Reading Round Up, October 7, 2016

Think racists aren’t emboldened by the hateful climate Trump is promoting? Last week, I shared a story about the mayor of West York, Pennsylvania posting racially offensive material about President Obama on his Facebook page. This week, I share the story of Kentucky House candidate Dan Johnson sharing similar pictures that mock the President and his family for their race.  The Republican is also a leader at the evangelical, non-denominational church Heart of Fire in Louisville. In addition to their racism, West York’s Mayor Wasko and candidate Johnson have this in common: they are unapologetic and unashamed of their posts. In fact, Johnson claimed he would be racist NOT to post the pictures, saying “I think it would be racist not to do the same for President Obama as we’ve done for every other president.” The national party has disavowed Johnson, though not his views on Muslims (they’re not Americans and should be banned from entering the country) or the Confederate flag.

And if Trump’s racism is arousing racists, imagine what his sexually violent “locker room banter” is doing for misogynists?

Sure, the Republican Party has a history of running candidates who don’t value diversity or inclusion or women, but Trump is distinctly different in that he’s so openly supported by white supremacists and other bigots. Maybe, worries Frank Bruni in the New York Times, we used up some of our credibility in calling out racists before in “Crying Wolf, Confronting Trump,” a quick take on how the language we use in describing political opponents matters.

Jenna Johnson in the New York Times reports on Trump’s babbling at a Manheim, Pennsylvania rally. During his appearance, he was unable to focus on his key points and was easily derailed into some of his most nonsensical, unpresidential remarks, veering from comments that Clinton could “actually be crazy” and suggesting that she was unfaithful to her husband to noting that running for president is tough, especially when he could be starring in another season of The Apprentice.

Was Alec Baldwin’s performance on Saturday Night Live parody?

Philip Gorski provides the best answer so far to the question “Why Do Evangelicals Vote for Trump?” In offering insight why it is the worst kind of evangelicals (my words, not Gorski’s), those uninterested in or ignorant of theology and those who are less pious (less likely to attend church, for example), Gorski writes:

Trumpism is a secular form of religious nationalism. By “religious nationalism,” I mean a form of nationalism that makes religious identity the litmus test of national belonging. By “a secular form of religious nationalism,” I mean one that strips religious identity of its ethical content and transcendental reference. In Trumpism, religion functions mainly as a marker of ethnicity.

Some evangelicals are jumping ship. The Christian Post’s Eric Sapp has earlier noted that “Trump’s Offer to Christians Is Same Offer Devil Made Christ.”

Other writers for the evangelical magazine—Tom Zoellner in “Trump Evangelicals Choose Worldly Power Over the Gospel,” Napp Nazworth in “Why Evangelicals Shouldn’t Vote for Trump,” and Sapp again in “Hillary Clinton Is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion”—have been equally clear that Trump himself and the likely consequences Trump presidency would be awful.

Some white people are doing right by standing up to racism in St. Louis’ suburbs.

A young white Mennonite helps us realize that not catching hell for not saying the pledge is probably a sign of racial privilege. For me, it raises the question of what explanation (if any) I give to my kids’ teachers about why they sit out. “We’re Mennonite” doesn’t offer much information to people unfamiliar with the faith. “We reject the violence of the words” isn’t adequate—plus, our reason is because we reject the nationalism with its inherent violence, both then and now. If I only need to say “religious reasons,” should I say more? Yes, because while religious reasons make it easier to not say the pledge (since teachers know they have to respect religion), the reasons are bigger than that.

It’s early October—more than a month away from my university’s fall break but far enough into the semester that the high of new office supplies has worn off—and I’m reminded that working mothers work harder than just about anyone else. (Yes, I know that single people have responsibilities, too. And they can be acute. But we’re talking about averages here, not individuals, over the very long-haul of multiple children’s lives in your household.)

Scary Mommy interprets the results of “How Parents Fare: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Subjective Well-Being in Time with Children.” The short version is: Mothers are generally less happy because they do so much more of the grunt work of parenting. I’m grateful for the data driven analysis of course, but this is basically like proving that snow is cold.

Most students who enter my university don’t graduate, and if you teach in a public university, it’s likely yours don’t either. We can do better by our first generation students if we recognize that they need mentoring that meets their specific needs.

I’d really like to teach the forthcoming Lived Religion and the Politics of (In)Tolerance, but it’s pricey. Peter Boumgarden’s review of Bromleigh McCleneghan’s Good Christian Sex: Why Chastity isn’t the only Option and Other Things the Bible Says About Sex has it on my Reading Wish List too.

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