Skip to main content

My name is Renee and I am a white Christian. Wow, that seems weird to say. It's not something I typically state--it's  just something that is. A lot of people in this country could describe themselves the same way, but again, it probably doesn't occur to them. Kind of like you never think you speak with an accent...the people around you all talk pretty much the way you do, right? Just regular American English. It's people from other places who have accents.

But I think its safe to say that a lot of Americans who are Caucasian and Christian just think of themselves as being ordinary--not special in some way, and not thinking that "membership has it's privileges".  You get used to the way things are as the way things are supposed to be. And if people start pointing out that the way things are is inherently unfair, and want some changes, you feel a bit threatened.

Howard Dean is also a white Christian, which is why it's so weird to hear people suggesting that he is somehow against that particular group. But one thing that sets Howard Dean apart is that he recognized, early on, that it was important to find out what the world looked like to people who didn't happen to be in the majority in this country. In college, he specifically asked for African American roommates. In You Have the Power, he wrote about some eye-opening experiences, including sitting in his suite with his roommates, talking and playing music, and suddenly realizing that he was the only white person in the room. He stopped and asked himself, "What if it was like this all the time? He acknowledged that this was only a tiny glimpse  into what life might be like as a minority.

I too, have had little glimpses into that "what if". Riding the bus with Demetrius to his family home on the south side of Chicago, back when we were dating, I had a similar realization. "I am the only white person on this bus." It was jarring. I went on to discover that it felt weird simply to not be in the majority--I remember someone commenting at one point that there were "no white people" in the neighborhood on Sesame Street. (I'm talking about the humans on the show, not the puppets, none of which are white!) As a person of little color, I came to realize that being in the majority felt "normal" to me, and anything resembling an equal mix of racial/ethnic background felt very strange.
Being married to an African American man, I have probably gotten more glimpses into the reality of race in America than most white people do. Sometimes, more than I would have liked to.  I have witnessed, first hand, discrimination in apartment rental and employment. But I have also become aware of more subtle things. Band-aids are actually supposed to be flesh tone? Get outta here! They were always several shades darker than my own skin,  but yeah, come to think of it, they do come a lot closer to blending in on me than on my husband. Or the time Demetrius was reading a book about the human body to one of our children and came to a part where it said "if you want to see your veins, just look at your wrists and you can see them right under your skin". He looked at his own wrist and said, "No, I can't."

This led to a discussion of how much of the bias that exists is genuinely unintentional. There was nothing malicious there--the person writing that book was looking at his own pale wrist and speaking from his own experience. I'm sure it simply didn't occur to him that some of his readers couldn't see their veins through their skin.

Similarly, Howard Dean has addressed how easy it can be to fall into these habits without realizing it or intending to. Anyone who has listened to Howard's speeches on a regular basis has probably heard the following more often than they would care to. But not everyone has heard it, and it addresses the point I am making here nicely...

Diversity is not something that comes naturally to people. When I was governor, my chief of staff was a woman, and chiefs of staff do the hiring, not governors. So about two or three years into my governorship, I noticed that my office was a matriarchy. (Laughter.) It's true. (Cheers, applause, laughter.) You needn't applaud quite so loudly! And so one day the chief of staff came in and said, 'Well, governor, one of the policy analysts left, I'll be hiring somebody else. Just wanted to let you know.' And I said, 'Well, now, it's none of my business, I don't do the hiring around here, but I've noticed there's kind of a gender imbalance in the office. I wonder if you could find a man.' (Laughter.) And she looked at me -- she wasn't kidding around -- and she said, 'Governor, you're absolutely right, there is a gender imbalance in the office, and we really should hire a man, but it's really hard to find a qualified man.' (Cheers, laughter, applause.)

Now, there's a reason I tell this story. (Laughter.)

There is a reason I tell this story. We all tend to hire people like ourselves. It ain't just 50 year old WASPs like me that do it; everybody does it, right? We're all more comfortable with the people we grew up with or the people we have things in common with, people we're comfortable with. Diversity is not something that comes normally to human beings. That's why you need affirmative action.


http://www.crocuta.net/Dean/Transcript_of_Speech2TeachersConf_Apr4_2003.htm

What I liked about this story was that it addressed a sensitive issue in a relatively nonthreatening way. I think that when we talk about bias with respect to hiring or anything else, people's defenses tend to go up. "Oh no, here it comes--it's white people's fault!" Or "Here comes the man-bashing..." But this isn't the story you expect--it's a woman making the hiring decision. The story shows that bias is not a "white thing" or a "male thing", but a very human tendency, present in all of us. But it's still one that we have to deal with. Racial issues, gender issues, and so forth won't just go away or get better if we simply don't talk about them.

Sure, it's easy to point out when someone else has said something awkward or uncomfortable having to do with these issues. You know why I think we are quick to judge--to condemn people when they state  uncomfortable truths about racial and gender disparity in this country? Because we want them to stop. If we can scold them for what they say, maybe they will stop, and we won't have to talk about it either. We can go back to pretending everything is okay--that racism, sexism, and all other isms are things of the past.

Ever have company over, and not have enough time to clean every room of the house? At some point you realize, "Hey, look--if I just close the door to this room, you can't see the mess! Voila!" It feels good...it's a relief. For now. Eventually, we have to deal with what's behind that door.



Today is an important day--the "Dean speaks for me" petition now has over 9000 signatures, and the goal is 10,000. Now it is time to figure out the logistics of delivering it, getting media coverage, etc. Click here to join in the discussion. Oh, and I see lots of great comments here--so many I would like to respond to, but our internet was down all morning. And at this point (12:45 ET) I really need to get out and do some shopping so that I can be ready for Democracy Fest later this week. But I'll check back in and comment some more tonight. Thank you for all of your kind words about this diary! ♥

Originally posted to Renee in Ohio on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 07:59 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  We've got your back, Howard! (4.00)
    If you haven't done so, I hope you'll recommend these diaries, and pass them along to people who haven't seen them yet:

    6:20pm 7603! Dean Speaks For Me Petition-Day 3
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/6/12/91424/9798

    Support Howard Dean Day: Weds. June 15th
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/6/12/24417/5792

    And here's the direct link to the petition
    http://www.petitiononline.com/Dean/petition.html

    •  Great Post Renee (4.00)
      That was one of my favorite Dean stories and I refer to it often when making hte case for affermitive action.

      Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

      by ETinKC on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 11:23:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bill Moyer is a self proclaimed Evangelical... (none)
      but he's no fan of Bush or the Neocons, so I guess that you're in good company.
      •  Jimmy Carter (none)
        Perhaps one of the greatest evangelical Christians of our time.
        •  Yes! (none)
          It is said of Bush that he is not only the worst president, but that he is the worst man to ever become a president.

          My mom loved Carter and felt that he was a truly good man and a good Christian. Unfortunately, he seemed to be too good a man to be a good politician.

          I can't explain myself...because I'm not myself, you see. - Alice

          by SisTwo on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 10:03:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How true (none)
            I had a HS football coach that one could say the same thing about from our perspective back then. (32 years ago)

            If the children ask you why so many died, tell them, because their fathers lied." Rudyard Kipling

            by TexDem on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:23:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  All Christians are by definition Evangelicals (2.00)
        Jesus instructs all of us to shine our light, to spread the good news.  However, the way we interpret that is very different from denomination to denomination.
        For me, helping people is sharing the good news that God loves you.  I don't have to say the words, I don't have to try to convert.  I just have to share the love.

        Tired of the corporate DLC suck ups?WE'VE GOT DEANS BACK

        by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 09:18:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  AMEN SISTER (4.00)
          Matthew 22:34-40

          Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

          "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."


          If every person who called themselves a Christian would follow this ideal He clearly sets out for us, the world would be a better place.
  •  I heard Howard tonight... (4.00)
    and he was referencing the Sermon on the Mount.  As a child, he went to church every day and twice on Sunday.  Where I come from, that means he's a Christian.  But he believes in helping people, in taking responsibility for each other; that builds community.  From what he said, we are the party of our brothers' keepers.  Sounds pretty darn Christian to me... and, as a Jew... I have no problem with that at all.

    Of course he's written in the Lamb's Book of Life. He's the Antagonist.

    by ultrageek on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:07:52 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Points (4.00)
    It is just biology to want to be around similiar and not dissimilar. What makes it evil is when we are aware of it and embrace it as an idea of "faith" that only those who look like us deserve to be treated as we treat ourselves.

    "Babble, Babble, Bitch, Bitch, Rebel, Rebel,Party, Party, sex, sex, sex and don't forget the violence...." Marilyn Manson " This is the New Shit"

    by Chaoslillith on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:14:07 PM PDT

    •  It's the brain's fault (none)
      The human brain doesn't like to be wrong.  So, on the one hand, it's very slow to register and fix new information.  It's probably a matter of efficiency.  Think what would happen if the brain had to retain forever every image, smell, sound, taste it perceived.  Not possible.
      So, there's a selection process.  Only those inputs that are repeated (three times seems to be the minimum) are retained.  But, once information is retained, it is fairly fixed.  The brain is jealous of what it knows and while it might accept slight variations to the base, things that are significantly different  are likely to be rejected automatically, unless there's a program to counteract that bias.  That's what affirmative action is.  It's sort of an over-ride of the automatic program.
      The "beneficiaries" of affirmative action don't appreciate this aspect.  They, like any normal person, want the deciding factor to be THEM.  Indeed, they want it so much that they reject the essence of affirmative action and actively refuse to employ it themselves.
      That's why it's actually quite common for the "beneficiaries" of affirmative action to fail to pass it on.
      I'm putting "beneficiaries" in quotes because it's actually the whole society that benefits when the people who make decisions use their intellect to over-ride their instincts (actually automatic responses by the brain which prefer to have things be the same).  The brain is a very conservative organ and has to be proded towards innovation.
      "Better safe than sorry."  That's what we're dealing with.

      3-D Republicans=division, deceit, debt

      by hannah on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 08:45:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "that's what affirmative action is" (none)
        that's some bullshit.

        Affirmative action isn't the brains fault.  It's the white mans fault for putting the most disgusting screws to non-white people.  You need to see affirmative action in the whole context of it's origination.  

