When It Isn’t About Race

I generally don’t pay attention to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, because there isn’t that much to pay attention to. He’s a prominent voice in the GOP establishment, but he’s been previously overlooked in favor of repeat presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann. There’s talk of him running in 2016, but my expectations of him getting into the primary and remaining there are low. The GOP leadership doesn’t need an establishment Republican from the Deep South, at least, not this election. And if Louisiana resident and American Conservative senior editor Rod Dreher has anything to say about it, Jindal has been far from the consummate governor, which weaken his chances at the outset.

But Jindal did do something noteworthy this week; he handled a would-be racial controversy with poise, something the GOP establishment is not especially well known for. There was a brief misunderstanding about which portrait was the “official” portrait of Governor Jindal. A liberal Twitter user tweeted a portrait of the governor that was loaned by an enthusiastic but possibly color-blind constituent, who painted the governor a few shades lighter. A flurry of outrage ensured. “OMG! They’re whitewashing Bobby Jindal!” It turned out that the portrait in question was not of the governor, and that Governor Jindal indeed knew he was not light-skinned.

Governor Jindal chose to reply with humor: “You mean I’m not white?” he joked. Ever the politician, he took his opportunity to criticize his opponents: “I think the left is obsessed with race,” he said. He dismissed the backlash about the portrait as “silly” and added that “the dumbest thing we can do is try to divide people by the color of their skin…We’re all Americans.”

Jindal is of Indian ancestry, and that fact has been almost entirely irrelevant to his political career and whatever ambitions he may harbor for 2016. He may have experienced racism in the past, and may experience it now. But being a person of color does not mean every situation you are in is embroiled in racism. Sometimes, it just isn’t about race. Not even for those of us who aren’t white. Strange, I know. But it’s true.

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The Winds of Change

Hello friends,

The last couple days have been hectic on this blog. I got a lot of new Twitter followers and many new folks stopped by to read Monday’s post. Since Monday evening it was republished twice, and the response I received has generally been positive. I anticipated devoting today’s post to an apologia, but it seems that that won’t be necessary.

The winds of change are upon us. The growing consensus in Ferguson is that the local Democratic politicians are not cutting it. In a town-hall style meeting in Clayton earlier today, many frustrated black citizens voiced their concerns, and the charged atmosphere suggested that it was only the beginning. Black people everywhere are looking for an alternative that is truly relevant and lasting. I think we can expect an exodus of large numbers of blacks from the Democratic party within the next several months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

So, what does that mean for this blog?

It means I have to write more. People of color (black, Asian, Native American, what have you) need to know there is another way besides the liberal narrative of the left and the myopic aggression of the right. There is a community of conservatives of color out here, and we need to be more visible so that those who are wrestling with internal conflict need not feel so alone. It’s important to connect with like-minded individuals to move the debate forward. Black Republican did it for me, and it’s only right for me to pass it on.

I will be posting, from here on in, three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This is a way for me to be accountable to you, my new audience, and a way for you to know when to check this space for new posts. It’s time for me to step up, and it’s time for you all to get decent, consistent content. I look forward to interacting with you all on here and on Twitter. In the coming weeks I’ll continue to tweak the blog and set up a commenting policy.

Yours in political arms,

Marjorie

Christianity and Reason

On Sunday night I was up late, as usual, and decided to take the opportunity to clean and dust my books.  This was the right decision, because I had forgotten what treasures that had been lurking there.  I’m very old fashioned when it comes to books–I can read an infinite number of articles online but, for some reason, I must have a physical book with pages.  My mother bought me an e-reader a couple of years ago and I never took a real interest in it.  There is something about holding a book that comforts me so.  I remember when I was about fifteen and I began sobbing uncontrollably, as teenagers are prone to do without any particular reason.  I held a stack of books to my chest and it calmed me right down.

But enough sentimentality.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had a copy of On the Reasonableness of Christianity by John Locke.  I remembered the volume well: I had rescued it from dumpster purgatory about seven years ago.  Fascinated, I sat down to skim the brittle, musty pages (don’t old books have the most wonderful scent?) and was a bit disappointed to discover the book was little more than a sermon; it did not have thesis that posited a viable intersection of belief in God and belief in scientific reasoning I hoped it would.  Still, it was enough to jumpstart my thinking.  Locke chose his title deliberately: his book was on the reasonableness of Christianity, not its rationality or conformity to principles of empiricism.  But most viewpoints, barring the extreme ends of the spectrum, have some level of reasonableness.  The level of skill one demonstrates when expressing an opinion is largely responsible for making a view seems reasonable at all.  But if something is reasonable, can it be rational, and if so, what is the link between belief in God and rational thought?

