Category Archives: Current Affairs

Annals of Homophobia: Don’t Cry For Kim, Rowan County

Annals of Homophobia: Don’t Cry For Kim, Rowan County

Remember the “Rainbow Tour” song from the movie version of “Evita”, the rock opera about Eva Peron? (If not, listen to it here right away.

It follows (and deconstructs) Evita’s supposedly triumphal European tour in the late 1940s:

Evita-Time-cover
A 1947 cover of TIME Magazine, featuring Eva “Evita” Peron, on the occasion of her “Rainbow Tour” in Europe.

The third verse from this stunning ensemble piece came back to mind on Wednesday:

More Bad news from Rome — 
She met with the Pope;
She only got a rosary, a kindly word–
I wouldn’t say the Holy Father 
Gave her the bird,
But papal decorations, never a hope . . .”

Who else met with the pope, more recently, and came away with only a rosary and some kindly words?

Yeah, Kim Davis.

News of the brief September 24 encounter was “leaked” by her lawyer.

It happened at the Vatican embassy in Washington, the day before Davis visited the Values Voter Summit, put on annually by Family Research Council Action. 

Family_Research_Council_Logo

FRCA is an ultra-rightwing lobby which has specialized in homophobia, plus anti-divorce, anti-same sex marriage and lots of other anti-stuff in the U.S., as well as support for draconian antigay laws in African countries. It has been named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

FRC-hate-groupIn presidential years, the farther-right GOP candidates line up at the FRCA “Summit” to preen and toss red meat. This time most of them showed up, even Trump (but not Jeb!?) The Summit also runs a straw poll, of course, and this time ted Cruz, perhaps the nastiest of them all (but it’s a tough choice), won.

Still, despite the flurry of media attention that followed the disclosure, the visit turns out to be not exactly a big deal.

To be sure, Francis is on record as being against same sex marriage, and LGBT issues generally (even if he said “Who am I to judge?”); and has repeated the “religious liberty” meme which the American right (including its large Catholic wing) has been turned into a dog-whistle for protecting homophobic discrimination. None of this is new, even if he went out of his way to NOT repeat any of it in public while he was here.

In all his public, to-the-country statements repeatedly (& honestly) trashed the right wing Catholic political agenda, and the bishops’ alliance with them. If I was scoring all this, it would go: 20 for Francis’s good stuff, 1 (so far) for bad. In sports or politics, that would be a landslide or a rout. And in Vegas, betting on the pope saying progressive things while in the USA would have been a very big, loud winner. 

Compare: the Davis meeting was held in private, with no papal aides, news media,  or Davis’s lawyer; it lasted  only a few minutes; the pope’s reported pleasantries were boilerplate; and when asked later, he did not seem well-briefed on her case

Further, the fact of the meeting was embargoed until the pope was safely back in Rome. And late on September 30, the Vatican was still declining to comment on it, sounding embarrassed and blindsided. Some ballyhoo.

Of course, homophobic crusaders like Davis’s “Liberty Counsel” and the “Alliance Defending Freedom” were ecstatic at the news leak, and insisted that it showed that Francis was on board with their campaigns. They can’t be stopped for grabbing this patronizing shred of recognition.

But time to cue the Evita sound track again:

She only got a rosary, a kindly word–
I wouldn’t say the Holy Father 
Gave her the bird,
But papal decorations, never a hope . . .”

Papal decorations? Yeah, there are lots of them. They weren’t likely in this case; but just so you know.

papal-decoration-1
Papal decorations: the order of St. gregarious (above) and the Order of Pope Pius the Ninth. There are several more.

papal-decoration-3-GoodYet Davis didn’t go back to Kentucky unrewarded. Family Research Action gave her a “Cost of Discipleship Award”; its president compared her to Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.  So don’t cry for her, Rowan County.

But the rest of us could shed a tear for Parks, King and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose witness and martyrdom  were twisted by a creepy group whose worldview would have all of them spinning in their graves. 

