TBJE 21: Charlottesville

Luciano and Juhem recap the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. They argue about what to do with Confederate monuments and disagree about what’s the best way of contextualizing those artifacts. They also discuss President Trump’s response. The show closes with observations about weaponizing vehicles and the GOP enablers of this practice.

Links:

After Charlottesville Rally Ends in Violence, Alt-Right Vows to Return (Sarah Posner, Rolling Stone)

Update: US President Trump’s Response to Charlottesville Events (Human Rights Watch)

Legislation, Cars, And Protesters: How Laws Can Be Affected By Tragedy (Luciano GonzalezSin/God)

Be Not Constrained: James Croft on Humanists’ Responsibility to Fight Oppression (Point of Inquiry)

Advertisements

TBJE 20: Secular Family Values

In this belated episode Luciano and Juhem discuss ways of appropriating the term “family values” from the Christian Right. They explain what they mean by family values and why they think these are issues that progressive secularists can lead on.

Links:

Modern Family Values Could And Should Define Future Democrats (Luciano Gonzalez Sin/God)

Democrats Need To Stop Considering Backing Anti-Choice Politicians (Luciano Gonzalez Sin/God)

Representing Secular Family Values (Juhem Navarro-Rivera The LatiNone)

Anti-abortion Democrats fading from the scene (Reid Wilson The Hill)

“A date which will live in infamy”

August 29 is the date when two of my best buddies from high school were born, so it used to be a happy day and to some extent it is. But on this day 9 years ago, the day Michael Jackson celebrated his last birthday on Earth, the 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States, Arizona Senator John McCain decided to celebrate his 72nd birthday by introducing his running-mate: then-governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.

She has now faded from memory, a political has-been that should’ve been a never was. But she’s not gone because our country became wiser and realized the horror that would’ve been having the most ignorant person to have a real shot at national office in recent memory a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

No, the country didn’t get wiser. It decided that it needed someone who was even more ignorant, someone who had less finesse, someone who didn’t even have the semblance of experience. They voted for Donald Trump. A man with Palinesque levels of ignorance but with money and name recognition.

Like Palin, he didn’t even fake having any interest in policy, at least Paul Ryan plays a policy wonk on TV. Like Palin, Trump weaponized resentment toward people of color and immigrants. She used her “real America” phrase to convey the sentiment that Trump converted into “make America great again.” And like Palin, Trump seems uninterested in the process of governing considering public service a moneymaking scheme. After her and McCain’s unsuccessful bid to run the Executive Branch, she quit the position of Governor halfway through her term to try a career in reality television, leveraging her new national profile. She failed to become Donald Trump, while Trump was able to become and exceed Sarah Palin.

When my friends ask why I don’t like the “maverick” McCain, this is why. At some point in the 2000s I bought the maverick image. Frustrated with the G.W. Bush years I wondered what would have been if John McCain had won that primary in early 2000. Never mind that his maverick schtick is all pose and no substance. Even after derailing the whatever the name of the last Republican health care plan earlier this summer I still can’t forgive him for his recklessness. He ruined my memory of 8/29 as the happy day when tow of my best buddies from my school days get temporarily older than me. I hope it did the same to his. Nine years ago a Donald Trump wannabe became potentially the Vice-President of the U.S., today her image mentor is the President. Thanks for nothing John McCain.

Image: Left to right: Todd Palin, Sarah Palin, Cindy McCain, and John McCain. Rally in Fairfax, Virginia on September 10, 2008. Photo by Rachael Dickson. CC license Wikimedia Commons

The Benito Juárez Experience 19

In this episode Juhem and Luciano discuss the Democrats’ reboot, also known as “A Better Deal.” They focus on three articles with different takes on the future of the Democratic Party.

Links:

Everything That’s Wrong with the Democratic ‘Reboot’ in One Lousy Op-Ed (Ian Haney López, Moyers & Company)

The Democratic Party Is in Worse Shape Than You Thought (Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times)

Democrats Are Trying to Win the 2018 Midterms in All the Wrong Ways (Steve Phillips, The Nation)

America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It (John Nichols, The Nation)

What I’m Listening

Busy week, little time to listen podcasts but got a few gems to share.

