Archive for the ‘FOX News Channel’ Tag

Face Masks   Leave a comment

MUTUALITY, PUBLIC SAFETY, TUCKER CARLSON, AND THE FOX NOISE CHANNEL

As circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed, so has official guidance.  For example, now that vaccines for people aged 16 years or older have become more widely available in the United States of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks in public.  This pandemic has presented many challenges.  Public health professionals, whose sole agenda is to save lives, have had to study a proverbial moving target.  Hence, official guidelines have changed over time.

The target continues to move.  Therefore, data remains incomplete.  We need to remember that as we focus on what we can know in real time.  We can know much.  Whether the situation improves or worsens and how quickly it does that depends greatly on how we behave as individuals, societies, institutions, and governments.  May we not squander blessed progress.

Tucker Carlson, of the FOX Noise Channel, has encouraged people who think as he does to confront those still wearing face masks outdoors.  I have learned to expect especially potent and rich organic fertilizer from the FOX Noise Channel and from Carlson, in particular.  They have long presented themselves as champions of freedom, of a sort–freedom from, not freedom to.  During the last four or so years, in particular, the FOX Noise Channel has actually embraced a Nativistic, White nationalistic, and fascistic agenda as part of Donald Trump’s fascistic death cult of personality.  Even certain prominent Republicans (principled conservatives, I call them), former office holders, have noticed this with great alarm.

Fascism is not freedom.  No, it is a form of tyranny.

I am fully vaccinated.  Therefore, according to the most recent official guidance, I may safely and responsibly forgo wearing face masks outdoors under certain circumstances.  Sometimes I do forgo wearing face masks outdoors.  If, for example, nobody else is around, I do not wear face masks outdoors.  Yet I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes.  For example, I wear them when walking on sidewalks.  I try to maintain a social distance from other people, but that is not always possible.  Besides, assuming that someone is at least 16 years old, I cannot look at him or her and tell if he or she is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or fully vaccinated.  By wearing two face masks, I am not endangering anyone, corrupting anyone’s morals, or behaving indecently.  Therefore, nobody has the moral right to confront me for wearing two face masks outdoors.

I leave Carlson and company at the FOX Noise Channel to their fascistic death cult of personality.  If they want to compete for the Darwin Awards, that is their choice.  It is a bad one, but it is still their option.  I have the moral right to object when thew spew organic fertilizer that needlessly endangers human lives.

Perhaps I really do not have to wear two face masks when walking on sidewalks..  If I err, I hope to do so on the side of caution and mutuality.  This is part of my applied interpretation of the Golden Rule.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Anti-Intellectualism and Right-Wing Populism   1 comment

Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Damn Lies

Stephen Colbert, during his years of hosting The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spoke, in the character of a composite of most of the on-air talent at the FOX News Channel of “truthiness,” defined as

the quality or seeming or feeling true, even when being false.

“Truthiness” is the quality of anti-intellectualism, of the distrust of expertise and reference works.  Objective reality, the character of Stephen Colbert said on October 17, 2005, is

all fact and no heart.

The television persona of Colbert rejected objective reality.

Objectively, surveys revealed that more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals did not get the joke.  More self-described conservatives than self-described liberals failed to realize that Colbert was playing a character.

That which Colbert said in political satire has become the governing strategy of the Trump Administration.  One may recall that, in early 2017, Kellyanne Conway used a now-infamous term:

alternative facts.

Her boss is a proponent and purveyor of alternative facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and what Samuel L. Clemens called

damn lies.

Anti-intellectualism is a political and religious tradition in the United States and elsewhere.  (Traditions are, by definition, old, so I choose not to call anti-intellectualism an “old tradition.”)    Related to anti-intellectualism is another tradition, distrust of science.  I trust science and consider myself an intellectual, of course.  Another cousin, so to speak, is the distrust of expertise.  I like experts, people who have read, studied, researched, et cetera.  They are well-informed, by definition.  I do not pretend that they are infallible, but I trust them before I trust an uninformed person on the street.  If that makes me an elitist, so be it.

Right-wing populism embraces truthiness and alternative facts as it rejects intellectualism, expertise, and science.  This tendency is proving deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing should NOT be controversial, but they are.  The Coronavirus will not vanish one day, magically.  No, it will remain with us for a very long time.  The Bubonic Plague still exists, but how often does it become a news story?  COVID-19 will eventually join the ranks of generally contained diseases that break out here and there, now and again, with limited effects.  We will get to that day sooner rather than later by acting responsibly, both collectively and individually, and by trusting that people who study this disease know more about it than people who do not.

