Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Miscellaneous

Item: Naomi Ragen, a 57 year old grandmother and author, was accosted on a public Jerusalem bus in Israel by a man who demanded her seat.  (Go to http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1167467807683&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull .)

This took place last summer in Jerusalem on a bus route that is the only service available not only to the Jewish Haredi sect, but also secular bus riders as well.  Yes, as a concession to this fundamentalist sect, the state of Israel has sanctioned segregation and second class citizenship for women on 30 bus lines!  Ms. Ragen has decided to take the laws allowing this humiliating treatment to court.

Comment: Now this kind of discrimination is not uncommon in that part of the world, but Israel was supposed to be an exception.  Unfortunately fundamentalism of any stripe often leads to this kind of degrading of humanity in favor of honoring primitive dogmas that have long outlived any usefulness or justification.

Liberal believers are little help in matters such as this unless they are in denial.  Clearly most scripture seems to endorse a paternalistic society – after all, men wrote most scripture as far as anyone can tell, with just a few possible exceptions such as the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.  And what they did write seems to give men a favored position – what a shock!

To deny the overall intent and in fact, the overall acceptance of this intent for many believers through the centuries is to be in denial about what the religion meant to those who created and first practiced the religion.  The writers of scripture generally were not feminists, or supporters of equal rights for women, and indeed the women of those times did not have equal rights with men.  For a liberal believer to read some kind of feminism into scripture now is less honest than the interpretation by an admitted sexist fundamentalist.

So what are the choices available to a liberal believer?  The one reasonable choice is the one they refuse to make; that is the rejection of any divine authorship.  By refusing to reject the divinity of scripture, they thereby cede the remaining intellectual argument to fundamentalists who then interpret scripture in the literal manner as it had been interpreted through the centuries.

And what are the political implications for the US?  In exchange for the aid we give Israel, and the grief we receive because of our support, the US should categorically demand equal rights for all Israeli citizens, including women, period and non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews; and as for those non-citizens under the military thumb of Israel, either equal rights or self-determination.  Just as we would not tolerate suspension of the US Bill of Rights even in times of war, we should make excuses anymore for the same unacceptable situation elsewhere, such as in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Item: (Times Online) The NBA season entered its All Star weekend in Las Vegas with the recent revelation by retired British player John Amaechi that he is gay still resonating around the league.

Just as the issue seemed to be dissipating, former All Star guard Tim Hardaway came out with the most vitriolic anti-gay statements yet made on the topic, bringing Amaechi and the subject of gay players in professional sports, very much back to the fore.

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known.  I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people," Hardaway said in a radio interview.  "I'm homophobic.  I don't like it.  It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.

"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team.  And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right.  I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room.

"Something has to give.  If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your team-mates to win and accept him as a teammate."

Comment: The incredibly bigoted comments by Tim Hardaway needa closer examination, particularly the following: "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known.  I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people… I'm homophobic.  I don't like it.  It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.

Exactly what does he want?  For all homosexuals to be imprisoned or exterminated?

The next thing that comes to mind is “What is the source of this hatred?”  At this time, there are no answers.

Item: (Gallup Org.) Though the vast majority of Kuwaitis undoubtedly despised Saddam's regime, 53% say they view the invasion of Iraq by U.S. and British forces as not morally justifiable, while only a third (33%) disagree with this assessment.  On this point, there is little difference between Kuwait's citizenry and its expatriate population -- majorities of both groups (55% and 51%, respectively) say they view the Coalition invasion as morally unjustifiable.  At the root of this sentiment is a deep aversion to Western military action against fellow Muslims -- a norm that Kuwaitisshare with others in the region who experienced a lengthy colonial past.

Comment: This would seem to be the definition of a no-win situation; even if the US were in the right (which it wasn’t in invading Iraq) the ultimate goal of winning hearts and minds in the area was doomed anyway by taking this particular military action.  Winning hearts and minds, by the way, is what “winning the war on terror” is all about - unless you intend to exterminate every last person whose heart and mind has not been won.  Don’t put such an extermination plan beyond the capabilities of the neocons to consider this.

Item: An F5 tornado, part of a weekend of violent storms across the Plains, claimed at least eight lives in Greensberg, KA, a town of 1,500, in May 2007, putting the statewide death toll from the storms at 10.

Officials estimate as much as 95 percent of the town was destroyed.

The tornado's wind was estimated to have reached 205 mph as it carved a track 1.7 miles wide and 22 miles long.

In Kansas, the governor said the state's response was limited by the shifting of emergency equipment, such as tents, trucks and semitrailers, to the war in Iraq.

"Not having the National Guard equipment, which used to be positioned in various parts of the state, to bring in immediately is really going to handicap this effort to rebuild," she said.

Comment: Another simple example of how the war in Iraq has made the citizens of the US less safe, period.  For the idiots in the audience, thisis not saying that the war caused the tornado; it is saying the Iraq war has compromised our ability to respond to national disasters.  Duh!

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