Debates over “civility” are nothing new for Quakers. And other people.
The last time I was thrown out of a retail establishment, it was a screen printing shop in Fayetteville NC, near Fort Bragg. I came in on a warm day in 2007, wanting some tee shirts made for a conference being planned by Quaker House. The shirts were to be black, and the wording something like this:
I handed over a CD with the image on it, and the guy at the desk put down his cigarette & slid it into a computer. I couldn’t see the screen when the image came up; but his widened eyes told me.
He stood up as the CD slid back out of the slot. “Hey, Sarge,” he called, and carried it into a back room.
“Sarge” was out in a couple moments; likely retired Army. He didn’t throw the CD at me, but dropped it on the counter and made clear in a loud voice that anybody at Guantanamo or what we were just learning to call “black sites” was a goddam terrorist who deserved whatever they got, and that he was not about to print such treason as this on any of his shirts.
I didn’t quibble. But I called the next shop on my list before I went in, to see if they too had any objection. The shirts got done. And I didn’t think til later about how the issue of who was being uncivil here could be fitted into the “It’s Complicated” category:
Was it “Sarge,” who at best might have considered my image some very bad joke that didn’t play; or was it I, who brought such a patently offensive message into his patriotic establishment?
For a long time I’ve felt that much of the deepest internal struggles in American culture have religious roots.
Sure, there’s also politics, class, race, gender and empire involved as well. But take off your Bubble-colored glasses and look closer, and religion pops up in most of these contexts too.
Further, one passage, Romans 13:1-7, has long been close to the center of these conflicts. It equates worldly rulers, and their use of “the sword”, with God’s divine order. and has long been used to support whichever ruler a preacher most favors.
A long read. [But there’s a much longer version if desired.]
These excerpts from the full report, linked below, have been compiled to make the substance of it more accessible.
NOTE the principal author of this 220-page report is Timothy J. Heaphy, of a major law firm Hunton & Williams. The firm was retained by the City of Charlottesville to conduct an exhaustive investigation and produce this report.
From Heaphy’s biography on the firm’s website:
Prior to joining Hunton & Williams LLP, Tim was the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, serving as the chief law enforcement officer responsible for prosecuting federal crime and defending the United States in civil litigation.
During his tenure as United States Attorney, Tim served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, advising the Attorney General on emerging policy issues, He has testified before Congressional committees several times on issues ranging from guns to synthetic drugs to sentencing reform.Continue reading The Independent Report on the Charlottesville Riots→
— And I can’t forget Florida Governor Rick Scott: he did what it took. So did UF President W. Kent Fuchs; and some others, we’ll get to shortly. [NOTE: Update on shooting arrests below.]
[BTW: I wasn’t in Gainesville, this commentary is based on reports from several respected media who were on the scene, especially: the Orlando Sentinel; the Miami Herald; the Gainesville Sun; and the Washington Post.]
It’s early, but the speech by Richard Spencer at the University of Florida on October 19 could turn out to be an important precedent, and a “teachable moment” for American colleges.
One part of this precedent is that on a 52,000 student campus, the vast majority agreed with leaders of many stripes, and stayed away.
Without an audience, Richard Spencer is just another racist nobody. He’s made a name for himself out of stoking prejudice and he counts on stirring enough emotion to draw crowds and publicity and keep his hateful gig rolling along. There’s only one antidote to this kind of modern-day creep: Don’t make his ruse worth his while. Let him speak, but don’t reward him with your presence. Stay home. Play some Beatles. Imagine.
But we don’t have to imagine: in fact, the auditorium where Spencer spoke was no more than half-full.
Let’s talk about building a wall to keep out immigrants; it’s a thing in the current campaign. But it’s not a new idea. How about this earlier version?
The image is from 1928, and a bit fuzzy. Note the three faces peeking over the wall: the “Red”is for eastern Europeans & Jews; “Rum” is for Irish, as deemed to be all drunkards, and stupid; and at left, the one with the big pointed hat is the Catholic church, as the force behind immigrants from Italy and other predominantly Catholic countries (especially Irish again).
Many parts of our former republic, including civil liberties, are already close to catatonic; and profoundly anti-democratic forces (the secret security state, the war machine, vote suppression) are already loose, some beyond our control (which is why we mostly prefer not to think about them).
But all this could get much, much worse, depending on how this political year turns out.
Cohen comes at the 2016 campaign from the BTDT (“Been There, Done That”) perspective, of those who have seen — and lived– this movie before.
It’s also a movie which is being remade today in more and more corners of their continent.
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.
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.