Bad Religion · Evangelism · Politics

Satan talks back to Robertson, and some thoughts on minority progress

Remember how Pat “I call myself a Christian but just can’t act like one” Robertson blamed the tragedy in Haiti on a pact with the devil? Well, Lily Coyle took offense and decided to pen a response in the personal of Satan. She sent it to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and it’s starting to go viral on the Internet. You can read the whole thing here, but for myself, I’d like to say thanks to Ms. Coyle for using the letters to the editors page to correct Roberson’s really horrible theology. Here’s a tidbit from Satan’s screed:

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher.

Other thoughts this Monday: It was curious to read that Barack Obama said the following at a black Baptist Church over the weekend in celebration of Martin Luther King day:

“Sometimes I get a little frustrated “when folks just don’t want to see that even if we don’t get everything, we’re getting something.” (Full text of his speech here.)

Taken just as it is, it sounds like Obama – who is biracial but self-identifies as black and is accepted as so by most folks – is asking the black community to settle for baby steps instead of pushing hard for greater equality. That wasn’t the case of course, but he was emphasizing the need to celebrate (instead of bemoan) progress on our way to what we hope would be perfection.

It is true that some black advocacy groups deny any progress has been made among blacks simply because there is still inequity. And it is even truer still that some individuals use the lack of complete equality as an excuse to join gangs, drop out of school, and blame white society for their own poor choices. So, I agree with Obama that the excuse-making has to stop – among people of every color, every race, every age. We are, in most ways, masters of our own destiny. (For a cinematic illustration of that point, go see Precious or Invictus.)

Still, the road is much harder for some due to little more than the circumstance of their birth, the color of their skin or what sex organs they possess, and I admit to wondering if there will ever be full equality for minorites in a society where power is primarily focused in the hands of white, middle-class males. Then again, every time I read the words “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,” I get chills. We are making progress … it just seems so slow if you are part of a minority. and speaking of minorities…

Two of my favorite newspaper columnists did what they do best last week when pointing out the truth. Leonard J. Pitts Jr. wrote a column saying that Sen. Harry Reid may have been impolitic and out-of-touch when he used the word “Negro” during the 2007-08 presidential campaign, but he was also right. Yes, you read correctly, a black man said that a white man saying Barack Obama could get elected because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect” was absolutely right. Read more here.

Also tackling a minority issue, Kathleen Parker had a fabulous (although painfully sad in a way) discussion last week about how people (and the press) treat male candidates one way and female candidates another – more hostile, patronizing – way. Because of that treatment, Parker mused, we may be a lot further away from having a female president than some would hope. Everyone should read it, but especially if you are the parent of daughters.


5 thoughts on “Satan talks back to Robertson, and some thoughts on minority progress

  1. Hey Renee: So every time you read Hillary Rodham Clinton you get chills? All I want to do is just want to take a shower.
    Were you working for the Democrat when Say McIntosh was around? Those sure were exciting times. Especially when Roger got busted on the State Capital steps.
    Too bad you’re not back here in Arkansas anymore. If you’ll remember. we celebrate the birthay of two great Americans born on the same day.
    Dr. Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader, and General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, one of the greatest Gererals that our wonderful country has ever produced.
    Here in East Jesus we have our annual town parade/BBQ, proudly flying the Stars and Stripes plus the Stars and Bars. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
    I’ll save a plate of pulled pork and slaw for you.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  2. “…some individuals use the lack of complete equality as an excuse to join gangs, drop out of school, and blame white society for their own poor choices.”  

    I doubt that there is any empirical evidence to support the theory that lack of complete equality in this country is the cause for dropping out of school and/or joining a gang.  If , when you say, “White Society”, you mean it as a euphemism for the racist bourgeois democracy, then, yes, I and others do blame that system; not for “poor choices”, but for no choices.  You have some really unfortunate choices of words, Renee.  You will probably complain that your meaning has been misconstrued (again), but with the statement quoted above, you make yourself out to be a supporter of white privilege and a supporter of a system that is built around racism and inequality.  Your dirty finger of blame always points down and out, away from capitalism, away from institutional racism, away from white privilege; away, away, away from the system and towards the victims.  One hint: never use the phrases “poor personal choices” or “lack of personal responsibility” when acting as an apologist for the system.  It’s a dead give-away of a false consciousness.       

