David Brock, Rush Limbaugh, and Being Quiet

David Brock, founder of Media Matters for America, wrote a piece published by Politico on Tuesday of this week that addresses the newly “doomed” business model of Rush Limbaugh. He argues that Rush’s statements several weeks ago about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke have caused over 100 advertisers to pull support from Limbaugh’s daily radio program, and that his program is dying.

David Brock, founder of Media Matters for America

To be honest, I don’t believe it for a second. Rush Limbaugh’s words against Fluke were inflammatory and irresponsible. He apologized for them, and it is not for me to judge the sincerity of his words. But I don’t think Rush is doomed, I think in some ways his opinions, life and radio show will be even further bolstered by his poorly chosen words. Many on the “Right” are furious about the galling and apparent double standard in media, and smart advertisers whose products would be attractive to Limbaugh’s listeners would likely be more inclined to place more advertising money in his show’s time slots.

Rush Limbaugh will continue smoking his cigars, paid for by advertisers.

And one other point about David Brock’s column. Brook’s speaks of irony in Limbaugh’s frustration with “censorship”, but apparently fails to see the irony in the phrase “a little bit nutty, a little bit slutty” he self-admittedly used against Anita Hill some years ago. Not only has Limbaugh sent the message to women that if we speak out we’ll be attacked, but a myriad of people on the Left have done the same with small repercussions. It’s time for men like Brock’s to, as my dear boyfriend says, “shut their pie hole”. Brock’s has no leg to stand on here, so he really should just sit down and be quiet. Now, is Brock the pot or the kettle?

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SHAMING YOUR CHILDREN INTO GOOD GRADES?

It must be a slow news day if I’m blogging about the newest case of a parent’s frustration with their child’s grades. A parent in Miami-Dade found out his son has received three failing grades this semester,  and decided to discipline his 7th grade child by sticking him on the corner of a busy intersection for Spring Break with a sign that prompts drivers to honk if there’s something wrong with his grades and his “class clown” status.

See story here: http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21006911506790/student-holds-sign-as-punishment-for-bad-grades/

This tactic has been seen before in Miami-Dade when a girl who was punished at school for fighting suffered a similar fate. Is this kind of parenting a sign of a parent who cares about their child? I am not inclined to think so. Public humiliation may be an effective motivational tactic for this young boy who is receiving failing grades in civics, math and language arts, but it will likely be a temporary one. I question the quality of parenting this child has received. If his father didn’t know about his failing grades until the report card arrived right before Spring Break, he probably hasn’t been supervising his son’s homework or been actively engaged in helping his son succeed in the academic world.

Report card fail

Quite frankly, I’m SHOCKED (note the sarcasm) that the child of a parent who does not see the value properly using the English language is performing poorly in school! The reason for his failure is elusive! I’m sure this public humiliation and scorn will in one week make him a new young man who knows all the tools of success. Public humiliation is the best answer!

Check out this video: Puppy Training by Will Ferrell

What makes this even better (or worse) is the father’s battered use of the English language.

A Florida dad is scolding his son for receiving a failing grade in language arts while he uses contractions improperly!

Alright, all mockery and sarcasm aside, let me share a personal anecdote with you. My paternal grandfather only received an 8th grade formal education due largely to the migrant life his family had because of the Great Depression. When my father was a boy, my grandfather worked during the day as a carpenter or steel mill worker and after having dinner with his family he would go to a local high school to take math and English courses. He never received his GED, and he never went to college, but he continued placing value in learning and was an excellent example to my father by doing so. My grandparents monitored my father’s homework and placed importance on studying, learning, and receiving high marks in school. My dad put himself through Catholic high school because my grandparents couldn’t afford to send him there, but they encouraged him in any way they could. In 1970 my father became the first person in our family to graduate from college. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and has had a successful career for over 40 years in the insurance industry.  My grandfather’s placement of value on learning and pride in your work pushed my father to success, and my father has returned the favor in greater measure with his children. My brother Jeff and I have always received excellent marks in school, though school was not “easy” for either of us, particularly since I have a learning disability. Jeff now owns a successful custom exhaust and engine repair shop in Phoenix where he takes pride in his work, loves what he does, and is teaching his daughter the same values our folks taught us. I’ll be graduating Cum Laude from Arizona State this May and hopefully will be attending graduate school next Fall. My parents supervised our homework, found us tutors at school if we needed them, and were committed to helping us receive a quality education in and out of a formal educational setting.

My point here is this: perhaps this father does love his son, and does want him to succeed. But mocking and publicly humiliating your child for failure doesn’t teach him anything useful other than it’s humiliating to fail. It doesn’t teach him how to succeed, and it doesn’t model for him the way to success. I have a sneaking suspicion that this father has done little to foster a love of learning, the value taking of pride in everything you do, and a desire to succeed. As such, his son’s failure is a reflection on him as a parent and as a man. Children learn by watching, so lead by example.

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A Rush Baby’s Take on the Fluke

Rush Limbaugh. That name conjures up a myriad of images, thoughts and reactions in every person not living under a rock in America. To some, he’s a veritable bastion of knowledge and profundity, a man of the people who understands the state of all things. To others, he is a “big fat idiot” (according to the first result on google for “Rush Limbaugh is”) misogynist who appeals to the ignorant masses of Republicans. Some people have a jubilant response to the mention of his name, and others respond in abject horror. One thing we all can likely agree on, regardless of our personal take on him, he is a man who knows how to stay visible.

Rush is a "Big Fat Idiot", at least according to Al Franken

I am a child of Gen-Y who grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh’s radio program with my mother, who tuned in almost daily. We are commonly referred to as “Rush Babies”. I have many fond memories of listening to him get all blustery about Charlie Tree, Waco, the famous blue dress and a slew of other issues. He has brought laughter to my life, prompted me think about things differently, and challenged me to be more involved and more informed. When I tell friends I listen to Rush regularly, I get a lot of groans and funny looks, but it doesn’t bother me because he doesn’t define me. I don’t agree with everything he says, and the older I get the less I agree with him in a few key areas. In the last few years I have made a habit of listening to people with whom I have profound disagreements, since having my views echoed back to me does nothing for mental cultivation. Challenging commonly accepted notions has value, questioning our leaders is good and right, and exposing ourselves to a variety of ideas causes personal growth. These things have been a part of my life largely because of listening to highly opinionated people like Rush Limbaugh. I am thankful for the Limbaugh’s, Maher’s, and Williams’ of the world.

I bet my mom would have clothed me in one of these had they been around in the 80's

Rush’s recent statements about the Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who gave testimony about the birth control mandate before Congress last week, have stirred up a typhoon not unlike the Super Typhoon Nina in 1931 China. People are outraged, insulted, angry, and calling for Limbaugh’s proverbial head on a proverbial platter. I bet some people would be ok in doing away with the “proverbial” antecedent. Rush called Fluke a prostitute and a slut, while expressing outrage that she wants the American people to pay for her to have sex three times a day. Conservatives like Newt Gingrich have decried the liberal media’s outrage to these insults as “desperate” attempt to avoid discussing the “real” issues.

So is the media doing what Speaker Gingrich said? Frankly, I don’t really care that much. Perhaps they are, but I’ve never really relied on the media as my sole source of information and ideas. What matters to me, a Rush Baby, is what Limbaugh said. I was outraged and disgusted by his use of language as a way to prove his point and further elucidate his disgust with President Obama and the Democrat’s push to take freedom away from the American people. Calling a woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she’s advocating for mandatory oral contraceptive coverage is unacceptable. Women who use contraceptives and/or have sex outside of marriage are not sluts. The term is inflammatory, and intentionally so in Limbaugh’s comments. His statements reveal once again the double standard women face in modern society, that our sexuality makes us dirty, while a man’s makes him manly. Limbaugh has been married three times, and I have no idea whether or not he saved his sexy time for marriage, and I don’t care. If he had sex with three different women every day, I still wouldn’t care, because it doesn’t influence my life at all. If he has to pop a Viagra every time, I also don’t care, more power to him. Sex is a wonderful and healthy act for consenting adults. Would I call him a slut if he takes Viagra 100 times per day? Nope. Would I call him a slut if he wanted his Viagra to be provided by the government? Negative. What would I say? I would say something like: “If you want to have sex, and you need Viagra to do so, that’s fine but I’m not willing to pay for it. I don’t think the government should be involved in healthcare or health insurance. If you want Viagra, pay for it yourself, or find a health insurance plan that covers it.”

Birth control 1x a day, Viagra x times a day.

Well, that perfectly conveys the point, doesn’t it? The government has no business meddling in contraceptives or erectile dysfunction medication, period. End of story. No insults required, no derogatory remarks necessary. Limbaugh subtly implied that women who have sex and take birth control are sluts. Maybe he didn’t mean it that way, but that’s essentially what he said, and it was a sexist, misogynist remark. Limbaugh, according to my research and recollection of his remarks about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, never called Clinton a “slut” or whatever the male equivalent was for having sexual relations with a White House intern or his scandals involving Jones, Flowers and Willey. But a woman who wants to take contraceptives is a slut, regardless of his knowledge (or lack of) of her sexual activity.

I agree with the substance of what Rush is saying here and I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s a highly flawed human being just like the rest of us. But this name calling and seeming sexism is pretty disgusting to me as a woman. Rush jumped into the filthy pool of insults and woman bashing, and I’m sad to have seen it. I’m glad he apologized to Ms. Fluke, she didn’t deserve those remarks. I hope he’s learned his lesson with this one, and I’d like to think he’s better than resorting to derogatory remarks. Disagreement is fine, but calling a woman one of the most opprobrious terms possible is not. Not ever.

Make your point without sounding like an ass

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The Death of Osama bin Laden, and the aftermath

Last night, I was overcome with both a sense of relief and fear at the news of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of a U.S. Navy SEAL team. This is something American’s over the last decade have been hoping and praying for, the day when we could rest at last upon the capture of our arch-enemy. But I have not found rest on this day, rather I have found a deep pit in my stomach, stemming from not only his death but his burial.

Islamic tradition can often be a difficult thing for a non-Muslim to grasp, which is largely the reason that I’ve spent so much of my time this last year focusing on it in my studies. It’s fascinating and difficult to study a culture rooted in such drastically different tradition than my own. In my search for answers regarding the very controversial burial at sea that bin Laden received, I contacted a revered professor at Arizona State University, Dr. Abdullahi Gallab, whom has extensive knowledge in Islamic law, history and tradition, and who graciously linked me to reliable sources.

Tradition in Islam is crucial to orthodoxy and orthopraxy, requiring at times a delicate negotiation of rituals and duties. Death is an event that is very meaningful in the life of a devout Muslim, ushering the believer into an afterlife with Allah and a judgement of the deeds done by the follower. The Quran tells of God’s creation of Adam from a lump of clay, filled with Divine light, or the spirit of God. All people are thought to be a body, or shell, of clay, represented by darkness, with a center of Divine spirit, or pure light. The space between body or shell, and spirit or light, is the soul — mixed darkness and light. The unique mixture of body and spirit in the soul is what differentiates individuals. At the time of death, the shell of clay is removed, exposing the soul to God (Chittick, 1992). As in other religions, death is not the final journey of a Muslim but rather the start of an entirely new life . After death, Islamic tradition requires the preparation of the body begin immediately. In pre-Islamic tradition the failure to bury a corpse would deprive the soul of eternal rest  (Kassis, 1997).

