A South Carolina State Senator who referred to his only female colleague as a “lesser cut of meat” – and later apologized for the sexist comment – has switched back on the offensive.
S.C. Senator Thomas Corbin – whose controversial remarks were reported on exclusively by FITS last week – is now accusing his colleague Katrina Shealy (the only female member of the 46-person State Senate) of having a role in the bad press.
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The interview with State Representative Gene Alday was about increasing funding for education in Mississippi. Gene Alday is against it. "I don't see any schools hurting," he told the Clarion‑Ledger, Mississippi's paper of record.
Then the interview took a weird right turn.
I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call 'welfare crazy checks.' They don't work.
Representative Gene Alday (R-MS), interviewed by the Clarion‑Ledger February 15, 2015
In itself, the racial stereotyping was unexceptional. It's a new month, time for another Republican to be embarrassed - or not - by comments made in an unguarded moment. It has been the pattern for the last few years. The presence of a black President is the catalyst for much of the new trend. It would be wonderful if that was not true, but it is undeniable.
The more valuable lesson may come in a series of brief interviews conducted by FOX-TV6, WBRC of Birmingham. Republicans in that report cautiously chide the racist musings of their colleague. Democrats are calmly disappointed, pointing out that the comments are divisive. The Governor weighs in.
In this day and time to be able to make those racially charged remarks is just unfounded. And it is something that we in the party, Republican Party, totally reject.
- Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS), February 16, 2015
In a way, the story is oddly comforting. We have another chance to put a human face on something monstrous, identifying it, isolating it, keeping it apart from ourselves.
The incident, as with so many like it, plays into the light switch image we have of bigotry and fairness. It's either on or off. Turn the switch to darkness and ignorant, child-beating bullies take over. Turn the switch the other way and open-minded good will takes charge. All that is needed is for an evil person to walk across the line into the sunlight.
Since bigotry is mean and petty and monstrous, and we can each look into our hearts and see that we are none of those things, and so we know we are not bigots. There is something plaintive in Gene Alday's protests over the phone to the television reporter. Since he gets along with everybody, since he helps people, he cannot have been cast into that darkness. He is definitely not a racist.
I am definitely not a racist, at all. Because, I mean, I get along with everybody. And I've spent a lot of time helping people.
- Representative Gene Alday (R-MS), interviewed by WBRC‑TV February 16, 2015
Sometimes the monster within is awakened by some horrific incident. Pearl Harbor spawned an unreasoning hatred toward anyone of Japanese ancestry. It was not simply a sneak attack by the Empire of Japan. It was an attack by you-people on us. The "us" was emphatically non-Asian.
A close friend watched the distant glow of fire in Detroit during the riots of 1968 and developed an unreasoning fury. It was not the violent few who were at fault. You-people had done this to us. The "us" was white.
9/11 provoked a generalized hatred of Muslims. The prevailing backlash has become a tsunami. You-people have done this to us. The "us" is Christian and non-Arab.
The anger at beheading, death by fire, and ruthless fanaticism is channeled into demands for some official declaration that Islam is the source of all we hate. It can't be religious extremism. It has to be specific. It is Islamic. They are doing it to us. And "us" cannot include Muslims.
Not all prejudice is provoked by some identifiable incident. More often, bigotry is unconscious. As if some form of original sin, it is ingrained from a thousand directions beginning at conception. The universal justification is simple. I am not a bigot. I simply recognize reality.
I cannot remember a single epiphany. At some point in my own guilty past, I somehow became aware of my previously unexamined attitudes toward gay people. That there could even be a question never occurred to me while growing up.
Now, at this point in my life, what other prejudices live beneath the surface may remain unknown to me forever. Part of being human is the inability to know the human heart - even our own.
The moral universe is vast. I sometimes have more hope than faith that the arc described by Martin Luther King will bend, however gently, toward justice.
A more basic, fearful faith comes from that writer of freedom, and owner of slaves, Thomas Jefferson, who trembled for his country. My own fear extends to myself and all that I know.
After all the indignant condemnation of bigotry, I find myself praying that my God might be more merciful than just.
Sometimes tragedy brings out the best in people. At a vigil Feb. 11 for three students slain the night before, community leaders, friends and family members expressed the hope this would be the case now.
