Posted: June 19, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, U.S. Politics | Tags: Christopher Rufo, communion, Critical Race Theory, Derrick Bell, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Juneteenth, systemic racism, the Eucharist, U.S. Catholic Bishops
Two Cats and a Woman, by Peter Harskamp
Today is Juneteenth, and for the first time it is being celebrated as a national holiday and in some states as a state holiday. While this is a victory for anti-racists, it’s obviously a symbolic and cosmetic one. It’s certainly significant that a large majority of Republicans in the house supported the bill. But at the same time Republicans are making a phony issue of an academic approach to systemic racism–“critical race theory.”
At The Atlantic, Kellie Carter Jackson, a Black historian at Wellesley College, writes: What the Push to Celebrate Juneteenth Conceals.
When you are Black in America, how do you celebrate progress? How do you honor the history and memory of emancipation, liberation, and advancement? How do Black people mark a moment when a positive change transformed the trajectory of their lives, their nation? For many Black Americans that moment has been Juneteenth, or June 19, the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received word that they were free, some two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. But when I think about Juneteenth, I am mostly stuck on that delay: the time it took for more than 250,000 enslaved Texans to experience what some 3 million other formerly enslaved Americans already had. Though Texan planters had long known the Civil War was over, they had hoped to get one more harvest out of their human property. In this country, hiding history has always been about maintaining control, denying concession, and delaying justice.
This spring, I have been perplexed by anniversaries meant to honor history. Memorial Day, a holiday created by Black people to honor Black veterans in Charleston, South Carolina, seemed this year to focus more on remembering George Floyd and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre. This Juneteenth also feels different, as more non-Black Americans are now incorporating it into their summer celebrations and lawmakers have pushed to observe the holiday at a federal level. Yet it seems the memory of Juneteenth is being shaped by symbolic rather than substantive gains. Moreover, the proliferation of Juneteenth events is taking place at the same time as the banning of critical race theory and curricula focused on slavery’s lasting effects. It is impossible to celebrate Juneteenth and simultaneously deny the teaching of America’s foundational legacy….
Holidays, like memories, are chosen. They are collective social agreements employed to acknowledge an event or a person. Often composed of parades, barbecues, and corporate sponsorships, the observation of a holiday is relatively low-stakes and usually distanced from the full history that compelled it. Though Black folks have honored their ancestors in meaningful ways on Juneteenth for more than a century, to many non-Black citizens it marks a day off from work and little else. But holidays cannot be divorced from history. Americans cannot discuss freedom and the Fourth of July without invoking slavery. Americans cannot celebrate Memorial Day without paying homage to those who died in service of their country. Americans cannot recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day without confronting the violence of white supremacy. Choosing to remember palatable histories over painful histories serves no one—it merely fosters fantasy.
Critical race theory, an examination of the social, political, and economic impact of racism and white supremacy in America, counters that fantasy. This is the charge of historians and educators: to make sense of the past and grapple with its implications.
Read more about the significance of critical race theory at the link.
La robe Verte, Jean Metzinger
I have to admit, I had never heard of critical race theory until Republicans started obsessing about it. Here’s a brief definition from Education Week:
Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.
The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.
A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.
This article at The Atlantic that explains the history and development of CRT: The GOP’s ‘Critical Race Theory’ Obsession.
The late harvard law professor Derrick Bell is credited as the father of critical race theory. He began conceptualizing the idea in the 1970s as a way to understand how race and American law interact, and developed a course on the subject. In 1980, Bell resigned his position at Harvard because of what he viewed as the institution’s discriminatory hiring practices, especially its failure to hire an Asian American woman he’d recommended.
Black students—including the future legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, who enrolled at Harvard Law in 1981—felt the void created by his departure. Bell had been the only Black law professor among the faculty, and in his absence, the school no longer offered a course explicitly addressing race. When students asked administrators what could be done, Crenshaw says they received a terse response. “What is it that is so special about race and law that you have to have a course that examines it?” Crenshaw has recalled administrators asking. The administration’s inability to see the importance of understanding race and the law, she says, “got us thinking about how do we articulate that this is important and that law schools should include” the subject in their curricula.
Crenshaw and her classmates asked 12 scholars of color to come to campus and lead discussions about Bell’s book Race, Racism, and American Law. With that, critical race theory began in earnest. The approach “is often disruptive because its commitment to anti-racism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures,” Bell explained in 1995. The theory’s proponents argue that the nation’s sordid history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination is embedded in our laws, and continues to play a central role in preventing Black Americans and other marginalized groups from living lives untouched by racism.
Now Republicans have suddenly decided to attack this 40-year-old academic theory even though they likely have no idea what it is all about. The same Republicans who voted for the largely symbolic Juneteenth national holiday are spending lots of energy trying to prevent children from learning about America’s ugly history of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism.