When thinking of a burial at sea, one most often conjures of images of Vikings sending off their fallen soldiers into a the ocean on a fiery barge of wood. However, the Muslim tradition of burial at sea intimates a vastly different type of burial. Especially since in Islam, cremating a body is forbidden. Ebrahim Moosa, a Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, has described the Islamic tradition in which burial at sea is prescribed. He indicates that burial at sea is permissible when a corpse threatens the health of other passengers and when a land burial is impossible. The body is to be wrapped in a shroud, placed in a casket, and sent off into the ocean with the hope that it would arrive on land allowing the residents to lay the body to rest. If the ship is too far from land, the casket is loaded down with weights to ensure it sinks to the ocean floor. In each of these cases, it is implied that the corpse died on a ship rather than on land, where there would be different burial requirements.

Burial At Sea

The U.S. Government has stated in various places that there were no countries willing to intern the body of bin Laden for reasons many of us can understand. Burying the body of one of the most hated men of my lifetime would certainly bring a large amount of criticism if people were to interpret that as a sympathetic gesture. Also, where ever he would be buried would certainly become a controversial site, drawing supporters to enshrine his grave and victims who may desecrate the grave out of grief and deep-set hatred. Let’s remember, Bin Laden not only murdered several thousand American’s but Muslim’s all over the Middle East. In fact, one article I cam across stated that he murdered 8x more Muslims than Americans, which would certainly create a level of hatred among the world-wide congregation of Muslims.

When we consider these facts, there are still questions remaining. The largest of which in my mind, is “will this effort to intern bin Laden in a respectful and traditional way be received with the respect in which it was intended?”. Obviously we also have to combat the sneaking suspicion that “if there aren’t any pictures, it didn’t happen”. But the reception of this action is the cause of my greatest concern. The radical Arab world (called in my line of study “Islamists”) often finds fault in everything America does, regardless of intent. My concern however, actually pertains to the reactions of the more moderate Muslim’s in the world who have been victims of Islamists, but who also have disagreed with the actions taken against the Muslim world on behalf of America. My hope is that they would recognize the American soldiers acted as respectfully as they could (burying the body before nightfall) when facing the challenge of no country wanting his body at all. Surely we could have done horrific things to bin Laden, things I’ve seen mentioned on Facebook/Twitter and heard from friends and family, things involving the desecration of the body. Did his burial follow Islamic tradition to the letter? No, but it seems great efforts were made to do so. Will we get credit for that? Only time will tell. I would hope that the sincerity of the gesture would sound loud and clear to the Muslim community in the United States, and the community world-wide. My Muslim brothers and sisters who practice their faith in love and peace are surely rejoicing with us this day, as a terrorist of many has been brought to justice. Sadly, the animosity toward the United States as a result of political frustration, post-colonialism, and economic disparity and inequity that encouraged the acts of men like bin Laden, are still alive and well in much of the Middle East.

For now, I lay in wait with bated breath, hoping for the best but sadly expecting the worst.

Respectfully,

Rachel Page Gerrick

What about this whole Egypt/Muslim Brotherhood/Democracy thing?

This last week has been heavy laden with tragedy, protests, and devastation in Egypt. For the last decade or two, the spotlight in the Arab world has shown most brightly on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a few other countries.

Ever since Jimmy Carter successfully brokered peace between Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat (who was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after the treaty was signed) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at what we call the Camp David Peace Accord of 1978, Egypt has spent very little time in the forefront of political and religious discourse. The treaty they signed turned the massive tide of worry the world over – Israel and Egypt were finally at Peace, something many people thought an impossible feat. The peace was brokered out of mutual respect and a weariness from war, and required concessions from both sides.  Thus the Arab-Israeli Conflict ended, ushering in 33 years of peace between the two nations, and untold gains in freedom and economic welfare.

1979 Peace Accords After that brief history lesson (which was as much for myself as for you), we must address the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as an Islamist organization, because since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been in power, the Muslim Brotherhood has since declared itself a non-violent organization. (Let’s recall that was immediately after they assassinated an Egyptian President.) Here is a BBC Mubarak Article that will bring you up to speed relatively quickly on Mubarak’s policies.