They called for unity and love in the wake of the tragic shooting deaths of Deah Barakat, 23; Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and Razan Abu-Salha, 19 – three young Muslims, a fact that attracted national and global media attention.
“Love is more divine than hatred,” said Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, to the estimated 2,000 people gathered at the Pit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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riting almost 60 years ago, David Donald—who would later emerge as America’s preeminent biographer of Abraham Lincoln—observed that Americans, and especially Republican politicians, exhibit a compulsive desire to “get right” with the nation’s 16th president. Tracing this tendency back to the late 19th century, he noted, “Every four years Republican hopefuls sought—and presumably secured Lincoln’s endorsement.
So it continued last evening, when former Texas Gov. Rick Perry—a likely candidate for his party’s presidential nomination—addressed the Stafford County GOP Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in Dover, New Hampshire.
There was just one problem: He got Lincoln backwards.
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From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — One day before hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants were to begin applying for work permits and legal protection, administration officials on Tuesday postponed President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration indefinitely, saying they had no choice but to comply with a federal judge’s last-minute order halting the programs.
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There is a brick wall and a plaque. That's about it. In it's day, the Larkin Administration Building on Seneca Street in Buffalo was considered state of the art, with an emphasis on art. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1904. It had an influence on European architecture. Half a century later, when business declined, the owners had the building torn down. Except for the brick wall. And there is that plaque.
Walking around the block, you come across a large fenced area in back, on Swan Street. A broken sort of drive runs along the fence. A row of small industrial buildings border the sidewalk. Across the street, you can see a few residential houses.
And a church.
The church stands out, well cared for, proud and alone. It has a history the touches the deepest part of the racial story of America. The DeLaine Waring AME Church was established in 1956 by Reverend Joseph DeLaine. DeLaine was not a native of Buffalo. He had been a civil rights activist in South Carolina. He fled for his life.
In the days when racial segregation in public schools was legal, it was because of a Supreme Court decision, Plessy v Ferguson. In 1896, the Court ruled that segregation was okay as long as facilities for all races were equal. Any suit that opposed the Separate but Equal doctrine was doomed to failure. The Supreme Court of all the land had spoken.
In those days, the NAACP developed a strategy that took the Supreme Court at its word. Across the South, legal suits were filed on the basis that educational facilities were, in fact, not equal. That was not hard to document. Court victories were won because of a single fact of life. Facilities were never, ever, equal.
Joseph DeLaine didn't start as an activist. He was a school principal and a minister. He filed a suit against racial discrimination. It was a matter of treatment and money. Minority children were treated as inferiors. Funding reflected that. The amount invested in the education of minority students averaged 2 to 3 times lower than that spent on white kids.
He organized parents. They asked the school board for a bus for black students. White students were riding buses to their schools. Black children walked for miles through fields every day to get to and from their separate schools. A year later the parents stopped asking and sued.
In court, they argued that segregation itself was unconstitutional. The court, as anyone would expect, went with established law. Separate but Equal had to be constitutional. The Supreme Court has already said so.
One judge disagreed. J. Waties Waring wrote in his dissent that "Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
That was unexpected.
Waring and his family were very much a part of upper society in South Carolina. He was considered a racial moderate. He had previously ruled that black teachers had to be paid the same as white teachers. He made a bit of a stir when he ordered South Carolina to either open a law school for black students or allow black students to attend the all white law school.
But writing that segregation itself was illegal? That was too much. Editorials attacked him. Politicians egged on angry crowds. Social leaders, lifelong friends, turned their backs. He and his wife eventually left South Carolina and moved to New York. Exiled.
The logic he proposed in his dissent was examined and adopted by the Supreme Court in 1954.
The reaction to Joseph DeLaine, the principal who organized the parents, was what you could call more pronounced.
He lost his job. Family members and relatives lost their jobs. He confronted and turned away an angry white mob. His church was burned down, then his house was burned down. Death threats became a fact of life. The AME church relocated him to another part of the state, but the violence did not end.
A drive by shooting at his new home actually got him into legal trouble. He had fired back in the hopes of marking the car so it could be identified. South Carolina law enforcement authorities charged him with assault and battery with intent to kill. He fled the state and went to New York. The FBI interviewed him as part of their investigation for interstate flight to avoid prosecution. He famously told FBI investigators, "I am not running from justice but injustice."
