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Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

16 Feb

Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

This article is an example of purple prose. It is an example of a tempest in a teapot. And, for those who dislike such phrases from bygone eras, it is also an example of rampant racism (or some other type of “respect of persons” as forbidden by the Bible).

Let’s list the reasons why:
1) The “crisis” seems to have started right before Jason Cosby, the Virginia Beach Director of Public Works, was sent to Afghanistan on a mandatory military deployment. I would suspect someone at the city didn’t want to hold his job until he came back (as required by the law called USERRA). So they started a trumped up process to fire him . . .
2) The “infractions” are so vague and minor (if this news article can be believed) that they would probably apply to hundreds of other employees of Virginia Beach. There is no evidence that any other employee has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb like this. It is as though Mr. Cosby were suddenly looked at under a microscope to pick apart any mistakes made during his twenty years with the city. I regard that as racism (or at least as undue scrutiny of just one person) until I see evidence that everyone else has been subjected to the same level of inquiry. Who else was followed around at Virginia Beach rec centers to see whether they actually worked out when they swiped in, for example?
3) The article does not specify, in most cases, what was done when these infractions came to light. They could have been innocent mistakes that were later made right. For example, I once grabbed my business American Express card to pay for some Christmas presents I bought while on travel. I was shopping with a friend and not paying attention. That card was the one on top in my wallet. Since I had to pay the card off anyway, after my return, it was a “no harm, no foul” situation which I brought to the attention of my supervisor. I believe many people accidentally use official credit cards to pay for things at some point in a twenty year career. It is what they do when they find that out that matters!
4) Mr. Cosby is not currently profiting from receiving city pay (only benefits like medical, which the military also offers in most cases). The first year, the city paid him the differential between his city salary and his lower Army salary, as required by law. This is, again, a common factor for all people who work a full-time job while maintaining a reserve career in the military. If people don’t like the way that works, they need to lobby to change the system, not persecute one person who is doing it as though he were doing something wrong. In this case there not only is no fire, there is no smoke!
5) The article smears a decorated veteran with a 20-year city career that was, until now, regarded as exemplary. He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, two of them advanced degrees. His case is making its way through the city system, with lawyers on both sides working it. Why put this case in the paper to be tried in the court of (ignorant) public opinion by many people who don’t understand the USERRA law and how it is used to get quality military personnel to serve in places like Afghanistan?
6) At best, releasing the requested freedom of information files in the paper today is meant to sell papers. At worst, it is meant to produce an online lynching of someone who is, due to the ongoing process, not allowed to talk to the press and defend himself. Ya know?

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Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

20 Jan

Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

A thoughtful article.

I do have to give a shoutout to my own church and its academy. I haven’t done an exact count, but the academy seems to be approximately 50% non-Caucasian, with students who are black, Asian, and Hispanic all there. And the most popular ethnic group nowadays–those beautiful kids who are of such a mixture of heritages that you couldn’t even classify them if you wanted to do so!

That, my friends, is heaven.

We are advantaged here by having the military as the great integrator. In our area, we host all five military branches. People are comfortable with those of other races because they learn to be comfortable at their government/military jobs.

I suppose a place like Jackson, Tennessee (in the article) isn’t advantaged like we are with a working environment in which people of various races get to know each other well.

But our church also reaches out to all ethnic groups and has a low enough tuition for the private school that it is more easily accessible for members of ethnic groups who might be the first in their family to consider private education. It is a sacrifice for everyone, but it is one that an increasing number of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic parents are choosing at our school . . .

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Disclaimer: I Don’t Watch “Duck Dynasty” but I Do Support the Free Exchange of Ideas

19 Dec

Disclaimer: I Don’t Watch “Duck Dynasty” but I Do Support the Free Exchange of Ideas

This post contains the Phil Robertson quote about homosexuality. It is not nearly as graphic as I thought. It is actually Biblically accurate with the first three chapters of Genesis, in which God created us male and female.

It’s the kind of thing you would say to friends, not in a national interview. So, for that reason, it is just a bit tactless.

And . . . maybe it is a bit insensitive in not acknowledging the obvious fact that gays don’t automatically feel the same desires that heterosexuals feel. But is it now a requirement for heterosexuals to always present that disclaimer when talking about the sex act? I don’t necessarily think so. God clearly created us male and female, in a complementarian way (including sexually). Again, see Genesis 1-3. I think it might be up to those who don’t live by that model to present the disclaimers. It is nice when a heterosexual remembers to do so, but I don’t see it as a requirement.

Phil Robertson’s remark was certainly acceptable within the realm of the free exchange of ideas.

The quote on the races is more disturbing to me. I can see the insensitivity there. Saying he worked with blacks in the field because he was “white trash” . . . Sounds like something out of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (and that may very well have been the culture and era in which he grew up, but he could have said what he did with more tact, as it is now 2013).

Still, should A&E have fired the lead on their most lucrative show? Only time will tell. They have the right, under free enterprise, to hire and fire whomever they want. They definitely exercised viewpoint discrimination, but that is not protected under the labor laws. You very much can be fired if the boss doesn’t like your viewpoint. It isn’t right, but it is what it is. And there are many petty people around who only want to work with people who agree with them on issues. Sometimes they are the boss.

I think maybe Paula Deen and Phil Robertson should start their own network for fallen people who realize that not everything in this world operates according to what we regard as ideal . . .

