Which sect, Newt?

There's speculation that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is considering a run for president. Based on his recent speeches and interviews, though, it seems he has a different office in mind. Newt Gingrich wants to be pope.

Gingrich's latest slogan is a condemnation of "Obama's secular socialist machine."

The word "socialist" there is a deliberate lie. President Barack Obama is no socialist and Newt Gingrich knows this, but he is saying something he knows not to be true — bearing false witness — because he condescendingly believes it will appeal to ill-informed "base" (in every sense) voters who will, thanks to him, remain ill-informed. That's low and sleazy and evil, but it's not the worst part of his latest attack on the president.

The worst part is Gingrich's accurate accusation that President Obama is "secular."

He'd better be. As president, Barack Obama leads a secular government with secular policies. To do otherwise would be illegal. It would be unconstitutional and grounds for impeachment.

President Obama is himself a Christian and he often speaks openly and movingly about his faith. He even took the occasion of his Nobel speech to offer a lecture on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

But as president, Obama is sworn to uphold the Constitution and he does so. And that means he is and must be secular.

But Newt Gingrich thinks this is bad. Newt Gingrich thinks the American government ought to be sectarian.

This raises questions about how Gingrich proposes we go about rewriting America's laws and amending its Constitution to create this sectarian government. What will our new, rewritten First Amendment say? Once it establishes a religion and prescribes the proper exercise thereof, what sort of religious tests will it require of office holders?

As defender of the faith, what will be the new, sectarian president's official position on the Eucharist? On Baptism? Homoousia or homoiousia? Is glossalalia required or prohibited? What sort of head coverings will be required or prohibited in government offices? Will bishops be appointed by Rome or Canterbury? Or by the White House with Senate approval?

Or to summarize all of that and much, much, more into a single question: Which sect?

With Newt Gingrich standing before audiences and appearing on television to condemn America's secular Constitution and secular government, this is the only question anyone ought to be asking him. Audiences, interviewers, journalists, book editors, limo-drivers, waiters and bartenders need to be repeating this question to Gingrich, interrupting until he answers it.

And he has to answer it.

Which sect? If, like Gingrich, you oppose a secular Constitution and a secular government, then you must favor a sectarian Constitution and a sectarian government.

These are binary alternatives. Secular and sectarian are not points along a spectrum allowing for one to opt for some murky middle ground. There is no third way, no third option. If the government is not secular, the government must and will be sectarian.

Either the government will forbid the establishment of any official religious sect or an official religious sect will be established. Either the government will refuse to interfere with the free exercise of any religion or it will necessarily involve itself in the exercise of all of them.

Newt Gingrich is unambiguously in favor of establishing an official sect. So, then, which one?

Note that this question demands a scrupulously specific and particular answer. It doesn't allow for some vague blather about our "Judeo-Christian heritage." That's not a sect. No one belongs to a local Judeo-Christian congregation.

Nor will it suffice to say that "America is a Christian nation." That's still far too broad — Orthodox? Roman Catholic? Protestant? And any of those answers is still too broad for the practical sectarian governance championed by Newt Gingrich. Presbyterian? Lutheran? Baptist? Still far too broad.

The official sect of any nonsecular government must be intensely specific. That sect, after all, will be privileged above all the others and so it must be clearly distinguished from those others. (These others needn't be wholly prohibited. They can be tolerated as religious minorities provided they keep their place and do not seek more than this second-class toleration.) Office-holders and appointed officials must be members in good standing of the official sect, and therefore a strict definition of correct and incorrect doctrine will be needed to clarify the status of these true believers. That will require sectarian officials who can inquire about that status to ensure its legitimacy, and that inquiry or inquisition cannot be so broad as to allow pretenders or disingenuous infidels to pass themselves off as law-abiding, loyal members of the official religion.

So again, which sect, Newt?

Gingrich himself is a convert to Roman Catholicism (the religion of his third wife). This does not necessarily mean that his advocacy of sectarian government implies a belief that Roman Catholicism ought to become the official, established sect written into America's Constitution. It may be, rather, that Gingrich wants to see some other sect codified as the legal religion of America's government and that he would gladly abandon his own religious beliefs to adopt this new official sect as his own, whatever it may be. But either way he has to answer the question.

Which sect?

  • Ing

    “Gah. See, making them all Inuit/Eskimo, including the leads? That would actually fit reasonably well, from what I’ve seen.
    All of them but the leads? That’s just…grah. ”
    Yeah that was kind of my point XD
    ” I like the fact that they are making an FMA anime that follows the manga plot, which I think is superior to the first anime. ”
    The first anime had its perks and high points. I really liked Greed.

  • esmerelda ogg

    mmy, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. And as a Christian (though not an RTC, please God), let me say that the person (people? I hope it’s only one) who’s blathering about “God’s will” and “such an inspiration” is an insensitive a heartless pest. Can you arrange with the nurses to have them kept out of the way??
    And I’m sure you’re right – the person is trying to believe they live in a safe, predictable, fair world. Not that that’s an excuse for using you and your family to prop up their delusions.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a6452705970c Ruby

    Any other American nominees?
    Louise Fitzhugh, who wrote Harriet the Spy. Ellen Raskin, who wrote The Westing Game. E.L. Konigsburg, who wrote From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

  • truth is life

    On an unrelated note, I find it disturbing that a lot of the clean energy advocacy I see in TV commercials seems to involve a lot anti-Iranian, war on terror propaganda. We really shouldn’t need to bash an entire Middle Eastern nation in order to advance the cause for clean energy. Can’t we just advocate for something on its merits for once? You know, just to be novel?

    Well, clean energy has actually been promoted longer for “energy independence” (ie., sticking it to the brown people) than actual environmental friendliness (since the ’70s with the oil crisis). I’d say putting the goal of energy independence and attacking the source of al-Qaeda etc. funding in is at least good as a triangulating strategy, since you might be able to get some conservative Democrats on board that way, after all, which you wouldn’t with a pure environmental strategy. Ofc, I’ve been seeing a lot more pro-gas/oil commercials, maybe because I’m in Houston. Every time I see one, I get reminded of how much we need to substitute things in for gas, actually, so they don’t seem to be having the desired effect.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a6452705970c Ruby

    Thinking some more about Christian characters on TV–awhile back, a few of discussed our love of Leverage. The leader of the team, Nathan Ford, was raised Catholic, and seriously considered becoming a priest. In “The Miracle Job,” the team is called upon to save a church by “faking a miracle.” Hardison has very strong reservations about doing such a thing (at one point declaring that they would all go to Hell for it). And that is not the first time Hardison has mentioned his faith–he credits his beloved foster mother, and her “dragging him along” as she preached door-to-door when he was a child, as the source of everything he knows about people and how they behave. So—two more positive portrayals of Christian characters.
    If you count the characters of the leader of a team of thieves, and his computer hacker, as positive. ;)

  • Amaryllis

    American children’s literature? Well…if we’re talking the stuff I read when I was young, in addition to what’s already been listed, has anyone mentioned Maud Hart Lovelace and the Betsy-Tacy books? Or Carol Ryrie Brink and Caddie Woodlawn?
    Speaking of character diversity, does anyone else remember Zilpha Keatley Snyder? Her books were written in the 1960′s and set in a matter-of-factly multicultural San Francisco; my favorite was The Egypt Game, which did have something of a “one of everything” character list, but it didn’t feel forced.
    Brad: And I’m sorry I didn’t discover the Edward Eager books (Half Magic) at that age.
    Hah! I didn’t know anyone else had read those books! Or, for that matter, the E. Nesbit books that they paid loving homage to. I tried to read The Enchanted Castle with my daughter once, but never got very far with her; some things we could share, but other loves of mine turned out not to be her cup of tea.
    Chrissl: do have lots of favorites from the other side of the pond, such as Lucy M. Boston (who only Amaryllis, I and one other person ever seem to have heard of ;)
    *wave to Chrissl*
    Yes, the English ones will have to be for another time, or we’ll be here all night.
    ohiolibrarian: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce is also good.
    Well, since you mention it, oh yes! that was one that my daughter and I both loved.
    (Speaking of librarians, why are we having this discussion without hapax? Has anyone heard from her? I thought she might be taking a Lenten break, but it’s past Quasimodo Sunday: hapax, come home!)
    In addition to all those fondly remembered classics, let me recommend some contemporary (well, reasonably so) authors. In no particular order of chronology or preference–
    *deep breath*
    Nancy Farmer, Laura Amy Schlitz, Gary D. Schmidt, Colby Rodowsky, Edward Bloor, Jerry Spinelli, Andrew Clement, Barbara Park, Cynthia Voigt, Richard Peck, Jack Gantos, Shannon Hale, Sharon Creech, Gail Carson Levine, Walter Dean Myers…
    *runs out of breath*
    Oh Kit, there’s lots of fun ahead of you. And that’s only the Americans. And who knows how many more good books will be out by the time the kitling is ready for chapter books.
    But in the meantime, think of all the fun you’ll have with picture books and Mother Goose and Dr Seuss…”Bedtime story” is one of the things I miss most about those years.
    —-
    @mmy: you and your family are in our thoughts.
    They keep telling me that “God must have a reason”
    Yes, that seems to be a hard one for a lot of people to let go of. They seem to prefer believing in a God who’d personally inflict such suffering, to acknowledging the impersonal operation of the physical universe just being what it is. It’s better to be intentionally hurt than to be ignored, I suppose. Makes no sense to me, but there it is.
    the nurses have ranged from good to superb.
    That, I’m not surprised to hear. It sounds like the nurses I’ve met. I don’t know how they keep doing what they do.

    Lee Ratner: I never understood why some families like using the same name again and again, handing it down like some sort of heirloom. It seems terribly boring and people also deserve a name of their own.
    Now, I know a woman who married a Junior– let us call him John Wellington Wells, Jr., although that is not his name. They had a baby boy, and named him after his father and grandfather; so he was J. W. Wells, III. Young Third is now grown and married, and his wife just had a baby boy: yes, indeed, J. W. Wells, IV. How long do you think this can go on, before there’s a revolution?

  • Bugmaster

    Off-topic: Ok, I’ve been away for quite some time, so I went into lurk mode when I came back. But it looks like I’ll have a bit more time this week, so I’ll surface again to plague you for a bit. I know I left some comments unanswered on the other thread; if anyone still cares, please let me know and I’ll answer them — I don’t want to commit thread necromancy, otherwise.
    Slightly less off-topic:

    Well, clean energy has actually been promoted longer for “energy independence” (ie., sticking it to the brown people)

    I think this is rather an odd way to look at things. Energy independence doesn’t mean “sticking it to the brown people” — for example, India and Mexico are unlikely to be affected. Rather it means, “no longer having to suck up to people who hate us” (such as our current BFF, Saudi Arabia), as well as “decoupling our economy from a rapacious worldwide monopoly” (which includes plenty of white people). Attacking the source of al-Qaeda funding is a nice benefit, but really it’s about building a stronger economy, and a more powerful infrastructure. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll need a better power grid, plus additional R&D incentives, in order to get to that point — and, as everyone knows, infrastructure investments and government subsidies are evil Marxist plots, so we’ll probably never get there…

  • Bugmaster

    You mean how BROWN PEOPLE MAKE UP THE EVIL ARMY!…you know despite that nation being kinda highly based on Maoist China…oh and the character design for them more asian than the rest of the cast. Yeah…army of brown people. NO IMPLICATIONS THERE!

    Yeah, the live action movie seems to be made of fail for various reasons. However, note that in the cartoon, pretty much everyone is Asian with the possible exception of the Water Tribe, who are brown-skinned Eskimo-analogues.

  • Bugmaster

    Yes, additional mad props for Now and Then, Here and There. The final episode, in which Shu makes his choice (can’t say more without spoilers), is especially heartbreaking… not because of what he chooses, but because of the unescapable reality that such choices must be made.

  • burgundy

    Lucy M. Boston (who only Amaryllis, I and one other person ever seem to have heard of
    I think that Children of Green Knowe was one of the books we read in class when I was in third grade. I think. Is there a bit in there that involves magic topiary? And something about the gifts in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? A brief bit of googling seems to indicate that I’m right. So there you go, someone else who’s heard of her. Sort of. If you like, you can add my whole third-grade class.
    I believe some people have already mentioned Louise Fitzhugh. I would like to particularly plug “Nobody’s Family is Going to Change.” More YA than childrens, I think, although it depends on the kid. But it’s a really powerful book, with a message that I think everyone needs to be exposed to at some point (even if they have great parents, as I would expect Kit and her husband to be.)

  • K.Chen

    “energy independence” (ie., sticking it to the brown people)

    I’m not entirely sure how this comes about, but I’m fairly certain there isn’t a single policy that an economic, cultural, and political giant the size of the United States can execute that doesn’t screw over a lot of people somewhere, or assist others in screwing over other people.

  • Spearmint

    Why is it that every time people start talking about race in the US it’s almost always just about black and white and maybe Hispanic? The rest of us are still here.
    Fewer people are talking about Asians because they are, collectively, doing as well as white people of late, so it’s not as obvious how racism is hurting them. (Not that it isn’t *cough*Avatar casting*cough. Memo to moviemakers: white kids in fur parkas with Inuit hairstyles look dumb.)
    Why no one wants to talk about Native Americans is a better question. Probably because it raises uncomfortable questions about who really owns the land your house is sitting on. Racism against blacks can be dismissed by most liberals as something some Southerners did a long time ago and racism against Hispanics is too recent to implicate anyone’s ancestors, but there’s no way to claim you haven’t profited from the Native American genocide.
    How long do you think this can go on, before there’s a revolution?
    ‘Til someone has only girls? But maybe then it’s time for Johanna W. Wells.
    FMA Brotherhood: ****MAD SPOILERS, Y’ALL******
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I actually think the original cartoon was more sophisticated. In Brotherhood all the crimes are committed by some secret cabal of Evil People Being Evil. The Isbal massacre? That was Envy. The general sketchiness of the Amestrisian (Amestrian? Amestri?) military? A plot of the homunculi from the beginning, albeit one aided by human collaborators. The Rockbells? Okay, that was Scar, but it was basically a random, unmotivated murder and it’s not like Scar is exactly on the side of the angels. The homunculi? Created by human error and hubris, but not the error or hubris of anyone we know or care about. Even Hoenheim is pretty much an innocent victim, albeit a shitty father.
    Whereas in the original, Roy-tachi are into Amestrisian war crimes up to their necks. The Isbal massacre was as far as anyone knows the result of normal military decision making, Roy shot the Rockbells, and lest you think that’s all in the past now, here’s footage of our lads loading some Isballans into cattle cars. Pride may be the Fuhrer, by everyone following his orders is a human being, and they’re not part of some evil conspiratorial cabal planning to massacre their own countrymen, they’re just normal imperialistic assholes. The homunculi were created by the misguided efforts of people like Scar’s brother, Izumi, Ed and Al, Hoenheim was complicit in the previous philosopher-stone-creating cataclysm, and the energy they use to perform alchemy in their world comes from deaths in ours.
    The original FMA achieved moral ambiguity by having basically decent people do evil things. The new one, where it manages it at all, achieves it by having characters like Ling and Olivier Armstrong who are amoral to begin with. It’s a less nuanced view of human nature and I think it makes for a less interesting story.
    Also, Brotherhood!Winry is a pathetic crybaby. I want asskicking Winry back, dammit. And Roy’s coup is the worst planned coup d’etat EVER.
    Selim is awesome, though.

  • Rebecca

    Now, I know a woman who married a Junior– let us call him John Wellington Wells, Jr., although that is not his name. They had a baby boy, and named him after his father and grandfather; so he was J. W. Wells, III. Young Third is now grown and married, and his wife just had a baby boy: yes, indeed, J. W. Wells, IV. How long do you think this can go on, before there’s a revolution?
    Well, one would presume that sacrificing oneself to Ahrimanes might put an obstacle in the way of that marrying-and-having-children thing.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shiftercat ShifterCat

    Amaryllis said:

    Oh Kit, there’s lots of fun ahead of you. And that’s only the Americans. And who knows how many more good books will be out by the time the kitling is ready for chapter books.
    But in the meantime, think of all the fun you’ll have with picture books and Mother Goose and Dr Seuss…”Bedtime story” is one of the things I miss most about those years.

    One of the advantages to working in a bookstore is reading picture books whenever we feel like it. It’s research, don’t’cha know.
    One thing that authors have to do when they’re writing for preschool children is to use very simple language and a lot of repetition. Mo Willems, who used to write for Sesame Street, is one of the few authors who can do this with dialogue, and still have it sound fairly natural.
    Then there’s Robert Munsch, who in almost all of his stories has a problem solved by his child-heroes.
    I don’t know if Mélanie Watt has gotten any notice outside of Canada yet, she’s a big favourite at my workplace. (“Ooh, the new Scaredy Squirrel! I unpacked it, I get to read it first!”)
    Of course, the baby Kitling would want to start with cloth books and bath books, before moving on to board books and picture books.

  • Pius Thicknesse

    Energy independence and the economy.
    Let me start with a parable. :D
    When you build a house, you wish to build it well – solid foundations, good walls, an excellent roof that does not leak.
    This is the skeleton of your house – floors, ceilings, foundation.
    What makes it livable? What makes it possible to inhabit that house in all weather conditions?
    Well, we would put in a furnace to heat the house in winter, and ventilation fans for summer.
    But if we are heating the house in winter, we do not wish to be buffeted by the ebb and flow of the wind and the rain and the snow.
    We wish to be insulated from those changes outside.
    Just as insulation is the necessary ingredient to a livable house, an economy must (at least, at times) be insulated from the vicissitudes of worldwide events.
    Energy independence effectively insulates the American economy from the wild swings of basic commodities and stabilizes jobs that will be around for a long time to come, and that cannot be outsourced or relocated anywhere else.

  • hf

    Anybody up for Tibetan Buddhism as America’s official religion if we have to have one?
    If we need a state religion, there’s only one way to go.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    If I believed in hell I would reserve a special place for the person who said, in my hearing, that perhaps God was keeping my mother alive so long in order for her suffering and that of her family to serve as an inspiration for others.
    What a jerk. Someone else’s pain is not to be objectified as an opportunity for theological point-making. People are not parables, they’re people.
    I’m sorry for your mother’s suffering, and hope it ends peacefully.

    Kit/MG: I thought it worthwhile to note that someone other than Lee perceived piling on. FWIW.
    Pile-ons aren’t always inappropriate. If someone says something out of order and responds reasonably to a single challenger, it’s not uncommon for other people who didn’t like the statement to stay out of it, perceiving further intervention to be unnecessary. If someone says a lot of things out of order and doesn’t respond reasonably to milder or fewer challengers, sometimes a group vote of ‘inappropriate’ can make the point as firmly as it needs to be made. It’s not okay if it turns into personal bullying, but if everyone sticks to polite statements of ‘I don’t like what you said’, and if the subject hasn’t proved responsive to single commenters, I think it’s a fair enough social behaviour.

