Who would have thought that a beauty pageant would bring rape to the forefront of American conversation? Yet, this year's Miss USA pageant has done just that, in two different aspects. As you may have already surmised, this post will deal with rape by name, but in the abstract. You have been warned.
First up is the winner, Nia Sanchez. She entered the competition as Miss Nevada, and it is her interview answer that's getting the attention. She was asked about the spike in rapes on college campuses, and she replied:
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don't want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black-belt, I learned from a young age you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself, and I think that is something we should start to implement for a lot of women.”
Now, you may be reading that thinking, “OK, where's the controversy?” The backlash has been mostly from leftist feminists, with a common response being “Instead of telling women to defend themselves and victim-blaming, why don't we tell men not to rape?”
Now, I'm going to set this off in a larger font, in bold, all-capital letters, so that if any of these lunkheads venture over here, it'll stand out, and maybe they'll get the point.
ADVOCATING SMART SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT VICTIM BLAMING!
See, you can tell men all you want not to rape, and the vast majority of them will get it. In actuality, the vast majority aren't rapists to begin with, contrary the leftist feminist talking points. A large number of victims does not equate to a large number of perpetrators. So, by all means, educate. The men who grew up raping in video games or watching rape fantasy pornography may have their minds reoriented, and not become perpetrators.
That leaves us with the men who will not alter their behavior, and continue to think it's OK for them to do that. Why in the world would you get onto someone for advocating that women learn how to defend themselves? I've been around a while, and this tip-toeing around the defense issue has done nothing but make the numbers of victims skyrocket. Punch, kick, shoot - whatever it takes, learn the skills to give yourself the greatest chance to not become a victim.
Let me take a quick minute to address the “victim blaming” charge. There are people who do this; however, there are people who would categorize what I've written above, particularly that last sentence, as victim blaming. Those people are just as useless as actual victim blamers. Yes, a woman should be able to do whatever she wants and maintain a reasonable expectation that no one will take from her what she has not offered. But, we don't live in a “should” world, we live in an “is” world. An “after-action analysis” type of look at these events can yield information that could make this less likely. We have no trouble telling women to walk to their cars in pairs, and to park under a light, to avoid getting mugged. But, if we make that same situation as a smart way to reduce your risk for rape, now we're victim blaming? Now, if you take that analysis and start saying, “Well, you knew you couldn't hold your liquor, and you had 7 drinks” to imply that the woman had a hand in it, you're venturing into victim blaming territory.
To take this thought one step further - let's say that we can eliminate all rape in the next 15 years through education. Are they really arguing that it's smart for women to leave themselves more vulnerable for the next 15 years? If so, I would put these leftist feminists into the “rape culture enablers” camp. A good self-defense class takes a couple of weeks to complete. If the men won't get educated, let's make sure they get hurt.
On a much more positive note, we have Valerie Gatto, Miss Pennsylvania. After the competition, she revealed that she was conceived during a rape. (See, Todd Akin? You moron…) That part isn't good, but what is good is what happened after that. Her mother was going to give her up for adoption, but decided to keep her, and worked to raise her in a loving home. Now, she is using her platform to support those who have gone through similar situations. Who knows, maybe she can be the poster child for the people the “rape exception” abortion people want to keep from being able to draw breath.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Daniel J. Summers
Another American election year has come and gone. Four years ago, many thought our nation made a great stride in electing our first black president, and that we had eliminated racism. We didn't get very far into the following year before we realized that no, there was no substantive change; anyone who was opposed to the president's policies must be motivated by racism. Would 2012 bring any changes? I believe it did, and not the way we could have predicted at its start.
We are at a point in this country where the accusation of racism is a joke. (Read that closely - the accusation is the joke.) “I don't like my coffee black.” “RACIST!” (As it happens, I do, SO THERE!) There's even an entire meme based around it. More and more Americans are seeing these over-hyped charges of racism, looking at the actual thing accused, and realizing that the racism just isn't there. Noticing differences among ethnicities and cultures is not racist; in fact, if we don't notice these differences, how in the world are we going to incorporate them into the American melting pot/salad bowl?
