Tuesday, June 30, 2015

David Brooks to Social Conservatives: Become the Christian Left, Instead.

David Brooks recommends that Christian conservatives give up on a losing culture war about sex.

Instead, he proposes this:

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

In other words, the Christian right should instead join the Christian left.

I mostly agree with this sentiment.  However, there is a division between Christian left and Christian right in the first place because they disagree about whether the first priority of Christians should be the economic order or the sexual order.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Am Glad the Confederate Flag is Down in South Carolina, But Not That Way

When two activists climbed the flagpole and removed the Confederate flag - or more accurately, the Segregationist Flag - from the South Carolina capitol grounds, they acted wrongly, I believe.

It would have been more powerful to have the elected governor of the state take the flag down, as she has already pledged to do. In fact, now South Carolina has to put the flag back up, so that they can take it down the right way.

What makes it all the sweeter is that this particular governor, of Asian descent, would also have been branded non-white by the segregationists who erected the flag in the first place.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Unexpected Good News: Southern Republicans Lead the Charge to Remove Confederate Symbols

The silver lining of the horrible massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston by a white supremacist is that Republican leaders across the South are calling to remove Confederate symbols from public grounds.

In South Carolina and Mississippi this movement has focussed on taking the "rebel flag" off the capital grounds and out of the state flag.

In Tennessee the movement is to remove the bust of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Forrest from the capitol.

Most gratifying to me, Kentucky Senator McConnell and Republican gubernatorial candidate (and McConnell opponent) Matt Bevins have come out in favor of removing the statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol rotunda.

Some cynics have said that this move to get rid of racist symbols is a ploy to prevent the more important matter of gun control.  This is probably true.

Nonetheless, progress is progress, and I applaud it.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Higher You Go, the More Social Structure Enables, Rather Than Constrains.


This is my bright idea for the day, after reading about the various kinds of homophily in the upper classes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Silver Lining in the Charleston Church Racist Mass Murder: His Uncle Turned Him In

I am going on the facts as they have been reported so far, just hours after the likely killer was caught.

Dylann Storm Roof, a young white racist man in South Carolina, after voicing hatred of black people and wearing the flags of apartheid states, was given a big gun by this father.

Roof then went to the most famous black church in Charleston, sat with the church members in Bible study and prayer, before he opened fire.  He killed nine people, including the pastor.  Roof left one witness to his act of terrorism to tell his story.

Then he took off.

The next day, his uncle saw the security pictures, figured out who the killer was, and turned him in.  Roof was caught soon thereafter.

I am reminded of a story of the London subway bombings of a few years ago.  One of the killers was recognized by his mother from the security pictures.  She turned him in because his act of terrorism was very wrong.  But she also said that she did it because she knew that the British authorities would not torture her son.

Roof is not likely to be tortured.  He is not likely to be assumed to be connected to any larger group.  He is likely, instead, to be treated as a deranged individual.  This is because he is white.  Yet he is part of a long tradition of Southern terrorists. And he was armed by his own father.

Thank God for the decent uncle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Good News On the Baby Front, Starting With a Rising Birth Rate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the birth rate is up, ending a decline that began in 2007.  This is another sign that we are mentally recovering from the Great Recession.

Further good news:  births to women in their 30s are up.  A few years ago scare headlines announced that most babies were born out of wedlock - to women under 30.  Those article failed to notice the increasing number of women, especially educated women, who begin having children in their 30s.  Those children are much more likely to be born in wedlock than are those to the youngest mothers.

Speaking of youngest mothers, the teen birth rate also continued to decline.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Not Wanting Children Is Not a Problem; Not Wanting Human Beings Is.

I think Sophie Gilbert's review of Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed shows a worse worldview than the problem she sets out to discuss.

That some women do not want children is not a problem.  That they feel pressured to do so is something of a problem.  But this is worse:

Not having children isn’t selfish. Not having children is a perfectly rational and reasonable response given that humans are essentially parasites on the face of a perfectly lovely and well-balanced planet, ploughing through its natural resources, eradicating its endangered species, and ruining its most wonderful landscapes. This might sound misanthropic, and it is, but it is also true.

I think that most women do want to have children, especially after they have taken care of babies related to them. But most is not all. Those women who do not want to have children are just as natural as those who do.  

The rising percentage of women who do not have children, which Gilbert cites as evidence for her position, is not a good indicator that most of them chose not to, though; for educated women, not having children is more likely a "creeping non-choice" due to finding a husband and economic stability in time.  

The attitude that I quote above, though, is literally anti-human, and a much worse problem than women feeling that they ought to want to have children.