        There wouldn't be any need for affirmative action if power elite whites didn't rig the fucking game the way they did.

        anyhow, in about 100 years white people are going to be begging for affirmative action when minorites become the new majority.  At least I doubt we'll be major dickheads about it a la white republican.

    •  Some of my best friends are white Christians. n/t (none)

      I'm here to represent the needle in the vein of the establishment.

      by mhojo on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 09:28:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  biology and choice (none)
      Our biology allows us to make choices that influence our biology and even to be aware that we are doing that.  Our basic perceptual capabilities are hardwired, but the way the brain interprets perceptual inputs is influenced by prior experience.  Our experiences are determined in part by choices we make.  In addition, we can change the way our brain categorizes the world through concious mental effort.  We operate within the framework of our biology, but biology is not destiny.

      I grew up in a community that, by design, largely limited the contact its children had with non-whites to those performing menial jobs.  This made it easier to pass along the view that whites and non-whites are inherently different in important ways.  However, many of the children raised in that community went on to have experiences that challenged that view and reacted to that challenge with choices that literally changed the way they see other people.  They also made choices that have resulted in their children growing up in a different world than they did.

      I am not complacent. We do operate within the framework of our biology.  Thus we struggle with the human desire to dominate others and the competing claims of empathy and reason.  The struggle is ongoing, but so is the capacity for choice that makes progress possible.

      I now live in a community where white and non-white children grow up together and are encouraged in many ways to see each other as peers.  It's not perfect, but it's better.  The behavior of those children tells me it's better.  I see them playing together, dating each other, marrying, and having children who are simlar to both their mother and their father.  I choose to prefer a world that has such children in it. I choose to make my capacity for such choices the ground of my being and the definition of my humanity.

  •  The problem isn't Christianity... (4.00)
    It's "Americanism." Being an American has become synonymous with being introverted, apathetic, lazy, gluttonous...etc.

    There is no push, inclination, geographic necessity to see and experience "the other." That is probably where the problem originates. It certainly taints Christianity and allows Christians to be used more efficiently by the GOP, but the real problem is about Personal Responsibility... the responsibility of each American (because we consume 4X our alloted amount of world-resources) to be politically and socially informed.

    I give a shit if anyone's Christian, Voodoo, or whatever. I think y'all are crazy for thinking there's some sort of cloud being. We might as well be living on a turtle. But hey, the world's big enough for all of us... as long as we recognize our responsibilities to understand one another.

    "...an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!"

    King Lear

    by Norwell on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:16:52 PM PDT

    •  Great points, that need to be made (none)
      Except that I must quibble about two things  referring to Americans as an introverted lot and thinking that most Christians believe in a 'cloud being'.

      Quite the opposite of being extroverted, most Asian or Eurpopean visitors are stuck of how freaking extroverted we are compared to the rest of the world. We are the worst stereotype of the bad side of the narcissistic extrovert: showy, in need of attention, self-assured, pushy, meddling, lacking in introspection. Perhaps what you meant was insular. We are surely more insular than we once were.

      As for a 'cloud being' or a big angry dude with a beard, even most fundamentalist evangelicals don't believe in that. If you care about opposing the right, you must try to understand them first. They are not as bizarre and unsophistcated as many here think they are.

  •  Wait a second!! (4.00)
    You mean you are a white Christian and you SUPPORT Howard Dean? Wow. Dobson is going to have some questions for you, tomorrow.

    ;)

    •  Yeah... (none)
      I heard y'all were getting kicked out of church! I guess your denomination is still reasonable? Not Unitarian I hope! (gasp... whisper whisper...)

      "...an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!"

      King Lear

      by Norwell on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:22:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ahem... (none)
        why are we whispering about the Unitarian Universalists? And why aren't they <we> reasonable?

        Is it that dratted no creed, free-thinking, don't hafta be a Christian, don't even hafta believe in God stuff again? :-)

        (must put in a good word whenever I see us mentioned. Gotta recruit for the Religious Far-Left, you know :-))

        Silence is the voice of complicity.

        by brillig on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 06:33:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  White Christian Unitarian (none)
        Hey, what's wrong with being Unitarian?

        I'm an oddball in everybody's camp. I'm a Unitarian, but also consider myself philosophically a Christian  (making me a small minority among Unitarians, who themselves constitute a tiny minority of religious Americans). I more or less consider myself white when filling out forms, though I am actually proudly mongrel-American (half Mexican catholic, half Russian Jew) and the grandson of people on both sides who experienced persecution and discrimination.

        Black people consider me white, white people consider me "you're Chinese, right?", Mexican people consider me Mexican till I open my mouth (mi espan~ol es muy malo). All in all, it seems simpler not to let other people decide for me who I am and just let 'em be confused.

    •  Nah... (4.00)
      He'll just say I'm not really a Christian and move on. After all, I go to a radically inclusive church, have compared the Holy Infinite to a blue puppy, and even spell Godde's name in a way I'm sure he would consider blasphemous. I'm going to hell as far as he's concerned. :p
    •  I'm An Evangelical Deaniac (4.00)
      But being a Black man and all, I don't really exist as far as Dobson et al. are concerned.
  •  Dean will open that door and look at what's behind (4.00)
    He's not going to question the housekeeping skills but -- more likely -- ask how many jobs you work or how many people look to you for support. He sees it in that "relatively nonthreatening" way where it is more an issue of context rather than intent.

    We HAVE to find a way to talk of bias without forcing a defensive position. Most people, I think, believe they are not biased, whether the issue is race, gender or sexual orientation. And some, if they acknowledge their bias, believe it to be justified.

    We keep thinking this battle is won. It's not. Intolerance -- the legacy of bias -- is quite possibly the largest problem facing this country. It's seductive, because we all want to be more (insert word here) than the other person.

    Dean, unlike many of his counterparts, reminds us that the battle is never finished.

  •  Great Diary (none)
    Highly recommended!  And if anyone hasn't seen it yet, go see Crash - it directly addresses this diary.
  •  I am white and not a Christian (4.00)
    I know what it feels like to have assumptions made about me on a daily basis.

    I know what it's like to work in a government where meetings are opened with a prayer, and the assumption is that everyone present is a willing participant.

    I know what it's like to be in a court system where a bible is automatically offered when you're intending to tell the truth, and the assumption is that putting your hand on that book is going to mean something special to you.

    I know what it's like to play sports and to be expected to utter a prayer with your team mates, and the assumption is that you're counting on a diety, rather than your talents, to help you win.

    Very few days go by when I'm not faced with some automatic gesture that all the Christians take for granted, and I have to decide whether I really want to point out my differences one more time.

    Sometimes I'm tired and I just go along.  Sometimes I don't.  Nothing changes either way.

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by jaysea on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:45:44 PM PDT

    •  I get it now!! (4.00)
      I'm a graduate student in a counseling program and have had to participate in numerous discussions about privilege. Often the subject of Christians being a privileged group would come up and I really didn't see how that was the case. In my graduate program it has been a major liability for me. I was almost denied an assistantship because I am a Christian. I have a masters degree from a seminary so one could easily fathom I have some sort of Christian belief system which automatically meant to them-intolerant, bigoted, etc. I got that alot in my program.
      So much for tolerance.

      Your comments have helped me to see how Christians can be considered a privileged group and how Christian beliefs are foisted upon those having a different belief system.

      Very enlightening. Thanks!

      As for me, I'm anxiously awaiting the day the world registers great shock at the sight of Christians acting "Christianly." Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales

      by xndem on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 09:14:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think imagining someone else in charge helps (4.00)
        For instance, what if Muslims were in the majority in your community, and suddenly the church bells that we hear daily (at least in my Catholic-dominated community) were instead a call to prayer, to bow and face Mecca five times a day?

        What if you were offered a Quran to place your hand on before swearing to testify truthfully in court?

        Little daily things that no one in the majority notices are often the things hardest to cope with when you are always faced with being an outsider.

        It's one of the reasons I am strongly against prayer in schools.  It isn't that I have anything against people praying, but there are many children who will either feel left out, or worse, will feel forced to play along.

        Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

        by jaysea on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 09:25:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm against prayer in public schools as well (none)
          I grew up in Catholic schools - but that is a different situation.  I do have one small quibble with your astute post.  the bells I hear are a lovely respite from the noise and fast movements in my busy neighborhood.  It makes me be still for a moment and listen.  I suppose I make a connection with my childhood.  do you find the bells offensive?  As offensive as horns blowing or sanitation trucks backing in alleys.  That being said:  your post gives me pause.

          Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

          by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 10:38:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Personally, I like the sound of bells (none)
            But it is a good example of how much Christianity is so woven into the fabric of our society.  Anyone else "playing music" loud enough for a whole neighborhood to hear would probably be shut down by a noise ordinance.  ;-)

            And, in my city, if the bells were to be replaced by an equally loud Muslim call to prayer, I suspect there would be a long line of people complaining about it.

            Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

            by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 10:51:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Catholic school (3.50)
            I went to a Catholic grade school. I'm no longer Catholic but because of strong family connections, I now do occasional consulting work for them. Sometimes while I'm there I here the daily afternoon prayer over the intercom--you have sinned, pray for forgiveness to Jesus, who died for your sins--reminds of what I find really awful about Catholicism. The whole guilt thing. That can't be healthy for young children.

            They occasionally ask if I'm going to send  my son, who is now nearly school age. There's no way...

            Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology! Ain't got time to make no apology

            by patop on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 12:07:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I sent my son to Catholic School (none)
               It was a progressive school that focused on the giving and loving spirit of the gospels. I went to an all girls' high school in the 50's and that education will never be replicated.  I am a humane, open minded, intelligent, strong, liberal woman and I owe part of this to these nuns (as well as my mother).  Personal responsibility for transgression is part of Catholicism - I hear from younger parents that the harsh days are over.  Would that more of us worried about personal transgressions and turned it to loving and forgiving action in the community.    That is the way I was taught - Guilt, by the way, is not such a bad thing if properly focused.  I feel damned guilty about Iraq.  I feel damned guilty about homelessness.  I feel damned guilty about what this country is turning into - and that gives me energy to work toward changes. I also feel damned guilty about the clergy scandal and hope that we will open the priesthood to women and marriage.  The mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus is a personal matter to me and my Catholic friends and I do not project that onto others.  Everyone comes to God or a purpose for humanity in various ways.

