Tag: Sarah Palin

A Matter of Confidence

Well, Obamacare has rolled out, and the results thus far aren’t exactly spectacular. This fiasco has illustrated the vast gap between liberals and conservatives.

Now, I’m not talking about ideology, or even about Obamacare specifically. I’m referring to the differing mindsets of the opposite ends of our political spectrum.

Simply put, conservatives are perennially more confident and exhibit greater faith in their causes. Liberals, in contrast, seem perpetually on the verge of giving up.

white-flag

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That’s a Fact Jack

Illegal immigration is down.

Climate change is real.

There were no WMDs in Iraq.

These are well-supported facts with the strength of data and/or obvious proof behind them. Yet millions of Americans don’t believe them. We’re not talking about conspiracy nuts or argumentative jerks.

We’re not even talking about the obvious players in the dumbing down of America.

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American Tragedy

For the past year or so, I’ve been critical of Arizona, and with reason. But now is not the time for rehashing SB 1070 or the state’s attempts to whitewash its culture.

Instead, all of us are sending positive thoughts, good karma, and, yes even prayers to Tucson.

The assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords left six people dead and a dozen wounded.

We have no idea if the gunman was, as many pundits presume, motivated by right-wing vitriol or Sarah Palin’s crosshairs or some other conservative fear-mongering tactic.

However, it would be the ultimate elephant-in-the-room moment to avoid bringing up the unsavory connections.

After all, we’re talking about a psycho in a red state who took advantage of lax gun-control laws to carry out an attack on a Democrat. The guy spouted conspiracy theories that are close to right-wing talking points, and he expressed hatred for the government. Let’s face it: It’s unlikely that he’s an Obama man.

Still, we don’t know what this domestic terrorist’s agenda or motives are, and we’ll set aside the hyper-defensiveness of right-wingers who are tripping over themselves to shout, “It wasn’t us, so don’t you dare even bring it up!”

Instead, what interests me is the story of Daniel Hernandez, the young intern who is credited with saving Giffords’ life. Five days into his job, he wound up running toward gunfire, taking action to prevent his boss from choking to death on her own blood in a Safeway parking lot.

The irony, clearly, is that in Arizona, a lunatic can obtain a Glock without question, while a hero named Hernandez may be stopped by cops and asked to present citizenship papers.

It should also be noted that the maniac in question is a native-born American. I mean, I thought undocumented immigrants were causing all our crime. But here this suburban thug raised in comfort has caused more death and destruction than whole neighborhoods of illegal immigrants ever have.

It’s all very depressing, of course. But even this most grotesque of events has its black-comedy moments. For example, the gunman was apparently obsessed with grammar, and he believed that the government controlled people through the manipulation of the English language.

Who knows; maybe he would have been less crazy if he just spoke Spanish.


Omnipotent

Forgive me for being a bit tardy on this news item, as well as for straying – initially at least – from my professed subject matter.

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Bristol Palin, who is, as you know, the Republican VP candidate’s poor knocked-up teenage daughter.

Religious conservatives have rallied around the girl and said that her condition is nobody’s business, or that it is actually good news because it verifies Palin’s pro-life credentials. So as a thought experiment, let’s reverse the situation:

Say that Obama or Biden had a 17-year-old daughter who got pregnant and is keeping the baby. Would we hear from social conservatives how it’s irrelevant, or proof of the candidate’s humanity, or even inspiring?

More likely, we would hear how liberals don’t instill proper values in their children, or that they don’t respect traditional family values, or that their lax parenting proves their inability to lead the country, or that it all sets a poor example for young people.

My point isn’t that religious conservatives can be hypocrites, or that abstinence-only sex ed doesn’t work, or that this girl’s condition has become a campaign issue (although to be honest, all of that is true). Rather, this is my long-winded way of addressing the powerful and detrimental nature of religion in American culture.

So what has this, specifically, got to do with Hispanics?

Well, as you may or may not know, Latinos are the alpha and omega of Catholicism in the United States, and perhaps the world. Consider that in America, almost 70% of Hispanics are Catholic, compared to just 20% of the general population. Some countries in Latin America are as Catholic as Middle Eastern countries are Islamic.

