aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 11, 2006
South Park Muhammad
At dinner tonight I said I expected South Park would do a cartoon Muhammad. Andrew Sullivan reminds us they already have:
Great episode by the way. Loved Jesus turning water into wine for Stan. My favorite episode, Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants, is starting right now…
26 Imprisoned for Being Gay in UAE
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday, “As many as 26 people were sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Abu Dhabi for admitting to be gays and organizing a cross-dressers party and wedding at a hotel,” reports WebIndia News, in a story written with a decidedly anti-gay tinge. “Their arrest had made news in November last year when they gathered at a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway to org anise a gay wedding. Police got wind of the meeting and swooped on the hotel and arrested the participants....” The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law, although police acknowledged that none of the men were engaged in a sexual act when police raided the event. [...]
The question for privileged U.S. gays is, will our national gay institutions—like HRC and NGLTF—maintain the same discrete silence about these 26 unjustly imprisoned men, the latest victims of Sharia law’s brutal punishments for homosexuality, as they’ve observed about persecution of gays in Iran, Poland, the Baltic countries, Nigeria, Nepal and more? Or will our national gay groups join the global fight for gay freedom, liberation, and the basic human right to love whom and how they wish, according to the dictates of their natures? See my recent article for Gay City News, ”A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism.”
Damned if you do…
Eleanor Clift in Newsweek:
Feb. 10, 2006 - Southerners have a saying, “Bit dog always hollers.” That’s how Jody Powell, President Carter’s former press secretary, responded when asked about criticism, coming mainly from Republicans, that Carter had overstepped the bounds of good taste in his eulogy of Coretta Scott King by mentioning that she and her husband had been illegally wiretapped. Carter did not imply that Republicans were responsible. Indeed it was President Kennedy and his brother Bobby who authorized the FBI’s eavesdropping on Martin Luther King Jr.
Yet with Senate hearings going on in Washington on the legality of Bush’s domestic-spying program, it was inescapable that people would make the connection to present-day abuses. The FISA law (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) was signed into law by Carter, and he is justifiably angry about the way Bush brushes it aside as a troublesome bureaucratic impediment. Whether the funeral of a civil-rights icon was the right place and time to jab Bush is debatable, but it’s not surprising given Carter’s strong feelings.
Coretta King spoke out against the Iraq war and no doubt would have appreciated the occasional discordant political note in the rosy tributes paid to her. Bush deserves credit for sitting through it all despite the awkward moments and remaining good-natured and even eloquent in his eulogy. That evening he welcomed the Harlem Dance Theater to the White House for a special performance, and among the guests was Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. “Hey, Bunch!” Bush said, clapping him on the back, a familiarity Bush earned when he signed legislation creating the museum in December ‘03. It had been a long time coming. Georgia Rep. John Lewis first introduced the legislation in 1988, and every year after that, to no avail. Even President Clinton, who’s been called the first black president because of his close ties to the African-American community, couldn’t get enough support in Congress for the museum.
Bush’s museum action pulled off the seemingly impossible. With his re-election campaign looming and needing help to win more of the black vote, he mustered the votes to build the museum on federal land, and to provide $250 million, half what the proposed structure is expected to cost. Sure, there was political self-interest, but Bush is also personally committed. One of the first checks the Smithsonian got for the new African-American museum came from the president and his wife, Laura. Then the newly re-elected Bush directed a portion of the funds that went unspent by his Inaugural committee to the museum. That amounted to a cool $5 million. The African-American museum is still seven years off, but it’s been awarded space on the Mall in Washington off Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, an apt location since the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution secured civil rights for black Americans after slavery. Bunch promises the museum’s exhibits will be “a lens into what it means to be an American,” the optimism and resilience that are core values of the black experience along with the Gordian knot of race relations.
I like Carter speaking out and think Coretta would too. I acknowledge Bush sat through it and pulled off the “seemingly impossible” National Museum of African-American History and Culture. I have no problem with credit where credit is due.
But Steve’s half right, Bush is damned that he don’t: “No one gives a shit what Bush does for dead black people, they want to know what he’s doing for the living ones.”
Political leanings & hidden bias
Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes—subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups.
That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did. [...]
The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces—evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.
“Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president,” said [one of the study’s authors, psychologist Mahzarin] Banaji, “but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice.”
Appealing as in “to make an appeal” or “appealing” as in “attractive to?” Either way we liberals would do well to remember that “liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces.”
I thought the consensus conclusion had long been that the Southern “realignment” was a consequence of those Southern racists who once voted Democrat now voting Republican. (This is emphatically not to agree that the South is more racist than anyplace else in the country - see also Race Here.)
What I see in the reaction of those eager to point to the racism of Republicans is a clear illustration of the conclusions of a study - more significant and more important in my view - mentioned earlier in that very same article:
Studies presented at the conference, for example, produced evidence that emotions and implicit assumptions often influence why people choose their political affiliations, and that partisans stubbornly discount any information that challenges their preexisting beliefs.
Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. Both groups were quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy—but only in candidates they opposed.
When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats—the scans showed that “reward centers” in volunteers’ brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior.