Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things February 7, 2013

Jamelle Bouie: “Making Voting Constitutional”

Unlike citizens in every other advanced democracy — and many other developing ones — Americans don’t have a right to vote. Popular perception notwithstanding, the Constitution provides no explicit guarantee of voting rights. Instead, it outlines a few broad parameters. Article 1, Section 2, stipulates that the House of Representatives “shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States,” while Article 1, Section 4, reserves the conduct of elections to the states. The Constitution does, however, detail the ways in which groups of people cannot be denied the vote. The 15th Amendment says you can’t prevent African American men from voting. The 19th Amendment says you can’t keep women from voting. Nor can you keep citizens of Washington, D.C., (23rd Amendment) or 18-year-olds (26th Amendment) from exercising the franchise. If you can vote for the most “numerous” branch of your state legislature, then you can also vote for U.S. Senate (17th Amendment).

These amendments were passed in different circumstances, but they share one quality — they’re statements of negative liberty, establishing whom the government can’t restrict when it comes to voting.

Jenny Rae Armstrong: “John Piper, Women in Combat, and How Gender Roles Fall Short of the Glory of Humankind”

My gender is not something I perform; it is something I am. Womanhood is not something I do; it is something I live. Femininity does not define me; as a woman created in the image of God, I define it, in community with my sisters. When we reduce manhood and womanhood to a list of characteristics, behaviors, and roles assigned to each gender, we are not defending masculinity and femininity; instead, we are diminishing and impoverishing them.

Alan Bean: “A Common Peace Community”

“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” “Stranger” is the English translation of the Greek word zenos which can mean “foreigner,” “alien,” “stranger‚” or all three at once. The two-bit word “xenophobia” refers to fear of the foreigner, the stranger, the zenos.

Jesus isn’t just saying that he loves undocumented aliens and incarcerated felons and that we should do the same.  Jesus is saying something much more radical. Just as God was incarnate, enfleshed, in Jesus, so Jesus is incarnate or enfleshed in the undocumented and the incarcerated.

Think of the woman wading the river, driven by dreams of a better life for her family. She is hungry, she is thirsty, she is alone … she is Jesus.

More than 1,000 religious leaders: “Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Family Planning”

Religious traditions teach that sex and sexuality are divinely bestowed gifts for expressing mutual love, generating life, for companionship, and for pleasure. From a religious point of view, sexual relationships are to be held sacred, and therefore should always be responsible, mutually respectful, pleasurable and loving. The gift of sexuality is violated when it is abused or exploited. Accessible, safe, and effective contraception allows for a fulfilling sexual life while reducing maternal and infant mortality, unintended pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted infections.

Chauncey DeVega: “Fun With William F. Buckley Defending Racial Profiling and Questioning the ‘Extremism’ of the Civil Rights Movement”

The Tea Party GOP reactionary white populists in the Age of Obama are pathetic in their open appeals to herrenvolk racism and ugly white populism to keep the black usurper out of the White House.

By comparison, William F. Buckley had some class to his racism, … an effortless bigotry that could be argued with, and about, over a nice glass of Chianti. You tell me, who is more dangerous to the Common Good? The Tea Party or William F. Buckley?

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