This is not an original question.  I’m sure it has been tackled by philosophical minds far more astute than mine.  But religion and science are presented in modern American culture as two discrete entities that are irrevocably at odds.  Add yelling pundits to this mixture and one gets the impression that being pro-life and anti-gay will automatically punch a hole in a one-way ticket to the pearly gates.  I can’t help but reject this premise about God and science.  I’ve always identified as someone who simultaneously believes in God and empiricism.  What I haven’t been able to do is find what traits those two aspects of me share.

I’m disturbed by the preponderance of the material out there that paints Christianity as  anti-intellectual, anti-elitist dogma.  I can’t tell you to the extent I’ve seen Christians mocked, scorned, and ridiculed for expressing their beliefs.  It’s as if allegiance to a heavenly being obscure all other aspects of a person’s humanity.  I went to a secular school and dealt with teasing, social isolation, and the implicit sense that my thoughts were somehow less valid because I believed in a benevolent, loving God and committed to a value system to please Him.  A few of my classmates tried to respectfully engage with me and have honest discussions.  Most did not.

Granted, some Christians are ignoramuses who conflate embodying the love of Christ with spewing knee-jerk platitudes whenever they encounter something that doesn’t fit their PG-rated version of the world.  But those are ignorant Christians.  That’s not Christianity.  Until very recently, Christianity was associated with the highest levels of education available.  In the nineteenth century, clergymen in England and the United States had to have a solid grasp of Latin, ancient Greek, and Hebrew in addition to their native tongue.  The abolitionists and founders of the Second Great Awakening were educated men, and founded universities that flourish to this day.  During the Dark Ages, one of the main groups responsible for preserving language were monks.  The Apostle Paul was an exposed, cosmopolitan man of his time.  Oh, and Jesus, that guy who did that thing with the loaves and fishes?  He was a rabbi.

Religious and intellectual history are intertwined, that much is obvious.  The next step in my journey is to find the common ground between my belief in a higher power and my insatiable need for proof.  Until next time.

Tentative Beginnings

Hi.  I’m Marjorie, and this is my blog.  It’s about politics and conservatism and stuff.

I’ve been circling around the edges of conservatism for a while, and I decided to finally take the plunge and wrote my preliminary political manifesto, “Why I’m Leaving the Democratic Party”, which debuted on PolicyMic yesterday afternoon.  It’s gone viral (in a minor capacity) and has garnered a lot of interesting and thought-provoking responses.  I’m awed and grateful by the experience, but I see that it’s time for me to head back to the library.

The move, while planned, was a bit premature.  Normally I do a hell of a lot more research, planning, and thinking before I submit something to PolicyMic, but sometimes life requires moments when you trust your gut and step off a ledge.  I was glad I did–The American Conservative, a publication I deeply respect and that I cited as one of my reasons for defecting, retweeted my article as a “very good read”.   I wasn’t a Political Science or philosophy major in college, so while most people in this field are armed with their Machiavelli, Stiglitz, Friedman and Hegel, I’m better equipped to get you through a busy market in Beijing and discuss the implications of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.  So I’m embarking on this journey without a real idea where I’m going, which is not how I roll, but weirdly, feels right.  Will I register as an Independent?  Officially become a Libertarian?  Run back to the Democrats (prob not)?  Join me and we’ll see.

I’m going to use this space to react to political thinkers I read, foment debate, challenge the status quo, and comment on current events as they pertain to conservatism.  Come one, come all.  I’m new to this.  I need your help.  Challenge my thoughts.  Point out my logical flaws.  Just be prepared for me to challenge you back.

Oh, yeah: I should probably mention something relevant to the title.  Yes, I’m Latina.  (I’m also African-American with some German mixed in there somewhere.)  No, you’re not going to find recipes on how to make authentic pots of rice or whatever.  Yes, I speak Spanish.  No, this blog is not bilingual (though I may resort to swearing in Spanish if something annoys me).  Yes, I am immensely proud of my heritage.  No, you’re not going to find those self-involved essays about what being Latina means to me.  I don’t struggle with my identity as a Latina.  I embrace it.  Cool?  Cool.  Now, let’s get cracking.

And if you want recipes for authentic pots of rice, I’ll link you over to my mom’s blog.  She’s a great cook.

I look forward to meeting you all.