Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time is now for humane immigration reform

Employers both large and small like the low cost of immigrant workers. That's why the rules are being enforced only in a haphazard manner. But although the people in power want to keep immigrant labor, many of them do not want immigrants to stay and become part of American society. That's why we don't give documents to all the workers we want and need. We keep them in the shadows. Obviously, we should give documents to the workers we want and need. The other part of the equation is the government of Mexico, which operates for the benefit of the Mexican elite. It's no accident that the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, is a Mexican. Mexico is using immigration to the US to relieve the political pressure that would normally build up in a brutally unequal society. I believe that both the US and Mexico need reform, and I would like to see activists addressing both problems. We should care about all our Mexican brothers and sisters, not just the ones who come to this country.

Time is now for humane immigration reform
By Enrique Morones
January 30, 2011

The country is once again united, at least momentarily, as we mourn the recent violence in Arizona. It was so sad to see the rise in rhetoric that leads to a rise in violence. Racial profiling kills, as in the case of the 9-year-old girl killed in Arizona. The death of

Christina Taylor Green was tragic, but I am referring to Brisenia Flores. Never heard of her? Murdered in 2009 in Arizona, allegedly by Shawna Forde, an anti-immigration activist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform and a Minutemen member. Forde’s trial is currently under way in Tucson. Brisenia was murdered along with her father, Raul, because they were brown.

It was so sad to see the vile comments online in connection with this “Living in the shadows” project by some that oppose immigration reform, and the ignorance of their own family history as well as the history of this great country. Those in favor of humane immigration reform, 67 percent of the population according to a national Gallup poll, presented positions based on documented facts and sources.

We all agree that the immigration system in this country is broken. Let’s fix it. We all want secure borders. Let’s secure them. What this country needs is humane immigration reform. We want a pathway to legalization and civil discourse. To learn more about sources of information and/or myths versus realities on immigration, check our website:

Societies are judged on how we treat our children. Christina Green and Brisenia Flores PRESENTE!

Humane immigration reform. Si se puede!

Morones is the founder and president of Border Angels, a nonprofit group that seeks to prevent the deaths of migrants crossing the Southwest border.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Partisanship Is the New Racism

Partisanship Is the New Racism
Democrats and Republicans may sit together for Obama's speech, but partisanship won't budge.
By Shankar Vedantam
Jan. 24, 2011

Partisanship is the new racism. We love to criticize it, and we love to claim we've transcended it. We recognize it in our enemies but not in ourselves. We use it to discriminate against others. And increasingly, we find sophisticated ways to mask it in a veneer of open-mindedness.

New psychological research and insights from political science suggest parallels between partisanship and racism. Both seem to arise from aspects of social identity that are immutable or slow to change. Both are publicly decried and privately practiced. Both are increasingly employed in ways that allow practitioners to deny that they are doing what they are doing.

Let's take these assertions one by one. Most of us don't think of partisanship as a matter of social identity. We think that party loyalties stem from our views about government, abortion, guns, and foreign policy. But if you look at those issues, there is no logical reason why people who are against abortion rights should also support gun rights, as many conservatives do. There is no logical reason why those who support unions shouldn't also support a militaristic foreign policy—yet liberals tend to do one but not the other. The issues that bind liberals together and the ones that tie conservatives together are all over the place. Most people see the incoherence in their opponents' views: Liberals, for example, mock conservatives for opposing abortion on the grounds that it takes human life while simultaneously supporting the death penalty. Conservatives shake their heads at liberals who pour onto the streets for antiwar protests, but only when the commander in chief is a Republican.

In recent years, a number of political scientists have argued that our party loyalties drive our views about issues, not the other way around. But if our views don't make us Democrats or Republicans, what does? Consider this thought experiment: I have two neighbors, Jack and Jill. Jill is an African-American woman and a yoga instructor. Jack is a white man and an evangelical Christian. I've told you nothing about Jack and Jill's views about abortion, government, guns, taxes, or foreign policy. Yet most of us would have no trouble guessing that Jill is a Democrat and Jack is a Republican. How do we know this? Because social identity—race, gender, religious affiliation, geographical location—play an outsize (and largely hidden) role in determining our partisan affiliations.

When partisanship is seen as a form of social identity—I'm a Democrat because people like me are Democrats, or I'm a Republican because people like me are Republicans—we can understand why so many blue-collar Kansans are Republicans and why so many Silicon Valley billionaires are Democrats, even though each group's rational interests might be better served by the other party...