    I take back my comment that if America had an official church it should be the Roman Catholic Church: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/04/12/bishop_blames_pedophilia_jews_open2010/index.html
    Disgraceful – but I’d like to believe you would see the problems in Catholicism as a state religion even if it didn’t attack your people in particular. Surely raping children is a serious issue without anti-Semitism thrown in.

    I was a Beezus-identifier too — the older sister effect, I guess!
    See, I was a younger sister – of a brother rather than an older girl, but that’s probably a big reason why Ramona rang such a bell with me: that sense of playing desperate catch-up was very familiar.

    Of course, the baby Kitling would want to start with cloth books and bath books, before moving on to board books and picture books.
    I had an interesting experience with the daughter of my oldest friend recently, which suddenly showed my why The Very Hungry Caterpillar is such a classic. Her daughter is about one and a quarter, a lovely little girl, and the two of us were playing with various things from her toybox while Mum tided up the other room. Turning the pages of books is one of the daughter’s pleasures, and she’s surprisingly good with fine motor skills for a child her age, but of the two board books, the other was more standard in format and presented her with a slight problem: she tended to grab several pages together. Not that it mattered – it wasn’t as if she could read them, she was just enjoying the bright colours and fun turning action – but I suddenly realised: the layered pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which we were also playing with, are absolutely perfect for little fingers. It’s very easy to turn one page at a time. Genius!

  • K.Chen

    Fewer people are talking about Asians because they are, collectively, doing as well as white people of late, so it’s not as obvious how racism is hurting them.

    Pardon me for putting on my cynicism hat, but this isn’t precisely true. Certain subgroups of Asians are collectively doing well: middle class East Asians that are children of professional immigrants, F-1/F-2 immigrants and their kids, a large block of 3rd/4th/5th generation mainstreamed middle class E/SE Asians in the West, S. Asian immigrants as a whole seem to be doing well, but I have limited knowledge about them, so I could be very wrong here. There are large groups of E/SE/S Asians that are doing considerably worse. The U.S. imported about 30,000 Hmong refugees in the late 70s, and they now number about 200,000 or so, the vast majority of which seems to be lower middle class to poor, with significant gang problems in major cities. I get my hotdogs everyday from a Chinese green card immigrant (and there are dozens of such vendors in this city), who I’m guessing isn’t making enough money to send his kid to college in a decade. Asians, as a whole are probably doing better than Blacks and Hispanics, but they’re not doing as well as whites.
    My alternate thesis – Asian groups generally aren’t organized politically, and aren’t homogeneous enough to reach the critical mass to matter in identity politics. The places where they might be, (say, Berkley, California) their interests blend with other middle, middle upper class White Americans.

  • Ryan

    And Roy’s coup is the worst planned coup d’etat EVER.

    I dunno, so far I like it better than “Havoc pretends to be Mustang by pulling his hat way down low.”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0128770d4418970c Alex

    Alex, why can’t you stand FMA: Brotherhood. I like the fact that they are making an FMA anime that follows the manga plot, which I think is superior to the first anime.
    Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t actually seen all that many episodes of FMA:B because it reminds me of FMA enough that I’m not really interested.
    My problem is with Ed and Al. They annoy the crap out of me. It’s not just the overused short jokes, it’s the sense of entitlement. Their search for the Philosopher’s Stone apparently consists of finding people who have it, lecturing them about how Ed deserves it more, and knocking them over the head and taking it. And Ed’s relation with the military is even worse. He constantly whines about how he’s a “dog of the military” yet most of his military service seems to consist of Roy letting him do whatever he wants and giving him whatever he needs to do it (including running off and not telling the military where he’s going, which in real WW1-era Europe would get you shot.) Once he gets close to the Stone, Ed doesn’t even pretend he’s going to give it to the military when he’s done with it. In FMA:B he flat out refuses to kill anyone for Roy, which leads me to suspect Ed is under the mistaken impression that he joined the Amestrian Peace Corps. In the original, he embarks on a bizarre “bet” with Roy where he challenges him to a duel, and if Ed wins Roy gives him secret information and is further humiliated by being given an unwanted pet. If Roy wins… well, nothing.
    And besides, for whatever reason, in just about every fight they get involved in, the villain feels the need to compare themselves to Ed so that the brothers Elric can explain why they’re better than him. It gets old, really.

  • Lee Ratner

    Alex. FMA: B starts to be different around the first FMA anime around episode 8 or 9. The reason why they made a second FMA anime is because fans of the manga demanded a FMA anime that followed the manga plotline rather than diverge from it.
    Personally, I like Brotherhood better than the first FMA anime because I’m really big fan of the manga plotline. Dante, the villain from the first FMA anime, struck me as terribly cliched. She was a stereotypical vain sorceress, well alchemist, that wanted to be young and beautiful forever, which kind of cheapened everything done previously. The entire plot to create a philosopher’s stone was so the villain could continue to be a good-looking woman? Really, thats the best you can do? The homunculi, with their desire to be human, also struck me as being rather cliched. I like the Cthulu-like nature of Father and the Brotherhood/manga homunculi better, they are a lot creepier. Brotherhood/manga Pride is an especially scary bad guy.

  • Ing

    Fewer people are talking about Asians because they are, collectively, doing as well as white people of late, so it’s not as obvious how racism is hurting them.”
    I’d say the fact that we hide from our children’s history class the fact that we treated them like dirt and then locked them in camps is a fairly great disservice. If you want to argue they’re doing better now that we’ve stopped doing that, go nuts. Despite you know, in media the chinese being one of the few racial targets its fine to portray as hurtful stereotypes.

  • Ing

    “Anybody up for Tibetan Buddhism as America’s official religion if we have to have one?”
    Now, I like buddhism but considering Tibetan Buddhism had insanely cruel class based slavery; I’m gonna say no.

  • Tonio

    I’d say the fact that we hide from our children’s history class the fact that we treated them like dirt and then locked them in camps is a fairly great disservice.

    From school I knew about the Japanese interment camps, but not about California’s anti-Chinese school segregation.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    How long do you think this can go on, before there’s a revolution?

    Since I’m something like John VII, quite a while. :P (I know I’m at least John V, but I think the naming tradition goes back further than I can remember off the top of my head, so I just assume VII. It could, conceivably, go back further still. I’ll have to do some research one of these days.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    Oh, and on FMA vs. Brotherhood: I’ve not seen much of Brotherhood, the different voice actors and, at the start, very similar plot just made it a bit too jarring for me to get into it.
    But I really liked the original FMA. It presented flawed heroes and sympathetic villains. More than anything it was about people being people. Two of them have a quest they’re on, but even then, they’re very human. Willing to lie, cheat, steal, bully, and even kill if they think it’ll help them. They’re still, in the balance of things, good people, going out of their way to help people they see in need, but they aren’t perfect and never pretend to be.

  • Lee Ratner

    Ing: I forgot about that aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, which I really shouldn’t. Its extremely sad but in someways, the Chinese occupation of Tibet rehabilitated Tibetan Buddhism. If Tibet was an independent country, it might very well be seen like the Taliban’s Afghanistan, with Buddhism replacing Islam, depending on how much of the traditional social struture remained in tact. Buddhism in Bhutan also involves some rather extreme elements of social control in the name of keeping people good by exlcuding the West’s materialistic culture.
    The reason why I have been picking religions like Roman Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism is because I believe that proper state religions need to have a well-developed sense of pomp and circumstance and ceremony and ritual. I tend to have a bit of a weakness of elaborate rituals, I find them fascinating. Most forms of Protestnat Christianity and all forms of Judaism lack the proper sense of ritual to be workable as state religions in my opinion.

  • Ing

    “From school I knew about the Japanese interment camps, but not about California’s anti-Chinese school segregation”
    Yes, me too…but we had it presented in the wittle itty bitty boxes in the text book of “Pro and Against” arguments. Saying it was necessary and just, with the other side being on the side of decency and reality.
    The same shit the book pulled on the trail of tears and conquest of Hawaii. No one can tell me that our schools have a liberal biased if we’re giving equal time for the assholes to defend human rights atrocities. Back then I remember snarking and asking why the book didn’t have one of those arguments for slavery.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The sad progression of the Avatar: TLA movie is a twist on the usual process, since it’s American-made, but still contains the essence of the issue. “This stuff is really popular and very Asian. Quick, add more white people!” It’s not that the white people will do a bad job for some reason, but that the change is totally unnecessary.

    Bizarrely, I asked my wife, who is a big fan of Teh Anime what she thought of the casting in Avatar, and she was surprised anyone has an issue with it, as it had never occurred to her that any of those huge-eyed characters were actually meant to be any specific ethnicity, and they certain;y didn’t seem especially asian to her.

  • Tonio

    Ross, I used to wonder if the look of anime characters was intended to make fun of white Westerners, like a lower-level equivalent of the old Sambo art. A few of the older Bugs Bunny cartoons had horrid depictions of both Africans and Asians.

  • Vermic

    You mean how BROWN PEOPLE MAKE UP THE EVIL ARMY!…
    However, I have a tough time believing that M. Night Shyamalan is prejudiced against brown people.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    Tonio: No, there was no mocking intent in the design. It started as a somewhat-more-stylized version of traditional Japanese woodcuts, and the stylization just kept increasing over time. On the downside, Sambo-esque designs still tend to be found in anime, with most Japanese artists not seeing the problem with depicting people that way.

