Thursday, February 11, 2010

Queer Theories and Theologies

by Mike Adams

I've decided to enter the ministry. And I'm going back to school in order to prepare. My choice of schools is Meadville-Lombard Theological School. I want to go there so I can take the course "Queer Theories and Theologies" under Laurel C. Schneider. [Meadville Lombard Theological School is a theological school serving Unitarian Universalism and liberal religion]

Professor Schneider's description of "Queer Theories and Theologies" is, to say the least, pretty queer, especially given that it's offered in a seminary:

"This course is a close examination of the development of `queer theory' out of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered liberation movement on the one hand, and the international development of critical theory on the other. Our particular interest throughout the course will be first in exploring queer theory as a public academic discourse and second in discussing what impact this discourse may have on theology and ministry."

Professor Schneider's course objectives are perhaps the most appealing aspect of "Queer Theories and Theologies":

"1. To get confused and yet not give up on thinking.

2. To improve in critical thinking about the intersections of theory (system of rules or principles) with public action so that we may be better able to recognize the ways in which theory often flies `under the radar' in the public realms of church and ministry, government, social movements, and culture.

3. To make at least one practical connection between queer theory as you come to understand it and public theology."

I'm pretty confused by some of those objectives. But I'm not quite ready to give up on thinking. There's hope for me yet.

Whenever one is confused in Professor Schneider's course he (or she or it or undecided) has an opportunity to submit a "weekly reflection." This is the part of the reading schedule that includes a "reflection question" meant to help guide reading for the session. The good news is that the student can use the question to frame a one-page response to the reading, or (and I'm quoting directly from the syllabus) the student can "ignore the question and address one of (the student's) own that emerged for (the student) in response to the session's reading."

I can hardly wait for this part of the class because the readings are both godly and scholarly. For example, students read "The Queer God" by Marcella Althaus-Reid. Later, they read an article by Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, which is in "God's Phallus and Other Problems for Men and Monotheism." Mark Jordan's "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology" also makes the list. But the highlight of the readings is none other than professor Laurel Schneider's article "What Race is Your Sex?"

I thought about writing a rebuttal to Schneider's article called "How Tall is Your Age?" But I decided to call it "What color are your brain farts?"

By session nine of "Queer Theories and Theologies" the student is expected to formulate a central question or thesis statement for a project, which constitutes 30% of the final course grade. Mine will take the form of a final paper called "Why Queers Enter the Ministry."

Some years ago, a man asked for my opinion on why his good friend, an atheist, had decided to go to Yale Divinity School. I told him that the Enemy could do more harm trying to destroy an institution from within than from without.

And so it is with the so-called GLBT (Gilbert) movement. The Gilbert has equal rights. He is not fighting for anything. He is only seeking to destroy anyone or anything that will not validate him. That is why only 4% of gays who live in states giving them a "right" to get married actually do get married. They do not seek to enjoy marriage. They seek to destroy marriage. All because it denies them validation.

Originally, all Unitarians and Universalists were Christians who didn't believe in the Holy Trinity of God but, instead, in the unity of God. Later, they stressed the importance of "rational thinking" and the "humanity" of Jesus. Since the merger of the two denominations in 1961, Unitarian Universalism has emphasized "social justice." Hence the interest in the Gilbert movement.

We live in a time when Gilberts are invading Christian denominations in an effort to destroy their core Christian beliefs. I intend to enroll in Meadville-Lombard Theological School in order to reverse this trend and bring the Unitarians and Universalists back to Christianity.

I want to set them straight, so to speak. I want to save them before their symbol, the flaming chalice, is replaced by a flaming phallus.


Immigration judge: German anti-homeschooling policy 'repellant to everything we believe as Americans’

A U.S. immigration court Tuesday granted political asylum to a German homeschooling family, finding that the German government’s persecution of the family violated the family’s basic human rights. The judge in the case reportedly called Germany’s anti-homeschooling policy “repellant to everything we believe as Americans” at a hearing held Thursday. The Alliance Defense Fund provided funding to the Home School Legal Defense Association for the case.

“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children’s education without undue government interference,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “The immigration court has clearly recognized that basic human rights are being violated by the German policy of persecuting home-schooling families. Many Americans are simply unaware of just how bad the policy is. We hope this ruling sheds light on a predatory policy that the German government ought to end immediately.”