Alfonzo Rachel, host of ZoNation, made an interesting point in his video released after the Republican National Convention in September. The whole thing's good, but the crazy part starts at 3:01.
If you can't watch the video, it's a clip of MSNBC's convention coverage, starting with a soliloquy from Touré.
But more to what I want to talk about - two main points. You know, he loves this line of “our rights come from God and nature” which is so offensive to so much of America, because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature. They were not recognized by the natural order of America, they come from the government and from legislation that happened in relatively recent history in America. So that line just bothers me to my core.
You want to talk about offensive lines, sir? You just dropped one. That has got to be some of the most ridiculous talk I have ever heard. It's almost like you believe that the Constitution created God! God-given rights are rights whether a government recognizes them or not, and this is not limited to America; our founders merely recognized these rights that are inherent to all humans.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I've been to Georgia and Mississippi pretty recently, and I'm pretty sure I saw people of all races living, working, and playing together harmoniously. I don't see anything in that speech about government being the grantor of rights; in fact, it almost looks like he's referencing the white-guy-written Declaration of Independence as if it's a good thing. Huh. If Touré wants to stand on the shoulders of a legacy, it certainly isn't Dr. King's.
The race card has been overplayed, to the point where it has lost its value. That, I believe, is a good thing; the only people keeping racism alive in this country today are those who claim to see it lurking in the shadows of every conservative's innocent words. However, these continued accusations run the risk of causing a backlash, and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. There's a guy I know who says “If I'm going to be accused of something, I want to be guilty;” if the innocent are going to be accused of racism, they may find little motivation to even try to be sensitive of those of other ethnicities or cultures. This could lead to the further coarsening of our societal debates, which would be a bad thing.
May modern-day racists continue to be exposed for the fools that they are, as the rest of us see Dr. King's dream lived out in our nation.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Daniel J. Summers
(Each year, the Sunday closest to January 22, the date of the passing of Roe v. Wade, is observed as “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” in many churches.)
Ten years have brought us a long way. The 7th post on this blog observed 2004's Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. This year brings us to the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand in the United States.
As America has become more politically polarized, her views on abortion have as well. However, there is a growing trend against abortion, particularly the more barbaric late-term procedures, which are now only approved by those blinded by their insistence on how much of a “right” it is. A recent Time cover read “40 Years Ago, Abortion Rights Activists Won an Epic Battle with Roe v. Wade: They've Been Losing Ever Since,” and Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, thoroughly dissected that article. And, there are some truly heartening statistics for those who value life:
Four states have only one abortion provider in the entire state
24 states have passed 90 laws restricting abortion since 2010
Some states require parental notification for minors seeking abortion
Some states impose waiting periods and/or counseling before an abortion can be obtained
30 states do not fund abortions via Medicare
The number of those who self-identify as “pro choice” is down to 41%
However, as Dr. Mohler so adeptly points out, abortion is far from the “rare” its proponents claim they want to see. 50 million abortions have been performed since Roe passed, and we are at the point where 1 in 3 women have had an abortion by the time they make 45.
Science is helping the pro-life cause. I covered a good bit of this about a year and a half ago. Ultrasound has given us a window into prenatal development, and psychology and psychiatry have identified post-abortion depression as much more common than postpartum depression per incident.
Interestingly enough, the most damage to the pro-life cause in the past year came from two pro-life national office candidates. I covered both thoseguys at the time (the latter also citing Dr. Mohler - what can I say, he agrees with me a lot!), and since that is where our movement faltered this year, I believe this is where our focus should be. Our participation in the debate should keep the following Scripture in mind:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world…” - Matthew 5:13-14a (ESV)
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” - Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)
As Christians advocating for God's way of handling His creation, we must remember who we are. Salt can make a meal pop; however, salt can also overpower, and can be painful when ground into an open wound. Akin and Mourdock were the latter, coming off as callous and uncaring, much like those who still support “partial-birth” abortion come across to us. Light illuminates, but it can also blind. I left the entirety of Ephesians 4:15 there to show it in its context, but the first part of that verse is the key. We know this works; the “crisis pregnancy center” didn't even exist before Roe v. Wade, and now they outnumber abortion providers. Their popularity is due to the care that pregnant and scared women can receive from these organizations. They don't beat the women over the head with their “mistakes” of pregnancy or of seeking an abortion; they offer counseling, ultrasound, and support through pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few months of motherhood. They show a better way, and many women are choosing that path.