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R.I.P., Nelson Mandela!

6 Dec

R.I.P., Nelson Mandela!

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not an exact science. None of us practice these disciplines perfectly. But that does not negate the need to try.

Nelson Mandela tried to live a life of forgiveness and reconciliation.

When he got out of prison after 27 years and became South Africa’s leader, there were many who urged him to “get a pound of flesh” from the whites in South Africa to make them atone for the sin of the apartheid system and for imprisoning Mr. Mandela.

He refused those calls and tried to set up a government that would benefit all, not just one race.

He could easily have caved and tried to craft a nation where blacks were now advantaged, as they had been downtrodden before.

For his leadership in this area of forgiveness and reconciliation, I honor him today.

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Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

29 Nov

Unity in Diversity, Christ’s Body the Church

Christena Cleveland, a young woman consulting on diversity in the church, Christ’s Body, packs a wallop with this interview with Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor and blogger.

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Black Parenting Principles!

14 Oct

Black Parenting Principles!

A reminder from a prominent black Baptist pastor, Thabiti Anyabwile, that black parenting in the U.S. doesn’t always look exactly the same as white parenting. And he links to some classic scenes from primetime television.

He mentions a couple of crosscultural points I have needed to hear:

-When black parents seem to be harsh with their kids, historically they have looked at such techniques as preparing the kids for a world that will be harsh with them.
-When black kids “bust” on each other in the school hallway, it is not usually a sign that a fight is about to occur. It is a means of communication (side note: I think some hipster whites have learned this technique pretty well, too, judging from some white “putdown contests” I have recently heard).
-When a group of black kids seems to generate more noise out in public than a similarly sized group of white kids, that is just a cultural difference. Glaring at them will only make them think we are prejudiced. They will not suddenly realize that their noise level is inappropriate for the venue they are in, because it is a normal noise level to them. I am not sure how this one can be addressed, say in a restaurant where your group can’t hear each other’s conversation because the kids at the next table are talking at the top of their voices. After so much water over the dam racially, almost anything we will do as whites, including asking to be moved so as not to bother the other group, will probably be seen as prejudiced. We truly need to have that racial conversation in this country . . . at last.

Good post. Burying our heads in the sand over our racial issues doesn’t work anymore (hint: it never did).

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Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is my Hero

28 Aug

This video still makes me cry 50 years later. Makes me cry with its poignancy. Makes me cry with its promise. Makes me cry with its evocative qualities.

I am listening to it right now. “I Have a Dream . . .”

Today is the 50 year anniversary of that speech. And we still have so far to go in racial reconciliation. In basic respect and human dignity.

“Now is the time . . .”

Dr. Martin Luther King was introduced on that day as “the moral leader of our nation.” I believe that was true. I was raised to deny that, but I have come to believe it was true.
If not, who was? John F. Kennedy? Lyndon B. Johnson? Richard M. Nixon?

I am aware that Dr. King most certainly had extramarital affairs. My relatives brought that up as I was growing up as their objection to making him a hero. I say that that was a double standard.

JFK had extramarital affairs, too. Only the press turned a blind eye to his affairs as the FBI followed Dr. King around, believing him to be a possible danger to our country.

Ironically, one of JFK’s affairs has subsequently been tied to someone in the mob (not saying that he had mob ties, but just that he shared a woman with a mob boss, not cool!). Yet the FBI pursued Dr. King and ignored JFK. A total double standard.

And in all that, Dr. King continued his work for racial equality. He didn’t stop to face down the FBI, he didn’t address the rumors about his personal life, he didn’t argue that what was being done to him was a double standard. He could have done that, but he did not.

He had more important work to do, and only 39 years in which to do it before someone ended his life!

Be careful what you say when you hold up a moral standard for heroes. Only Jesus Christ qualifies for that ultimately!

Certainly not many modern politicians can claim the moral high ground of being one man married to one woman for life. Even my modern hero, Ronald Reagan, divorced and remarried.

And I refuse to get into the debate of whether it is better morally to have a series of “serial marriages” or whether it is better to remain married to one person and have affairs. The Lord defined the standard as one man and one woman for life, so it is obvious that many of our generation have fallen short of his definition.

In fact, I think if we are seeking a heroic marriage in one of our heroic leaders, we might have to go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln and his tender care, for life, of his mentally ill wife. That was a touching story, for his generation and for ours. However, no president of the modern era could ever have a mentally ill wife in the White House, under the constant scrutiny of videographers. So let’s just put Lincoln in a hero class of his own forever.

I will get back to my point, with apologies for the digression. Having been raised in the culture of the 1970’s, it is necessary for me to denounce the things I was taught about Dr. King, the things people said to try to disqualify him as a hero. It is necessary for me to address those things because some members of my generation still believe them and still repeat them. I have come to vehemently disagree with those views and with those people.

Dr. King was a hero. He was willing to be jailed for his beliefs. He personified non-violent resistance. No one could dismiss him. No one could shake him. He changed our world.

Not enough change, yet, but he changed our world in many significant ways. I believe that I owe most of my warm, easy friendships with people of all races in the Navy to Dr. King’s leadership and influence.

So watch the video. Watch the introduction where blacks and whites together, with the men all clad in suits on a sweltering August day, march arm-in-arm into Washington singing “We Shall Overcome Some Day . . .”

Watch the video and weep for our potential.

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