The Benito Juárez Experience 17 TBJE 2.0 Luciano and I reboot the show after 16 episodes. We discuss what we liked, what we want to change, and the changes that are coming to the show in the near future.

Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast 38 The Russia-Cuba Connection Been reading a lot about several of these topics recently. Good timing, good podcast subject by UNC-Charlotte Prof. Greg Weeks who interview Prof. Mervyn Bain from Univ. of Aberdeen.

La Voz del Centro 754 La toma de Jayuya en la Revolución de 1950 Since nationalism seems to be a trendy subject these days, listen [en español] about the 1950 Nationalist Revolt in Puerto Rico.

Who Thinks Atheists are Immoral?

Other atheists. That's according to a new study co-authored by psychologist Will Gervais. Says Gervais:

I suspect that this stems from the prevalence of deeply entrenched pro-religious norms. Even in places that are currently quite overtly secular, people still seem to intuitively hold on to the believe that religion is a moral safeguard.

-Will Gervais, PhD

The scope of the study was international and according to the write up in The Guardian "Only in Finland and New Zealand … did the experiment not yield conclusive evidence of anti-atheist prejudice…"

From an American perspective this finding doesn't surprise me. I've met plenty of atheists who sort of believe that most religious leaders are closet atheists conning people out of their money. That kind of thinking reached fever pitch this year when Michael Shermer gloated about [white] evangelicals getting duped by immoral atheist Trump (I write why I think he's wrong here).

Some other circumstantial evidence comes from PRRI's 2013 American Values Survey. They found that the nones reported a score of 77 (out of 100) in a cold-warm scale. But that number dropped to 71 for atheists. Sample size limitations don't allow for an analysis of Atheists' responses.

Read the full Gervais et al. study at Nature Human Behavior.

Democrats Still Fighting the Last Election

In his latest post at Sin/God Luciano argues that "Democrats Need To Stop Considering Backing Anti-Choice Politicians." He's right on so many levels and here's a sample:

The Democratic Party would strengthen itself if it reaffirmed a commitment to women’s rights and it would embolden many of its supporters who like me felt and feel incredibly disappointed by some within the Party reportedly considering this cowardly move.

Luciano González, Sin/God "Democrats Need to Stop Considering Backing Anti-Choice Politicians"

I agree that the Democratic Party needs to embrace reproductive rights more strongly. The vast majority of women holding legislative office, and virtually all women of color in Congress and state legislatures, are Democrats. The majority of women, thanks to the overwhelming support of women of color, voted for Hillary Clinton.

And yet, the Party as an institution is still trying to win elections by attracting the voters they don't have -and likely won't have ever again: religious conservatives. Those working and not-so-working class whites that once were the core of the Party before women joined the labor force en masse and people of color asserted their rights to equal citizenship. The ones who fell for Nixon and his Southern Strategy hook, sink, and liner. The ones who enthusiastically supported the Mediocrity in Chief.

Instead, Party leaders should focus on not diminishing the enthusiasm and activism that the Trump presidency has awakened. Rather than trying to replay the last election, they should focus in winning the next one. There's a constituency out there who will support a Party with principles. Just stop trying to be a nicer version of the other party because a Republican-lite Party is one that still throws the core of the Democratic Party under the proverbial bus. And that's no way to win an election.

What I’m Reading

The Lost Cause Rides Again (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic) A must-read about HBO's ill-conceived "Confederate" show proposal.

Progress Never Just Happens— We Must Always Fight For It (Sara Pevar, The Establishment) A good reminder that all the progress that we have achieved wasn't the result of some magical decision by people to finally stop being jerks. It happens because some people cared and fought for it.

Democracy is dying – and it’s startling how few people are worried (Paul Mason, The Guardian) All over the planet, illiberalism is growing…and people don't seem to care.

The Rise of Dystopian Fiction: From Soviet Dissidents to 70's Paranoia to Murakami (Yvonne Shiau, Electric Literature) The early pioneers of dystopian futures didn't need much imagination.