Unfortunately, as human psychology proves, ego defense mechanisms are generally impervious to objective reality.  The least effective way to convince one to change one’s mind may be to present objective information, especially if one’s ego is invested in an erroneous belief.  Consider opposition to vaccination, O reader.  I understand why, centuries ago, when vaccination was new, that many people feared it.  However, given that vaccination has proven effective, fear of it is irrational and contrary to objective reality.

Aside:  I report that the worst reaction I had to an immunization was the exception to the rule.  My standard reaction is none, except for momentary discomfort; I despise needles.  I recall, however, that I passed out momentarily once.  On the other hand, I got a piece of chocolate, so I cannot complain.

This pandemic presents people with a choice:  Behave responsibly and reject misinformation or embrace conspiracy theories and racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and objectively false statements and those who peddle them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Feast of William Stringfellow (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  William Stringfellow

Fair Use

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FRANK WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW (APRIL 26, 1928-MARCH 2, 1985)

Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

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I think they need to hear it.

–William Stringfellow, explaining why he read long passages of the Bible to the F.B.I. agents recording his telephone calls

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This is the man America should be listening to.

Karl Barth, on Stringfellow, early 1960s

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It is profane, as well as grandiose, to manipulate the Bible in order to apologize for America.

–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

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For thousands of us, he became the honored keeper and guardian of the Word of God.

Daniel Berrigan, 1985

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William Stringfellow comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via five sources.  He is on the short list of people The Episcopal Church will probably list officially as a saint once the “fifty-year-rule” (to which the denomination has made notable exceptions) ceases to be a barrier.  Stringfellow’s name appears in this context in the back of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Cloud of Witnesses, 2d. ed (2005), edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, contains Wallis’s remembrance of his friend of 14 years.  A Year with American Saints (2006), by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, features Stringfellow.  So does All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

Stringfellow was a prophet.  He was, by definition, also a controversial figure.  Our saint was the kind of man certain contemporary reactionaries would dismiss cynically as a “social justice warrior.” Stringfellow would, in a counterfactual scenario in which he would have heard that term, probably have considered it a compliment and read the Book of Amos to his critics.  He did, after all, read long Biblical passages to the F.B.I. spooks who recorded this telephone calls.  That was better than what some other spied-upon U.S. citizens did in identical circumstances–frequently insult J. Edgar Hoover profanely.

Stringfellow stood up for what he believed.  He condemned economic injustice, racism, institutionalized segregation, homophobia, misogyny, sexual promiscuity, and other offenses.  Our saint also advocated for the ordination of women within The Episcopal Church long before 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.  His opposition to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons also made him many enemies on the Right.

Frank William Stringfellow was a man who allowed the Bible to shape him.  He was a radical and a strong social critic who walked the walk.  Our saint, born in Johnston, Rhode Island, on April 26, 1928, was a life-long Episcopalian.  At age fifteen, he matriculated at Bates College, Lewiston, Massachusetts.  When Stringfellow left Bates College, he studied at the London School of Economics.  Our saint served in the Second Armored Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.  Next, he earned his J.D. degree at Harvard Law School.

Stringfellow moved into a slum in Harlem after he graduated from Harvard Law School.  He joined the East Harlem Protestant Parish, taught Biblical studies, and practiced law.  He remained in Harlem until 1967.  Our saint moved for health-related reasons; a metabolism-related disorder that led to diabetes affected him.  Stringfellow and platonic partner, poet Anthony Towne (died in 1980), a Methodist, moved to Block Island, New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

All evidence points to Stringfellow being a celibate, semi-closeted homosexual.  This matter, relevant to his life and activism, does not offend me.  (Stringfellow no more chose to be homosexual than I chose to be heterosexual.)

Theologically, Stringfellow was neo-orthodox.  He read works by Karl Barth (with whom he had a conversation in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Jacques Ellul.  The neo-orthodox theology of original sin pervading neo-orthodoxy was evident in his writings, including many of his books.  The presence of original sin in American culture and social institutions was one of Stringfellow’s most controversial topics.  He objected to reading the Bible through (dominant) American cultural eyes.  Rather, our saint interpreted (dominant) American culture through Biblical lenses.  He concluded that the Bible condemned his culture and his society’s institutions.  That proved to be controversial when

My country, right or wrong

was a popular slogan for many people.

Stringfellow’s views and activism placed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s radar, hence the wire-tapping.  When our saint’s friend, Father Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was a fugitive for having destroyed military draft records, Stringfellow and Toyne sheltered him for four months.  F.B.I. agents raided the house on Block Island and arrested all three.  The court eventually dropped the charges (of sheltering a fugitive) against Stringfellow and Towne, though.

