Links – 2008-12-08

Richard Rodriguez is featured in a provocative interview for Salon on Why Churches Fear Gay Marriage:

You said recently the real issue behind the anti-gay marriage movement is the crisis in the family. What do you mean?

American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn’t declining, it’s increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people — it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women’s movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually — even form our sense of what a sex is — sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers.

Nezua takes on the concept of masculinity:

Men (as boys) are “asked” to join the oppression (under great threat of both social humiliation and physical violence and over and over, too) and to do this of course, we must snuff out/suppress the Feminine in ourselves. This is, of course, a great pain and loss to a human. And as this loss cannot be mourned by implied decree, this pain becomes a bitter, perverse mess that is blind to itself. And so men not only join the hate against women, but they then envy women for their freedom (to still be allowed) to be expressive, emotive, beautiful, affectionate, relaxed, vulnerable. And the loathing to self-loathing ties to envy ties to sorrow and loss and is given ground, and men are emotionally insane when modeled as instructed. And they act out this insanity even when they don’t know why. It is because they have too often been prevented from even knowing who they are to begin with.

Rob Schmidt sends in this op-ed on prop 8, called “Showdown in the Big Tent:”

What we in California have been forced to confront, before anyone had even had the chance to sweep up the tinsel or plop the first Alka-Seltzers into the glasses of water after that heavenly night in Grant Park, is that there’s a big difference between coalition politics and rainbow party politics.

A coalition is composed of groups that may dislike — or even hate — one another, but who understand the shared political expediency of standing together. Rainbow party politics involve bringing together masses of people who are identified by being burdened by a particular grievance. Soon enough — in groups forged of such friable bonds, and almost always when matters of morality and lifestyle come into play — you will discover that one oppressed group does not necessarily support the goals of another oppressed group.

Eric Stoller sends in an article on “Why White Students Need to Learn About Their Own Race.”

One day as I was checking out books from my college library, a female student of color working at the library, scanning my books, asked me about one in particular. The book was White Guys by Fred Pfeil, and her question was “Isn’t everything already about White guys?” Her question was simple yet profound, and the answer was obvious, yet complicated. The palpable answer is “yes, everything already is about White guys.” Because everything already is about White guys we don’t feel that we have to question, study, challenge or examine anything related to White guys or White people in general. This began my exploration of what White students at a predominantly White institution think about being White. I am not suggesting a way to recenter the ever-present White person. Rather, these conversations are a way to make visible issues that have opportunely remained invisible for too long.

When I ask White students the simple question, “what does your race mean to you,” two responses stick out to me. Those responses involve the words “normal” and “American.” Racial identity for White students, especially at a predominantly White institution, is generally not explored or even discussed. The absence of a racial identity is representative of an effect of racism. “Only recently have theorists begun to speculate about the harmful consequences of racism on the perpetuators of racism, which include the absence of positive White racial identity,” according to Black and White Racial Identity: Theory, Research, and Practice by Janet E. Helms.

At a predominantly White institution, White college students may be able to largely exist without ever critically examining their race and the implications associated with their race. Without an understanding of their race, White students are less likely to be aware of the privileges associated with Whiteness as well. The ability to be oblivious to one’s race is a luxury that White people have.

Ananser sends in this article on tension with some of Obama’s cabinet picks:

In a move bound to create political tension between Latinos and Asian-Americans, a group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley has launched a nationwide grass-roots movement to fight President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination today of Bill Richardson as commerce secretary.

The group is upset at the New Mexico governor for his handling of the nearly decade-old case of Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. U.S. officials once suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China when Richardson was President Clinton’s energy secretary.

The Chinese-Americans say they realize that challenging the nomination of Richardson, 61, the nation’s most high-profile Hispanic politician, will ruffle the Latino community, many of whose leaders felt he should have been named secretary of state instead of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

But the Chinese-American group insists that Richardson’s refusal to acknowledge making serious errors in the case makes it a moral imperative to oppose his nomination to Obama’s Cabinet. They say their criticism of Richardson has nothing to do with him being Latino but everything to do with his lack of judgment in the case.

“This was the major Chinese-American civil rights case in the last 30 years,” said Albert Wang, a Fremont physician. “And there was a feeling among many Chinese-Americans, particularly in Silicon Valley, that Bill Richardson did a lot to promote the notion that all Chinese-Americans are potential spies.”

On the other hand, Naomi sends in an opinion piece that claims “Obama ignored Latinos for top posts:”

This week, President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his national security team and continued the sorry tradition of presidents overlooking Latinos as they fill the top-tier of the Cabinet appointments. The four big posts have been filled, and there is not a Latino anywhere in the mix.

Even liberals who like to think of the Gonzales appointment as a kind of failed social experiment because it lets them off the hook for future stabs at diversity would be hard-pressed to suggest that they couldn’t do better and that Obama couldn’t find a single Latino to name, oh I don’t know, secretary of state.

You would have thought Bill Richardson was a shoo-in for that job, with his gold-plated resume: Seven-term member of Congress; special envoy to North Korea, Iraq, Cuba and Sudan; U.N. ambassador; energy secretary; New Mexico governor and five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering cease-fires and negotiating the release of hostages. What a slacker. I’m surprised Richardson never got around to securing peace in the Middle East.

Let’s not forget that Richardson is the highest-ranking Latino official in the country, and that Latinos supported Obama over John McCain by a margin of more than 2-to-1 and helped the Democrat win four battleground states.

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