Thursday, June 18, 2015

Link Log for June 18

Today's Topics: Animals, Books, Breaking News, Foreign Language, Politics, Racism.

Animals

Wendy Welch has spotted a specimen that deserves to be endangered—the Animal Welfare Freeloader or Humane Society Welfare Cheat. While I'm all in favor of people adopting a friend's kitten or puppy rather than supporting the Humane (Pet Genocide) Society, and of animal rescuers making pets available to people who don't support the H(PG)SUS' rules,people can't have it all their own way, and had better not plan on sending unwanted kittens and puppies to Humane Society shelters. Free the cats, save the puppies, starve the Humane Society until it recognizes the need to protect and respect the animals that have been friends to humankind for thousands of years...and don't give HSUS a pretext for existing in its present form, either.


Books

I'd rather report that Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary is being reprinted as a real book, but here's good news for those who use e-books:


Foreign Language

Fair disclosure: Arlene from Israel is about as biased as it's possible to get, in this as in all her discussions of news from the Middle East. However, in this post she explains an Arabic word that was new to me, might be new to you, might be relevant or useful to you in the future:


Politics

How is it possible not to like the biblical idea of righteousness as “justice”? One of the fascinating cultural tidbits it's easy for English-speaking readers to overlook, in the Bible, is that in Bible days (as reportedly in tribal Arab cultures) wealth was understood in terms of generosity.

Lack of wealth was often the clear result of injustice and oppression. If the “you” of the Bible had more than someone else had, that was likely to be because the other person had been unable to work, had been a victim of war or of tribal “politics,” was a widow or orphan, was away from his or her home, or some other misfortune—and the benefit of being relatively well off was that God had appointed you to redress these wrongs. One word for “righteous” specifically means “empowered to enforce social justice,” in ways the Bible clearly explains. The sacrificial system redistributed food to people who would otherwise have been hungry; the law allowing landowners to enjoy only “first fruits” of the harvest guaranteed jobs (picking, processing, selling food) to people who did not own land.

Biblical virtue is not a matter of psychological self-help. Biblical virtue has muscle. And there's no blather in the Bible about limiting how much people can have, make, earn, and enjoy; just a very clear picture of a culture that expected anyone who had anything, even a small coin or a few sprigs of herbs left out of what others had just donated to them, to want to share the wealth with any neighbors who might be less fortunate.

Nevertheless, when people have been taught more about Marx than about the Bible, they can mess up even the wonderful idea of social justice...


Racism

To the following insights into the Rachel Donezal story, I add:

1. Canny comment Ed Decker shared yesterday: “She wants to be black, he [the Jenner bore] wants to be a she, and I want to be tall.” For some strange and no doubt terrible reason, the D.M.V. refuse to acknowledge the 6'4” man trapped in a body that's 5'8” and a bit, and 5'9” is the maximum height they'll allow him to list on his driver's license. Ooohhh, the cruelty. ED develops this thought further here: 


2. Personal observation: If she really wanted to go to Howard, or Oakwood or Spelman or whatever, at any time after 1980, she could've gone. In years when their budgets have permitted, the Historically Black Colleges have offered actual scholarships to White (and other types of) students who wanted to earn an academic degree with lots of background in African-American Studies. I used to know a White guy who went to Howard on one. So what's the real story? My husband, who went to McGill and whose ex-wife went to Howard, used to cite jokes about Howard's academic and social-behavioral standards, but they do have some; it's not to be confused with Harvard but it's a decent school.

So why couldn't Rachel Donezal get into Howard? Could this have anything to do with her, er um, not having enough sense to listen to authentic Baltimoreans of African descent...I can see a dumb left-winger dismissing Lloyd Marcus as, ooh ick, a conservative, but that's not a smear likely to stick to Ta-Nehisi Coates. We are definitely talking about a dumber-than-dumb left-winger, here.