While progress against abortion is good, there is an the assault on the sanctity of human life from the other flank. “Assisted suicide” has been making the news already this year. In late 2012, two brothers in Belgium asked to be euthanized and eventually found a doctor who agreed, despite their condition not being consistent with even a liberal interpretation of the “unbearable pain” that law requires. North of our borders, Quebec looks to become the first Canadian province to legalize assisted suicide, not through legal changes, but through medical characterization of the procedure.
Both the Belgium law and the Canadian guideline revisions have advocates claiming that they will be applied narrowly; it sounds like they want it to be “safe, legal, and rare.” Where have we heard that before? Belgium and Canada both have government-run health care systems, so the government has a financial interest to maximize its investments in the system. Right now, it's a long jump to allow someone to be euthanized because they have no hope of recovery, and keeping them alive is expensive. With the Belgian brothers, and this change in health guidelines in Canada, that jump became half as long. I'm certainly not accusing the advocates of these laws of wanting to kill people; I'm sure to them, this is just them trying to help people in pain. I can guarantee, though, that in 30 years, very few of these people will still be around, and the next generation will have been reared in a society where it's perfectly normal to choose when you die. At that point, faced with looming deficits, it's a very small leap to see mandatory euthanasia based on medical evaluation. The slope isn't terribly slippery, but it's a slope nonetheless.
This illustrates the root of the disagreements many of us pro-lifers have with these laws, guidelines, and procedures. The disagreement is one of worldview. We see human life as precious, from the moment of conception through natural death, being conferred that status by God's declaration and unique grace to us within His creation. Human life alone is described as being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14); its offspring described as a “reward” and having many as a “blessing” (Psalm 127:3-5); prohibited from being killed (Exodus 20:13); offered salvation from our fallen state (John 3:16); and promised reuniting with God (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) or judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). God has made it pretty clear how He views the part of His creation that was made “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27).
If we lived in a society that agreed with this worldview - well, I probably wouldn't be writing this. However, we do not, and the society in which we do live has an answer to each of those points.
Creation? No, we just evolved - somehow - big bang, amoeba, something - and there definitely was not intelligent design!
Lots of children are a good thing? No, that would interfere with our careers; let's delay that, scrape their beginnings off our womb if they're not convenient; there will be time for that later, right?
Murder? Don't try to force your religion on u… wait, if there aren't any laws against murder, then I could be murdered… OK, you can have that one.
Salvation? I'm a good person (hey, I don't murder!), why would I need to be saved?
Judgment? But wait, doesn't your own Bible say “Judge not, that you be not judged?”
We're made in God's image? Well, now you're on to something - if God is in each one of us, doesn't that make us all God? Then, what I want to do must be God's will, because it's my will!
This brings us back to the Akin/Mourdock problem. Simply asserting our views (then asserting them more loudly) is not going to be a very effective way of convincing others. We should keep in mind that not only does our society hold those conflicting views, they also claim to value tolerance above all else - except for tolerating us, interestingly; they have been raised to believe that we are hateful people who just want to control people's lives and force our religion down everyone's throats. Compounding the issue, some of our forebears actually did go about things this way, particularly over race.
So, is it just futile? Of course not. I believe the answer is three-fold.
We must advocate with words. We must choose those words wisely, but we must use words. These words should be loving, condemning the practice of abortion while offering love, compassion, and forgiveness to those who have had them, realizing that it is but by the grace of God that we have not made (or are not still making) the same decisions. Use words honestly - where science supports an argument, use it; where it doesn't apply, don't try to shoe-horn it into applying.
We must back up these words with actions. Crisis pregnancy centers, as mentioned above, have been hugely effective in not only preventing abortions, but for education and support. The film To Save a Life showed another angle of being pro-life, taking an interest in others to prevent suicide; though I didn't mention it above, suicides are also up this past year. Be involved with food banks, shelters, or other organizations that show we care for life when those lives are going through rough times. Be involved with senior's activities. Pick a place and plug-in; put feet to your words.
