Monday, May 17, 2010
Fox to Keep Watch from Hen-House Window
Barack Obama has just signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act:
Specifically, the measure calls upon the Secretary of State to greatly expand its examination of the status of freedom of the press worldwide in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The legislation requires the State Department to identify countries in which there were violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in, facilitate, or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media and ensure the prosecution of individuals who attack or murder journalists.Barack Obama. An international champion of freedom of speech? Can we say, "Fable of the Alms Bag?"
Our own faults are buried in the rear pouch. The front pouch is reserved for the faults of others.Obviously, my head is spinning from all the irony.
As if Barack Obama's pose as a defender of freedom of speech weren't enough, rising Republican star Marco Rubio threw in the following:
Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio told an anti-gay marriage group Saturday the country is relying too much on the government, in part because of a breakdown of family and faith values over the last 50 years.What part of the government dictating how consenting adults may or may not enter into contracts with one another (so long as no one is harmed) isn't statism, Mr. Rubio? And don't give me any malarkey about gay marriage adding to the tax burden of spousal benefits. We shouldn't be relying on the government at all for those, anyway.
"You know what the fastest growing religion in America is? Statism. The growing reliance on government," Rubio said. "Every time a problem emerges, increasingly the reaction in American society is 'Well what can government do about it?'"
And finally, outside of relying on the government for protection of individual rights, to depend on the government at all is to depend on it too much.
At least Barack Obama doesn't claim to be against statism.
Defending the South
Via Glenn Reynolds comes an interesting defense of the south in The Guardian from an immigrant who (gasp!) lived there and (gasp again!) lived to tell about it.
While recently rubbing elbows with fellow liberals from the east and west coasts, I felt that their disdain for the lives of the south was palpable. This led to my quest: to understand why mouths drip with condescension for the south, and particularly its people.Obviously, not being a leftist, I disagree with much in the article -- and a major weakness in this author's defense of the south is that the Democratic Party was, in fact, the political home of white racism until very recently. It can be counterproductive to argue against a stereotype if one appears to be ignoring whatever basis in fact it might have.
That said, while not everyone up here is prejudiced against southerners, such prejudice is both common and open. Author Seema Jilani's observations gel with my own, as well as with those of foreign classmates from my graduate school days in Houston, who now live here, too.
For example, I have noticed over the past year that such ignorant comments as, "some hick from Texas," are rather commonplace in casual conversation, and that southern stereotypes (e.g., imitations of southern accents) often serve as a source of cheap laughs for the comedically challenged.
As a nun I knew and liked in elementary school might have told her first-graders on their first day, had she taught mixed classes of northerners and southerners, rather than of whites and blacks: "There are good southerners and there are bad southerners. There are good northerners and there are bad northerners."
On balance, and to be fair, I have liked most of the people I have met up here, and my slight, but noticeable accent has more often been a marketing tool than a jerk detector. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the sentiment of that piece.
I am not an ignorant rube, and I will not play the part by letting bigotry sour me on everyone else around me. I always have, and always will judge others by their words, however accented, and their deeds.
One More Thing
The beginning line of that last piece reminds me...
A fellow Houstonian said of my crawfish etouffee at a recent party -- and I quote -- "He nailed it!"
Fellow gastronomes, take note!
Today: (1) Minor edits. (2) Rephrased a sentence.