Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren's Hero, W.A. Criswell, Was Fierce Foe of Desegregation in the 1950s


Rick Warren is a big fan of the late Southern Baptist pastor, W.A. Criswell (1909–2002). Warren once wrote, "In fact, I believe W.A. Criswell was the greatest American pastor of the 20th Century."

And just who is this pastor, who Warren believes is worth of such praise?

Criswell, like Warren, was a pastor and author. He was a president of the Southern Baptist Convention. And he was regarded by many as a major figure behind the right-wing fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, beginning in the 1960s.

Oh, and early in his career, Criswell was a racist bigot. In fact, like Warren, Criswell used his twisted interpretation of the Bible to try to defend his bigotry.

In 1956, Criswell railed against the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Integration, Criswell argued, was "foolishness" and "idiocy."

Criswell saved some of his harshest words for the NAAACP. In one crude remark, he made a clumsy attempt at humor that wouldn't have been out of place at a KKK rally:

"Why the NAACP has got those East Texans on the run so much," he said, "that they dare not pronounce the word 'chigger' any longer. It has to be 'cheegro.'(sic)"

All white Southerners wanted, Criswell argued, was to be simply left alone:

"Don't force me by law, by statute, by Supreme Court decision ... to cross over in those intimate things where I don't want to go. Let me build my life. Let me have my church. Let me have my school. Let me have my friends. Let me have my home. Let me have my family"

Indeed, reading quotes like this makes it clear that Criswell believed that Southern whites were the victims and that they were the ones whose rights were somehow being infringed.

It's language like this that eerily echoes Warren's own twisted logic that the suppression of bigotry somehow leads to persecution of Christians.

An example of this is when Warren recently claimed he supported Proposition 8 because of free-speech, of all things. He claimed that "any pastor could be considered doing hate speech ... if he shared his views that homosexuality wasn't the most natural way for relationships."

Criswell later distanced himself from his 1950s statements on race and desegregation. But the fact is, in the 1950s, he was most definitely fiercely opposed to integration and used twisted interpretations of Bible to defend his racist bigotry.

It's clear that Warren is following in Criswell's footsteps when he uses Scripture to try to justify his own bigoted views.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Iraqi Shoe-Throwing Journalist Speaks For A Lot Of Us


I'm not sure what the specific grievance was that motivated an Iraqi journalist to throw two shoes at George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Throwing shoes at someone is a considered a supreme insult in the Middle East.

But I do know this: if I could speak to that Iraqi journalist, I'd tell him that I share his contempt for Bush.

Indeed, I wish those shoes had hit Bush squarely in the middle of his smirking face.

After all, Bush now has only a few weeks left in office. Bush will leave the White House without ever having faced any consequences whatsoever for his reckless, illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.

Throughout history, other world leaders have faced serious consequences for comparable crimes. They've faced international court tribunals. They've been tried in The Hague. They've gone to jail. In some cases, they've even faced the firing squad.

But thanks to the spineless, wimpy Democrats, Bush will apparently never face any consequences for the Iraq War, a $3 trillion fiasco that has resulted in the deaths of over 1 million men, women and children.

No, Bush will any face any consequences for the Iraq horror that he unleashed. He'll never be arrested. He'll never be tried. He'll never face justice.

Indeed (like all ex-presidents) Bush can look forward to a nice, cushy, lucrative career after the White House. Presidents generally land multi-million-dollar book deals (and thanks to ghost writers, they don't even have to bother to write their books).

And ex-presidents can generally command enormous multi-million-dollar fees on the lecture circuit. (Note that although most of America despises Bush, there are still plenty of Kool-Aid-drinking Bush cultists who will glad shell out money to hear him speak).

So like Jack the Ripper, Bush is a monster with blood on his hands who is going to get off scot-free and never face any repercussions for his crimes.

Like I said, the shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist speaks for a lot of us in his contempt for Bush.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chicago Factory Sit-In: The Dawn of a New Era For Unions in America?


This is an example of why a bailout, any bailout, is fundamentally a no-win situation for the taxpayer.

You may have heard news that workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago occupied the building and began a sit-in after the factory shut down Friday on three days' notice. Last time I checked, they're still there.

The workers say the factory was closed in violation of a law that requires a 60-day notice for a shutdown. They say they won't leave without assurances that they'll get severance and vacation pay.

What you may not have heard is the reason for the abrupt shutdown. The company's creditor, Bank of America, canceled Republic's line of credit. Republic's sales have tumbled in the sour economy, and with no line of credit, CEO Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors," The Associated Press reported.

This is the same Bank of America that got $25 billion of the federal government's $700 billion financial bailout. That's over 3.5% of the total package. And they can't afford to extend a line of credit so that 250 mostly Hispanic wage earners in Chicago can keep their jobs?


The Associated Press also reported that Bank of America, in a statement Saturday, said that it isn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees.

Exactly for whom, and to whom, is Bank of America, sucking at the federal tit to the tune of $25 billion, responsible and accountable?

It's in the public interest that people can get and hold jobs. These people can't pay taxes when they're in the unemployment line. Since this largess is coming from the taxpayers, we've got a perverse situation of collectivist capitalism for the bankers, and the icy sidewalk for the faceless mass of suckers who put up money for the bailout.


Along with many other people, I held my nose and voiced support for the bailout as a necessary evil. But this case illustrates why taxpayer-funded bailouts end up being no-win situations. It's a sort of blackmail -- the national economy would fall into a downward spiral of Depression proportions if financial institutions the size of Bank of America were allowed to go under. They seem to know this, and their behavior is commensurately unaccountable.

Chicago will easily survive a loss of 250 jobs at Republic. But multiply that scenario across the country, with many hundreds of struggling companies and overextended creditors, and you get a mental picture of what the U.S. economy is facing.

This is an example of why bailouts need to have many strings attached to them, and very sturdy ones. In exchange for that $25 billion, the federal government ought to have pretty much leverage over what Bank of America uses it for. Republic operates at the level of a few million dollars per month, not in the billions like BOA. This is a microcosm of the kind of abuse that the many have endured, at the hands of the few, for decades.


A bright spot is that this incident may become a rallying point for the revival of a union movement in America. Here's more from the AP report:

"Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame," said Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743. "If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country."

Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, "You got bailed out, we got sold out."

Leah Fried, an organizer with United Electrical Workers, obliquely compared the sit-in to the landmark 1936-37 General Motors sit-down strike in Flint, Mich., which helped unionize the auto industry. (Yeah, I know, there's the automakers bailout. That's another post.)

"We're doing something we haven't done since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," AP quoted Fried as saying. She pointed out that the occupying workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building during the sit-in.

Realistically, the financial bailout is a bitter concoction we're going to have to gulp down. But that doesn't mean we have to like it. And, for a dramatic change from '80s and '90s stupor, a lot of Americans seem to be waking up from virtual date-rape drugs and realizing who's been carrying out the assault on working people for many years.

I hope the 53-46% mandate for Barack Obama was only the beginning. Republic should trigger a reborn union movement in this country. Against the kinds of monolithic entities we now face, like Bank of America, lots of people getting together again is the only chance we have.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.