We must be vigilant. We must not give up the fight against legislation or policies simply because we haven't had time for the first 2 points above to be effective. We must continue to pray; we have the Creator of human life on our side.
Changing the culture seems like an overwhelming task, and it truly is a monumental one. However, the size of the task does not relieve us of our responsibility to be salt and light, and to work towards making it a place where all life is valued, from the moment of conception through natural death.
First up is the sanctity of human life. Dictionary.com defines sanctity (definition 2) as “The quality or condition of being considered sacred; inviolability.” What this means is that human life is sacred - something that is to be valued, and not to be taken lightly. It also means that life is not ours to create (ever, outside of the God-given means) or to destroy (save for the Biblically-based governmental duties of defense and punishment). There is encouraging news on the abortion front - Norma McCorvey, “Roe” in the (in)famous Roe v. Wade case, has entered a petition to the Supreme Court to review her case in light of new medical evidence of the effects of abortion on the women who have them. Together with Operation Outcry, which has compiled quite an array of statistics on medical issues with abortion, she hopes to get that ruling reversed. As an original petitioner in the case, she is in the unique position of being able to do this, and more details, including the briefs that were filed, can be found here.
There are others who have recently written about abortion as well. Chuck Colson's recent article entitled Destroying Abortion Myths demonstrates that they hysterical “dangerous back-ally abortion” crowd actually made up their statistics. (And they say Bush lied and people died? How about “NOW lied, babies died”?) Marvin Olasky compares two tidal waves: the tsunami and abortion. (Did you know that as many people as died in that tsunami are killed every few months before they breathe their first breath?) Another site is Right Thinking Girl's entry A Woman's Right to Choose - it illustrates the absurdity of the “fetus as property” argument. I've also been active in the comments for this entry, in which folks have been debating the issue from pretty much all sides - my entries are the ones from “Daniel”. (Be warned, some comments may contain strong language.) And finally, this isn't recent, but my entry about abortion being a bad idea whose time has passed still lays out, from a non-religious perspective, why abortion is wrong.
The numbers of abortions that have been performed is staggering - the latest numbers from Census 2000 show blacks as 11.4% of the population, but the CDC's “Abortion Facts” website's numbers show blacks have 33.9% of the abortions in this country. That means that blacks are overrepresented in abortion by 200%. This is not good, and (as we segue into the MLK portion of this entry) it's something I think Dr. King would have worked to end. So much of his dream has been fulfilled, but I believe he would be horrified at these statistics. The people for whom Dr. King gave his life working for (and, lost his life as part of that work) aren't being killed and suppressed by the “white man” anymore. Take this abortion statistic together with gang and prostitution statistics, and you see that they're suppressing and killing off themselves!
Dr. King's legacy has been hijacked by the pseudo-civil-rights activists of our day. His was a message of peace, and of equality; not of oppression, not of violence, and not of reversing the inequality. Though he was taken from us much too soon, his work endures - and to hear gay marriage proponents use his words in support of their agenda must make him look down on us and shake his head. His dream of equality in all areas, but especially economically, is beginning to be realized.
However, popular black culture does not encourage activities that lead to prosperity. When was the last time you heard a rapper rap about his mutual funds, 401K, or real estate investments? How about consumable goods (cars, electronics, etc.)? I'll give you a hint - one of those is a lot better at building long-term wealth than the other. Bill Cosby is taking a lot of flak for his comments that have been critical of the culture. I'm glad he's saying these things, because he has a lot of respect from folks in the black community. Maybe if the message comes from someone who is so respected, it will sink in. Children who are trying hard to achieve shouldn't be ostracized from their peers and accused of “acting white.” Learning to speak the language properly isn't selling out, it's setting yourself up for success. (Now, since I'm not black, I guess I should interject here that I know plenty of white people who are foolish with their money, and whose grasp of the English language is less than it should be. I also know plenty of black people, some my very good friends, who do not conform to the pop culture image with which they're bombarded on a daily basis.)
By realizing how precious life is, defending those who are defenseless, and empowering people to make their own destiny, we will honor not only Dr. King, but all those who follow after us. May the next generation look at us and say, “You know, they figured it out, and they lived it the way they should.”