Dispatches From the Culture Wars – Fare Thee Well Edition

July 14, 2015
portside (July 14, 2015)

Younge’s Farewell; Serena Transcendent; Left Forum Confidential; UCofC vs Christian Right; Shaming the 99% 

		Gary Younge: Farewell to America - Gary Younge (The Guardian)
		Serena Williams Transcends Sport. We're lucky to be living in her time - Bryan Armen Graham (The Guardian)
		Flakes Alive! - Amber Frost (The Baffler)
		When the Exception is the Rule: Christianity in the Religious Freedom Debates - Frederick Clarkson (Political Research Associates)
		The Church of Self-Help - Helaine Olen (Slate)

	Gary Younge: Farewell to America
By Gary Younge
	July 1, 2015
	The Guardian

	This is the summer I will leave America, after 12 years as a foreign correspondent, and return to London. My decision to come back to Britain was prompted by banal, personal factors that have nothing to do with current events; if my aim was to escape aggressive policing and racial disadvantage, I would not be heading to Hackney.
	But while the events of the last few years did not prompt the decision to come back, they do make me relieved that the decision had already been made. It is why I have not once had second thoughts. If I had to pick a summer to leave, this would be the one. Another season of black parents grieving, police chiefs explaining and clueless anchors opining. Another season when America has to be reminded that black lives matter because black deaths at the hands of the state have been accepted as routine for so long. A summer ripe for rage.

	Serena Williams Transcends Sport. We're lucky to be living in her time
By Bryan Armen Graham
	July 12, 2015
	The Guardian

	It’s been said the black woman in American society has two strikes against her: being born a woman and being born black. No demographic has been more marginalized, oppressed and subjugated throughout the country’s 239-year history.
	Which is why Serena Jameka Williams, now beyond any reasonable dispute the greatest ever women’s tennis player after capturing a sixth Wimbledon title and 21st major championship overall on Saturday, is transcending sport into a space we’re only beginning to reckon – past the Jordans, Gretzkys and Messis into the rarified air of Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.

	Flakes Alive!
By Amber Frost  
	June 12, 2015
	The Baffler
	A few weeks back in Manhattan, hundreds of socialists, communists, anarchists, and even few decent “small-d” democrats shuffled into the unlikely venue of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (ironically, best known as a “cop school”) for Left Forum 2015.
	At its best, Left Forum remains a reassuring beacon of cameraderie and ambition. At its worst, however, Left Forum is Comic Con for Marxists—Commie Con, if you will—and an absolute shitshow of nerds and social rejects. But the grumps and the brats, the blowhards and the sectarians, the narcissists and the pessimists—all of these people are bearable to me, some even charming. No, the worst part of Left Forum is the crackpots, the paranoiacs, the hysterics, and all the other truly dysfunctional personalities attracted by the conference’s most infamous policy: no panel submission will be rejected.
When the Exception is the Rule: Christianity in the Religious Freedom Debates
By Frederick Clarkson
	July 6, 2015
	Political Research Associates

	The 2014 case of General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper was a landmark event because, although the case was ostensibly about opposition to marriage equality, the decision upheld foundational notions of religious equality and equal protection under the law that bind this diverse and often fractious nation. It at once affirmed the equal standing under the law of all religious and non-religious points of view and showed that the Christian Right does not represent all of Christianity.
	At issue was a 2012 amendment to the North Carolina state constitution that provided that same-sex marriages were invalid. Together with the state’s General Statutes, this amendment effectively criminalized the performance of same-sex marriage ceremonies. The upshot of the subsequent legal fight was that the million-member United Church of Christ (UCC), an historic Protestant denomination with roots dating back to the Plymouth Colony and more than 5,000 local churches, won a clear victory for both marriage equality and religious liberty.
The Church of Self-Help
By Helaine Olen
	June 26 2015
	I discovered Inc. had published “7 Habits of Exceptionally Rich People” this past January, a post that must have proved popular, because it was followed by “7 Habits of the World’s Richest People” a few weeks later. Not to be outdone, Fortune then posted “5 Surprising Habits of the Wealthy” the next month.  
	It follows by extension that if the wealthy are wealthy because of their more virtuous habits, the poor must need improvement. As for jobs, their low-wage positions are their own fault. A few years back, when the Internet was in an uproar about the infamous McDonald’s worker budget, NBC financial guru Jean Chatzky stepped forward to say that the workers bore responsibility for their dire financial fates. “People who are stuck, essentially, in these minimum wage jobs need to be asking themselves, ‘What can I do to get out of this?’” She was not, I assure you, referring to the Fight for $15 movement.


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