“There is no safety for homeschoolers in Germany,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for HSLDA and an ADF-allied attorney. “The two highest courts in Germany have ruled that it is acceptable for the German government to ‘stamp out’ homeschoolers as some kind of ‘parallel society.’ The reasoning is flawed. Valid research shows that homeschoolers excel academically and socially. German courts are simply ignoring the truth that exists all over the world where homeschooling is practiced.”

In granting asylum to the Romeikes, a Christian family from Bissinggen, Germany, U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman reportedly called the German government’s attempt to stamp out “parallel societies” by persecuting home-schoolers “odd” and “silly,” finding that the rights being violated in the case, In the Matter of Romeike, are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate. According to Donnelly, the judge agreed that homeschoolers are a particular group that the German government is trying to suppress and that the Romeike family has a well-founded fear of persecution that makes them eligible for asylum. A written order from the court is forthcoming.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children fled persecution in August 2008 to seek political asylum in the U.S. In Germany, they were fined several times for home-schooling their children and left their home country when it became clear they could lose custody or be jailed. They now live in Morristown, Tennessee.


Christian teacher 'forced out' of British school after complaining Muslim pupils praised 9/11 hijackers 'as heroes'

Hate speech and racism from Muslims is OK, apparently

A Christian teacher yesterday claimed he was forced out of his job after complaining that Muslim pupils as young as eight hailed the September 11 hijackers as heroes. Nicholas Kafouris, 52, is suing his former school for racial discrimination. He told a tribunal that he had to leave his £30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the 'racist' and 'anti-Semitic' behaviour of Year 4 pupils.

The predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class and described the September 11 terrorists as 'heroes and martyrs'. One pupil said: 'Don't touch me, you're a Christian' when he brushed against him. Others said: 'We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up', and 'The Christians and Jews are our enemies - you too because you're a Christian'.

Mr Kafouris, a Greek Cypriot, taught for 12 years at Bigland Green Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London. According to Ofsted 'almost all' its 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language. The teacher claims racial discrimination by the school, its headmistress and her assistant head after they failed to take action about the comments made by pupils to him.

He said there was a change in attitude of the pupils after the atrocities of September 11, 2001. They told him: 'We hate the Christians' and 'We hate the Jews', despite his attempts to stop them. He said he filled out a Racist Incident Reporting Sheet but claimed headmistress Jill Hankey dismissed his concerns.

In a statement submitted to the Central London Employment Tribunal he said: 'Miss Hankey proceeded to excuse and justify the pupil's behaviour, conduct and remarks to me as if I had no right to be offended by the child's remarks and conduct. 'Amongst Miss Hankey's justifications for the child's remarks, she said, "If the child was older, say 15, I might take it more seriously. He's only nine - he's only doing it to wind you up".' He added: 'I felt the head's behaviour and conduct towards me amounted to direct religious discrimination. I was intimidated in the way she spoke to me which indicated "Don't come back with such issues again".'

Mr Kafouris, a bachelor, said the comments became more frequent after the head did nothing about the initial incidents. 'In late November and December 2006, a number of unacceptable and blunt racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks were being made by various children in Year 4 where I taught, such as, "The Twin Tower bombers are heroes and martyrs". 'Some children were expressing delight at the death and killing of people of other cultures and religions.

'In the last week of November 2006 a child was talking about stabbing another child and I told him this was dangerous talk and that a lawyer had recently been stabbed by teenagers. His reply was, "I'm glad that man died". "Why?" I asked. "Because he's a Christian and English and we're Muslim".'

He claimed that during a religious education lesson about Jonah and the whale, one of the pupils asked if Jonah was a Jew, before shouting: 'I hate the Jews, they're our enemies.'

Mr Kafouris said he again tried to speak to Miss Hankey about it. 'The head's response was hostile and offensive again. The very first thing she said to me was, "Oh, you again! You're the only teacher that reports these things! Nobody else does!" 'Four times she repeated, "It's because of your lack of discipline that they're saying these things".'

Mr Kafouris was signed off with stress by his GP at the end of February 2007 after assistant head Margaret Coleman warned him not to challenge the pupils in class about their remarks. He says the lack of support from the school has made him clinically depressed and unable to work. He was sacked in April last year.


"Diversity" Research Advances Progresses Accumulates

In a long, interesting, and valuable article in the Chronicle of Higher Education Peter Schmidt reviews what he describes as the "increased nuance and complexity" of a "new wave of research on campus diversity." The new research, he writes,
holds the promise of improving how colleges serve students of different hues. On the fundamental question of whether racial and ethnic diversity produces educational benefits, the latest studies' bottom line is: Sometimes. With the right mix of students. If handled delicately.
Left unsaid, at least out loud, is what such faint and attenuated praise of the new work says about the quality of the old work it attempts to move beyond. At least some of the new scholars are willing to admit that the first generation of "diversity" research left a good deal to be desired.

