Monday, August 26, 2013

Speed Blogging, Monday 8/26/2013. On Anniversaries, Women in the Obama Administration and The Question of Religious Freedom

Or word salad.  Not coleslaw, but the kind of salad where you have goat cheese lumps, too, among lettuce leaves a bit too big to swallow without knife-work.

First, Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, today is the 93rd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment (women's right to vote).  So we are a very very young country when it comes to civil rights.  Worth keeping in mind. 

Second, the Koch brothers have decided not to buy the Tribune papers.  This is good news.  Or as much good news as we are likely to get for a while so you should revel in it.

Third, has the Obama administration a good record of hiring women or not?  That may depend, as wise people say, but the weasel-word of "diversity" doesn't suffice as a defense:

“The president’s commitment to diversity is second to none, and his track record speaks to it,” Alyssa Mastromonaco, the deputy chief of staff, said in an e-mail message. “This is a man who has appointed women as national security adviser, as White House counsel, as budget director and to lead the task of implementing our single most important domestic policy accomplishment,” namely Mr. Obama’s health care law. “This president has single-handedly increased the diversity of our courts, and he will continue to select from a field of highly qualified and diverse candidates for all federal posts.”
For those who don't know of my dislike of the term "diversity," a short explanation:  You can have diversity with a government which has one white woman, one black man, one Asian-American man and umpteen zillion old white guys.  "Diversity" is not the same thing as a representative government*, in short, and it's a representative government that I think we want.  "Diversity" could provide that, of course, but it also offers a loop-hole for those who don't want a representative government etc..

Fourth, I find the concept of religious rights or religious freedom interesting because it can clash with other types of rights, given that religious rights only crop up in a society with more than one flavor (or perhaps intensity) of religion.  One crucial question is naturally to what extent religious rights infringe on the rights of those who don't share the same religion.  This article addresses some of those issues. 

But very few articles analyze how women's rights and religious rights may conflict on a much deeper level, if the religion specifies women's roles as inferior and secondary and if survival after death is taught to depend on the internalization of those teachings.  That puts the believing woman into an impossible Catch-22 position when it comes to choosing between her religion and her human worth. 

*Representative in terms of population group sizes, with certain basic guarantees and possibly positive discrimination to reassure that group such as Native Americans have representation, too.