Thursday, January 18, 2007
Daniel J. Summers
This year, the usual combined weekend of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday followed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is not combined, as the third Monday of January precedes the third Sunday by 6 days. Plus, this year provided lots of content on both topics, so the usual combined column will be split.
Sadly, racial issues were front and center during the past year. In May, the residents of New Orleans, Louisiana re-elected Ray Nagin, the governor during Hurricane Katrina. Like Dr. King, he had a dream too. His was nowhere near as admirable, though; he wanted New Orleans rebuilt as a “Chocolate City”. Although he apologized for that comment, regular readers will know what I think about apologies (and non-regulars can learn here). Comments such as this only serve to deepen racial divides, not contribute to Dr. King's vision of a nation where race is not even a concern.
In May, the “Day Without Immigrants” attempted to paint those who are opposed to illegal immigration as racists, rather than fans of enforcing our existing laws. I've written about this recently (see the 2006 Year in Review: The Ridiculous), so I won't expound on this too much here. These folks are attempting to equate their plight with those of blacks, using the same language. However, the truth of their situation is that they are here illegally, and as such have no standing to demand rights and treatment of American citizens. There is a way for non-Americans to become Americans, and cutting in line in front of those who are observing the law is not that way.
Come November, Michael Richards went off on a racial rant during a stand-up comedy show. This was followed by, you guessed it, apology after apology upon apology, with a side helping of apology. And again, these ring hollow with me. Richards' racism shows what can happen in today's environment of focusing on race and stereotypes - even a successful actor such as he can still harbor these feelings. Like Nagin's apology, his apology does not erase the window into the soul that his words provided. The words themselves are not the problem; the attitude behind them are. (Let me be clear - I'm not against apologizing to someone if you personally hurt them. Not all apologies are as useless as the two I've described above.)
Wrapping up earlier this month, the Duke rape case carried immense racial undertones. Many people were quick to believe the story, especially since the accuser was a poor black woman, and the people she was accusing were rich, privileged white men. Now, it turns out that the plentiful DNA evidence collected from the accuser exonerates the lacrosse players. When this story broke, several people suggested it was a ploy by the District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was up for re-election, to pander to the black voters in Durham, North Carolina. Even now, the accuser's family are still buying into the hype. The accuser's cousin was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago, and here's part of what she said, with the highlighting added by me… (In the transcript of the entire show, do a search for “UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE” to find the beginning of this interview.)
It's unfortunate that it's turned into race. But it's always been there. It sensationalizes the story. You know, it's got class and it's got race in it. And I think from day one, a lot of people felt that these were privileged young white boys, who felt like they could treat these young women, strippers or not - I think they had the mentality that they were superior to these young women. And I think that's unfortunate. And I think that that's just the world we live in.
Read the part I highlighted - even though these guys have been found guilty of nothing, they're still privileged white boys who were superior to the others! And that's just “the world we live in.” Incredible! I do agree with her conclusion, though - it is truly unfortunate.
But, these prove that racism is still a problem, right? I'm not so sure. Sure, there are still racists of every color, and there always will be; that's one of the pitfalls of a free society. But, people do not have to be hyper-sensitive over racial issues, either - that is a conscious choice, although our current society has some pretty strong conditioning towards that sensitivity.
Let me wrap up by sharing my personal observations, based on data from Census 2000. I'm white, and I've lived as a minority for the past 9 years in Montgomery, Alabama. This city is 50% black, 47% white. (Subtract “Hispanic origin” from White - they're counted both places.) For the next 4 years, I'll be living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city that is 40% Hispanic, 32% white, 3% black. In Montgomery, I've rarely felt unwelcome. When we go out to parks or the mall, nearly everyone I meet is friendly, no matter their skin color. We'll talk about our families, or crazy things our kids do. Sometimes, we'll even discuss contentious things, like the war in Iraq. Depeche Mode said it more than 20 years ago - people are people.
The only exception to this was in some stores and restaurants. Usually, this was just unfriendly service - and, this can't all be blamed on racial differences, as I've had woeful service from all races. The most offensive time (to me) was the store where two black customers in line behind me were checked out before me. In these cases, though, did I call my local city commissioner, or the media? Nope - I just kept my feet and dollars away from those establishments. That's the way a free society works - you're free to be a jerk, and I'm free to not give you my money.
I'm looking forward to Albuquerque. I'm not there yet, so I can't say this for certain, but I'm pretty sure that most folks out there are friendly as well. As we go around the parks, malls, restaurants, and churches of that city, we will meet Americans just like us - folks who want a safe nation, clean streets, and the best for their children. Apart from some loudmouths, Dr. King's dream is being realized every day; hopefully, common sense will begin to prevail among all the races, and the “racial offense” industry will begin to wither. If the money spent on trying to make people apologize or comply with some minutia of the law was instead spent on positive things, this nation would be much better off.
(To read previous years' columns, select the “Race” category from the sidebar.)
Friday, February 18, 2005
Daniel J. Summers
Well, I'll start with the “not so fast”… This is a local issue, so if you're reading from somewhere other than Montgomery, AL, this first part may not make a whole lot of sense to you.