It is difficult to avoid the contrast between the hardships suffered by a black religious leader and a white judge. One lost his livelihood, his home, and nearly his life to multiple instances of racial violence. The other lost his social standing.
But Reverend Joseph DeLaine never forgot Judge J. Waties Waring.
The church that still stands on Swan Street in Buffalo, the church established by Joseph DeLaine, is named the DeLaine Waring AME Church. The Waring name was added at the insistence of Reverend DeLaine. Church history says it was so the part Waring played in the legacy "would be remembered whenever the name was spoken."
Years after Joseph DeLaine died, he was awarded the Congressional Medal. The 209 co-sponsors numbered more than a handful of Republicans. Those Republicans included Henry Brown, J. Gresham Barrett, Jim DeMint, and Joe Wilson, all from South Carolina. The award was more than nominally bipartisan.
That was in 2004.
Times indeed change.
Ten years later in 2014, forty six years after he died, a statue was erected in Charleston, the capital of South Carolina, in honor of Judge J. Waties Waring. A host of dignitaries were there. Judges from every state level attended. Mayors and U.S Congressional Representatives spoke. Attorney General Eric Holder was sent by President Obama.
Children and grandchildren of those who had suffered loss and violence after filing Judge Waring's most famous case were special guests.
Every prominent Republican from South Carolina was invited. No Republican made a big deal of refusing to attend. They just found a lot of reasons: obligations, scheduling conflicts, undefined personal matters.
All area Republican officials were invited. No Republicans came.
Times have changed.
From The Hill:
Hard-line House GOP conservatives aren’t worried about a looming Department of Homeland Security shutdown as the deadline for congressional action draws near.
Many of the conservative lawmakers who most want to aggressively challenge President Obama's executive actions on immigration think that if push comes to shove, a shutdown will be worth the fight.
And at this point, they don't think there will be any electoral consequences if there is a shutdown.
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From The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina:
One hundred and fifty years ago, what had begun with nervous excitement as shots were fired upon Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor ended here with a quiet retreat of Confederate forces, a fresh disaster and a city in ashes.
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In the mid-1990s, near the end of the period during which she lived in Israel, Jennifer Teege watched Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List.” She hadn’t seen the film in a movie theater, and watched it in her rented room in Tel Aviv when it was broadcast on television.
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Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson seems concerned that Democrat Russ Feingold might run against him. Conservative James Wigderson, who likes Johnson, considers the situation and suggests progressives should draft Feingold for President.
Mad Mike's America brings us hilarity in an anti-gay video co-starring Republican notables. It seems to focus on the dark travels of a Diogenes type character complete with lantern, presumably looking for honest bigots. Part of the logic seems to be that if gays are allowed to live like everyone else, Christianity will be outlawed.
My dependable friend in times of need, conservative T. Paine at Saving Common Sense, is offended by President Obama who dares to state the historically obvious "remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
So Mr. Paine defends the Crusades. To his credit, Mr. Paine does accurately quote the President with some context, although he then ignores the same context he quotes. The thrust of my friend's argument is that "Christian 'extremism' is largely something that was last commonly found centuries ago in the Middle Ages. Islamic extremism is something found occurring this week."
The twin points of President Obama's remarks were that it is wrong to paint an entire faith with the broad brush of terrorism, and that those who would promote violence in the name of religion should be confronted.
T. Paine, in his continuous rage at all things Obama, seems to have neglected those parts of the President's remarks. My own observations include a couple of events in recent times T. Paine apparently missed in his haste for the Sports Section.
Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, comments on the murders of three Muslims in North Carolina, apparently by a Muslim-hating atheist, noting that President Obama failed to blame "radical atheism." Strangely, very few anti-Muslim bigots are insisting it.
Jon Perr at Perrspectives reacts to President Obama's all too accurate remarks by providing a few examples of his own of violence by extremist Christians here in the US. He discovers he needs to go no further than anti-abortion murders. I had a similar reaction, both to a mass murder of kids in Norway and to extremist reaction here at home.
Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg, points out that Republicans tried to get cute, passing Homeland Security funding with unacceptable provisions for overturning Presidential actions on immigration. Problem is, everyone involved knows that everyone else sees through the charade. Republicans will be held responsible. Bernstein suggests there is no question Republicans will cave. The only question is when Republicans will cave.
At The Intersection of Madness and Reality, Mike Caccioppoli hated the Clint Eastwood directed film American Sniper, until he saw the movie. Much more nuanced, valuing of life, than he had anticipated.
For years, anti-gun regulation activists have insisted on a literal interpretation of the second amendment. Obvious intent should be ignored. Green Eagle examines that reasoning, and points out that a truly literal interpretation produces a 2nd Amendment gun owners will truly hate.
Charles Darwin thought of himself as weak in mathematics. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, suggests Darwin would be surprised at the contributions to the science of evolutionary that have come from mathematical rigor.
- Dog Bless Us One And All, has an ingenious way to invent easy to remember passwords that have the additional virtue of being pretty much impossible to guess.
From NBC's Today:
A Moluccan cockatoo named Peaches is prone to mimicking the marital spats of her previous owners, who evidently spent a lot of time ruffling each other's feathers.
Ebling explained that Peaches had been ranting and raving since he adopted her 23 years ago, seemingly imitating the arguments of her first owners, a couple who had gone through a divorce.
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From Sabra to Rwanda and beyond, religious fanatics have murdered millions. Is it immoral to blame all believers?
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In a rare move by a top Justice Department official, FBI Director James Comey on Thursday addressed the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and many African Americans, acknowledging “hard truths” about the current state of race relations and policing.
Comey, during a speech at Georgetown University, drew largely on the lessons of Ferguson, Missouri, saying that police must come to terms with a longstanding culture of racial bias.
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From The Kansas City Star:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday rescinding a protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers put into place eight years ago by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius’ executive order in 2007 said state workers could not be discriminated against, fired or harassed because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
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From KATU Portland:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s office put in a request last week to destroy thousands of emails stored in state servers, according to documents obtained by our news partners at the Willamette Week.
The request came while the Governor faces investigations into an ethics scandal involving himself and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
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In response to a Comments by T. Paine
Ryan, so please tell me what you think was the point of President Obama's speech, especially with those particular comments included, if it wasn't to mitigate the actions of these Islamic terrorists?
All religions are guilty of evil? No, but certainly followers of all religions are guilty of evil they have done in the name of their faiths.
- T. Paine, February 8, 2015
And, Ryan, you are crazy if you don't think the truth is controversial. Look at how many truths have been denied by this administration and previous ones that are the very definition of controversial.
- T. Paine, February 8, 2015
From Obama's speech:
"So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India -- an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity -- but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs -- acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhi, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today's world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try."
"And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion -- any religion -- for their own nihilistic ends."
This is a reminder that violence is not unique to Islam or non-Christian religions in general and that we should not define religions or their practitioners as a whole according to the actions of a few.
Islamic extremism is one problem. Extremism in other religions is another problem. Painting whole peoples and religions according to the actions of a few is yet another. We shouldn't have to fear being accused of excusing or even supporting Islamic extremism simply by pointing out these latter two problems.
Here's another quote that should be largely uncontroversial, but which is not among conservatives:
"And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another's religion, we're equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't question those who would insult others in the name of free speech."
This is *not* the same as saying that insulting Islam is just as bad as killing people who insult Islam. He is addressing two separate problems: the need for free speech and the need for responsible speech.
Since I oppose religion in general, I don't even agree with him on this last point. And yet I can hear or read it without distorting its meaning, without putting words in his mouth or unjustifiably assuming that he is trying to equate the severities of the problems that he raises.
You and other conservatives, on the other hand, are so caught up in your preconceptions about Obama that you can't even understand him when his words are plain. And every time that you misunderstand him, you reinforce your negative opinion of him and add another memory of him saying something that he didn't really say.
Finally, I should issue a correction. I should not have written: "The truth shouldn't be so controversial." I meant: "This truth shouldn't be so controversial."
Ryan can also be found at Secular Ethics, a site devoted to the application of reason to ethical behavior.
When T. Paine is not endeavoring to instruct us on the virtues of conservatism, he writes for Saving Common Sense.