  • Lori

    Energy independence doesn’t mean “sticking it to the brown people” — for example, India and Mexico are unlikely to be affected. Rather it means, “no longer having to suck up to people who hate us” (such as our current BFF, Saudi Arabia), as well as “decoupling our economy from a rapacious worldwide monopoly” (which includes plenty of white people).

    One of the true benefits of being less dependent on foreign oil would be having more latitude to avoid behavior that makes people hate us in the first place. A lot of the trouble we get into foreign policy-wise is because we require a constant supply of cheap(ish) oil to keep the economy going. When you have to have something you’ll do shitty things to get it. Combine that with the political and economic stratification that’s endemic to oil economies and you get a significant percentage of current global conflict.

    Original comment: Fewer people are talking about Asians because they are, collectively, doing as well as white people of late, so it’s not as obvious how racism is hurting them.
    K. Chen:
    Pardon me for putting on my cynicism hat, but this isn’t precisely true…
    I get my hotdogs everyday from a Chinese green card immigrant (and there are dozens of such vendors in this city), who I’m guessing isn’t making enough money to send his kid to college in a decade. Asians, as a whole are probably doing better than Blacks and Hispanics, but they’re not doing as well as whites.
    My alternate thesis – Asian groups generally aren’t organized politically, and aren’t homogeneous enough to reach the critical mass to matter in identity politics. The places where they might be, (say, Berkley, California) their interests blend with other middle, middle upper class White Americans.

    “Doing as well as white people” =/= everyone doing well. Plenty of whites are living in poverty and struggling with gangs and poor employment opportunities. Yes, some of the invisibility of Asians in discussions about race is due to the fact that they’re far less politically organized, but some of it is because proportionately their overall economic situation really does more closely mirror that of whites (at least as of the last set of economic stats that I saw on the issue).

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5ec953d970b Cat Meadors

    @Kit – don’t overthink it. Read some books, see what the kid likes, read more like that. Occasionally throw in something fresh. If your kid is anything like mine, you will be reading a lot of books and you’ll have plenty of time to introduce all the literature you want.
    But I will share the best piece of book-reading advice I got when I was pregnant, which is to always read introduce the book as, “<Title&gt, by <Author&gt (with illustrations by <Illustrator&gt)”, not just “Title”. I think the reason was to get them to start forming mental categories about books (“I like Beverly Cleary!”) but I liked it because it’s way adorable to hear a 2-year-old saying, “this is Yertle the Turtle, by Doctor Seuss”.
    And I can’t help chiming in with my One True Love of Childrens’ Literature – Mo Willems. I have seen SO MANY kids who don’t read (including my daughter a year ago, although today she will read anything with words in it) dive into his books. The Gerald and Piggie books are great for reluctant readers, because they have like three words on each page, but the stories are actually funny and interesting. (A big problem for my daughter – we were reading her Greek myths and Little House on the Prairie, and at school she was getting “The fat cat sat.” She was too bored to learn how to read there, but the interesting stuff was too frustrating for her.)
    Jon Scieszka is another modern great for kids, especially boys.
    Also, thanks for reminding me of E.L. Konigsburg – I knew there was another book of hers I liked and researching it led me to Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth which, oddly enough, I’ve been trying to remember the name and/or author of for the past two weeks. Yay! (Up from Jericho Tel is the other book of hers that I liked. Lots of digging to do at the library this week!)
    @Jason – I <3 Big Bang Theory, but seriously, skip the first season. The first… six? eight? episodes that aired before the writer's strike are terrible. Like, really, vomitously do-not-watch bad. It gets better after that but really starts hitting its stride in the second season. (Then it sort of runs out of steam, but hey, what were we saying about seeing representations of people like us on tv? No matter how bad it gets, I will watch that show until it goes off the air if there is even a tiny hint that it is still about My People.)
    Lee Ratner: The voice actors are not Asian but voice acting somebody of a different race than you are doesn’t really bother me that much.
    That was something I never got over in Germany. They dub everything, and they have*, like, two black voice actors. So most of the black actors have white actors doing their voices. TOO WEIRD.
    *Maybe “had”, as this was in the mid-90s and I don’t make a habit of watching American movies dubbed into German anymore.

  • Ryan

    Oh, and on FMA vs. Brotherhood: I’ve not seen much of Brotherhood, the different voice actors and, at the start, very similar plot just made it a bit too jarring for me to get into it.

    Right, it is annoying how the first quarter of the series is a stumbling block for fans of the first series by default out of necessity. Either they’re crying “It’s too different, they changed all the parts I liked!” or they’re crying “It’s too similar, I don’t want to watch through all this again!” But you really can’t start in the middle of the story, especially given the way the first series jumbled around the timeline of the early episodes and gradually phased in changes to the story that would add up to its own finale. I actually like seeing a “different take” on my favorite stories once in a while, so I didn’t mind the beginning of Brotherhood, but I can understand how other people may not appreciate it at all.