The Muslim Brotherhood (which I have linked you to above) was started in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan Al Banna (a known xenophobic and misogynist) in his campaign to restore the Caliphate and meld politics into Islamic law and belief. The MB had ties to Nazi Germany before and during WWII, complete with all the pomp and panoply of formal state visits, de facto ambassadors, and overt as well as sub rosa joint ventures. (Information about MB gathered from Barabar Zollner’s book about The MB and it’s founder) They are credited with a myriad of terrorist attacks which you can discover in detail through a google search. In spite of all this, the MB has not been directly linked to violence since it’s non-violence declaration in 1979. However, it is important to note that there are several violent offshoots from the MB, many of with which you will be familiar. Hamas (meaning zeal in Arabic), the Islami Jihad, the Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda.

So I guess that’s two history lessons. Now on to actual discussion about what’s happening. First – it’s apparent in this situation how closely connected religion and politics are. The protesters and demonstrators marching in the streets are almost certainly composed of a majority of Muslims.  Second – Mubarak has had a fairly secular government, one which has been difficult to deal with for many Egyptians. One cannot deny that Mubarak should probably go, and the idea of free elections with decent (to the Egyptians) candidates is an excellent one.  Here’s my personal concern: should the MB become heavily involved in the political process and offer up a candidate that wins the upcoming election, Egypt will start to move from a secular country to one more likely to lean toward Islamism ideology – the ideology Iran is governed by. This will pose a problem for the entire region of North Africa and the Middle East, potentially plunging Arabs into war with Israel again. If that happens, the likelihood of Iranian and United States involvement in a conflict increases. It also poses a threat to the more “moderate” or “secular” Muslim population within Egypt itself – perhaps inviting radical MB offshoots into Egypt to wreak havoc.

Should the United States step in? How should Israel prepare for the upcoming months? Do you foresee a situation of global war? How can moderate Muslims participate now in order to perhaps stem the tide of riots and protests in favor of Islamism. Should we as private non-Egyptian citizens  even concern ourselves with this conflict?

I’m interested to hear your comments or questions.

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Religion – It’s all around us

Welcome to my very first post! Thanks for tuning in, I hope I don’t bore you too much.

I was pondering the subject of my first post, since in my current studies I am focusing on about 30 different topics. All of those discussions are pretty heavy, and they don’t seem to fit a first post, so I randomly decided to type “religion”  into Google and I specified news results for that word within the last hour. Can you guess how many hits there were on that search? A little over 38,000! That’s right – in one hour, religion has come up in the NEWS 38,000 times. Surprising? Then try to recall how many times you discuss anything related to faith or religion in a day, a week, or a month. If you keep track, you’ll find that not only does the subject arise in an obvious fashion, but in more subtle ways as well.

Consider:

  • Sayings like “The Religious Right” and “The Muslim Extremists”? I’ve heard those on the news, in conversation with family and friends, on the airplane, in class, at the grocery store, and out of the mouth of my doctor.
  • How about “Faith Based Initiative”? That phrase has been used extensively over the last decade – groups like Concerned Women for America, Promise Keepers, and The Rainbow Push Coalition.
  • Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has “The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships”.

Politics, economics, freedom, judicial precedent  and laws on the books – all these things are connected in some way to some sort of faith, religious ideology or group. I argue that there isn’t a day that goes by, in your life and mine, where we aren’t in at least minimal contact with faith.

This is my reason for creating this blog. I’m intrigued by the large role faith, religion, and belief play in our daily lives.  I want to examine why, how, and what the implications are for our life, our families, our personal causes, our nation and our world. It’s a big job, but someone has to do it.

My challenge to you for the next few days or week: be aware of how often your life and the subjects of faith and/or religion interact in some manner. I think you’ll be astounded.

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