Many of you will recall the controversial report by University of Michigan psychologist Patricia Gurin that played such an important role in UM's defense of its racial preference policies. (Those two posts, by the way, did not discuss the competence of Gurin's work so much as its honesty.) Now some scholars are having second thoughts about this and other similar work. "n the period leading to the Grutter decision," Schmidt writes,
researchers had been focused on the basic question of whether diversity produced any educational benefits, because the courts' view of the legality of race-conscious admission policies appeared to hinge on the answer.

"There was a rush to get stuff out quickly," says Mr. Milem, of Arizona, who helped generate research used by proponents of affirmative action to make their case. "The lawyers did not want the nuance. They said, `Show us what the outcomes are.' They pushed us to sort of talk in better, shorter sound bites because that is the way it needs to be communicated."

The debate over the persuasiveness of research on this point has remained very much alive in the years since Grutter. In an article published in the Stanford Law Review in 2006, for example, Justin Pidot, who was then a third-year Stanford law student and now is a Justice Department lawyer, reviewed the research that had been before the Supreme Court in 2003 and found it inconclusive on the key question of whether colleges must maintain minority enrollments above certain levels to achieve educational benefits.
Even former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who relied on that research in her infamous Grutter opinion, now may have doubts about whether that research "clearly demonstrate[d] the educational benefits of diverse student bodies."

Of course one need not be a new scholar, or the author of new scholarly research, to find enormous and fatal flaws in the research of Gurin and other early apologists for "diversity." For example, the Michigan Association of Scholars demolished this research (without, somehow, persuading Justice O'Connor et al.) in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Grutter (which I discussed in some detail here). "In an effort to quantify the educational benefits of diversity," they wrote,

the University solicited and then issued a report written by Patricia Gurin, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Professor Gurin sought to correlate the racial diversity of classrooms on the one hand with hundreds of educational outcomes on the other. Among her results was the conclusion that students' self-reported intellectual self confidence improved more sharply in classrooms where there was greater racial diversity. But only by wading through pages of regression tables will one find the fact (not much emphasized by the University!) that student self-reported intellectual self confidence in racially mixed classrooms increased for white students. For black students Prof. Gurin found either no correlation or a negative correlation. Black student self-confidence, according to Prof. Gurin, either did not improve, or it declined in more racially mixed classes.

As the University would have it, the University is justified in abandoning normal admissions criteria so as to boost the number of black students in order that white students (but not black students) may feel more self-confident. Whether this shows a need for diversity at all is arguable; that it shows a compelling need for diversity is absurd.
The Michigan scholars argued, in short, that racial diversity is not constitutionally compelling because it is not in fact compelling.

Schmidt's article surveys a number of recent studies - some of those, such as those by Thomas Espenshade of Princeton I've already discussed - and his entire article is well worth reading. I was particularly interested, for a reason you will see below, in Schmidt's comments about one of those new studies:
Among the latest studies is a soon-to-be-published paper by two Duke University scholars - Peter Arcidiacono, an associate professor of economics, and Jacob L. Vigdor, a professor of public policy and economics - suggesting that colleges interested in promoting educational diversity face a Catch-22: If they relax admissions standards to take in more black and Hispanic students, their white and Asian-American students are much less likely to reap educational benefits, at least as measured by their acquisition of diversity-related skills assumed to increase long-term earning potential.

On the whole, the study, slated for publication in the journal Economic Inquiry, found only weak evidence that the racial composition of a college's student body has a long-term impact on the success of white and Asian-American students in the areas it measured. And where colleges enrolled black and Hispanic students whose academic credentials were lower, on average, than those of other students, the effect of diversity on the success of white and Asian-American students appeared, if anything, to be negative.
Note well - in fact, note very, very well - the dramatic but unacknowledged assumption here that virtually screams, in vain, for recognition: the value of "diversity" consists of its effects on white and Asian students. The authors, of course, recognize that "diversity" may have other justifications, but they clearly recognize what most "diversity" advocates prefer to disguise: that the justification for "diversity" because of what it does for whites and Asians, not the preferred minorities. Here is their abstract:
This article evaluates the frequently argued but heretofore little tested hypothesis that increasing minority representation in elite colleges generates tangible benefits for majority-race students. Using data on graduates of 30 selective universities, we find only weak evidence of any relationship between collegiate racial composition and the postgraduation outcomes of white or Asian students. Moreover, the strongest evidence we uncover suggests that increasing minority representation by lowering admission standards is unlikely to produce benefits and may in fact cause harm by reducing the representation of minority students on less selective campuses. While affirmative action may still be desirable for the benefits it conveys to minority students, these results provide little support for "spillover" effects on majority-race students....
The hollowness of the "spillover" justification for "diversity" (actually, its only legal justification) has been noted before, such as by the Michigan Association of Scholars quoted above ("... the University is justified in abandoning normal admissions criteria so as to boost the number of black students in order that white students (but not black students) may feel more self-confident").