               My son is a fine young man and was not harmed by his training.  Wish he would feel a little guilty about calling me more often, though.  When people ask me why I don't have a cellphone, I say what so I can carry around another phone my son won't call me on.          

              Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

              by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 12:56:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I respect that (none)
                I know some people who find Catholicism deeply & richly meaningful, and even though I rejected it, I've come to respect it, esp. as I found my footing on a spiritual path outside of Christianity.

                The Catholic grade school I went to is a good school, academically speaking, and if weren't for my aversion to some of the Catholic trappings (the depictions of Jesus' torture and crucifixion are the kind of violence we don't let him see on TV) and the prayers, I wouldn't hesitate to send my son there.

                One of my cousins is nun & 1st grade teacher in a very traditional Catholic school (formerly associated with Fr. Feeney) and she sent some pictures that her kids drew, of Jesus on the cross, all with lots of red crayon blood all over. I found it really disturbing that five and six years old kids were compelled to make these kinds of drawings. I can't help but think that this kind of fascination with violence and death is psychologically damaging in some way.

                Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology! Ain't got time to make no apology

                by patop on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 02:08:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I would have been upset at the pictures (none)
                  and spoken to the nun.  Even me - grammar school in the 40's never drew such pictures.  However, there was one particular statue in one of the neighborhood churches.  I don't think I could equate real physical suffering with it even though it fascinated me.  Though probably other kids could or older kids could.  Who is Father Feeney?

                  I understand your concerns - it's not been my experience nor my son's - but it's a big Church and a wide ranging school system, so I have no reason to disbelieve you.  Surprised there are still teaching nuns - there are very few left in the schools here.  

                  Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

                  by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:34:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Feeney's followers are extremists (none)
                    so my example is kind of extreme, but I do still see very graphic crucifixes even in mainstream Catholic churches.

                    Fr Feeney was a Catholic priest in Massachusetts, with traditional views--main one being "there is no salvation outside the church"--who was eventually excommunicated for failing to toe the Vatican line.

                    He founded various institutions, including the order of nuns that my cousin joined. (Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who are dedicated to defending the motto "there is no salvation outside the church.") The nuns eventually reconciled with the Vatican, after making some vague promises to consider that Vatican's views--but not necessarily believe them. They are still dedicated to their motto.

                    Likewise, I think Feeney himself reconciled with the Church, or at least tried to, without abandoning his beliefs, since the excommunication was technically about procedural issues (failing to follow orders or somesuch) and not specifically about his beliefs.

                    (The main problem the Vatican has with the concept of no salvation outside the church, is its presumptiousness, that God does not have the power to grant salvation to whomever He wished, by virtue of his grace.)

                    My cousin and her family are admirers of Mel Gibson, but are torn between their traditional beliefs and loyalty to the Vatican. They considered Pope John Paul II a dangerous liberal(!) who led millions of people to hell and are still suspicious of Benedict, in part because of his association with Vatican II.

                    (My cousin expressed some hope about Benedict; she wrote that his election must be good thing since "the liberalists don't like him.")

                    The most extreme view, held by Gibson & others, is that the Pope is not legitimate as long as he holds to the tenets of Vatican II. This is sedevacantism--the notion that "the chair is vacant," i.e. they recognize the papacy but not the pope.

                    Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology! Ain't got time to make no apology

                    by patop on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:12:18 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  wholesale craziness (none)
                      not my church - but sure I guess there are people like this out there.

                      We do have a church that does the high latin mass here -- I love it because the ceremony is lovely.  It's sanctioned by the diocese.

                      Well my son and I are lucky we escaped that kind of conditioning -- though my mom and dad wouldn't have stood for it.  You know the Confiteor where they say "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"  (I never say it) -- And look when I was trained -- again lucky I guess and my high school nuns were wonderful.

                      Plus I'm pro choice - now that is a problem with some of my friends.  

                      Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

                      by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:49:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  "If only we had some (none)
            sort of mis-sile, we could take the steam right out 'o them bells!" -Graham Chapman

            9/11 was the Neocons' Reichstag fire. "Patriot Act" = Enabling Act.

            by Bulldawg on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 02:00:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You must be (none)
        one of those people doing an honest days work... not like republicans.
    •  To thine self be true (4.00)
      Sometimes you have to just go with who you are.
      I am a member of a volunteer fire company, as an EMT and firefighter. We live in a rural area, somewhat conservative, too. The monthly meetings are opened with a prayer and, since 9/11, the pledge to the flag.
      When these things occur, I stand politely, and do not participate.
      I have never been challenged on these items. I am welcomed to do my work when it's needed. Nobody asks for a prayer or pledge when I start to treat them, or when I pull on my turn-out gear.
      I believe that in standing my ground, others have learned something, too.
      I know this isn't always the easy road, but sometimes we do what we must, and proceed.

      I'm the plowman in the valley with my face full of mud

      by labradog on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 06:14:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because you stand silently and respectfully (none)
        you are participating, in a way.

        Would you be equally accepted if you chose to sit and read instead?  Or if you brought out a prayer rug, removed your shoes, and bowed down on the floor facing Mecca?  Or if you chose to offer (loud enough for the audience) a different prayer? Just something to think about...

        It isn't always a big deal, except that it presumes that everyone there is a participant in a particular version of Christian prayer, and the only acceptable alternative is to be a "forced" participant in  a related ritual (standing silently and respectfully).

        Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

        by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 11:02:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  AMEN....jaysea. (4.00)
      I have to see it to and it makes me uneasy.  There is a woman at my job who told me that Christians were a persecuted minority in our country.  I had to laugh out loud (literally) at her.  But she really believed what she was saying.
      •  The persecution complex is at the core (3.66)
        of the radical right's ascent.  While much of it is psychological projection, it also plays on their fears that America is being invaded by non-English-speaking immigrants.
      •  I've been hearing about white male persecution (none)
        lately, too.

        Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

        by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 11:03:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What do you think of this? (none)
          The white southern working class male is the only group we can poke fun at without sanction.  Is it just me or do you see any truth to it?  Perhaps it's changing now - but i've thought about this occasionally. Is it an economic issue?  Do the fundamentalists feel that no attention was paid to them during Dem administrations?  Did they turn to religion in order to turn away from their failure in the economic picture here?  It's hard to be a failure here -- it's generally assumed one is not smart, doesn't work hard enough, spent money foolishly.  But i see most everything in economic terms -- that's my ideology.  What do you think Jaysea? Did you read the book "Stiffed" about how the white working class male got "stiffed" by the women's movement.  It's a good book.  Can't remember author (woman).

          Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

          by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:43:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess I see it like this (none)
            Because there are few so-called "special-interest" groups looking out for the needs of white men, it's easy for them to think of themselves as downtrodden or persecuted in an era when everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie.

            In reality, I think our social structures and legal systems were set up to protect the interests of white males, and it's going to be a long time before they even begin to function on anything remotely resembling a less than equal playing field.

            White men start with an advantage, which doesn't mean they aren't also subject to other problems that affect everyone, like poor economic conditions, lack of education, training or skills, health problems, etc.  But, in my opinion, anyone in that group who feels that they aren't getting their fair share are probably NOT being deprived of it due to being white and male.

            Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

            by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:12:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have a useless task tonight (none)
              to go visit a Chicago alderman - so I'm off.
              But I'm still an economic girl.  My dad was white and had a hard time - so I have a sympathy for working class white men.  But surely my dad had an easier time of it than the black men he worked with in the factory in the 40's, 50's, 60's.  On an individual basis he was a great guy with his black friends - they bowled, went to the track, visited each other homes.  but on the big government movements toward blacks - he felt left out.  It's difficult and complex question.  I try to approach it with an open heart -- and open mind -- but I  had a few more perks than my dad.    

              Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

              by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:38:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I am bone-weary (4.00)
      I am an atheist, and some days that feels like a dangerous choice in this country. (I am also childless by choice. There's another conversation-stopper that makes people assume you're a selfish monster.)

      I feel inundated with religion. What about my freedom FROM religion? I always thought that was covered under the First Amendment, too.

      I grew up Presbyterian, and chose to reject it. I am tired of Christians assuming that if they just witness to me, I'll see the light. Nope, been there, done that. I repect your religion, so why can't you respect my lack of religion? It was not arrived at thoughtlessly, but through serious intellectual consideration.

      I did, however, retain a great deal of what I learned in church. I know Pharisees when I see them.  

      I think part of the reason I left was seeing a congregation that felt showing up in church and claiming the "good, decent, Christian citizen" label was enough. It was about conformity and a social club. It was never about good works. The hypocrisy struck me even at age 16.

      Even as a former Christian, though, I'm angry to see how this doctrine has been twisted. It is a fundamental message of peace, hope, and compassion. It ought to be a tool for creating a better world. It's sad to see so many people losing all connection with that as they use their Christianity to exclude and justify violence and greed.  

  •  Excellent diary, Renee! (none)

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by jaysea on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:47:14 PM PDT

  •  Hi Renee-White-Christian-in-Ohio (none)
    I'm Jenny-White-Christian-also-in-Ohio.

    I'm here in Columbus - Worthington to be exact - whereabouts are you?

    "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." Rudyard Kipling

    by MamaBear on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:50:49 PM PDT

    •  Just a stone's throw across the highway from me! (none)
      Or maybe just down the road.  Worthington gerrymanders across the ORR - there was a family there who posted Kerry/antiwar signs pre-election that wrote a LTE when they repeatedly were stolen.  IIRC, that is where the ragwort and touch-me-nots bloom by the roadside.

      Tyranny goes with poverty;it's cheaper than democracy. (Larry Niven)

      by Fabian on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:44:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clintonville... (none)
      Just down the bike path (and across High Street).

      White, raised in a Christian tradition, but mostly dyed-in-the-wool geek.

      I finally felt "part of the majority" at AT&T during the late 1980's to early 1990's. I was one of a minority of WASP-ish people, but the whole team was an international conglomeration of people whose identity was "engineer". It was a wonderful, wonderful time.

      Before then, and fairly often since then, I am a member of a distinct minority. I have been aware of it for my entire life, and that status informs my one hundred point zero zero percent agreement with Dr. Dean, who speaks for me completely. (OK, not completely. I know there are people who vote republican that put in a hard days' work. But their politics has been subsumed into the theo-oligarchy of those who value "ownership" over work, and want to make sure the social contract is structured accordingly.)