Has all this religion helped the Hispanic community? I would argue that it has not.

The stranglehold that the Catholic Church has over Hispanic culture has bred a unique form of interdependence. Faith in God’s master plan has superseded faith in one’s abilities and talents. This latter type of perseverance – call it secular if you want – is more needed than ever in communities where deep-seeded problems demand creative answers. Instead, with all the issues facing the Latinos, prayer is the answer most often given as a viable solution.

For a more specific example, let’s look at the horrific graduation rate of Latino adolescents. It’s no surprise that Hispanic teens lag so far behind white, black, and Asian American students in actually getting through high school. The priority that Latino culture places on religion dwarfs the attention given to education (I will post more on this discrepancy later). Especially among immigrant parents, making sure that a kid does all his homework is not nearly as vital as ensuring his attendance at Mass (I will add that my mother was an exception to this mindset, which was to my great benefit).

Social conservatives love to proclaim that issues in barrios and hoods exist because the people who live there have grown too dependent on government largesse to fend for themselves. They may have a point.

However, their alternative has often been to push for more dependence on Christianity, a cultural force that, unlike government, isn’t accountable to voters. How else do we explain the dreaded faith-based initiative?

A natural objection to all my negativity is to point out the good that religion does. Indeed, many people have turned their lives around because of a newfound faith, and some of our greatest leaders (eg, Martin Luther King Jr.) were driven by religion. And in Latin America, numerous priests in Central America – to say nothing of the great Archbishop Oscar Romero – have sacrificed their lives for a greater good.

Still, at this point in history, is the net effect of religion in general (and Catholicism on Latino culture specifically) a positive? My belief is that it ultimately does more harm than good.

So I’m pleased to see that young Latinos, like the younger generation overall, are at least pausing to consider if all this praying is really worth it.

A report by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies shows that Hispanics become less Catholic with each U.S.-born generation. This lines up with surveys showing that the number of nonreligious young people (those from 18-25 years old) has nearly doubled over the last generation (from 11 percent in 1986 to 20 percent today).

This should not be construed as a clamoring for atheism or a call to burn down all the churches. Rather, it is quite possibly Latino culture’s gradual realization of the need for balance.

And perhaps it is the recognition that going to church and worshipping really hard is not sufficient to raise our standard of living. Maybe Hispanics are learning that, you know, God helps those who help themselves.


Vote for Him… or That One Other Guy

Let me draw your attention to my previous post (see below), in which I said that pandering to Hispanic voters was no more egregious than what other has been done for other groups for decades. And then a few days later, McCain picks Palin to be his running mate, in what is surely one of the most obvious ploys to pick up a voting block (ie, pissed-off women) in modern history. So my point stands.

All this leads to a natural question that has, no doubt, been vexing Americans of all creeds and beliefs for lo these many weeks: Who will receive the Hispanic Fanatic’s endorsement for president?

Yes, the media is breathless with anticipation. After all, the highly coveted Latino vote apparently depends on which Hispanics come out swinging for the candidate of their choice.

Obama has picked up the Latino seal of approval of everyone from Bill Richardson to J. Lo. Meanwhile, Daddy Yankee made waves recently by endorsing McCain, thus becoming the first Republican Latino rapper… which he will probably remain for all time.

Daddy Yankee is getting a lot of, shall we say, negative feedback for his choice. The dreaded “sell-out” label has been thrown his way, and his very status as an authentic Latino has been called into question.

This is beyond sad. It’s insulting and counterproductive.

While I certainly don’t share Daddy Yankee’s enthusiasm for the establishment, his political leanings don’t cancel out his status as Hispanic. One would think that Latinos would learn to avoid this type of baiting after seeing African Americans tear themselves apart over whether black Republicans were Uncle Toms or not. All that debate did was entrench people further into their ideological trenches and fray bonds among whole communities.

The stats show that Hispanics tend to vote Democratic, but this is no longer the iron-clad lock that it used to be. Even Latino liberals should view this development as a good thing. At some point, Democrats will stop assuming they have this segment of the population wrapped up, and they will address us more directly. It’s already happening in this election (hence the charge of pandering).

Of course, let me point out that Obama has picked up at least one more significant Latino endorsement. The Vatosaurus is all for him:


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