Five myths about why the South seceded

Five myths about why the South seceded
By James W. Loewen
Washington Post
January 9, 2011

One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War began, we're still fighting it -- or at least fighting over its history. I've polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even on why the South seceded.

...Indeed, most white Southern families had no slaves. Less than half of white Mississippi households owned one or more slaves, for example, and that proportion was smaller still in whiter states such as Virginia and Tennessee. It is also true that, in areas with few slaves, most white Southerners did not support secession. West Virginia seceded from Virginia to stay with the Union, and Confederate troops had to occupy parts of eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama to hold them in line.

However, two ideological factors caused most Southern whites, including those who were not slave-owners, to defend slavery. First, Americans are wondrous optimists, looking to the upper class and expecting to join it someday. In 1860, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners. So poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support the extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy now.

Second and more important, belief in white supremacy provided a rationale for slavery. As the French political theorist Montesquieu observed wryly in 1748: "It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians." Given this belief, most white Southerners -- and many Northerners, too -- could not envision life in black-majority states such as South Carolina and Mississippi unless blacks were in chains. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Henry Benning, trying to persuade the Virginia Legislature to leave the Union, predicted race war if slavery was not protected. "The consequence will be that our men will be all exterminated or expelled to wander as vagabonds over a hostile earth, and as for our women, their fate will be too horrible to contemplate even in fancy." Thus, secession would maintain not only slavery but the prevailing ideology of white supremacy as well...

White Northerners' fear of freed slaves moving north then caused Republicans to lose the Midwest in the congressional elections of November 1862.

Gradually, as Union soldiers found help from black civilians in the South and black recruits impressed white units with their bravery, many soldiers -- and those they wrote home to -- became abolitionists. By 1864, when Maryland voted to end slavery, soldiers' and sailors' votes made the difference.
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5. The South couldn't have made it long as a slave society.

Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them - or forced them to abandon slavery?

To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure. Perhaps a civil war was required to end it...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Apologizes for Christian-Only Comments
Following Backlash, Robert Bentley Says He Didn't Mean to Offend Anyone
World News
Jan. 19, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama met with religious leaders and issued an apology today...

Addressing a crowd Monday at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church in Montgomery, the new governor said, " Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

"If the Holy Spirit lives in you that makes you my brothers and sisters. Anyone who has not accepted Jesus, I want to be your brothers and sisters, too," he said.

Following the initial comments many civil right groups objected to the comments and called on the governor to apologize.

"It is stunning to me that he'd make those remarks. It's distressing because of the suggestion that he feels that people who aren't Christian are not entitled to love and respect," said Bill Nigut, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gov. to NAACP: 'Kiss My Butt'

Gov. to NAACP: 'Kiss My Butt'
Maine's Republican Governor, Paul LePage, Triggered Controversy but Has -- Somewhat -- Backpedaled From Friday's Remarks

Here's a little tip for newly elected, first-time governors: You might want to hold off on telling the NAACP to kiss your butt on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But Gov. Paul LePage, Maine's Republican chief executive, did just that Friday when pressed on why he would forgo attending events to commemorate the holiday. He later made room in his schedule, after the predictable fallout.

The remark came as a throwaway line after a longer, somewhat more thoughtful explanation as to why he declined the organization's event.

"They are a special interest," he told Portland's WCSH-TV. "End of story. And I'm not going to he held hostage by any special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black. So they can do whatever they'd like about it."

LePage's son, Devon Raymond, was adopted from Jamaica.

The governor, who is white, went on to explain his stance and stress that he also had a scheduling conflict.

But when pressed by the reporter for a response to claims by the NAACP that he has a history of being racially insensitive, the governor shrugged and answered, "Tell 'em to kiss my butt. If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them."

The NAACP swiftly denounced the ill-considered quip. Headline writers were quick to pounce.

"I don't care who he's got in his family," Rachel Talbot Ross, the state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told the Waterville Morning Sentinel.

"The makeup of his family isn't the issue and it never was the issue. For him to say we're playing the race card shows a real lack of awareness of the very important issues we're working to address. Our kids deserve better. Maine deserves better. His son deserves better."

In a statement following the governor's initial comments, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous called LePage "out of touch with our nation's deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing." ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jewish Group Wants Glenn Beck Dropped From Fox News

Jewish Group Wants Glenn Beck Dropped From Fox News
AOL News
Suzi Parker
July 14, 2011

Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), a charity that campaigns for social change, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Fox News Thursday demanding that talk show host Glenn Beck get the pink slip.

