand that the university-sponsored event comply with the university's non-discrimination policy. (Exclusion on the basis of gender seems to have raised no comment.)

Rather than cancel the event, Dr. Robin Chandler -- director of women's studies and an organizer of the event -- cracked the door wide enough for white women to walk through. Only one attended -- a senator from the SGA. Her presence was obviously meant to make the point that students cannot be excluded from campus events due to race.

In NU, Northeastern's student newspaper, Chandler described her response to allowing a white woman to attend. "I welcomed her anyway, in addition to telling the audience to conduct themselves with integrity even though the presence of a white woman was unwelcome," she said.

Chandler continued, "I think it's a shame that one or two white students based on white privilege, a lack of awareness of racial issues and a lack of generosity of spirit complained to the office of the provost and were able, because they were white, to gain admission to the morning session that I was forced to open up."

At a university-funded event some while back, Chandler gave a closing speech that was followed by speeches from spectators, who were encouraged to come on-stage to "share their thoughts about diversity and oppression."

I'd like to take Professor Chandler up on the offer to share my thoughts. First of all, in what dictionary did Chandler look up the word "welcome?" And since when has protesting discrimination demonstrated a "lack of awareness of racial issues" and a "lack of generosity of spirit?"

Before deteriorating into an uncharacteristic rant, however, I should clarify where I stand on the "race question." For most of my life, I have been neither proud nor ashamed of being white -- although I rather enjoy being Irish. My race is not something I achieved; it is a circumstance of birth over which I had no control. I judge people, including myself, on the content of their character and their actions.

My family through marriage includes blacks, Hispanics, and plain vanilla sorts like me. Race is simply not an issue. Nevertheless, I've heard the charge of "white privilege" so often that I've numbed to its meaning and implications. That is a mistake. The accusation is too often a racial attack, and those who hurl it are too often oppressors in sheep's clothing.

Chandler's remarks broke through my numbness. Why? My three nieces are university age or close to it. One is black; two are blonde and fair-skinned. Chandler would have broken up a family along racial lines rather than let them attend a public event together. And she would have labeled anyone who protested as a "racist," a recipient of white privilege.

"White privilege": the phrase has different meanings depending on the context, but most often the accusation rests on historical analysis. Namely, due to the great historical wrong of slavery -- a wrong that no one denies -- whites are said to have sins to expiate.

For most white people, however, history frowns upon this interpretation. Again, I use my family as an example. In 1865, when slavery ended in America, my ancestors were on ships fleeing the famine and political oppression in Ireland. A third of the passengers died in transit; many more perished from privation in a foreign land.

The family on my husband's side fled Cuba as Castro made his power grab. Their children literally had to maneuver through explosions on the streets of Havana in order to attend school. These are not people of privilege. They have no connection to or responsibility for the oppression that was slavery.

There are no laws that grant my blonde-haired nieces any privilege due to skin color. Such laws have been methodically removed from the legal system for decades now. Nevertheless, attendees said they would feel "threatened ... if white women were present." White women, they claimed, could not understand issues like prostitution and truancy. As a white woman who has lived on the street, I disagree.

The preceding sentence contains the worst impact of Chandler's racial policies: "as a white woman." While writing this column, I've thought of myself as a racial category and I've wanted to vigorously defend being white. It is difficult to be part of the only race for whom racial pride is a social taboo.

This is the ultimate result of people who want to open or close a public door based solely on skin color. They force you to think in racial categories, and that process can become a slippery slope into racism. It is a slide I refuse to make. (“A White Oppressor? Who, Me?” by Wendy McElroy, copied by permission via e-mail with the author).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More on Harriet Miers

According to Nathan Hecht, a former law firm colleague of Harriet Miers, Ms. Miers considers herself to be a born-again Christian. Mr. Hecht is now a Texas Supreme Court Justice who was apparently instrumental in Ms. Miers’ conversion. Harriet Miers came to Christ in 1979, was baptized, and joined the Valley View Christian Church, a large non-denominational, evangelical church in North Dallas. The church is opposed to abortion and gay marriage, and has supported prayer in public schools. Mr. Hecht cautions, however, that “You can't extrapolate from a person's personal views to how they're going to judge a case…They don't determine what the law is.” Miers has attended Valley View “fairly regularly in recent years, even while she has been working in the White House…” but she recently joined about 200 others, including Mr. Hecht, in starting a new congregation. The split occurred over issues involving “staffing, governance and worship style” after the arrival, last year, of Barry McCarty, a new preaching minister.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers and the Supreme Court

President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is causing considerable uneasiness. Both the left and the right are concerned that since she has never been a judge, she has no paper trail of decisions on which to judge her track record. Many conservatives are probably also concerned because if they could choose an ideal candidate, she would probably not be someone who oversaw a state lottery, as Ms. Miers has. The left is concerned if for no other reason than Ms. Miers is a long-time Bush friend who undoubtedly shares his judicial philosophy. Something came out yesterday that will ease some Christian conservatives' concerns and confirm the worst nightmares of some on the left: In an interview with Brit Hume, James Dobson gave Ms. Mier’s his cautious support, saying that he knows her to be a conservative, Evangelical Christian.