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Black Atheists…

As someone with no religious faith but lots of melanin, I was intrigued by the posts on Andrew Sullivan’s blog about the apparent “lack of black atheists.”

From one fellow’s story:

After numerous debates with classmates who came from a very church-grounded liberal politics, I found the notion of a “loving” god who allowed so many to suffer unbelievable. Because I believed there was no god, I must take care and do for myself, with no expectation of help. I was tired of my people believing “God will provide” and “He will save us,” which I felt generated the same sort of feeling about government help. Thus, I became a supporter of personal responsibility and free markets, culminating in me voting for GWB in my first presidential election.

The “personal responsibility” slogan also doesn’t track with much of modern conservatism. The banking crisis in 2008 was hardly an example. This poster came to the same conclusions I did as a youth regarding God but the extreme individualism (“I must take care and do for myself”) manages to reject the one positive aspect of religious faith — that people exist in the world other than yourself. There’s no God and the world is cold and cruel, so you should do what you can to make it less so for others. As Angel said, “If nothing you do matters, all that matters is what you do.”

The notion that there’s no God who loves you, so you should focus all your energies in loving yourself is small and juvenile, which is why I think Ayn Rand’s views are often dismissed as such. They remind me of the childhood phase when you are overly possessive of “your things,” without acknowledging that they were provided and maintained by your parents. One of the best things my parents did was to stress that my assigned chores were part of my duties in contributing to the overall “household community.” It wasn’t just about me, and it wasn’t just about an exchange of money (an allowance) for any work I did at home.

Not surprisingly, our black atheist eventually discovered that modern-day conservatism, based on the political right’s focus on banning abortion and gay marriage, has more in common with Cotton Mather than Ayn Rand.

Graduate school, maturity, and observation of bigotry and incompetence within Republican governance have moderated my politics substantially, but I’ve maintained the atheism.

There’s also the reality that a strictly individualistic Randian philosophy works best if you are not in any way a member of a minority group (gender, racial, or sexual). The glorified “free market” can easily lean toward “might makes right.” Martin Luther King obviously had some success through leveraging the free market system (the bus boycotts) but the larger impact came from influencing the hearts and minds of those in actual power (the majority).

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Social Commentary

 

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“Look on the bright side, suicide…”

A reader of The Dish gives one of the worst, most codependent reasons for not taking one’s life.

I can go through periods when I think that life isn’t worth living. But I don’t have the will to enact a suicide. For when I think of those in my life who would be affected, it makes those thoughts moot. Life is sometimes not worth living for myself, but it is always worth living for others. I have a cat who depends on me; I have family and friends who love me; colleagues and clients with whom I am trustworthy and dependable; how could I break that love and defile that trust? I can handle my own black thoughts, but I couldn’t handle imposing them on others in such a way. My connections tether me to this world. I stay for them, when I can’t for myself. Suicide isn’t painless.

There is only one legitimate reason to continue living — because you choose to do so. If you live for other people, you needlessly burden them with responsibility for your existence. It’s remarkably selfish.

Also, cats depend on no one. They are the most independent and adaptable species on the planet. There’s a lot we can learn from them.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Social Commentary

 

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If she’s stupid, we’re stupider…

HBO’s Game Change appears to have resuscitated the narrative of Sarah Palin as political “useful idiot” who represents John McCain’s biggest political mistake — his Faustian bargain with the right wing in order to rally a conservative base distrustful of him.

Andrew Sullivan links to a video response to her recent ludicrous accusations regarding Barack Obama. She claims that Obama wishes to take the United States back to a time when we were in “different classes based on income” and “color of skin.” She claims this dark time was “before the Civil War.” Most of us realize it was actually before breakfast.

Sullivan states that “reminding reasonable people that the current GOP actually proposed this know-nothing, delusional maniac as a potential president is essential in an amnesiac country.”

Is Palin truly insane? No, although she fits all the traits for the classic narcissist, she is rational enough to understand the impact of her words. Her continued presence is the mainstream is because she represents what is at the core of the American heart.

There are countless middle-aged white people out there who are “afraid” of Obama. And not because of anything he has or hasn’t done but because of what is feared he might do. Palin’s comments are code in the most simplistic Pig Latin for the looming threat of payback. Obama is the first step toward vengeful reparations.

It’s not true but try explaining to a small child that there’s no monster under his bed.

 

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Boycotting Rush…

Andrew Sullivan raised a valid concern about efforts to pull sponsors from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

It’s a free country, but I get queasy with boycotts to target disgusting but free speech.

Writer Peter David is not a fan of boycotts, either. He has often stated that the answer to free speech (even disgusting speech) is more free speech. There is no shortage of outlets for the denunciation of Limbaugh’s idiocy (The Daily Show is but one). Shouldn’t we support an open dialogue and exchange of ideas?

Sure, but Limbaugh has never been about that. He’s not interested in the discussion of actual issues. The Sandra Fluke incident is a clear example. His sole goal is to make a lot of money doing what every 6 year old is trained not to do during kindergarten. He’s a shock jock. Some people compare him to Howard Stern but that’s an insult to Stern. Stern is not a bully. He makes fun of himself as much as he does anyone else. His political statements — when he makes them — are often crass but occasionally insightful.

Of course, that’s all personal taste. I don’t like NBC’s 30 Rock. I think it’s facile and empty with no legitimate laughs (as a friend once said about Family Guy, “A reference is not a joke). I could stage a boycott of 30 Rock but I wouldn’t make much headway on those grounds. Advertisers would not be ashamed to continue an association with the show just because I don’t think it’s very good.

What’s happening with Rush is that advertisers are ashamed. They can’t just dismiss the pressure from outraged groups. It’s hard to support a “personal taste” for referring to women as sluts and prostitutes.

It’s not about free speech. It’s about economics. Limbaugh should find it as profitable to spout his garbage as it is to self-publish your own Twilight fan fiction. If he’s talking about private citizens releasing sex tapes, advertisers should find him as potentially toxic as many advertisers find Stern, who has actual prostitutes on his show discussing their sex tapes.

Limbaugh has a right to be an ass for money. He doesn’t have a right to be a respected voice on any subject. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton criticized the rapper Sister Souljah for perceived racist statements. His words were far stronger than the tepid tap dance Republican presidential candidates had for Limbaugh.

Perhaps once this is all over, Republican politicians will feel free to describe Limbaugh’s more repugnant statements with the same scorn and contempt they usually refer for members of the same sex who want to marry.

 

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