      •  Over the river and through the woods... (none)
        To my house in Zanesville, you all!
        Another white Christian Ohioan.  
        And yes, Dean speaks for me too.
        Hugs, Renee!

        War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

        by Margot on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 10:28:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You Are Not a Christian (4.00)
    No offense intended--this has to do with the ongoing conquest of our way of life.

    The term "Christian" is a corporate brand for the religious right franchise-church industry that refuses to identify itself with a denominational label. This is a deliberate 30-year-old program to co-opt the term "Christian" as their corporate brand identity, a program that has succeeded.

    I visit these churches on a regular basis for my business. These things are all franchise businesses themselves; whether they have 100 or 10,000 members, the feel is identical, the goods and services are identical, and the organizational style and tools are identical.

    I'd offer one warning now: every liberal or believer in enlightened rational thinking owes it to themselves to visit one of these outlets and spend a morning seeing how their customers live.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 08:53:12 PM PDT

    •  What? (none)
      Are you hitting the crack a little heavily? I mean, yes, there is actually a sort of homogeneous nondenominational protestant franchise church movement going on, and good God it is inane, but the Catholics in America outnumber them absurdly, the Southern Baptists outnumber them [you may argue they're a part of them], they might outnumber the Lutherans, though, barely, but there aren't many Lutherans in America these days. They're nowhere near coopting the term Christian in America. Outside America, they're irrelevant [frankly, Protestantism is irrelevant on the world scene, it's a footnote to Christianity if you go by the numbers].

      Join the battle against cosmic evil!

      by gzt on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 10:34:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gooserock is dead-on (4.00)

        Numbers do not matter - this is about wealth and influence. If you see an identifiable "Christian" in the media or involved with governance right now, more than 9 times out of 10 it is someone out of this "protestant nondenominational franchise" and they are working to become similarly influential elsewhere on the planet. Other "brands" of "Christianity" are insignificant today - and this is by design; while Catholics are working hard to establish their own version.

        I call such nondenominational evangelicals "Biblical Americans" since they are working to impose their particular interpretation of Biblical law throughout governance and social interaction on every level. And they are succeeding - through application of a marketing and branding strategy that is completely secular in nature. But they won't succeed in a completely free market of ideas, which is why they must subvert governance to carve out a position of privilege and impose some degree of coercion.

        Listen carefully when Ted Haggard, head of the National Council of Evangelicals, likens church experiences to the thrill of trying a new brand of toothpaste. But that is by no means the whole story.

      •  Catholics? CHRISTIANS? (3.50)
        Many "Christians" would argue that Catholics aren't Christian. 2 illustrations:

        1. I was raised a Catholic (and in Worthington, OH, as a matter of fact). When I was 10 years old, my parents sent my brother and I to "Vacation Bible School" at a neighborhood family's Baptist church. I remember very little about it, except for the crushing boredom, the Jesus bookends I had to make, and the day we were made to watch a "documentary" about how all those wonderful Baptist missionaries were converting the Catholics in Italy (even then, I thought this was odd--seemed like the missionaries could do more good somewhere else)! Afterwards, I went to their pastor (is this the correct term?) and asked him about it--he put his arm around me and gave me all the normal propaganda about the Catholic church (infallibility, saint worship, etc.) I went home, told my mom all about it, and she never made me go again (I freely admit avoiding Vacation Bible school was on my agenda--but I couldn't have MADE this stuff up--I can still sing, in ITALIAN, the song they would teach their converts).

        2. Back in the late 80's/early 90's I became fascinated by those "Chick Tracts" left in various stores on Sundays or handed out by evangelicals at street fairs (turned out I wasn't the only one--I later saw them sold at "Quimby's Queer Store" in Chicago). My favorite (besides the one that asserted that porn causes little boys to become gay) was one titled "Are Catholics Christian?" (naturally, the answer was NO, y'all are going to hell). Particularly fascinated by the theory that the Catholic church is in fact the Whore of Babylon. I still pick up Chick Tracts whenever I see them.
        •  I'm very familiar with both phenomena. (none)
          They're loud, I'll grant you that. They are gaining numbers. And they do have the zeal of conversion. So did the "Methodies" 100 years ago. We will in time both outpace and outlive them.

          Join the battle against cosmic evil!

          by gzt on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 09:48:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  aren't people... (none)
          who worship Jesus Christ "christian?" Seems to me that would include everyone from Catholics to Lutherans to Methodists to whatever.

          I don't think people should let these fascist extremists co-opt the word "christian." But I'm just a dumb agnostic, so what do I know... ;-)

          ...Freedom is on the march. Straight to the gas chamber. this is infidelica...

          by snookybeh on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 02:11:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Southern Bapist are in fact a part (none)
        One of the biggest new trends is that a lot of Baptist churches are dropping the "Baptist" from their names. The biggest local Baptist church (and it is a big rich one, has done that.

        From their website, they are definitely representative of conservative side; one of the things they make a point of is stating that they interpret the Bible literally and are anti-evolution.

        Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology! Ain't got time to make no apology

        by patop on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 12:14:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Literalists, eh? (none)
          So, do they stone their disobedient sons?

          Deuteronomy 21: 18-21: "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

          (Personally, I think some of the youth of today could benefit from a good stoning, but that's an entirely different issue.  Just kidding. )

          I've tried arguing some of the more questionable laws of the Bible to literalists, but either they claim "That's not in my Bible!" (Me: "Huh?") or they try to rationalize that since it's in the OLD Testament, it's somehow less relevent than the NEW Testament.

          Doesn't picking and choosing which of God's laws to follow somewhat defeat literalism?

          •  You can't argue with them (none)
            The cognitive dissonance that results from believing in the Bible literally, contradictions, weirdness and all, renders them unable to think rationally and logically. Such and such is so, just because...

            Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology! Ain't got time to make no apology

            by patop on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:00:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I am not sure I understand (none)
      Are they increasing the numbers of church goers in churches under their franchise, or just "acquiring" new churches?
  •  Diaries like this one (none)
    are why I joined DKos in the first place!

    I knew there was a Christian Left out there somewhere; it's great to hear from you.

    •  No one expects (4.00)
      to be confronted with the Christian Left. ;-)

      I work in an abortion-providing clinic in Texas. Several times a week, a prospective patient says to me that she is planning to have an abortion "but I know it's wrong, because I'm a Christian."

      Then I get to say, "If you would like to talk to someone about your decision, it might make you feel better to know that our director here at the clinic is a Christian chaplain."

      Shocking. It blows them away every time.

      We all make unjustified assumptions about each other, simply because of our daily conditioning in whatever cultural world we inhabit. I am a blue-eyed blonde bolilla who speaks fluent Mexico City-accented Spanish, and I wish I had a nickle for every time a Spanish-speaking patient has told me that I don't look like someone who speaks Spanish.

      I always smile and ask, "What does a person who speaks Spanish look like?" And she almost invariably smiles back and replies, "I don't know ... just not like you."

      I don't know, either. Now that I think about it, the list of things I don't know is getting longer by the day.

  •  Fellow Ohioan here . . . (4.00)
    Being about Howard Dean's age and having come to consciousness during the Civil Rights Movement, I've been working on this kind of awareness almost my entire life. Thank you so much for this diary. It expresses the on-going process of discovery so well.

    I don't consider myself outside of anything. I just consider myself not around . . . Bob Dylan

    by ponderer on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 09:36:25 PM PDT

  •  Something else about being white (4.00)
    In the South, there are still some racists.  I'm sure that's true about everywhere, but I can confirm it where I live.

    Sometimes being in a group where there are only white people present, someone will make a racist statement and make the assumption that everyone in the group is in agreement.  I will usually speak out, but sometimes I notice that others don't, even though I know they don't share the opinion.  It's hard, I know, to stand up for something.

    One of my good friends is a Mexican woman from Austin, Texas, who came to live in my Louisiana community.  In Louisiana, there is an assumption that she is white, since she is ocntrasted to the African-Americans here.  In her Austin community, she is considered a person of color.  She considers hereself to be a person of color.

    She says she has often had the experience when she is in a group of only white people, that because she is assumed to be "one of them" in Louisiana, she is often told racist things about someone else.  There is an assumption that she is hearing their words from the view point of a white person, when, in fact, she is appalled by their words AND she doesn't consider herself to be "one of them."

    I'm also reminded of when my white brother went to live in New Jersey.  He was interested in a Puerto Rican woman there.  His relatively new friends took him aside and explained to him that he was crossing some racial lines there.  Of course, he didn't agree and didn't really care what they thought anyway, but the thought of a race issue had not even occurred to him.

    Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by jaysea on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 09:59:37 PM PDT

    •  I had a similar experience at a get (4.00)
      together with my wifes family in the midwest where someone told a "joke" that had the phrase "fucking nigger" in it.  He stopped turned to my wife and said "sorry for saying fucking".  I looked at him and said "trust me, that was the least offensive thing that came out of your mouth today."  

      THe family had to learn to love me.

      On the other side of the coin, my son and I went to a local restraunt last wek where we were the only white people inthere...everyone else was black.  While I admit to being ..not uncomfortable..but aware of the fact, my 7 year old sone showed NO awareness of the differencce...and I LOVE THAT.

      Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

      by ETinKC on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 11:17:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same from both sides (4.00)
      I am latin american and have lived almost my whole life in many parts in the US.  I have lived A LOT of this time in the DEEP south.

      I have experienced this from both sides.  I have had to "correct" white acquaintances when they spout racist bilge (deep south = assuming that since I was not black I was white, what EVER the hell that really means) and I have been equally aghast when in the company of black friends in Atlanta when they were saying just mean things about whites.  When this person met my my mom (who is white, blue eyes, blond hair), this person just about died.  

      I thought that spoke more than I could have said myself.

      I live in a multi-cultural cross-section and have gotten to see it from both sides.  I CAN say that within my latino communities I never saw this sort of anger.  

      I also felt a distinctly different "aura" when I got to know people of african descent straight from Africa and also those who were raised OUTSIDE of the US.  These friends did not feel angry, they did not participate in racist hate speech.  

      In some important ways, they were not bound by the colossal mind-f*ck that slavery has perpetrated on people of the US and which we here dont have the capacity to comprehend.

