supremacy ≠ equality

A Memo to Mike Huckabee (Civic Leadership)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

MEMORANDUM

To: Mike Huckabee

re: Civic leadership

So … Mike―

The two-time Republican presidential also-ran lashed out Erickson, again on Fox News, accusing the conservative of attempting “to blow up the Republican Party.”

“The message that’s coming across is the voters are stupid so we’ll figure out a way to make the decision for you because we don’t trust your decision,” Huckabee complained of Erickson’s anti-Trump effort.

(Tesfaye)

―you do realize, do you not, that sometimes that’s exactly what civic leaders are expected to do?

In our own American heritage we say the Constitution is not a suicide pact. In our human endeavor, we might simply say that civilized society is not a suicide pact. Observably, the Donald Trump phenomenon disdains either expression.

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Pretty Much What We Expect, Except It Is Unkind to Hold Such Expectations

Can we just admit that there is nothing “Christian” about Kim Davis?

At last week’s Values Voter Summit, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel displayed a picture that he claimed showed a 100,000-person prayer in Peru for his client, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. That picture has since been identified as having been uploaded to Facebook on May 25, 2014 and portraying a massive one-of-a-kind five-day convention known as “Jesús Te Ama Y Te Cambia” (“Jesus Loves You And Changes You”).

After spending Monday defending the photo, Liberty Counsel has admitted that it is not of a Kim Davis rally. In fact, they no longer claim that any rally whatsoever took place for Davis in Peru, but merely that some people in Peru prayed for her.

(Ford)

There are, of course, all manner of complicating details; Mr. Staver and Liberty Counsel would like to blame the lie on Julio Rosas, a Peruvian Congressman.

Though Staver called the photograph “an honest mistake,” he insisted that people still give Davis a thumbs-up everywhere she goes. “Make no mistake, however, that there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports. People gave her a thumbs up sign or verbally expressed support for Kim Davis. While she has obvious detractors, Kim Davis also has wide support.”

Detail of 'Lucifer' by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.Yes, such wide support that Liberty Counsel needs to make stuff up while their client receives a newly-invented award intended to celebrate bigotry and supremacism in America.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jesus Christ.

Oh, wait, right. No, it’s not. Because no matter how much Kim Davis wants you to believe she is a Christian, remember that Christ himself is absent from her hatred.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Christian supremacist icon and Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Family Research Council Action’s Values Voter Summit, 25 September 2015, in Washington, D. C. Right ― Detail of Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, ca. 1890.

Ford, Zack. “Kim Davis’ Attorneys Finally Admit This Picture Is A Hoax”. ThinkProgress. 29 September 2015.

An Unfortunate Update (Dubious Hero)

Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the "Cost of Discipleship Award" at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015.  (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

“And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many’.”

Mark 5.9 (RSV)

Kim Davis is the sort of memory we might wish to let fade. The embittered Rowan County Clerk went so far this week as to honor the Kentucky Democratic Party by switching her registration to Republican; meanwhile, conservatives celebrated her cause:

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a hero to conservatives after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was compared to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks as she was awarded a prize by a prominent Christian organization Friday evening.

Dabbing her eyes with a tissue and with a trembling voice, Davis told hundreds of evangelical Christians: “I feel so very undeserving.”

“I want to start by thanking my lord and my savior Jesus Christ, because without him it would never be possible, for he is my strength that carries me,” Davis said.

“I am only one,” she shouted to be heard above the cheering crowd. “But we are many.”

(Swan)

And while there are ironies aplenty, and some even sickening, about all that, the carryout point here is simple enough. I can still remember, in youth, a classmate earnestly trying to explain to me how we all had it wrong and the KKK was a misunderstood guardian of society and something about why Dr. King was a terrible person, and what strikes me about that recollection is that one could push such garbage unimpeded. In a day when feminsim is so (ahem!) “unflattering” as to require schoolhouse censorship, and Christians expel girls from school for not being girlish enough, we might understand why conservatives would wish to elevate a supremacist as some sort of civil rights hero, but it is also hard to imagine they might actually get away with it.

____________________

Image note: Rowan County Clerk and infamous Christian supremacism icon Kim Davis receives the “Cost of Discipleship Award” at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., 25 Septemer 2015. (Photo: Jonathan Swan/The Hill)

Richardson, Bradford. “Kim Davis switches to GOP”. The Hill. 25 September 2015.

Swan, Jonathan. “Christian group honors Kim Davis with award”. The Hil. 25 September 2015.