The petition drive began in November after Fox News aired a three-part Beck special on businessman and philanthropist George Soros called "Puppet Master." The television show was deemed anti-Semitic by many in the media and Jewish groups.
Beck once said that his election coverage goal was to "make George Soros cry," which is "hard to do," as Soros "saw people into gas chambers."

Beck's Thursday night show highlighted nine people of the 20th century who contributed to "the era of the big lie." All nine of these "shadowy figures," as Beck called them, were Jewish, including psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and columnist Walter Lippman. Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania also was cited.

Mik Moore, chief strategy officer for JFSJ, told Politics Daily that the group met with Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes last summer to raise concerns about Beck's use of Holocaust references. Moore said the group received some commitments from the network that it would watch for anti-Semitic language. But that didn't happen, according to Moore.
On Thursday, the group unveiled Beck's 10 worst quotes of 2010, which included "Women are psychos" and "Charles Darwin is the father of the Holocaust."

The group says it has other plans regarding Beck. On Jan. 17, WOR in New York, citing Beck's low ratings, and WPHT in Philadelphia are dropping Beck's radio show. JFSJ has sent letters to six radio stations in New York City that seem like a match for Beck's talk show, asking them not to pick it up. If that happens, Beck will not have a radio outlet in the city.

"We are just beginning to enter into a conversation with those stations," Moore said.
In light of Sarah Palin's blood libel comment this week, the group said that Palin and Beck "have abused two of the most tragic episodes in the history of the Jewish people: the Holocaust and the blood libel."

The group's president Simon Greer said, "The Jewish community does not appreciate their identification, which only serves to denigrate the very real pain so many Jews have suffered because of anti-Semitic violence. It is clear that Fox News has a Jewish problem."...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rabbi: By 'blood libel' claim Palin admits 'words can be deadly'

Rabbi: By 'blood libel' claim Palin admits 'words can be deadly'

by Cathy Lynn Grossman
USA Today
January 12, 2011

You might think a rabbi would see Sarah Palin's video claim she's a victim of "blood libel" as monumental chutzpah (nerve), as if she, too, were an Arizona shooting victim like gravely injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords or Gifford's murdered aide Gabe Zimmerman.

After all, "blood libel" points to a often distorted and lethally misused passage about Jews and the crucifixion of Christ in Matthew 27:25:

All the people answered, "His blood is on us and on our children!"

It was the pretext of anti-Semitism for 2,000 years and the motive behind centuries of mass killings, pogroms, in Eastern Europe when Jews were falsely accused of using Christian children's blood in religious ceremonies.

The Guardian notes:

That it should be used by an avowedly Christian politician about a Jewish one just takes crassness and insensitivity to a new level.

Maybe it's now a perverse form of 'victim chic' to try to corner your own teardrop of sympathy in every moment of headliner public mourning, I wonder.

But Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, has a surprising (well it was to me) spin on Palin's comment. If she thinks she's turning the guns, so to speak, back on her critics for attempting to endanger her (her what? her political future?) by claiming she contributed to a climate of violence, she's gone about it totally backwards. He told me today:

It's not just inappropriate, it's profoundly ironic. By making this comparison and playing Jew in the picture, the person endangered by a blood libel, she admits that the words people use can have deadly impact.

By claiming that others' words are a blood libel that endangers her, she's at least admitting the prospect that claims her words endangered others could be true.

I'm not giving her a free pass. It was a poor and hurtful analogy. But clearly, she's affirming exactly what her critics charge...

[Rabbi Irwin] Kula even wonders whether the phrase came to her because,

... at some level, unconsciously, she feels guilty in some way for what has happened. But this is so painful at an unconscious level that she has disassociated and lashed out accusing others of what is a deep self-judgment. This is sad, as she is not responsible at all for the shootings in Arizona. She is simply, along with all of us who have created her, responsible for the coarsening of our public culture at a time when we are facing historic challenges that cut to the very core of what America will be in the next period of history.

Rabbi David Sapperstein, executive director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, just back to his office after joining in the House of Representatives' prayer service this morning, says,

To compare (historic blood libel accusations) and their outcomes to what she is facing really distorts and diminishes the meaning of this accusation. In fairness, she's not the first to water it down, as if it means just being falsely accused of something terrible. But it concerns us. It escalates the intensity of the rhetoric, rather than calming it down.

By waving this red flag, it seems to me she's missed an opportunity at real leadership. We call on her to retract the statement and to find a way to help calm things down...