Over the course of a few months in 2010, I periodically blogged about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love. Last MLK day, I returned to the project and wrote the following (which I have very slightly edited), in an effort to remember that he was a flesh-and-blood human who first and foremost served a flesh-and-blood community. (The rest of the Strength to Love posts, each of which can be read independently, can be found here).
Chapter eleven – Our God is able.
Given my powerful tendency to look at the world through my It’s All About Me glasses, you will perhaps understand (though not, I hope, condone) why I was disappointed (again) upon reading this chapter.
I struggled with chapter nine so mightily that I gave up my MLK blogging for not-quite four months; I struggled with chapter ten so mightily that I then gave it up again, this time going four and a half months. And dear reader, I like chapter eleven least of all.
As a self-described “believing Jew and the wife of a deeply moral atheist,” there’s just nothing for me here. This is a chapter — a sermon — written by a member of the Christian clergy in order to reassure his Christian flock. And a very particular flock, at that:
I thought this:
was going to be the book-related thing that I most irrationally wanted to somehow recreate in my life, given the whole “I’m a Jew” thing, and all.
But it turns out it’s this:
I left the following as a comment in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s (near-) daily open thread today, and decided to make it into a post in its own right. There are so many ways to be human.
Amanda Simpson, senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, is the first known transgender person appointed to a position in the US government. She was appointed by President Obama a year ago this week.
In wandering about among some of my favorite blogs the other day, I found that my internet pal sara_l_r had linked to this lovely, lovely poem over at her place, Ends and Leavings, and I decided I wanted to share it, too:
How To Make Love to a Trans Person.
I know that we have a number of trans people in the community of commenters at Ta-Nehisi’s place, and I suspect there are more that I don’t know about, and I’ve recently been trying to come to grips with my sheer inability to grasp the reality of the lives lived by people who identify as trans.
I’ve long felt that you are who you tell me you are, and in whatever language you use, but there are places where it’s simply a greater challenge for my head to go to and hope to understand.
The fact of Dana International, an Israeli singer and trans woman, made a big difference for me, many years ago, but recently — because of the folks at Ta-Nehisi’s place and, like the rest of America, Chaz Bono — I’ve found myself realizing how far I had to come still. Reading about and watching interviews with Chaz helped (and I know some in the LGBTQ community have issues with him, not to mention women more generally having issue with what some see as his misogyny, but I’m working at a much, much more basic level here!), as did reading a wonderful, loving Boston Globe article about identical twins, one of whom is a boy and one of whom is a trans girl – and then the other day, this poem helped enormously.
Here’s a small piece of it:
A public service announcement from the Eclectablog Online Media Group (OMG)
A week ago tomorrow, while everyone was getting ready for the holidays and not paying that much attention, THE REPUBLICANS TOTALLY CAVED IN TO THE DEMOCRATS!
I just wanted to be sure we don’t forget that because it seems to me that we already have. Dave Weigel may have tweeted it best:
So, please, every chance you get, remind your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers that the GOP hostage-takers finally were forced to back down because President Obama and the Democrats in Congress wouldn’t let them take us off a cliff. Every. Chance. You. Get.
There’s nothing at all wrong with a little over-repetition to drive a point home.
I’m just sayin’…
My review of Jerusalem: The Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News.
(Shorter review: It’s genuinely marvelous, and should be required reading for anyone with any interest in the city).
By EMILY L. HAUSER
Some places live and breathe on at least two different planes: the physical, and the notional.
“New York” is more than pavement and politics, for instance. It’s also – particularly for those who will never step foot on that pavement – an idea, a vision. “This isn’t New York” can be compliment or curse, but the reference is only rarely to the city’s infrastructure or tax code.
Jerusalem is such a place – yet its reality is much more than merely bifurcated.
Almost since the city’s foundation, Jerusalem has existed as holy relic, political fulcrum, way station to conquest, and glittering prize for every major civilization with a toe-hold west of Baghdad.