And, if I do say so myself (well, who else is going to say so?), the discordant, grating song that "diversity uses blacks for the benefit of whites" has been sung here, loudly and frequently, since 2002 (!). Critics of "diversity" often note the unfairness of excluding some whites and Asians so that other whites and Asians could receive the alleged benefits of being exposed to the preferentially admitted minorities. They properly regard such treatment as unfair, I noted in the November 2002 post just quoted,
because they were not treated with what Ronald Dworkin (and others) would call "equal respect." Their interests were subordinated to the (presumed) interests of others in being exposed to more "diversity" than the rejected applicants could provide. In short, they were treated as a means to the more important ends of others.
But, I also noted, the same point could be made about the successful, "diversity"-providing minority applicants.
Even though they were awarded the prize of admission, they too were treated as a means of providing a benefit to others, i.e., the non-minorities who will benefit from being exposed to them. They are not treated as individuals. They are not admitted, after all, to provide "diversity" to themselves but to others. True, they may receive some benefit from being in a "diverse" student body. But they would receive that benefit no matter what majority-white institution they attended. That is, admitting the preferentially treated blacks admitted to any highly selective university does not provide them with any diversity benefits they would not receive at less selective majority-white institutions. The diversity benefit that preferences are said to provide, that is, flows to the non-minorities exposed to the preferentially admitted minorities. This is treating them as a means, not an end, every bit as much as the rejected whites....
I've played this song so many times it has become a broken record - such as here, emphasizing that "whatever benefits derive from diversity are provided by the preferentially admitted minorities, not to them."

They may well receive some benefit from being admitted to more selective institutions than they would have absent the racial preference they received (or course, they are also less likely to graduate), but the diversity benefit they receive cannot justify those preferences because the preferentially admitted minorities would have received the same diversity benefits at the less selective institutions they would otherwise have attended.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the elite institutions that offer racial preferences are using minorities to provide "diversity" to their non-minority students. In return, those students are allowed entry into institutions whose requirements would have excluded them if they had been judged by the same standards as the other students. This bargain may or may not be beneficial to the instiutions or to the preferentially admitted, i.e., differentially treated, minorities, but it is a fallacy to point to diversity benefits allegedly received by the preferred to justify the preferences extended to them. If "diversity" justifies racial discrimination, it is because of the benefits received by the non-minorities who are exposed to the preferentially admitted minorities. To claim otherwise is less than honest.
And here I discussed Hostages to Diversity, a white student was denied access to a math and science magnet program because allowing his transfer would have a negative "impact on diversity." Similarly, two Asian-Americans kindergartners were denied transfers to a school with a French immersion program because allowing the transfer would have deprived the students in their current school of the benefits of being exposed to them. When their parents pointed out that the new school has as few Asian-Americans as their current school, the Montgomery County, Maryland, Superintendent of Schools replied to the school board "that nothing in the school system's policy permits `robbing Peter to pay Paul' by hurting the diversity of one school to help it at another."

I could quote more, such as Paul Brest, former dean of the Stanford Law School, being
honest enough to recognize that admitting minorities so that the other students may benefit from being exposed to their allegedly different perspectives places a burden on them. He notes that "[w]hile minority students complained of the burden of constantly having to educate their white classmates, the minority students learned as well." Of course they did, but the fact they did does not validate the diversity justification for racial preferences. They would also have learned at the schools to which they would have been admitted without preferences. The diversity argument is based on the contributions the preferentially admitted minorities make to others, not on the benefits they undoubtedly receive.
Since Brest defends racial preferences, he obviously thinks the burden their "diversity" preference bestows on minorities is worth bearing.

Tote that barge! Lift dat bale!


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