Comments of the Week: The Koch Brothers, Racism and the Catholic Church
Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!
Chris Tucker: The systemic conservative media bias is one significant reason why Democratic candidates and officials are pressured to demonstrate how moderate or conservative friendly they are. Indeed, while all GOP presidential candidates proudly compete to be the real/most conservative, it is unthinkable that any democratic candidates would dare express pride—or defend the virtues of—being the most progressive/liberal candidate. Consequently, the radical NDAA (giving the president power to murder or indefinitely detain US citizens without due process) passed with bi-partisan support and no serious debate or vocal opponents in Congress or media.
In response to Leslie Savan’s “Sunday Talk Shows Still Skew Right and White, but There’s Light at the End of the Week.” April 20, 2012
Mary Carroll: Most of what the Koch brothers do is "legal" (all the more so since Citizens United); the problem is that what they do undermines democracy by reinforcing everything in our system that gives the wealthy and powerful a "vote" that has much more sway than yours or mine.
Most of us can't easily boycott a Koch brothers’ pipeline or refinery (though walking, biking and public transit are helpful if you can use them), but we all use toilet paper, and Koch Industries makes Northern.Nuff said....
In response to Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “Koch Brothers Exposed.” April 23, 2012
John Breithaupt: I am a recent convert to the Catholic Church and have never regretted my decision for an instant. I joined the Church well aware that it is "semper reformanda" (always in need of reform), and I have never seen a reason to change my mind about this, either. We have problems, we Catholics.
One very large problem is the continuing effort by the male hierarchy to discount or silence the witness of the women religious in the Church. These efforts are sustained by the mistaken belief on the part of the male hierarchy that they are not the servants of the Church, but its masters.
The Church is not the hierarchy, but all its members. The Greek word for church, "ekklesia", means "a calling together"—of all believers. The word dogma is based on the Greek word "dokein", to seem; that is, a dogma is what seems to be true to the word of God to the members of the Church.
The women religious of the Church cannot be ignored or silenced without doing the Church grievous harm. To do so would not only be an injustice; it would be a sin.
In response to Norman Birnbaum’s “The Vatican’s Latest Target in the War on Women: Nuns.” April 24, 2012
Fay Paxton: Well said. I just wrote about race relations, but I admittedly wasn't nearly as nice as you. I've rather reached the end of my rope with the idea that the mere mention of race is somehow racist. I always try to approach my explanations from a historical point of view.
Regarding affirmative action, I explained it to my daughter like this:
Imagine whites and minorities are running a marathon race. Whites get a path that has been plowed and prepared by their forefathers. They get training, uniforms, nice Nike runners, water stations and a 300-year head start.
Minorities had a path riddled with potholes and blockades. They were deprived of training, had no uniforms or Nikes and no one to offer them a drink of water. Affirmative action is about leveling the running plain.
In response to Jamelle Bouie’s “Race, Millennials and Reverse Discrimination.” April 26, 2012
Ian Thistle (@bumpasaurus): Throughout history, or at least since overt racism became generally recognized as abhorrent, racism has been thought of as something other people do while often one's friends and neighbors are the ones committing it. New England celebrates its abolitionist history while its own neighborhoods are deeply segregated. Floridians divert talk over Trayvon Martin away from the entrenched racism of its police and towards gun rights and self-defense law. And Americans everywhere think that since overt racism is usually loudly denounced that things are okay, even though the more subtle symptoms can be just as damaging, for example, the inequality in convictions and sentencing in our courts.
While Zirin's conclusion and general point is correct and important, Bryant's statement and Zirin's seventh paragraph here are an example of compartmentalizing racism as "other" when it needs to be confronted head-on. It's easy and tempting to compare these examples of hate to Boston's sordid history, but in this instance it inspires people not associated with them to ignore the problem and assume that it's just some meatheads from Southie who think this. The fact is that examples of such hate speech could be found in any fan-base of any pro-team in the world. Just in hockey, a fan in London, Ontario threw a banana on the ice when Wayne Simmonds was taking a shot in a shootout. Simmonds received an example of the same hate on Twitter that Ward received after Simmonds scored against the Penguins—or any team. Raffi Torres, a player for the Phoenix Coyotes, dressed as Jay-Z for a Halloween party, complete with blackface.
It might even be tempting to link these examples just to hockey fans in general, since it has the fewest black players of any North American team sport by far. But this is the same fallacy that leads otherwise enlightened and intelligent people to think racism only occurs in the Deep South because that's where hate crimes like the James Byrd murder occurred, while the incarceration and black poverty rates in "blue" states are similarly unequal as in the South. Said Dr. King, "The racial issue we confront in America is not a sectional but a national problem. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
It's not about Boston. It's about the country and the world. Bruins fans should take to social media and denounce this, but so should all hockey fans, or better yet, sports fans in general.
In response to Dave Zirin’s “Washington Capitals Win Over Boston Bruins Spurts Spasm of Racism.” April 26, 2012
Manhattan: Yet when it comes to covering contraception for female employees that would have an effect on poverty, they are against that. I like to term this fiasco ”Battle of the Hypocrites.”
In response to John Nichols’ “Paul Ryan’s Claim That His Budget Reflects Catholic Teaching is ‘Nonsense.’” April 26, 2012