The Montgomery County school board has fired Chris Baxter from his head coaching and athletic director positions at Lee High School. He is currently under investigation for an “inappropriate relationship” with another employee there at the school. I know Chris, and I have a hard time believing that he has done some of the things of which he has been accused - I believe this whole scenario is a misunderstanding. On top of that, I feel that the school board's action, based on a request from the principal of the school, is too hasty. Chris is currently on administrative leave from the school, where he also teaches. If he didn't do what he's been accused of doing, why should he no longer be the coach? And, if he did do it, why should he still be a teacher?
I hope that everything is cleared up quickly, and that the school board will reconsider its hasty actions. True, Lee had their first winless season in recent memory this past season; but, it takes time for a coach to build a program. (The program was obviously already in trouble, to be bringing in a new coach in the first place.) Chris has worked hard to realize his goals of being a successful teacher and coach, and to take that away before the investigation has been completed goes against the traditional “innocent until proven guilty” modus operandi that we Americans pride ourselves on using.
Now for the two great lines. The first comes to us courtesy of Phyllis Schlafly, as she talks about the way feminists are using normal men's elevated view of women against them…
When will American men learn how to stand up to the nagging by the intolerant, uncivil feminists whose sport is to humiliate men? Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.
And, Thomas Sowell, as he discusses the “free speech” claims being bandied about by those upset at Ward Churchill.
Freedom of speech does not imply a right to an audience.
I wish I was able to say that much with that few words…
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Daniel J. Summers
Ivan has now reached Montgomery - right on the verge of being a category 1 hurricane. So far, the power is still on at our house, although the back door is leaking like a sieve, and water's coming in the stove's exhaust fan. My wife and children are in Greenville, SC, avoiding this weather. I don't think I've done this much mopping in quite a while! Please keep all of us in your prayers during this time.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Daniel J. Summers
And so little time to say it!
John Kerry - I can't believe that we have an anti-war activist running for President who is actually being taken seriously. I also can't believe that the self-same anti-war activist is running for President on his war record. I guess now that the military is back in vogue, the Democrats like it.
Gov. Jim McGreevey - At least he has more respect for the state of New Jersey that Bill Clinton had for the nation. Although it's now coming out (no pun intended) that the cause is corruption more than his penchant for those of like gender, his stepping down is the right decision. (He is muddying the issue with his “I am a gay American” schtick - that link has a very interesting take on that part of the situation.) I think he should step down immediately, though, rather than his political ploy of not stepping down until after the election.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth - Keep on keepin' on. McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional, and will be ruled as such by the time the next election rolls around. It's amazing that no one was upset when these 527 groups accused President Bush of poisoning pregnant women (a charge that is repeated on the Democrats' own web site [scroll to the bottom]), but let them use facts to challenge something a Senator says, and now they need to shut up. (Still no call for moveon.org to stop their ads…)
President Bush vs. Catwoman - Sharon Stone recently said that because of President Bush, there wasn't a lesbian kiss between she and Halle Berry in the movie Catwoman. I'm not quite sure I buy that - why would arch-enemies be kissing in the first place? And, if our President could control Hollywood, wouldn't he be using that control to silence the hateful drivel from Michael Moore and his ilk? Sharon Stone has had plenty of opportunities to play oversexed bisexual characters (in fact, wasn't that her first big role, in Basic Instinct?).
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Daniel J. Summers
As a resident of Montgomery, AL, I'm privy to the much to-do being made over the granite Ten Commandments monument that duly-elected Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court had placed in the capitol. A Federal judge has ordered it be removed, and Justice Moore is refusing. The stage is set for a pretty large showdown very soon. As you can probably tell from my links and my previous entries, I'm a pretty religious person. However, I'm going to approach this from a purely humanistic viewpoint.
The Ten Commandments were the foundation for Jewish law. These commandments are recorded today in our Holy Bible, and the first four reference God or holiness (no other gods, no graven images, God's name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath holy). The remaining six are good precepts even for those who do not subscribe to any form of religion. These are no different from other historical laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi, and other collections of laws.
Several of our founding documents reference concepts found in the religious commandments. The Constitution, Article I, Section 7, recognizes Sundays as a day apart (much like commandment 4). The Declaration of Independence, in the first paragraph, recognizes Nature's God, and in the second, recognize the Creator - both are capitalized and singular, in line with the 1st commandment. Furthermore, The Magna Carta, a body of English law upon which our Constitution was based (and, coincidentally, predates the 1611 KJV by nearly 400 years), contain references to the one and only God in the Preamble and section 1.
We have also been told as of late that we should accept all religions, including the ever-peaceful Muslims. The prevailing world view of many people is that there is good in everything - and, judging from recent rulings by various courts and the politically correct culture that has pervaded our country, this is the way the government should look at things.
Given that references to most of the overtly religious commandments are in our country's founding documents, and the fact that we are supposed to find the good in everything, I see no reason for this marker to be removed. Justice Moore's personal beliefs should not be brought into this argument. With the 1st Amendment to our Constitution (in the Bill of Rights) prohibiting government from preventing free exercise of religion, the Federal judge's ruling that it must be removed is un-Constitutional, and will be found as such if it is appealed.