      Unless you break the mold of a typical american and actually travel outside of tourist destinations or get to know some of the "furriners" who come to live, work, and pay taxes in the US, you are not going to get what I am talking about.

      The SM-62 Snark was a USAF intercontinental nuclear cruise missile that was operational in 1960-1961.

      by nika7k on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 05:32:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I grew up in the South (3.50)
      It's true that there is a great deal of racism in the South, but it's certainly not the only place where this cancer festers.

      I've witnessed uglier racist incidents in Boston, NYC, and even England than I did in the South. My 82-year-old working-class mother in North Carolina has become a lot less racist over the decades, but my 65-year-old mother-in-law from the Northeast (who has a Ph.D.) regularly spews some jaw-dropping racist comments. So you never know.

      At least in the South, white people regularly interact with blacks, and that goes a long way toward defusing racism--because people hate and fear what they don't know and understand. In many northern areas, whites and blacks just don't mix as frequently as they do in the South and those walls are never torn down by simple human contact.  

      Now that I live in southern California, I've been shocked all over again at this seething anti-immigrant sentiment, which is everywhere. The root of it is simply racism and fear directed at Mexicans. I've been shocked at how ugly and hate-filled it is.

      •  I'm not sure it's "simply racism" (none)
        I think it is fear, however.  Fear of losing the mantle of the governing group.  The Latinos are a large, young growing population.  

        Conservatives say "Silent Spring" is a dangerous book! Why do Conservatives Hate Birds?

        by xanthe on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:48:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is Howard really a Christian? (3.00)
    That is sad. I actually thought better of him as an agnostic/athiest/humanist.
    •  Dean's a "thinking" Christian (none)
      which is a new concept for sheople. Go, Dean, Go--from a girl who thinks cheerleading is boring.

      Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. Eleanor Roosevelt

      by blueohio on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 10:07:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And that's sad... (4.00)
      that it seems like Christianity's been given a bad name by the extreme Religious Reich...

      "It's an unnerving thought that we may be the living universe's supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously." -- Bill Bryson

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 10:09:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What was the point of that (2.66)
      insult?  

      Tired of the corporate DLC suck ups?WE'VE GOT DEANS BACK

      by TeresaInPa on Sun Jun 12, 2005 at 11:40:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dean, Bob Graham and Barack Obama (none)
      are all United Church of Christ members... which as you know has had a hard time having it's progressively inclusive advertisements played on various television networks.

      I grew up in the UCC.  It's a very open church and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.  But intolerance of any sort is really unacceptable amongst true progressives.  

    •  And... (none)
      And his wife is Jewish too.  I really find them an inspiration for interfaith couples (being part of one, myself).  
      •  Right On! (none)
        I'm half Oriental and half Amerind.  My wife is a Jew.  We get a few raised eyebrows down here in the deep South.  I'm Lutheran, and yes, there are still some of us around who really feel faith is a personal matter, not something to carry around on your sleeve.  I remember going into a Southern Baptist Church 10 years or so ago and was SHOCKED that Christians could act that way.  I am more comfortable with Judiasm.  

        I am privy to a certain amount of racist remarks from people who consider me to be "non-black" or "non-white" depending on the situation and the remarks to be stated.  I seldom am accepted as white, I mostly get the Oriental nerd stuff to my face, but of course it is never meant as an insult.  Yes, I am good at math and computers!  We folk are born with it.  Ha ha.

        Embrace diversity. Not everyone is intelligent.

        by FLDemJax on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:14:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I love the story about how he met her (none)
        They were in college and he saw her and askeed someone who she was , saying she was "adorable".
        She said she thought his friends were more here type, with long hair and sandals, while he was more preppy.

        Tired of the corporate DLC suck ups?WE'VE GOT DEANS BACK

        by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:52:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Generally, I don't care (none)
      The whole rating game is a bit lame.  But, in this case it's a representation of something.  

      Why in the world did someone rate this guy down on his comments?  Isn't it perfectly okay to think more highly of someone because of what they believe?  Apparently, the author of this comment thinks more people who don't follow a particular faith.  

      I happen to hold people of faith in high regard.  I think it takes a lot of work to maintain faith.  But, to knock this poster's comments because he holds Atheists or Agnostics in higher regard is petty.  

    •  Thought better of dKos (4.00)

      As an agnostic/athiest/humanist myself, I see no need for insults like that.  

      While I may not buy into the theology of Christianity, as philosophical principles we could do a lot worse than to live by the teachings of Jesus.  I'll certainly take a Christian who tries to live by principles of love, charity, and the importance of doing good over ritual and sanctimony, over a "Christian" who can quote chapter and verse of Job.

      The Dobson-Falwell-etc bunch want the easiness of believing their sins are just washed away in a jiffy -- can He fix my credit rating too? -- plus the comfy security of a "personal",  anthropomorphic deity, while at the same time ignoring most of Christ's teaching in favor of the brimstone, bloodiness, traditionalism, and tribalism of the Old Testament.

      •  I think the Good man is being funny (none)
        hard to do sarcasm in writing

        It's a Big country.

        by Danny Boy on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 08:03:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  well, (none)
        As an agnostic/athiest/humanist myself,
        I see no reason to attribute the "christian" qualities to jesus. The qualities of "Loving thy neighbor", "don't kill people" and "don't covet their stuff, let alone their wives" is simple 'how society grew" as we progressed from clans to tribes to communities - some stuff just made sense. I'm always annoyed that the "christians" act like they invented these ideas and before that it was just greed and chaos - y'know, like, these days....
        •  Actually (none)
          If you're really following Jesus, and not just paying lip service, then what you've outlined ain't even close to what the call is.

          Love your neighbor? To paraphrase J.C., big fucking deal! You really want to do right, you gotta love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.

          Don't steal? Not enough. You gotta give what you've got away. Two cloaks? That's one two many. Only one cloak. Rip it in half. It'll work as two cloaks that way.

          No the problem's not that Christians take credit for basic ideas of morality that were around before them. The problem is that most Christians are Christians in name only and are too scared to really face up to what Jesus actually calls them to do.
  •  Wow... Just Wow... This is one of the best diaries (4.00)
    I have ever read.  Your points are simple yet profound.  As a person who has been generally indifferent toward Howard Dean, you have made me a believer.

    The larger issue here is empathy --- being able to walk a mile in another man's shoes ---  It's also about listening (something I think Armando touched on earlier today).  These are some of the core values of the Democratic Party.  Bill Clinton had this in spades.  He connected with people in a way that others could not. Your anecdote about Howard Dean demonstrates that he has this ability as well.  This is what the party needs, a candidate that can step outside of himself or herself and see/feel the problems people face on a day to day basis.  It really is about feeling the voter's pain.

  •  Buddhist-marrying-Catholic here in Bible Belt (4.00)
    Let me tell you: Dean's words rang loud and clear.

    Upthread I read about the 'privilege' of being a Christian.  On the West and East Coasts, there really wasn't much in the way of a privilege outside of the being comfortable seeing Christmas Carols, etc..

    However, down here where the label 'Christian' means ONE THING: conservative, Evangelical, 'homosexuality is a choice AND a sin', and 'Buddhists, Hindus - who practice idolatry, Jews and Muslims are hell-bound. And, by the way, WE'RE the persecuted ones.'

    Trust me on this one: the Christians who willingly label themselves 'Christian' mean exactly that.  The arrogance they display in matters of faith make life miserable here for non-Christians.  In fact, nearby a Muslim cemetary was denied because...well, they were Muslims, that's why.  

    Proseltyzing in public schools?  What's the problem?  They're just spreading the word of the Lord.  Never mind, the cajoling, peer-pressure, etc..  

    And, you know what, the people with this religious-schizophrenia (superior to all other faiths, BUT they're the persecuted ones) are almost uniformly WHITE.  Oh yeah, and they're very, very, very Republican (as in, it's God's Duty to vote Republican).

    In other words, Dean SPEAKS FOR ME!    

  •  so i guess (none)
    the repug party isn't the party of white christians.

    you're living proof!

    •  the republican party is the party of white (none)
      christians (howard had to use this term because of catholic flight; formerly the gop was the wasp party), but not all white christians are members of the republican party.

      We get a lot of advice. We tend to listen when somebody's won something. - Joe Lockhart

      by yankeedoodler on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 12:20:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Dated (3.50)
    a Mexican American guy for 4 years down in Texas. His sister is married to a "White" guy, so often we'd be the only two "White" guys at a family get-together. And these family get-togethers were sometimes HUGE - literally hundreds of people. And mostly they spoke Spanish, which I understand well enough, but lack confidence in.

    The thing is, his family went out of their WAY to make me feel comfortable - which I always did, although it was hard not to feel "different" (gay white agnostic from NC with a small nuclear family surrounded by a BIG 'OLE Mexican Catholic familly). I don't think most Christian-White-Republicans would ever consider doing ANYTHING to make someone "different" feel more comfortable. Hell, they gather at the Mexican border with GUNS and are lauded as American heroes by the Wingers.

  •  You forgot... (none)
    I remember someone commenting at one point that there were "no white people" in the neighborhood on Sesame Street. (I'm talking about the humans on the show, not the puppets, none of which are white!)

    Bob.

    I know it's not really the point of the diary, but I've always liked Bob.  :)

    Linda used to be on the show.  I think Gina is still on it but I'm not 100% sure.  Then there was Mr. Hooper back in the day.  I'm probably forgetting others too.

    I will not stand for eagles. "For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird."

    by kenjib on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 01:06:09 AM PDT

  •  hawaii (none)
    One reason I love living in hawaii is that as a caucasian, I am in in the minority here.  It's a real eye-opener, and good for the soul.  I don't notice race at all anymore, particularly because there are so many mixed-race couples here, and kids often have 5 or even 7 nationalities in their background.  When I go back to Michigan to my parents' house, I feel surrounded by a sea of people who all look the same.  All I can think is how utterly boring.  That certainly encourages people to conform to an identical mindset.

    I'm a Democrat because of my beliefs. Democrats believe in economic, social, and moral responsibility. Republicans take risks with our future.

    by Katydid on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 03:48:24 AM PDT

  •  Christian or Christopath? (4.00)
    The always incisive Driftglass has coined the word "Christiopath" to describe the Dobson wing of the faith.  Christiopathy and Christianity are two different things, and I think the distinction is useful.

