TBJE 27: What is DACA and why it Matters

Today’s episode is the audio of Juhem’s talk at the American Humanist Association (Washington, DC) on October 12, 2017.

Links:

Key facts about unauthorized immigrants enrolled in DACA (Pew Research Center)

The Dream Act, DACA, and Other Policies Designed to Protect Dreamers (American Immigration Council)

Public Support for Basic Policies of DACA Program Edges Up (PRRI)

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LEBJ 3: Mes de la Herencia Hispana

En el tercer episodio de La Experiencia de Benito Juárez Juhem y Luciano hablan sobre el secularismo y laicismo hispanos en el mes de la herencia hispana. El primer segmento se trata de una discusión del crecimiento del secularismo entre las comunidades Latinas en los Estados Unidos y el por qué a pesar de ser una quinta parte de la población, no escuchamos más en los medios. El segundo segmento se enfoca en el crecimineto de las comunidades digitales de latinos y latinas sin religión y el crecimiento del secularismo en América Latina. Finalmente cerramos con una discusión de la historia laica y secular en las Américas, España y los Estados Unidos con la politóloga Dra. Yazmín Trejo.

TBJE 25 Secular Latinx Stories

On an episode recorded on International Blasphemy Day Juhem and Luciano talk with Dr. Yazmin Trejo about her project on secular Latinx history and stories. Dr. Trejo talks about the motivations for the project, some of her findings so far, and how to help her document laicismo and secularism in the Greater Latinx community in the U.S. and Latin America. Luciano delves into the history of International Blasphemy Day to start the episode.

Links:

Latin American History And International Blasphemy Day (Luciano GonzalezSin/God)

To share secular Latinx stories with Dr. Trejo please email: secularlaico AT gmail DOT com

What I’m Listening

La Experiencia de Benito Juárez #2(22): Demócratas, valores familiares, y Charlottesville. In our second Spanish-language episode we discuss the Democrats’ “Better Deal,” a progressive call to appropriate the phrase “family values,” we close with a discussion of confederate monuments after Charlottesville.

In The Thick #78: It’s not Activism, it’s Journalism. María Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela talk with MSNBC’s Joy Reid and she has the best advice for dealing with Trump supporters in the media.

Code Switch: It’s Getting (Dangerously) Hot in Herre. An amazing episode about the inequality of climate change through the lens of a Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles.

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.

Theology Over Politics

Daniel Schultz has a very good piece in Religion Dispatches on the main weakness of the so-called religious left. As Schultz puts it:

[Rev. Dr. William] Barber wants Christians to decide which side they’re on: that of the rich and powerful, or the poor, in whose corner God stands. This sort of appeal to the authority of scripture is well-used by both the religious left and right. It’s what Christians think they should do when sorting through options: Come, let us reason together by interpreting the word of God.

But as he further argues, this strategy doesn't work for two reasons. First, it requires "a shared understanding of the Christian responsibility to the poor." Second, because it also requires "a shared identity as Christians."

This understanding of Christianity is problematic, particularly for someone in the religious left. Contrary to the religious right, that is essentially a Christian movement with some conservative Jews in the mix, the religious left is a multi-faith coalition. Sure, the vast majority of those are Christian, but minority religions are better represented than in their right-wing counterpart. If the concern for the poor is primarily a Christian thing, then where does that leave their fellow travelers in the movement who don't happen to be Christian.

Their diversity makes for a shaky coalition, something that Mark Silk has argued before, because they are unwilling to use the tools of partisanship to achieve political victories. Luciano Gonzalez and I expand on why this phobia of partisanship is the major weakness of the religious left in episode 12 of The Benito Juárez Experience. In his Religion Dispatches piece Schultz further argues that

When liberals appeal to a shared religious identity to guide policy decisions, then, the argument becomes about the faith, not the policy. Jim Wallis has been talking about all the scripture passages concerning the poor for like 40 years, and it hasn’t changed much of anything, because conservatives don’t understand the priorities the same way.

He is right, right-wing religious leaders baptize policies as Christian after the fact, not the other way around. If you debate how a Christian policy would look like you could keep arguing forever with nothing to show as an outcome. Bragging about holding the high moral ground may be nice but doesn't change the desperate situation many Americans live in. Holding power and the ability to change that reality is much better, but to many on the left -particularly religious figures- power is something to fear rather than embrace.