  • Lee Ratner

    Tonio: The reason for the stereotypical anime character design is a bit complicated but it has nothing to do with being a parody of Sambo-esque designs, which as GDwarf noted can be found across Japan. Basically, the stereotypical anime character design is a combination of following the leader and the fact that manga is published in black and white. Osama Tezuka, whose influence on manga and anime can never be overstated, based his character design on Disney character design. Subsequent manga artists based their character design on his character design, making the big eye, small mouth look the default look in anime. Since manga was published in black and white, some manga artists began using different levels of shadding for hair in order to make it easier to differentiate between different characters. When these manga were turned into anime after the introduction of color television, the characters with lighter shadded hair were animated with lighter colored hair while darker shadded hair became black or dark brown hair in animation. So by the late 1960s/early 1970s, the manga/anime look like white people look became the default. There are a few manga/anime which strives for a more realistic look. There are even some manga/anime where some ostensibly Japanese characters are given a vageuly African look for what I guess is hip-hop cred.

  • http://ksej.livejournal.com Nick Kiddle

    //But I will share the best piece of book-reading advice I got when I was pregnant, which is to always read introduce the book as, “, by (with illustrations by )”, not just “Title”.//
    I started doing this a while ago with the xCLP. She’s also got a CD that announces itself as “Kipper, by Mick Inkpen, read by Dawn French”, so I occasionally copy that format as well for her amusement.

  • Spearmint

    The U.S. imported about 30,000 Hmong refugees in the late 70s, and they now number about 200,000 or so, the vast majority of which seems to be lower middle class to poor, with significant gang problems in major cities. I get my hotdogs everyday from a Chinese green card immigrant (and there are dozens of such vendors in this city), who I’m guessing isn’t making enough money to send his kid to college in a decade. Asians, as a whole are probably doing better than Blacks and Hispanics, but they’re not doing as well as whites.
    What Lori said. Are there poor Asians? Obviously, and certain groups of Asians are doing badly. But on net, Asians actually have higher average household incomes than whites. The math SAT scores of college bound Asians are dramatically higher, and their English scores are trailing whites but not dramatically.
    I’d say the fact that we hide from our children’s history class the fact that we treated them like dirt and then locked them in camps is a fairly great disservice.
    Obviously, but it’s not one that is showing up in socio-economic indices. Although I am wondering what the fucking fuck was up with your textbook. “Was anti-Chinese school segregation just and necessary?” Gee, I’m not sure, Mr. Textbook Author. How about we present the pros and cons of bludgeoning you to death with your book?
    My alternate thesis – Asian groups generally aren’t organized politically, and aren’t homogeneous enough to reach the critical mass to matter in identity politics.
    Yeah, that was true for a long time, and you can see why, say, Chinese Americans would not look to Japanese Americans as natural allies. But it was my impression that after Vincent Chin people kind of came together into a single Asian rights movement.

  • Winter

    Speaking of anime character designs, anyone remember Betty Boop? Definitely not a Disney character, but she shows a lot of the elements that later went into the stereotypical anime look: big eyes, slim body, small mouth, giant boobs.

  • K.Chen

    What Lori said. Are there poor Asians? Obviously, and certain groups of Asians are doing badly. But on net, Asians actually have higher average household incomes than whites. The math SAT scores of college bound Asians are dramatically higher, and their English scores are trailing whites but not dramatically.

    I’ll admit to having no numbers on hand to back this assertion up, but I’m saying that the Asians that are doing well are obfuscating the Asians who are doing badly, while the reverse is true for Blacks and Hispanics.

    But it was my impression that after Vincent Chin people kind of came together into a single Asian rights movement.

    Most people I know have no idea who that is. Most Asians of various stripes I know don’t know, and are not part of any “Asian rights movement”, unified or otherwise. Asians don’t have a communal myth (myth not meaning fictional) of oppression that bands them together as a cohesive political unit. Most Japanese Americans I know of don’t treat the internment as part of their collective legacy emblematic of the suffering of their people ditto for Chinese and the coolie railworkers. I’d rather not get into whether this is overall a good thing or a bad thing. My basic point is that Asians are missing political factors, not merely their place on the oppression scale.

  • Lee Ratner

    I can personally vouch that are lots of working class and lower-middle class Asians in America, with or without status. Most of my clients are working class and lower-middle class Chinese immigrants.
    One problem with Asian-American politics is that most Asian-Americans are either immigrants or the children of immigrants and are just getting the hang of the American political scene. This also explains why a lot of current Asian-Americans really don’t associate with past bigotry against Asians in this country. Most Chinese-Americans of today do not relate to the Chinese who came to America during the 19th century and the Japanese-Americans don’t see themselves as being the same as the ones interned for the most part. The Korean-Americans, as far as I know, don’t even have anything that can be looked back upon because the numbers of Koreans in America before the post-WWII era was really insignificant. Same goes for the other Asian groups.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X