    RELIGION: It's what keeps poor people from killing rich people!

    by roxtar on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:39:51 AM PDT

  •  ...and I am a white (Christian) atheist (3.75)
    After I read the title of the diary I was concerned it might be the opposite of what it is... but not really concerned. That didn't fit my picture of who you are, nor my previous experiences reading your diaries.

    I believe Howard knows exactly what he's doing. His calling the GOP a basically "white Christian party" was not intended in anyway to dis white Christians. It was intended to put the question in voters' minds, do you want to elect a white Christian party?  And furthermore, do you not think a little bit of diversity is a good thing? Because the fact is that there are a lot of white Christians who don't want their whiteness or Christianity to be the only things they are judged by, nor the only factors that their country is run by.

    Last, but not least, many of us are "white" and "Christian" in some respect simply because that is the prevailing culture we've grown up in, at least those of us over 30. And somehow, advertising continues to believe that we are more white and Christian than I suspect we really are. But I, for instance, am an atheist by most people's reckoning. Nevertheless, we celebrate Christmas at our house, and many of the values we instill in our kids are certainly compatible with "Christian values". Just not guaranteed by "God".

    In fact, what bothers me most of all is the degree to which being a Christian these days makes you exempt from having to practice Christian values. As a wonderful piece in Sunday's Toronto Star pointed out, perspectives on gay marriage reflect an extremely diverse set of experiences and reasons for those viewpoints. And there was this beautiful contribution:

    Krystal Morrison, 22, and Amy Clark, 19, both of Kelowna, take their cues from their pastor. They open our conversation by revealing they're both devout Christians and explain that their perspective on the issue of same-sex marriage is coloured by their faith. But, unlike poll numbers, those colours have shades.

    "It makes me sad that Christians are becoming known only for all the things we disagree with," says Morrison. "It makes me sad because it detracts from the real purpose of the church. I'll tell you, my views are not shared by very many people in this area. Sometimes it's really hard to say I'm a Christian," she adds. "I'm kind of a rebel."

    When she was 16 and living in Washington State, Morrison became friends with some lesbians she met while working at a coffee shop. As their friendship flourished, Morrison heard the painful stories of discrimination and couldn't help but wonder, "How much of that pain was caused by Christians?"

    At the end of our conversation, Morrison says she would not go out of her way to prevent same-sex marriage. "My message to other Christians is that we are missing the point."

    She declares, "I don't have to agree with you. I have to love you."

    [Emphasis mine]

    So I think that Christians who identify with this sentiment will have no trouble accepting what Howard has said, and will ask themselves whether he has a point. And if so, they may be less likely to vote Republican.

    "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 05:59:05 AM PDT

  •  Diversity (3.66)
    When I was at UMass-Boston, I had a friend who lived in Jamaica Plain. (I lived, and still do, up on the North Shore.) We'd often get together after class, or get lunch, or whatever. One day we ended up in South Boston. I took the train in, and she said, "I'll just drop you off at a subway station on the way to my house, and then you can get home that way." Sounded fine to me.

    She dropped me off at the old Dudley Station, which was right in the heart of Roxbury, the 'black' section of Boston.

    I climbed the stairs to the station--Dudley was on the old elevated Orange line--and find about twenty or thirty people waiting for the train. Most of them young men, all of them black. Geeky me, with my bookbag, was the only white guy in the whole station.

    I'm not going to lie to you--I was apprehensive. Roxbury doesn't have a good reputation, especially to those of us from the 'burbs, and I know that's prejudice in and of itself--but there it is. Roxbury was thought of as 'violent.' And my apprehension wasn't helped by the fact that every single person at that station stared at me as I walked down the platform.

    Suddenly, a guy, about 25ish, took a look and sized up the situation. He took a step towards me, big grin on his face, and said, "Damn--how the hell did a white guy end up at Dudley? You lost or something? Geez!"

    I chuckled and told him--and the twenty-or-so other people that leaned in to listen--what had happened. That led to a good bit of ragging on my friend. "She dropped you off here? Some friend she is!" "White guy abandoned in the hood, blames 'friend'!" and the whole bit.

    I chatted with this guy and his buddies for the ten minutes or so before the train showed up. I had no problems.

    What that guy did was an act of complete mensch-ness that I haven't forgotten in the intervening 20 years.

    I was brought up with a kind of casual racism. Nothing serious--I dated a black girl for a while  and my parents didn't blink an eye--but casual; the kind of thing that'd make you be apprehensive about being surrounded by black people, even on a subway in broad daylight. That day ended it, for me, completely.

    "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

    by ChurchofBruce on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 06:23:53 AM PDT

    •  Since You're "Baptized" (none)
      I'm going to let you in on a little secret from my youth.

      I can state from personal experience that the white people who get "trouble" from folks in non-white neighborhoods are the ones who come in looking as if someone just airlifted them into a war zone.  Terrified, looking over their shoulder, etc. etc.

      Why do they catch shit?

      Because by their very affect and demeanor they are insulting people in their home.  And folks generally don't take well to that.  

      Again, I'm speaking from personal experience.

      My separate place for mental meanderings: Political Sapphire

      by shanikka on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 08:22:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am white and Christian too, (none)
    and I'm all for Dean.

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 07:13:55 AM PDT

  •  Christian Shorthand (4.00)
    Let me share another perspective.  I am also a white Christian, but my husband is Jewish.  For several years in the 1980s, we lived in a southern city.  I grew up in the south, but this was my husband's first encounter with the culture.

    He said to me one day that he was very disturbed about how everyone referred to others as "Christian."  He said that this was always used as some kind of shorthand to say that this person was moral and trustworthy.  For example, "Take your car to Joe's Garage; he's a good Christian."  In other words, since Joe is a good Christian, he will treat you fairly.

    I agreed with him that this certainly was a shorthand.  But, his next comment surprised me.  He asked "What does this say about people who are NOT Christians?"  I knew his implication immediately.  He saw this "good Christian" shorthand as veiled antisemitism.  I tried to argue that most of the people in our town didn't have enough experience with Jews to even form an opinion.  But, he never bought that argument, and eventually I had to decide that he was at least partially correct.

    The point here is that among some people in this country and particularly in the southern culture, to call someone "Christian" means a lot more than just saying that this person goes to a Christian Church on Sunday.  It's a form of exclusion.  It's a way to say that those who are in the big tent are accepted and those who are outside the tent are not.

    When I heard Howard's comment about the Republican Party, I thought immediately about my husband's experience as a Jew in a Christian environment.  I think Howard hit a nerve with his comment.  Maybe it was more perceptive than the press gives him credit for.

    •  Agreed... (none)
      I am Jewish, my fiance is Christian.  He is very liberal, open-minded, and compassionate to everyone.  His family on the other hand border on being fundamentalists.  His mother feels the need to clarify in conversation when she's talking about others who is a Christian and who isn't.  Exactly as you described... as a way of indicating someone who is "honest/fair."  Not all Christians are this way, but she and her ilk tend to look at Jews as spiritually crippled and our beliefs/practices as "quaint" (I'm rather observant too, I do keep kosher and the like).  People like that give half nods to Judaism since that was the religion of Jesus... but I feel like they are looking at me as one would watch a documentary on an isolated tribe of bushmen... "Isn't that quaint, that people lived like that, and these poor sad people didn't get the memo."

      I wouldn't call it antisemitism exclusively, because I know my non-Jewish and non-Christian friends (Muslims, Hindus, etc) experience the same feeling of ostracization.  But everytime someone appends "And he's a good Christian" to their description of a person, or whenever I pass by one of the many stores now that put up a Jesus fish to indicate that the store owner is a "good Christian"... it's a slap in the face to me, it makes me feel uncomfortable, and they might as well put a sign out front instead saying "No Jews/Hindus/Muslims/Atheists Allowed."

    •  I think the biggest division in much of the South (4.00)
       -- in terms of religion, that is -- is between church-going Christians and inactive Christians.  The mental symbol of this division that I carry around is the story of future country musicians Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett, who in their 20s would sit on their front porch (which was right across the street from a row of churches) in their boxers on Sunday morning, and sing drunken hymns to the "upstanding" Christians going in and out of church in their finery.  These kind of people -- unconforming, relaxed, rebel southern whites -- are the kind of people that folks are trying to say so-and-so is NOT when they say "you can trust that auto mechanic; he's a good Christian."  By saying "he's a good Christian" they're saying "he's a pillar of society with a reputation to uphold; he's got too much at stake to screw you over."

      I find the whole thing as nauseating as you all do, seeing as how I'm one of those semi-secular fallen and gay to boot.  I find all the fishes on cars and mechanic signs personally threatening, since it always seems to be the Evangelicals Inc right-wing churchgoers who put fishes on their cars, not the Presbyterians and Congregationals and Lutherans.   In other words, I'm hardly inclined to make excuses for expressions like "He's a good Christian."  I do think, however, that such things are aimed more at locally-based dissenters than at full-on outsiders like Jews or Muslims.

      Hollow comfort, I'm sure.  If anything, it's even more exclusive than you think.

    •  When I hear the shorthand (4.00)
      I have begun to have a visceral reaction that is opposite of what the speaker intended.

      For instance, when I'm told that a politician is a good Christian family man, I understand the shorthand as "he's against gay people, against women's rights, against choice, etc." and I immediately make note of someone probably NOT getting my vote.

      Hearing that people are "Good Christians" makes me immediately wary of them.  They have a hurdle to overcome before I begin to trust them completely.

      That said, I admire Christ's message, and I would admire those who adhere to it.

      Unfortunately, in this day and age, I find those people who most often feel the need to use the shorthand of "Good Christian" to describe themselves are often hoping that the label will give them the credibility to mask their often un-Christian deeds.

      Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 11:24:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I drove a cab in boston for a long time (4.00)
    and saw a lot of naked racism on both sides.   White people saying they would never let "niggers" in their neighborhood.   Black people saying it was ok to take from whites because they "deserved it".   I just always saw it as there are idiots on both sides.

    But the funny thing is this.   You just have to be on the receiving end of this hatred once to test the real mettle of your christianity.  You never forget when another person spews visceral hatred at you.   How you treat the next person who comes along and looks like them becomes the real test of your faith.

