Is it racist?

We’re pretty good at recognizing explicit racism and bigotry when certain groups are targeted. We are pretty good at seeing racism against people of color, especially African-American/Black people. We see it pretty well when it’s pointed at Jews also. But sometimes it’s harder to see. A way to check is to change the subject of the discussion to a black man, or a Jew, and see if it sounds any alarm bells. Here’s one that I posted on Facebook yesterday:

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No more experts!

Image result for john brennan

I do not like politics of fear. I do not like making policies based on fear. I do not like using fear to play with people’s emotions. But, I am afraid. Genuinely afraid. I see a willful erosion of expertise in this country, and I fear the consequences will be worse than we can imagine. This is not a new feeling, but the removal of Brennan’s security clearance made it especially salient this morning. I recognize that this is a punitive act, and not directed at his expertise, but it’s all part of a bigger problem from my perspective.

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Embracing misinformation

Virtually everything Trump does requires his followers to be misinformed. This is not hyperbole, nor a false overgeneralization. His policies and rhetoric are overwhelmingly based on narrow views of people, the country, and the world. He paints a picture that is distorted as can be, then concocts harmful policy that serves a single purpose: get his followers to feel like he’s solving their problems (problems they didn’t face in the first place). My wish for us all is that we care when we are misinformed, and instead of attacking those who try to inform us (e.g., calling them “fakenews”), we welcome the education we receive.

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The problem with principles

I’m not a man of principles. That’s not to say that there aren’t things that I believe that are near universal, but it’s just that I don’t tend to view policy decisions and other things through the lens of principles. It seems we get ourselves into trouble when we do that, and I wonder if there’s some kind of a liberal/conservative divide on how we let principles guide us. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the Trump era (which I hope won’t be a real era, but nevertheless feels like one already).

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When (flawed) theocracy comes to town

I posted this on Facebook, along with a video that might still be available here.

I’m opposed to theocracy, and I don’t think religious law should ever be the basis for civil law. That said, many Americans claim to want laws based on Christianity. Oddly, many of these same people are now so enshrined in the cult of Trump, that they can’t even see how they’re being led so far astray from their religious teachings.

What’s even more strange to me is how often some groups of Christians talk about fearing the devil, and how he will lead them away from Christ if they aren’t super careful. I can’t imagine these folks following anybody less Christ-like than Trump, but there they go, without a fear in the world that they might be falling into the trap they’ve been warned of over and over.

Of course, I don’t believe Trump is the devil. I don’t believe either exists. But if I believed in those things, I can’t imagine not being very afraid to watch people following the obviously wrong guy, without thinking twice about it. If you made a movie about the devil, his life story could look a lot like Trump’s

I wanted to hold on to this post, outside of Facebook, but I also wanted to preserve one comment on the post, that came from a Jesuit Priest I’ve known since I was a teenager. I don’t know if he would be OK with me sharing his words outside of Facebook, so I won’t credit him by name, but I want to preserve his message nonetheless.

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Are we the same? Dislike of Trump and dislike of Obama.

I really do not like President Trump. I don’t know him personally, but I don’t like what I see on TV and on Twitter. I don’t like what I read, and I don’t like what I hear. He doesn’t seem like somebody I would want to spend much or any time with, and I’m sure if he worked in my department I would want little or nothing to do with him. I find him very self-centered, with a narcissistic personality disorder vibe. I don’t like his speech pattern, and an article from Vox in October 2016 sheds some light on how unusual it is. I don’t like many of his policies, but I am even more bothered by his unpredictability and the lack of clarity that he thrives on related to what his policies actually are. He generates a real visceral disgust in me, and I am looking forward to the day his presidency is over, whenever that may be. People clearly felt a similar disgust over Obama. It makes me think about the differences.

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Words (should) matter

I’m a stickler for using the “right” words for things. I’m sure I get it wrong myself, especially when speaking, but I try. There are a few things that I find particularly bothersome (perhaps because of their widespread use). Students I mentor have to deal with my routine correction of them, and they often pick the “incorrect” usage just to tease me, which is fun, but the poor usage bothers me when it’s not an attempt at humor. This is, admittedly, pedantic in some respects, but I think it matters, and I’ll explain why, after describing some of these nuisances.

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