Dignity: Chapter One

Today I read the first chapter of Chris Arnade’s Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America. This book came highly recommended from a dear friend of mine with whom I travelled on my most recent trip to Israel and the West Bank. Continue reading “Dignity: Chapter One”

Not all are mourning

The picture above is from a wedding I attended in Israel. I’m thinking about this experience in particular because today I had a Zoom reunion with the participants with whom I travelled on that trip. This Philos Project trip was specifically devoted to exploring and encountering Christian minorities (plural) within Israel. I gained a much more nuanced understanding of the various situations facing Filipino migrant workers, Muslim converts to Christianity, Aramean citizens of Israel, West Bank Palestinian Christians, Gazan Christians as well as clergy from around the world studying and serving in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Continue reading “Not all are mourning”

The Cooper Incident

Christian Cooper’s video he posted on Monday has been viewed 4.5 million times on his Facebook page along and probably millions and millions more times across other social media platforms.

The New York Times headline about this story is “White Woman Is Fired After Calling Police on Black Man in Central Park.”

Two different Robert Georges have offered this commentary on the incident between Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper.

Robert A. George, writing for the New York Post in an article titled, “Cooped up: A shameful Central Park encounter demands all New Yorkers be better people,” says:

In the latest episode of the everyday-fresh-hell that is New York City under quarantine, one white female, Amy Cooper, was caught on video calling the cops on one black male, Christian Cooper. Sorry, folks, I’d encourage everyone to push back on the reflexive instinct to make this into a story about racism as it’s more a modern parable of bad behavior between two individuals.

Robert P. George has written on his own Facebook page:

The “Karen” concept seems to be but another flagrant example of Woke hypocrisy. It combines (and, with impressive efficiency, I suppose, does it in a single word!) racism, sexism, and ageism. A “Karen” is, I’m told, “white.” Her race, for some reason, matters and matters so centrally that someone can’t be a “Karen” unless she’s of that particular “race.” In addition, a “Karen” must be a female. Her sex centrally matters too. (Or should we say her … what’s that word they like so much and often insist on? … oh yes, her “gender.”) When we ridicule her we’re to note that she’s a white *female*. And, finally, she’s a white female *d’un certain âge*. She’s a woman who has reached the age in which, in our culture women, are regarded as declining in sex appeal, attractiveness, and (therefore) value. So we’re supposed to take note of that “decline” in holding her up to scorn.

But isn’t racism supposed to be bad? Sexism too, right? And ageism, surely.

Stereotyping! Stigmatizing people for their “statuses,” and “identities”! Those things are supposed to be bad too, right?

Or are they only bad when they are indulged in by the “wrong” people, or the “wrong sort” of people, or people with the “wrong” views and values? Are racism, sexism, and ageism fine and dandy when indulged in by Wokesters in furtherance of the Woke agenda?

There is a lot of stereotyping, ideologizing, attempted political point-scoring, and head-shaking amid this. I think there’s a lot to unpack in this incident and that a reflective small group discussion, perhaps in a classroom, would be much more conducive to analyzing it that the impulsive tweets of the past week. There is so much to grapple with about empathy, civility, dignity, respect, but I have deliberately excluded a photo of those involved here because ultimately, such viral stories seem only worth sharing to the extent that we work to find the way in which they personally confront, concern, and challenge us.

Moralizing sadists

“Moralizing sadism” is borrowed from Foucault. I have found it invariably to be true that, when reading the moralizing sermons of politicians, their intentions are sadistic; they know perfectly well that the recipients of their exhortations are not going to be improved (who is?), and at best the intended audience will be ashamed or at least saddened and hurt by hearing a sermon that points out their failures to measure up. Hence the sermonizer’s sadism.” – Barry Cooper

In the image above, a bouncer outside of a newly reopened sporting goods retailer near my home has just shouted at this father, saying:

“Sir, step back. I’m going to need you to read all of the signs. They’re there for a reason, you know.”

“I know the drill; we were here just yesterday.”

“Never mind. I need you to walk back so I can see you read the signs.” Continue reading “Moralizing sadists”