    You cannot ignore your anger at being hated for no reason.   Nor can you bury it, as that leads to its own issues.   You have to accept it and move on without bias.  Christianity, like most religions, teaches us this.

    As a far lefty, there are still things I like about religion.

    •  Tall ships (none)
      This is going back some... when did the "Tall Ships" visit Boston? Was it as far back as the bicentennial?

      Anyway, I was there with my parents and siblings and was struck that in the crowd of a million people or so, there were no black people. Over the years I realized that I noticed the same thing at beaches and resorts around Boston (not just there of course).

      Years later I was riding a train from DC to somewhere, New York probably, and realized from conversations that most of the people on the train were coming from the Million Man March. When some near me started talking about Boston, I worked up the courage to ask the question about why there were no black people at popular areas around Boston?

      I was told stories not just about discrimination but about families with small children having rocks thrown at them. Rocks! It shocked me into silence. It still shocks me.

      •  boston is a checkerboard city (none)
        neighborhoods white to black and back to white again as you pass through them.   Not a lot of integration once you get out of downtown.  

        In the south a visiting northener is often surprised that the civil war is still remembered and still being fought down there.  

        In boston, you still hear echoes from days of the forced busing of children from one neighborhood to another.

    •  you don't need (none)
      religion to react properly in that situation.
  •  I have a question. (none)
    It appears, from a poll I wrote Friday, that Daily Kos contributors are around 90% White.  The poll results are here.

    Also, we are about a third Christian, ergo, 2/3 non-Christian.  Not too surprising, since the "non" category includes non religious and all other religions, but I digress.

    The question I have is where are all the blacks, hispanics, asians, native american, and other non-whites?

    Are we "preaching to the choir"?

    And since it looks like we are...what can we do about it?

    I'm serious here.  How can we reach a broader group of racially differn't bloggers and activists?  We need to.  DK is the progressive blog, and we sit around all day reinforcing our arguments while we aren't energizing, engaging, informing, and otherwise including minorities.

    Should we each try and find one group, or even one person, to bring into the community?  

    Why should we have all the fun?  I feel selfish!  But more importantly, I feel we could be more diverse and more effective!

    •  This is amusing (none)
      The guy that runs this site is technically "non-white" (I don't believe in race so I don't fully understand how to categorize people accordingly by it) and there are others who are of pretty diverse backgrounds here as well, but the poll wasn't really set up to distinguish that well.  Also, keep in mind that whites are the majority in the U.S.  It's just a simple fact, and many latinos also are white, so they may vote as a white person in your poll even though you seperate the two as well.

      I understand how your poll could be of interest based on the racist culture we have, but perhaps a better idea would be to focus on more meaningful groupings such as contributors by region and such.  Since most people here are not "racist" to the extreme, I think many would not hesitate to associate with people with various skin colors.

      •  I know of Markos... (none)
        and I also know that it seems there is a diverse background here.  Pretty ironic huh?  That is what was so surprising to me and quite a few people who took the poll.  Just how white DK is.

        in 2000, white America was about 69%, and has been falling in each of the past 10 year census figures, and it is probably less now.  I don't expect that trend to up and reverse itself.

        My point is not how can we be more sensitive.  My point is how can we reach a broader audience with the truth and all of the other good stuff around here.

        The regional idea is interesting, but I would ask if it would be better for me to invite a person from Lansing (who would likely be white) to join, or a hispanic person to join.

        I'm glad you responded, I was about to write an angry diary!

        •  Depends on your cause (none)
          and I also know that it seems there is a diverse background here.  Pretty ironic huh?  That is what was so surprising to me and quite a few people who took the poll.  Just how white DK is.

          Part of it is that whites tend to have more money, and thus more access to computers.  Also, as much as I hate to say it, but there are a lot less blacks interested in both computers and politics as there are whites.  The fact is that within the culture that slavery has foisted upon blacks in the past, a feeling of hopelessness often keeps people from getting too involved.  Granted, there are really great examples to the contrary, but none of my black friends growing up were interested in politics, while a few of my white friends were.  Also with my black friends there were fewer that were interested in sitting behind a computer for long periods of time as lazy white people like myself are.  Again, I can name exceptions that I know personally, but the overall numbers are different.

          On the other hand, I'd be willing to probably bet that blacks are more likely to go to a town hall meeting or be politically active in public than whites like the majority of people here who limit their activism to what can be done from behind a screen.  All in all though, it's all just stereotypes.  We can provide exceptions to every stereotype, and we can change people so that the stereotypes are no longer valid.  So I generally disregard them.

          The regional idea is interesting, but I would ask if it would be better for me to invite a person from Lansing (who would likely be white) to join, or a hispanic person to join.

          That depends on your goal.  If you're looking to have a latino political group that focuses on the things that are most important to them, then you have to organize based on that demographic.  If you are looking to have a Lansing politically oriented group, then you have to focus on that one.

    •  Diversity (none)
      is a chimera

      I believe (and I've only been here a month or so) that what is distinctive about Kos is the range of opinion and background, and I don't care where it came from. In fact, it's better not to know that this guy is Black or this one is a lesbian or that one is a WASP - because it immediately colors your interpretation - if you were talking to them at a party or a meeting you would have formed stereotypes in the first few seconds (see "Blink"). But here, the words have to stand for themselves - how articulate, how focussed, how much to the point, how sarcastic, how empthetic... the argument makes itself, without the screening... there is little context, so the arguement must be more forceful, better phrased, more compelling.

      In the Denver Post, I often read a column by Reuben Navarette, who writes for a Texas newspaper. He invariably writes about some immigration or hispanic issue. Get a Life! If that's the only context he has for the world around him, I can see what his biases are. But since he insists that everything be interpreted through the lens of "ths hispanic view" his selection of facts are called into question and his conclusions suspect. Imagine his difficulty writing about Colorado's Senator Ken Salazar supporting "Abu" Gonzales for AG and then writing columns about torture at GITMO. Talk about conflicted!

      I have heard recently that some orchestras interview prospective musicians behind a curtain so thay can't tell if they are male or female, because of prior hiring issues disadvantageous to female performers (my daughter is a great violinist...). Same issue. One virtue of Kos is that no one knows who you are or to which group you belong. What's important is to make a good argument for your position. Keep it that way.

  •  Thanks Renee (none)
    Good to see you on the Kos.  The kind of multiperspective awareness you are talking about seems to fit nicely with the idea of listening that has been brought up.  I'm surprised at how Howard gets painted as so "crazy" partisan when he is one of the best listeners in the big game.  Ask the state chairs he called when running for DNC chair, they will tell you asked them about their vision for an effective national party.
  •  White Privilege (4.00)
    Quote: This led to a discussion of how much of the bias that exists is genuinely unintentional. There was nothing malicious there--the person writing that book was looking at his own pale wrist and speaking from his own experience. I'm sure it simply didn't occur to him that some of his readers couldn't see their veins through their skin.

    Read this:
    http://seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/~mcisaac/emc598ge/Unpacking.html

    Excerpt:
    Daily effects of white privilege

    1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

    2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

    3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

    4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

    5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

    6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

    7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

    8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

    9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

    10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

    There are 50 items in this list - read them all.

    There is also a list for Male Privilege:
    http://colours.mahost.org/org/maleprivilege.html

    •  Reading your list reminded me of an incident (none)
      I once had a very good friend visit me.  She had moved away years before and returned to my state to visit parents, etc., then came to the City where I had relocated in order to spend some time with me.

      During one of several outings, we ended up in a downtown dime store, and spent some time wandering the aisles.  Gradually, I began to be aware of sales/security people keeping an eye on us.  I would hear announcements over the loudspeaker that would mention the number of the aisle we happened to be in.  Eventually, the store personnel just became obviously intrusive and even began making rude comments, and we decided to just leave.

      Now, I'm a white woman, and I've never had that particular experience in that store, or any store, before.  I mentioned it to my friend, a black woman, who said she encounters similar treatment on a regular basis.

      Well-behaved women rarely make history - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      by jaysea on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:31:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This one is appropriate: (none)
      When I look at common depictions of Jesus and God, they looks like people of my race.

      "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

      by digital drano on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 07:29:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A contender with a Jewish surname (none)
    probably suffered a great deal in the last Democratic presidential primary simply because of his religion.

    As for smart Democratic candidates with black skin, may I put forward the example of Reverend Jackson.

    I remember the results of the 1988 District of Columbia presidential primary, the white candidate won in the white sections and the black candidate in the black sections. The District is overwelmingly Democratic.

    Riding the subway in the District of Columbia is also interesting. One Orange Line train has mostly white passengers. An Orange Line train going in the opposite direction has mostly black passengers.

  •  White Christian Party (none)
    I got what Dean was talking about the minute I heard about it. The phrase "White Christian Party" isn't talking about whites, or Christians, but White-ChristiansTM. Howard could have called them the religious right, the Army of Dobson, the fundamentalist neofascists, but anything more pointed than White Christians would have sounded unnecessarily scolding to your regular white, Christian Americans who just want their future back. Howard is creating new code, or framing if you prefer. He's taking our party back from the professional hacks, and he needs to wake up NASCAR America by making the truth about the repuglican party his outspoken mission:  the GOP is where it is today by religious demagoguery and outright lying about damned near everything, from support to education to wrecking our military readiness. Tell it, Howard.

    A democracy can die of too many lies. - Bill Moyers

    by easong on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 09:30:54 AM PDT

  •  It's not just in America, though... (none)
    I was in London two years ago. I like Afropop, and discovered an all-night show with live bands.  I went, and found myself to be the only white person in line.  (In the interest of complete disclosure, about three more whites were eventually seen by me at the show.)

    When they finally opened up the venue to let us in, the bouncer was pretty short and sharp with the crowd, and a bit rough in his pat-downs.  Then he came to me.

    "How are you this evening, sir?"

    "Fine, thanks."

    "I'm sorry, but I need to do a security check, sir."

    "No problem."

    It was quick and cursory, minimal jostling, and that was that.

    I've seen the "two systems" process in play a lot, having spent most of my childhood on the darker side of a racially divided community.  

    But that night was a reminder that being white allows for willful ignorance, if you wish it, off our shores as well.