Warren, Rosalyn. “A School Blurred Out This Girl’s Feminist T-Shirt Because It Was ‘Unflattering'”. BuzzFeed. 17 April 2015.

A Glimpse of Dystopia

Look, it’s not so much that Andy Ostroy is somehow wrong―

Imagine you’re approaching the counter at Walmart. The cashier looks in your wagon and politely informs you that as a Catholic she can’t ring up your condoms. Another cashier, a Christian Scientist, says he’s refusing to ring up your aspirin. An Orthodox Jew tells you she can’t ring up your bacon. A Muslim says he won’t touch the bikini you have in your wagon. And then there’s other Kim Davis wannabes who, as strict bible-interpreting devout Christians, won’t serve you because you’re gay, or have been divorced.

―because he’s not. But it is also true that we might wonder who he’s telling. That is, it’s hardly original; indeed, we might suggest that those of us who don’t disagree already know, and those who might wish to assert their equal right to supremacy under law have heard and don’t give damn.

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The Difference

VIII. Adjustment.

Michael Gerson, for the Washington Post:

Whatever their intentions, these people are doing great harm to the cause of religious liberty and to the reputation of their faith. Davis’s defiance is the wrong test case for the protection of religious freedom.

The Supreme Court’s far-reaching Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage will have radiating consequences for people who hold traditional moral views on marriage and family. Some challenges will concern religious institutions — colleges, social service providers, aid organizations — that interact in various ways with government. Other controversies will concern the ability of closely held businesses to refrain from providing services.

But there is no serious case to be made for the right of public officials to break laws they don’t agree with, even for religious reasons. This is, in essence, seizing power from our system of laws and courts.

The punch line, of course, is that, “They can’t tell the difference”, but such niceties fail to suit Mr. Gerson’s purpose, and it is worth attending.

Mr. Gerson recalls politics and presentation and process, but one particular requires reminding: What Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement sought was an end to institutional supremacism; what Kim Davis demands is nothing more than institutional supremacism.

In the end, this point should never escape our awareness.

____________________

Gerson, Michael. “Kim Davis is no Rosa Parks”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

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Pretty Much Required Reading

The context is actually, unfortunate, especially since it seems strange the discourse is only getting around to this part, this prominently, at this time, but, still―

… marriages haven’t always involved a man and a woman and certainly haven’t required religious beliefs to be considered valid. Claiming that marriage is a static institution that hasn’t continued to evolve in extreme ways over time or that the type of marriage defended by people like Brown is the only kind of marriage that has existed throughout history is just wrong.

Noah Michelson and Sara Boboltz of Huffington Post dive into Stephanie Coontz’s 2005 book, Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. 'Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage' - Detail of cover art from book by Stephanie Coontz (Viking, 2005) This book really should have been required reading for everyone taking part in the marriage equality debate, though it is true some have greater need than others―Yes! I’m looking in your direction, “traditionalists”!

Still, though, it really is worth reading if you think you have a stake in the marriage discourse. And, yes, Michelson and Boboltz offer a convenient and enlightening glimpse into Dr. Coontz’s fine historical review.

____________________

Image note: Detail of cover art for Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz (New York: Viking, 2005).

Michelson, Noah and Sara Boboltz. “Here Is All You Need To Prove Bigots Wrong About ‘Traditional Marriage'”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

The Point: Supremacy ≠ Equality

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Yesterday, Brian Beutler laid out a case for why Kim Davis should face jail for contempt of court; the article for The New Republic recalled:

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Today, Ms. Davis, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, was ordered to jail by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning; Steve Benen reminds, for msnbc:

Just so news consumers are clear, if you hear that Davis was jailed for her opposition to marriage equality, this is incorrect. She was taken into custody because she deliberately, brazenly ignored a court order. Davis was bound, not only to perform her official duties, but also to follow the law. She refused and is now in contempt of court.

This is important. But what neither Beutler nor Benen ever quite cut to―indeed, the larger discourse seems to avoid―is the basic functional reality. And perhaps there is a reason for this, but it comes down to something like we shouldn’t have to spell it out so simply, which is clearly insufficient since this really is the moment, and really is the argument.

Equality is equality. Functionally speaking, what Ms. Davis demands is that her “equality” requires her “superiority” and others’ “inferiority”. In theology, one of the practical limitations of God is inherent contradiction; even the Almighty cannot, by the classic example, fashion a square circle.

By definition, supremacy is not equality.