Cat Behind a Tree, by Franz Marc
The Washington Post: Republicans, spurred by an unlikely figure, see political promise in critical race theory.
President Donald Trump was watching Fox News one evening last summer when a young conservative from Seattle appeared with an alarming warning, and a call to action.
Christopher Rufo said critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that most people had never heard of, had “pervaded every institution in the federal government.”
“Critical race theory,” Rufo said, “has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people.”
Critical race theory holds that racism is systemic in the United States, not just a collection of individuals prejudices—an idea that feels obvious to some and offensive to others. Rufo alleged that efforts to inject awareness of systemic racism and White privilege, which grew more popular following the murder of George Floyd by police, posed a grave threat to the nation. It amounts, Rufo said, to a “cult indoctrination.”
Spurred by Rufo, this complaint has come to dominate conservative politics. Debates over critical race theory are raging on school boards and in state legislatures. Fox News has increased its coverage and commentary on the issue. And Republicans see the issue as a central element of the case they will make to voters in next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.
It’s the latest cultural wedge issue, playing out largely but not exclusively in debate over schools. At its core, it pits progressives who believe White people should be pushed to confront systemic racism and White privilege in America against conservatives who see these initiatives as painting all White people as racist.
Read more at the WaPo.
And then there are the U.S. Catholic bishops and their obsession with controlling women’s bodies. A few days ago, the Vatican warned Catholic bishops not to try to deny communion to President Biden and other Catholic politicians who support women’s right to choose. But the bishops have decided to defy the Pope’s order.
The New York Times: Targeting Biden, Catholic Bishops Advance Controversial Communion Plan.
The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, flouting a warning from the Vatican, have overwhelmingly voted to draft guidance on the sacrament of the Eucharist, advancing a push by conservative bishops to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights.
The decision, made public on Friday afternoon, is aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter, and exposes bitter divisions in American Catholicism. It capped three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The measure was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed.
The Eucharist, or holy communion, is one of the most sacred rituals in Christianity, and bishops have grown worried in recent years about declining Mass attendance and misunderstanding of the importance of the sacrament to Catholic life.
But the move to target a president, who regularly attends Mass and has spent a lifetime steeped in Christian rituals and practices, is striking coming from leaders of the president’s own faith, particularly after many conservative Catholics turned a blind eye to the sexual improprieties of former President Donald J. Trump because they supported his political agenda. It reveals a uniquely American Catholicism increasingly at odds with Rome and Pope Francis….
The text of the proposal itself has not been written and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote. The proposed outline, earlier reported by America Magazine, said it would “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”
Some conservatives want to use such a statement as theological justification to deny communion to Mr. Biden and Catholic politicians like him who support abortion rights.
A bit more from The Washington Post:
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who leads D.C.’s archdiocese and has stated that his priests would not deny Communion to Biden, said a document on such a sensitive topic needed more time and discussion.
“The choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity or settle for a document that will not bring unity but will very well further damage it,” he said.
Part of the division on display stems from the focus on Biden, a lifelong Catholic who attends Mass regularly, and what some say was a failure to criticize President Donald Trump, who has had two divorces, three marriages and an extramarital affair, and whose administration separated families at the border and revived the federal death penalty.
Cat and Woman, by Peter Harskamp
Raw Story: ‘I dare you to deny me communion’: Dems rip bishops for move to punish Biden by ‘weaponizing’ eucharist.
Before their three-day meeting that culminated Friday with a vote to move toward denying America’s second Catholic President, Joe Biden, communion over his stance of supporting a woman’s right to choose an abortion, the Vatican told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to not politicize communion or other sacraments.
They did it anyway, and now powerful Democrats – and many others – are furious.
“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat of California, and a Catholic, with a massive 1.6 million followers on Twitter, threatened the Bishops.
His comments were in response to Friday’s news of the USCCB’s politically-motivated decision, and in response to SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile, who asked if other Catholics will be denied communion over their “sins.” Signorile pointed to Newt Gingrich, whose history includes adultery, divorce, and re-marriage. Gingrich’s wife was President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the Vatican.
A few more stories to check out:
Macy Gray at MarketWatch: Opinion: For Juneteenth, America needs a new flag that all of us can honor.
Buzzfeed News: The Delta Variant Could Create “Two Americas” Of COVID, Experts Warn.
The New York Times: How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections.
Jack Shafer at Politico Magazine: The Simple Remedy for Jan. 6 Trutherism. It’s old-fashioned, hard-nosed inquiry. And if Congress won’t do it, journalists must.
The Washington Post: The slow-building conservative effort to turn Ashli Babbitt into a martyr.
HuffPost: Trump Commerce Boss Wilbur Ross Hoovered Up $53 Million While In Public Office.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend everyone!!