What I’m Listening…

The Benito Juárez Experience #15: "America Last"Luciano and I discuss the decline of good will toward the United States as a consequence of the Trump presidency.

Ben Franklin's World #144: "Robert Parkinson, The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution" Amazing interview of a new book on how colonists in the original 13 used media to create a distinct American identity, one that was defined as exclusively white.

Latino USA #1730: "The Stolen Child" Very powerful episode about the consequences of authoritarianism with a story on the case of one of the children of the disappeared during the Argentinian Dirty War.

The Weeds: "A deep dive on basic income" I've been thinking about basic income as a policy for a while and this long-ish episode gives a good primer on Dylan Matthews very long Vox article on the subject.

In the Thick #72: Will the Real Democrats Please Stand Up?: If you liked our Benito Juárez z Experience episode 13 about Democrats in the age of Trump, you will like this discussion.

La Voz del Centro #752: "El concepto de americanización en las primeras tres décadas del Siglo XX" [In SPANISH] Historical discussion about how the U.S. government and civil society organizations shaped the policy of forcing Puerto Rican's to become "Americans" in the aftermath of the 1898 invasion.

American Exceptionalism in Climate Change Opinion

This week in The Benito Juárez Experience we digest the news from earlier this month about the United States withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreements. Luciano does an excellent job explaining the importance and the limitations of the Paris agreements. I pitch in with some comments about the complexity of American public opinion regarding climate change.

I draw from two main data sources: the Religion, Values, and Climate Change Survey published by Public Religion Research Institute and the American Academy of Religion on November 2014 (I worked on the design and analysis of this poll back when I was at PRRI); and the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey from the Spring 2015. The PRRI poll says a lot about what Americans think about climate change while the Pew poll puts some of those opinions in a global context.

The PRRI survey developed three categories of attitudes about climate change: believers (who think it is happening), sympathizes (who agree it is a thing but not very concerned), and skeptics (who doubt CC is an actual thing). Luckily, the largest group is the “believers.” Unfortunately, less than half the USA population fits in this category.

We know that most Americans do not fully believe climate change is an actual event worth acting upon. But it gets worse. Even those who are classified as “believers” are not particularly concerned. This second chart, from the same poll, shows that when asked about their level of concern, less than half of believers say they are very concerned. Only 3-in-10 Americans are very concerned about climate change. Among “sympathizers” just 4-in-10 have some level of concern (a combination of “very” and “somewhat” concerned).

The reason for why even those Americans who think that climate chants an issue are not very concerned about the issue is due to a very weird strand of “American Exceptionalism.” In this case, most Americans think that climate change is a problem that the rest of the world has to deal with because it is not an American problem. The figure below shows how this plays out.

A majority of Americans think that “people in poorer developng countries” will be impacted “a great deal” by climate change. Only one-third of Americans think that climate change will climate change will impact people in the USA a great deal. It is a very selfish and foolish position. On one level, it is quite arrogant to believe that your country will be spared of the effects of something that will affect the whole damn planet. On another level it is also very foolish…in what ways is our country insulated from something that’s going on globally? 

The Pew poll provides some context of how out of line Americans’ opinions are compared to the rest of the planet. As Luciano points out in the podcast, the USA is one of the largest polluters in the planet. So, we bear a lot of the responsibility for this problem. And that’s what the rest of the planet thinks. A majority of people in the rest of the world think that rich countries should bear more of the cost of addressing the climate change crisis compared to developing countries. Only in the USA more people say that developing countries should bear more of the cost. This suggests that Americans are just afraid that they’ll have to give up their gas guzzlers and all-night Christmas lights.


The USA is also a bit of an outlier in how imminent the harm caused by climate change will start affecting people. Only the Middle East (an oil-producing region, I may add) is less likely to say the danger is “now” than “in the next few years”. Moreover the USA and the Middle East also have the largest proportions of denialism since just about 7-in-10 gave an answer that indicate they think climate change is a threat.

I hope this post puts some of my comments in a better context. These charts and the reports they come from (as well as other public opinion data) also stress the need for more action, including political organization around this issue. While the Peoples’ Climate March was a great idea, these opinion patterns precede the Trump presidency. And I fear they will get worse.