The functional reality that these Christian conservatives need to deal with is that equality is equality. This has been going on for a long time. As we have considered of Ms. Davis, the underlying device is the same as the library book argument. It’s also the same one we heard about pop music in the 1980s; the one that brought us the little black and white warning labels on heavy metal and rap albums. It is a traditional plea of the privileged, that another’s rights stop at the convenience or inconvenience of the privileged; one’s rights are violated as long as another’s are intact.

This is the functional reality: All Ms. Davis is asking is that her equality allow her supremacy.

So whatever one might say in rejoinder to Mr. Benen’s reminder, Mr. Beutler’s recollection of recent history is accurate:

Back before the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, when it became clear that same-sex marriage would one day be the law of the land in most, if not all states, conservative culture warriors abruptly changed tacks. After organizing for years around the notion that states and the federal government should refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, they decided the time had come for everyone to be accommodating to one another—as if liberals were suddenly making unfair demands.

But liberals were doing no such thing. For generations, when disputes rooted in discrimination against gays and lesbians arose between parties, governments would generally side with discriminators. Liberals were simply demanding that moving forward, the presumption should be turned on its head—beginning with the states themselves, a great many of which refused to recognize same-sex marriages.

Conservatives responded by issuing pleas for mercy, and embraced the concept of pluralism, to wield as a cudgel against gay rights activists. Same-sex marriage might prevail legally and politically, but opponents should not thenceforth be treated like bigots or pariahs or scofflaws.

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Thus it is worth reminding explicitly: What he is describing is the old formula of supremacism: In order to be equal, Ms. Davis and other Christians should be able to demand and enforce inequality unto others.

Whatever anyone else tells you about freedom and conscience, simply remember that functionally speaking, supremacy and equality simply are not the same, and cannot be reconciled as such. Kim Davis is about to become a martyr and legend; let us always remember why.

____________________

Image note: Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Benen, Steve. “Kentucky’s Kim Davis jailed, held in contempt”. msnbc. 3 September 2015.

Beutler, Brian. “Throw Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis in Jail”. The New Republic. 2 September 2015.

A Matter of Appearances, and Other Notes

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Although my permission doesn’t matter, yes, you have my permission to enjoy the next three paragraphs.

A transgender man and his wife stepped forward Saturday with paperwork showing that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis apparently issued them a marriage license in February even though she has blocked forms for same-sex couples over the past two months.

Camryn Colen, who is transgender, and his wife Alexis, who identifies as pan sexual, said Davis’ office provided the license on Feb. 26 without asking to see Camryn’s birth certificate, which still identifies him as female. The couple married that night.

“She saw just a straight couple in love, and she should see everybody like that,” Camryn said. “She shouldn’t just see straight couples like that.”

(Wynn)

No, seriously. When petulant laughter―Ah! Ha! Ha ha! Hahaha! HaHahaHahHaHa!―is all we can think of, why not just go with it?

This moment of pure ironic bliss is brought to you by Kentucky, because why not and where the hell else? (more…)

A Meandering Consideration of Absolutism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015.  (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Maybe it’s an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary conservative thought?”

Steve Benen

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan offers an interesting consideration:

It’s looking more and more like Benjamin Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder in so ferociously opposing the Iran nuclear deal and in rallying his American allies to spend all their resources on a campaign to kill the deal in Congress.

SlateIf current trends hold, the Israeli prime minister and his stateside lobbyists—mainly AIPAC—are set to lose this fight. It’s politically risky for Israel’s head of state to go up against the president of his only big ally and benefactor; it’s catastrophic to do so and come away with nothing. Similarly, it’s a huge defeat for AIPAC, whose power derives from an image of invincibility. American politicians and donors might get the idea that the group isn’t so invincible after all, that they can defy its wishes, now and then, without great risk.

It would have been better for Netanyahu—and for Israel—had he maybe grumbled about the Iran deal but not opposed it outright, let alone so brazenly. He could have pried many more favors from Obama in exchange for his scowl-faced neutrality. Not that Obama, or any other American president, will cut Israel off; but relations will remain more strained, and requests for other favors (for more or bigger weapons, or for certain votes in international forums) will be scrutinized more warily, than they would have been.

There is, of course, much more to Kaplan’s consideration, including the implications of current Congressional momentum and the widening gap between the credibility of favoring and opposing arguments. Toward the latter, he notes, “Most criticisms of the deal actually have nothing to do with the deal”, and that’s about as least unfavorable as his critique of the criticism gets.

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