PS. Update: Jesuit editor Fr. James Martin adds his well-informed insider perspective here. His verdict also: NBD

 

Kim-Davis-hands-raised

Evita-madonna

The “Savvy” “Apolitical” Pope & Dingbat “Experts”

The “Savvy” “Apolitical” Pope & Dingbat “Experts”

In today’s NYTimes (09-28-2015, the front-page article on the pope’s visit quotes a so-called expert in “Catholic Studies”:

<< “I was frankly taken aback at how savvy [pope Francis] was,” said Stephen Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. “He was clearly aware of all the very divisive issues for Catholics in American public life but talked about them in a way that didn’t give ammunition to either conservatives or progressives in the United States to use in their political wars.” >>

Clue-does-not-have-one

Continue reading The “Savvy” “Apolitical” Pope & Dingbat “Experts”

A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

Recently, there’s news about how the Japanese prime minister is about to dump the antiwar provisions of Japan’s constitution — which have kept Japanese troops from fighting in other countries for seventy years.

Hey — what could possibly go wrong?

There have been loud street protests there against this impending change. Good on them.

Japanese-antiwar-protest

 

Continue reading A Continuing Quaker Thumbprint on Japanese (& World) History

Howell Raines & Whistling Dixie

A Response to “The Dream World of Southern Republicans,” by Howell Raines, New York Times – July 12, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/opinion/sunday/will-demographics-transform-southern-politics.html?_r=1

Sorry, Mr. Raines, but from my crossroads perch in North Carolina, this rosy forecast is mostly eyewash. I WISH it was so, but I don’t see it.

Raines is right about demographic change in the region. But does he think southern Republican white supremacist politicians are all illiterate bumpkins, who can’t read the same reports, and take potent countermeasures? Not a chance.

Continue reading Howell Raines & Whistling Dixie

Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts

Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts
Do kids still joke about learning to spell “anti-disestablishentarianism”?
I used to think it was a fake, something made up, like Mary Poppins’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

But no! It was real. And in fact, I just realized that TODAY, for the very first time ever, I can use the term in a piece of factual writing, in its actual meaning.
Because that’s what going on in a few holdouts spots across the American South: fits of Anti-Dis-Establishmentarianism.

keep-calm-and-get-off-my-antidisestablishmentarianism
Continue reading Anti-Disestablishmentarianism: The Word for Southern Marriage Holdouts

Conscience in Mississippi; Grandstanding In Alabama

Conscience in Mississippi; Grandstanding In Alabama

A Circuit Clerk in Mississippi resigned her post rather than issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

Linda Barnette said in a letter of resignation, effective on June 30, 2015, that

“The Supreme Court’s decision violates my core values as a Christian,” she wrote. “My final authority is the Bible. I cannot in all good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples under my name because the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan and purpose for marriage and family. . . .”
Acquaintances said Barnette’s husband is a pastor who worked with Billy Graham Ministries for many years.
“I choose to obey God rather than man,” Barnette wrote.

Linda-Barnette
Linda Barnette, former Circuit Clerk of Grenada County, Mississippi.

Continue reading Conscience in Mississippi; Grandstanding In Alabama

After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near

After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near

Is this a moment of decision for the vocally anti-gay pastors and meetings in North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM?

On the one side, they could join the peals of panic and hysteria that are near full-throat since the Supreme Court’s marriage decision on June 26.

Or maybe they could take a deep breath, listen to some other voices, and consider a different option.

Here’s another way to put it: Will their template now be drawn from  Dred Scott (civil war) and Roe v Wade (anti-abortion terrorism)?

Or will it be Loving v. Virginia, and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”?

(I’d like to think nobody could say no to “Loving.” But I’ve been wrong before.)

Gay-Agenda-Steamroller-Wkly-Stdd-Text
Is It Truly Going To Be This Bad?? (Maybe not.)

Continue reading After Gay Marriage: No, The END Is NOT Near