    "Nothing is as difficult as not deceiving oneself" - Ludwing Wittgenstein

    by Palamedes on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 09:46:27 AM PDT

  •  "Christian" is the new "white" (none)
    My reactions to the "white, Christian" comment went as follows:

    "Tell it brother!  ...   Hey, wait Dean doesn't like the Republican party -- so if the Republican party is the white, Christian party, does that mean Dean doesn't like white, Christians?  I'm a white, Christian -- does that mean Dean has just dissed me?  But Dean is a white, Christian, so that can't be what he means.  What does he mean?" ... I am white and Christian, but I am not a Republican.  Why is that?"

    I am not a Republican because I believe the current agenda of that party serves, first and foremost, to sustain unearned privilege.

    I've known all my life that there are people in the United States who believe in white privilege.  I grew up among them.  Obviously, not everyone who votes Republican believes in white privilege, but everyone I've known who believed in white privilege voted Republican - unless there was a candidate like George Wallace available.  But support for white privilege has been declining.  Demographically, it's become a losing game.   So, when the Republican party recognized that the old "southern strategy" was becoming OBE, what did they do?

    They vigorously promoted the idea that wealth - all wealth - constitutes earned privilege.  They did this by equating wealth with work, knowing that Americans value work.  They promoted the idea that taxes take money away from those who have earned it and redistribute it to those who have not earned it.  They attacked affirmative action, arguing that it made "identity" more important than merit.  They argued that homosexuality was an immoral personal choice, and then invented a "homosexual agenda" that sought to claim the unearned benefits of affirmative action based on that choice.  Finally - and this was the coup de grace - they made Christianity into an "identity" that was under attack.

    I do not think Christianity is under attack in America today.  However, I do believe we are seeing an erosion of Christian privilege.  That's OK by me.  I am no more in favor of Christian privilege than I am in favor of white privilege.  Some argue that Christianity is a choice, and that privilege based on certain kinds of choices is earned privilege.  I won't dissect this idea right now but will simply observe that the people I personally know who argue this also believe that anyone who is a true Christian must support the Republican party.  This is the underlying dynamic of Rove's "Onward Christian Soldiers" strategy, and it involves controlling the definition of Christianity.

    Reflecting on Dean's comments have led me to understand how the Republican party is pivoting from "white" to "Christian" and replacing the old claim of genetic superiority with a new claim of religious superiority.  In addition, this reflection has led me to better understand how some Democrats have aided and abetted this strategy by playing to the Republican messages I've described above and allowing Republicans to control the very meaning of the words we use, including the word "Christian."

    So I'm beginning to understand what Dean is all about and to know that, yes, Dean speaks for me.  Tell it brother!

  •  Renee... (none)
    I enjoy your diaries.  I am also a white Christian who supports Howard Dean.  

    I am not feeling too well this evening (cold/sore throat) so I can't think of anything enlightening to say!

    Have fun at Democracy Fest!

  •  you're a white Christian? (none)
    Well, orange spray paint can fix the "white" part of the problem. What to do about your religion is up to you.

    Seriously, good diary and I liked the Dean story.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Mon Jun 13, 2005 at 04:53:12 PM PDT

  •  My name is (unpronouncable) and I am not white... (4.00)
    Renee, you inspired me to pen this:

    My name is truly unpronouncable - Siddharth - I often help people by saying - Sid-Art - now those are 2 Christian names most people have less difficulty with (though I am surprised at how many people don't understand Art). Even in India, where I was born, it is too long, but suprisingly Indians don't have the American penchant for short names. My B-school friend, an African American working in Puerto Rico, kept on calling me Sid (which I dislike intensely) - and I once told him "John, I will help you pronounce my name if you stop calling me that" - to which he replied "Brother, don't you know we Americans really like short names, and shorten everything to no more than 2 syllables when it comes to first names?". Aha moment for me - so I go by Art. At times, like giving my name to Supershuttle, I have often held back the urge to say "My name is Bill Clinton" and book it in that name.

    I grew up in a not very diverse state in the eastern part of India. In boarding school, it was primarily people from the same homogenous background (middle class Bengalis from Calcutta) with few exceptions - a smattering of people from neighboring states of Assam, Bihar, Orissa, and some of the northeastern territories (now states) collectively called North East Frontier Agencies (NEFA). What I noticed later was that the majority of us Bengalis were not particularly kind towards the minorities. We would often make fun of their language or habits, sometimes on their faces. Some of them would fight back, but I suspect most of them tolerated this oppression silently.

    After high school, I got selected and went to one of the vaunted Indian Institute of Technologies. Now we were all minorities. In a class of 220 students (about the same size as my current institution - Caltech) - there were kids from all over the country. For some surprising reason, our particular year had a lot more students from my state of West Bengal, but nonetheless, it was a real mixed bag of languages and cultures and food and mores. It removed some of the provincialism of my high school upbringing, but renewed it with some new ones. We had some students from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore (mainly expat kids), and a sizeable contingent from Iran. For some reason, Iranians loved coming to India and specially IITs - a great education at 1/100th the cost of attending comparative universities in the west. In retrospect, we were not always kind to them. We would make fun of them.

    Then in 1980, I made the big leap and came to Princeton. I was now truly a minority. I lived in the Graduate Dormitory, a grand old stone building patterned after the colleges in Oxford. It had a massive dining room, with high tables for the so-called "Dons". I remember the first Christmas, a student in the same department (Big Al) asking me - "Siddharth, do you know what Christmas is?" After I checked myself from falling over backwards, I patiently educated him about modern India - no we don't have elephants walking down the streets in Calcutta, though we do have cows and stray dogs and pigs. I always found it amazing to go to petting zoos where kids pet hens and cows - where I grew up, that was as common as the roadkill squirrel here in Pasadena.

    I remember when I first visited Los Angeles in 1985, getting off at LAX, I thought I had come to a different country - never before had I seen so many non- WASPS in an airport before (limited to JFK, Chicago - for a job interview - mainly east coast existence). But we often get mistaken for Latinos here because of hair color ("NO Habla Espanol, sorry") or my wife and daughter have gotten catcalls from African American construction workers.

    One of the greatest things I believe about this America (I am now a naturalized citizen) is its ability to absorb diversity and make a variety of people feel proud to be Americans. I did not have that sense in India, growing up. And even if I have faced occasional heat of discrimination (in Boston once the police shouted "Go Back to Where You Came From" when all we were trying to do was return to the apartment during a parade going on; and during the first Iraq war, there would be the occasional person shouting from a passing car) - I think this country is AMAZING for its diversity - the ability for all of us to subsume our natural human tendencies to consume more than our fair share for the greater good.

    I will fight till the end to preserve what attracted me to America in the first place - its diversity and openness. No Patriot act, or Republican onslaught on these basic freedoms should get in the way of that fight.

Meteor Blades, Leslie in CA, Deep Dark, Mary, Al Rodgers, Louise, plunkitt, No One No Where, spyral, anna, zeke L, cdreid, renska, ponderer, Danny Boy, easong, Terri, tmo, Katydid, Tom Bearse, pb, mwjames, Bill in Portland Maine, Chi, hannah, dratman, TealVeal, matt n nyc, dmauer, Maura in VA, hyperbolic pants explosion, Dancing Larry, ks, NYCee, Trendar, chassler, cracklins, miasmo, texas dem, timber, Demetrius, ubikkibu, 2pt5cats, Hamlet, jaysea, FrenchSocialist, BigOkie, juls, RunawayRose, Paul Rosenberg, jjc4jre, volneysimmons, puddleriver, bribri, Emerson, RNinNC, Molly McRae, Shockwave, SwimmertoFreedom04, just another vet, ssm, Mara, donna in evanston, HadIt, meg, democat, nutmeg, norabb, greatbasin2, bawbie, tryptamine, saluda, indigoskye, Karl the Idiot, x, Page van der Linden, DocSocrates, AllOrNothing, HarveyMilk, frisco, theran, Luam, Muboshgu, Carnacki, Sandia Blanca, floridagal, StuckinMO, musicsleuth, bumblebums, stay at home dad, redtravelmaster, Daddy Warbucks, jetfan, alain2112, cinnamon68, NoisyGong, opinionated, Cho, johnsloan, Jon B Good, ReneInOregon, yankeedoodler, dianem, TracieLynn, indybend, foxfire burns, daisy democrat, Mary Julia, Dee625, WVmtneer, bluesteel, poemless, stevetat, shock, luna, Patricia Taylor, mkfarkus, moiv, mrblifil, greyhound01, jeff06dem, hrh, Ignacio Magaloni, sgilman, Rujax206, L0kI, yamalicious, cognitive dissonance, timeno, lauri, mystified, CrawfordMan, frightwig, correon, thingamabob, fumie, consta, lirtydies, Alna Dem, CapnCanuck, kimmy, entiel, caseynm, annan, nancelot, Revel, TexDem, Dallasdoc, Subversive, GTMet, Nancy in LA, mad ramblings of a sane woman, Rageaholic, TXsharon, SeattleLiberal, besieged by bush, Clever, duncanidaho, wont get fooled again, Caldonia, borisworf, seattlegal, Make4Think, sidv60, xanthe, joan reports, ohiolibrarian, fighting centrist, mauigirl, Agatha, joliberal, snakelass, renaissance grrrl, socal, lecsmith, sommervr, lcrp, Democratic Hawk, democrat4ever, dcookie, Anne from Vermont, greenknight, Oaktown Girl, Bendra, TeatimeTim, TomB, txbirdman, whitznd, skywalker, donna and paul, WisVoter, Lefty Mama, Heartpine, lindabee in mt, KarenJG, KJ in RedCA, HK, txredd, Proudtobeliberal, vacantlook, BigBite, Cherisse, evolvant, Alex in Osaka, boran2, Shapeshifter, Mikeybabe, memophage, Oleboy, Skennet Boch, Fabian, kingdom of ends, rutland, Leslie H, Bluesee, saodl, farleftcoast, Louisville Oscar, rsn, BluejayRN, el dorado gal, Alegre, blueyedace2, JanetT in MD, mtndew00, Matt the Car Salesman, Dickie, monsterofNone, saucy monkey, Melody Townsel, dabloom, station wagon, Cuttlefish, uinen, drewfromct, J Rae, Chaoslillith

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site