March 31st was the seventh anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. At the non-profit founded by Schiavo’s parents and siblings, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, the Schindler’s are counting down the days from the removal of her feeding tube to her death. “Day 11: Judicial Barbarism May End in Horrific Death. Day 10: Family ‘Grief Stricken’ as Terri Schiavo Nears End. Day 9: ‘Do Something’ Terri Schiavo’s Mom Begs Governor.” In 2005 the Schindlers and the media built a distracting, carnival-esque circus tent around the nearly-inert body of a woman who had been in a hospital bed for more than a decade, cut off from the world by the loss of brain function, yet kept in it by one long, thin polyurethane tube. I saw Bobby Schindler speak at a “pro-life” event in Pennsylvania a few years ago. It broke my heart to see a man so hell-bent on perpetuating his grief, so committed to his loss that he seemed to be shrinking into his brown suit in front of our eyes. But what is veneration if not a seemingly unnatural prolongation of grief?
Just when you thought The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) couldn’t get any uglier! Recent news has exposed nasty racial tactics by the anti-LGBT group but today Human Rights Campaign uncovered GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney found $10,000 in his heart to donate to the group. Sarah Posner reports that Equally Blessed, a pro-LGBT Catholic Group, is “calling on the Church and the Knights of Columbus to sever ties with the organization.”
At the Mennonite Weekly Review Kurt Willems reviews a new book by Ron Sider, Fixing the Moral Deficit: A Balanced Way to Balance the Budget. In his introduction he gives a generalized summary of where we stand now, rather between the two extremes of Ayn Rand’s selfish libertarianism and Karl Marx’s socialism. What he forgets is that compromising the two to somewhere in the mediocre middle is really only a rhetorical and political way forward, not a systemic improvement on what we have now.
Peter Beinart was supposed to speak in Berkeley but when the East Bay Jewish community Center (JCC) cancelled their sponsorship, Beinart cancelled his talk. What is JCC’s beef with Beinart? His criticism of Zionism. Chip Berlet writes:
The way this controversy developed was a perfect media ambush storm aimed at embarrassing Beinart either way. If he spoke, Beinart, Rosenwasser, Jewish Voices for Peace and the BDS movement [supporters of the event] could be marginalized and attacked. If Beinart withdrew, (as he did), Rosenwasser, Jewish Voices for Peace, and the BDS movement could be marginalized and attacked. It is a win-win strategy designed to suppress dissent and expand what can be legitimately labeled as antisemitism.
These contentions are far less controversial in Israel than they are in the United States, which is why Beinart’s book is pitched toward us, American Jews. Though the majority of American Jews are progressive Democrats who support the creation of a Palestinian state, the most influential American Jewish philanthropists, activists and lobbyists hold more conservative politics aligned with Israel’s right-wing Likud party, and they actively work to prevent American presidents from acting as honest brokers to end the occupation.
Reminding people of death, a new study says, makes them more religious. (via Science & Religion Today)
The third annual Pontifical Academy for Life stem-cell conference has been cancelled because “the roster of speakers would ‘have confused the faithful for decades to come.’”
Five international women’s organizations/coalitions have written a statement protesting the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for failing to “adopt agreed conclusions at its 56th session. Why the failure? Traditional values.
We are particularly concerned to learn that our governments failed to reach a consensus on the basis of safeguarding “traditional values” at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. We remind governments that all Member States of the United Nations (UN) have accepted that “the human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and invisible part of universal human rights” as adopted by the 1993 World conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Governments must not condone any tradition, cultural or religious arguments which deny human right sand the fundamental freedoms of any person.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has selected a new member for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), anti-LGBT activist Dr. Robert George, who is also a former executive director of–wait for it–The National Organization for Marriage (NOM).