Charles Pierce has a must read post at Esquire:
By any conventional measure, and entirely through their own fault, the Republicans have produced a field of candidates so utterly comical, so completely devoid of conventional political merit, that the field itself is a strong evidence for the elimination of the Republican party. The frontrunner is a simuloid fake. The leading contender is a horndog as surprised to discover that women did not want him as he was to discover that China had The Bomb. The leading “intellectual” thinks Barack Obama “…is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people” and then, of course, decries the incivility that is drowning out the important discussion we need to have about the issues facing This Great Nation. The rest of them are concerned about zygotes, black helicopters, and whatever else is simmering in the Bachmann-Paul-Santorum stewpot. And there is Jon Huntsman, the invisible former governor of Utah, reasonably sentient human, and proven non-horndog. This isn’t a primary campaign field. It’s a condo-board election at the Hell Country Estates.
And I must highlight this paragraph because of its sheer brilliance: Continue reading
There was so much going on this week and so much emotion with the fight to save Troy Davis from being killed, I know I missed a lot of great articles that I’m just getting caught up on. As always, please add your links in the comments and let’s talk about shit!
1. ”Tavis Smiley and Cornel West: The Reign of Fools is Over”;
2. ”Does the West/Obama Controversy Constitute Blacks Airing Dirty Laundry?”;
3. ”Is the Attack on Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry’s Article Criticizing Prof. Cornel West Due to Male Academic Cronyism?”;
4. ”How Do Politicians Get People to Vote Against Their Own Interest?”;
5. ”Tavis/West: We Know We’re Hurting, Now Tell Us the Truth About Why”;
6. ”The Tavis/West Poverty Pimp Tour“;
7. ”Dr. Cornel West and Intellectual Rice Cake”;
8. Is the GOP Manipulating Black Intellectuals to destroy the First Black President?”
Beowulf & Grendel's mother. Or is that Marty Peretz?
Someone on Twitter reminded me today that I actually once discussed Grendel (the monster in the Beowulf story) and Marty Peretz (an Islamophic monster in modern letters) in a single breath.
I had no recollection of this at all, but it sounded so much like me that I googled “grendel peretz emily hauser” — and lo! There it was! On Balloon Juice.
A) How much do I love the internet and the Google subset of the internet? OMG, soooo much!
and B) This so amused me that I had to share the actual comment with you. Behold:
Monsters are not always monsters, not in every waking moment of their lives. Grendel’s mother loved him, and that’s why she came to avenge him. She was still a monster.
Which is to say: I loathe Marty Peretz, and made rather a stink about it when the anti-Muslim shit hit the fan. But it is possible that, in addition to being a loathsome xenophobe and racist, he is generous to a fault with those he likes, and possibly also good at cards. Who can tell.
Seriously. Who else do you know who would do such a thing? I’m a special snowflake, I am.
For your Beowulf/Grendel needs: Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (the Seamus Heaney version), Beowulf (a middle-school appropriate re-telling) and Grendel (a re-telling from the vantage point of the monster). And yes, I really have read all three — I read the second one out loud to the boy, and will read it to the girl in a year or two. Geek is as geek does, my friends!
In honor of Ramadan (which began this week ), and the fact that I have but a little time left with the lovely folks of Feministe, I thought I would aim once again for the overlap in my life’s Venn Diagram.
To your right! The circle labelled “reads a lot of books.” To your left! The circle labelled “academic and professional obsession with matters Middle Eastern.” Up above! The circle labelled “thinks a lot about women’s issues.”
Boom! Right there in the middle, where you would find the book I blogged about on Tuesday, Teta, Mother and Me, you will also find this: Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East, by Isobel Coleman, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Affairs (which I first reviewed when it came out in 2009).
The public discourse among non-Muslims regarding the Muslim community tends to be shaped by stereotypes, possibly most powerfully when the conversation turns to Muslim women — they are hounded, we tend to think, and quite possibly cowering. The very real problems with which Muslim women grapple appear rooted in the nature of the religion, and, we assume, are thus powerfully immune to real change.
By way of counterargument, Paradise Beneath Her Feet presents an engrossing, seemingly counter-intuitive take on the question of women’s advancement in the Muslim world, showing that Islamic feminists are successfully arguing – from within the texts and traditions of their faith – that gross gender inequality flies in the face not just of the spirit of Islam, but also its laws.