This morning I testified at a hearing to help extend domestic partner benefits to Milwaukee County employees. The process is moving forward!
Archive for October, 2009
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. Sign-up for these emails here.
As people of faith, we are called to love our neighbors. We must stand together when our neighbors are oppressed or dehumanized, simply for being who they are.
Lou Dobbs of CNN, more than any other newscaster, is responsible for spreading myths and misinformation about Latinos. A wide coalition of Latino groups and their allies have launched a campaign calling on CNN to fire Lou Dobbs. The campaign is called Basta Dobbs! or Enough Dobbs!
Lou Dobbs has falsely reported that immigrants make up 1/3rd of the prison population when they only make up a small fraction. He has spread the conspiracy theory that Mexican immigrants are plotting to re-conquer the southwestern United States. And he has promoted the views of extremist groups like the Minutemen and individuals such as Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Lou Dobbs calls a “model for the whole country” while Arpaio is being denounced as a violent racist by elected officials and Latino leaders throughout the country.
We do not question Dobbs’ legal right to say what he says. But we ask why CNN, which purports to be a news station, provides a national platform for Dobbs’ demagoguery and misinformation. We ask why CNN implicitly supports the marginalization of the Latino community.
We have been called to stand up and be counted on the issues that matter to Latino communities. We have been called to stand up for truth and love. We have been called to join the Latino community in saying Basta Dobbs!
Are you ready to answer this call? Now is the time to stand on the side of love.
UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and a contingent of Unitarian Universalists participated in a Basta Dobbs! rally and press conference yesterday.
The Basta Dobbs (Enough Dobbs) Campaign is calling on CNN to take Dobbs off the air. The campaign states “Lou Dobbs uses his platform on CNN to spread myths and misinformation about Latinos and immigrants, even as his network is wooing Latino viewers. It’s time we said enough (that’s “basta” in Spanish).”
As we walked up to the Massachusetts State House where the event was held, carrying a large bright Standing the Side of Love with Immigrant Families banners we were met with cheers from the crowd of mostly Latino immigrants from dozens of immigrant rights and service organizations.
President Morales was the first speaker and as the emcee introduced him and came to the part about Morales’ role as a primary spokesperson for Standing on the Side of Love, he pointed to the banner and said “This is what we need! We need to stand on the side of love. Latinos need to stand up for self love. And we need people to stand in love with us!” After Rev. Morales raised the theme of confronting hate and hate crimes with love, speaker after speaker took it up.
I was quite impressed to see how the Standing on the Side of Love message transformed an event that was basically framed as an advocacy campaign to get CNN to “Dump Dobbs” and became a spirit-filled community-building event as well. Several Latina women came up to me (I was wearing my Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt) and expressed gratefulness for our message and wanted to know how to get involved. One woman from a Latino service agency said, “I don’t want to confront hate with hate. This is just the movement we need.”
As our UU contingent assembled with our Standing on the Side of Love banner we also had signs we had printed out from the Baste Dobbs! Campaign. We did not want to take over the event but to connect Standing on the Side of Love with it. I learned a lot about how welcome this message is and how can bring Standing on the Side of Love into our work to support immigrants, to support gay folks, to support people of color and all who are experiencing violence, exclusion and oppression in our country right now.
I recently attended a wedding at which the reading was from the oft-quoted 1st letter of Paul to Corinthians, chapter 13:4-7:
Love is patient; love is kind;
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about the present-day cultural implications of lazy interpretations of Paul’s first-century letter to an early Christian community.
Our society often turns to this text as proof that love is wimpy. Love is quiet, calm, easy going. It doesn’t talk out of turn, but endures every insult that comes its way. It is long-suffering and naive.
Many women, and some men, have heard portions of this text used as justification for domestic violence, urged that, as exemplars of Christian love, they should not be arrogant or irritable, but endure abuse and dehumanization.
Oppressed and excluded peoples and their allies, are told to be patient, not to insist on their way, but to wait for metered justice to be dolled out.
Even those who do not explicitly look to New Testament texts for inspiration can fall back on these cultural assumptions about love that permeate our society. When we idealize the human capacity to love in this absolutely selfless way, we run the risk of thinking of ourselves as morally superior, capable of loving our neighbor better than anyone else could. Or we see ourselves as martyrs, outpouring sacrificial love without acknowledging or safeguarding our own interests. The third option is simply to conclude that this kind of love is sentimental and irrelevant to human reality, and thus easily dismissed.
We have forgotten that the love Paul is espousing here (the Greek agape) is a fierce, strong, and powerful love. Moreover, it is something we can only strive to emulate, not to master. This love is, Rev. Dr. Serene Jones writes at www.standingonthesideoflove.org, “about justice, not sentimentality.”
This love is hope-filled, but not complacent. “For many years we have shown an amazing patience,” a 26-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1955 to a gathering of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association as they planned a bus boycott. “But we come here tonight,” he continued, “to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”
The hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on National Mall on October 11and the many more who joined them in spirit stood in the spirit of a love that refuses to endure exclusion or violence any longer. We stand with a love that is impatient with hatred and proclaims the power of love in the face of fear. And here is where the beauty of Paul’s words come through, this love “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth.” This is a love that stands up and says no to hate. This love is true.
Youth from First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia interview members of the congregation about their beliefs.
Listen to Behind the Burqah: Preserving the Inherant Worth and Dignity of Every Muslim Woman, a radio blog here.