    1. Hey Leftfield:
      Let’s make a deal – you come out behind your shroud of anonymity and then you can say that I have unfortunate word choices. I am not saying there ain’t nothing to white priviledge – did you not note the Pitts column? There is DEFINITELY white (male!) priviledge, but there is also a mindset among some minorities that says, “The man did it, and I ain’t got no control.”
      It isn’t so much a race thing as a poverty thing. I come from a family with five siblings. Two of us chose to go to college (on loans and scholarships and Pell grants). The other three said college was for “idiots.” They refused (one still does) to move out of the poor neighborhood we lived in, they refused to go to tutoring offered to them, they refused to stop using drugs, they refused to break ties with dysfunctional friends and family. They made a choice, just as I did. It was very hard – but people do it.
      There are poor personal choices, Lefty, and you know that as well as I do. And there is a lack of personal responsibility as well. Saying so isn’t blaming the victims – because if you are an adult, you are not a victim. the only victims are the children, and thankfully, many of them (like me) get help through teachers pointing them in the right direction.
      There are so many safety nets now that if you WANT help, you can get it. I remember Oprah getting grief when she funded the schools in Africa and I recall her response to the criticism: She said she wanted to fund schools in inner city America but when she met with the kids and parents at those schools, she changed her mind because they refused to 1. wear uniforms, 2. agree to a contract for attendence. They don’t care, she said, they really don’t want education. If you want a picture of this, I encourage you to go see Precious and pay attention to the mother figure. Yes, ghettos exist and no kid should have to live in one. But you know what, ask any black woman what the major threat is to the black race and she’ll tell you absent black fathers (and a lack of consistently practiced birth control).
      Capitalism has good and bad (I tend to agree with the Pope that most of it is bad), but after having hosted a number of guests from other countries through exchange programs, I’ll take it over the other options right now.

      1. What I see when I read some of your columns, Renee, is lip service to liberal ideals, but there’s also an underlying subtext that the existing circumstances are such that only people of “poor personal qualities” need suffer indignity, poverty and oppression.   It’s the old “best of all possible worlds”, “god will provide”,  “yes, there are some problems, but work and pray real hard and you’ll get your reward, if not here, then in heaven” argument.  All of which serves those who, like you and me, benefit from the deprivation of others around the globe. 

          Your personal example is irrelevant to the circumstance of being born poor and of color.  Even is the example of Precious is no more relevant to the circumstances of most people than is the example of Forrest Gump.  If I follow your logic, then we all made poor choices compared to Rockefeller.  Apologists for the power structure always hold up examples like Rockefeller, without acknowledgement that the accumulation of a fortune of that magnitude means that multitudes of others must suffer and be deprived.  This is where your white privilege comes in, Renee.  The fact that you enjoy white privilege necessarily means that others must suffer for that privilege; otherwise there would be no “privilege”.  Your logic also implies indirectly that the reason so many young black men are in the criminal justice system is for lack of taking advantage of the many opportunities available to “anyone”.  I don’t know how you can justify this position without also taking the position that the proportion of black people making “poor choices” is much higher than the proportion of white people making “poor choices” and this implies that African-Americans, in large, lack the necessary “personal qualities” that white people, in large, have.   Unless you see a pattern of systemic racism there, how else are you gonna explain it?

        Herbert Marcuse explains false consciousness much better than my clumsy attempts:

        “Certainly it is quite natural, and does not seem to require an explanation in depth, that the tangible benefits of the system are worth defending – especially in view of the repelling force of present day communism which appears to be the historical alternative.  But it is natural only to a mode of thought and behavior which is unwilling and perhaps even incapable of comprehending what is happening and why it is happening, a mode of thought and behavior that is immune to any other than the established rationality.  To the degree to which they correspond to the given reality, thought and behavior express a false consciousness, responding to and contributing to the preservation of a false order of facts.”

        One Dimensional Man


  3. “We are, in most ways, masters of our own destiny.”

    How true! people are where they want to be, if they did not like where they are and were receiving benifit from that place, they would move.

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