Stringfellow, in constant pain during his final years, died at home on March 2, 1985.  He was 56 years old.

Stringfellow defined being holy as

being truly human.

By that standard, of being the best person one can be, our saint was holy.

Stringfellow’s prophetic witness remains relevant, unfortunately.  I write “unfortunately” because the United States of America, my country, has continued collectively and officially down a path contrary to the high moral standards Stringfellow championed.  I wonder what the FOX News Channel (according to which Mister Rogers was evil) would have said about Stringfellow, had it existed when he was alive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Ockham’s Razor and the Cause of the Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France   Leave a comment

Above:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, 1901

Image Source = Library of Congress

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Ockham’s Razor, named after William of Ockham (1285-1347), theologian, academic, and Franciscan friar, is a principle sometimes spelled “Occam’s Razor.”  However one spells it, the principle is that one, lacking evidence for a complicated explanation, should assume that the simplest explanation is true.  The simplest explanation is often true.

French authorities are investigating the cause of the unfortunate fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  News reports tell me that they have ruled out arson and terrorism.  Nevertheless, certain figures of alleged news media (I mean you, Fox News Channel and spin-offs.) are stoking the fires of conspiracy theories and Islamophobia.  Bigotry is always wrong.

My training as a historian teaches me not only to use Ockham’s Razor but to allow for the passage of time when evaluating claims.  Temporal perspective does help to define the discipline of history, after all.  My historical training tells me to wait until the French authorities complete their work and reveal their conclusions.  Ockham’s Razor tells me that the cause of the fire could have been very simple, even accidental.  Ockham’s Razor tells me that the cause of the fire may be related to renovation work.  Fire investigators know their business; we should trust them.

I am content to wait and withhold judgment, for I do not wish to indulge my ignorance and fall into prejudices.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 17, 2019 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF DANIEL SYLVESTER TUTTLE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF EMILY COOPER, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF MAX JOSEF METZGER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF WILBUR KENNETH HOWARD, MODERATOR OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

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Regarding Political Incivility and the Denial of the Humanity of the Opposition   2 comments

On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump, appeared on the alleged FOX News Channel (perhaps the greatest oxymoron since jumbo shrimp, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada) and denied the humanity of Democrats, especially those pressing the Russia investigation:

I’ve never seen hatred like this.  I mean to me, they’re not even people.

I, writing as a member of the resistance to Donald Trump, a man with a disturbing affinity for strong men (such as those of Turkey, the Russian Federation, and the Philippines), affirm the humanity and corresponding dignity of all people, including those with the surname “Trump.”  I refuse to stoop to the mean-spirited level of Eric Trump, who, in that interview, went on to accuse Tom Perez, the new Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, “a total whack job” then to decry the increase in political name calling.  I am well-acquainted with the desire to engage in political name calling, for I have done so.  I conclude, however, that I ought to be a better person than that.  This is a spiritual discipline.

I do not know what the conclusions of a full, professional investigation of the Russia-related allegations will be or what paths for further investigation they will open.  No, I reserve judgment, for I prefer to stand on the solid ground of objective reality.  I wish for people to recognize me as being what I am–one who speaks and writes cautiously, based on accurate information.  More information relevant to the Russia issue and its spin-offs seems to become available daily, as the stories develop.  Objective reality is what it is; so be it; I side with it.  To insist on a full disclosure of objective reality in matters affecting the governance of the republic then to follow objective reality where it points is wise and patriotic, although inconvenient for many.  I, as a patriot, hope that there is nothing detrimental to the United States for any investigation to unearth; I do not want my country to suffer a political trauma needlessly.  If, however, such skullduggery is reality, may it become public knowledge and the chips fall where they may.  I support the integrity of the constitutional system, which is greater than any person or persons.

I do write and speak of what I know.  Donald Trump is his own worst enemy.  He, despite his advanced age, is immature.  He is also impulsive.  He uses Twitter too much, doubles down on inaccurate Tweets, demonstrates his affinity for hare-brained conspiracy theories.  He, behaving immaturely and impulsively, undercuts the efforts of his staff and cabinet secretaries, appalls not only Democrats but principled conservatives, makes life more difficult for himself by giving political ammunition to his opponents, and complicates the efforts of many supporters to defend him.

Regardless of what professional investigators will learn, Donald Trump will remain his own worst enemy.  Will he learn this lesson and cease to blame others and not himself?  The passage of time will tell.

If publishing this post places me in the class of people whose humanity Eric Trump denies, so be it.  I continue to affirm his humanity and his corresponding dignity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2017 COMMON ERA