Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yeffet: Pat Downs and Body Scans Don't Work

Check out this interview with Isaac Yeffet, the former director of global security at El Al Israel Airlines. He comments on current airport security guidelines and calls procedures like pat downs and body scans worthless:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Exorcism Conference

I've previously blogged about the resurgence of exorcism in the Catholic Church here and here. Now the Associated Press is carrying this story about a Catholic exorcism conference taking place in Baltimore next week. Here is an excerpt:
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference, said only a tiny number of U.S. priests have enough training and knowledge to perform an exorcism. Dioceses nationwide have been relying solely on these clergy, who have been overwhelmed with requests to evaluate claims. The Rev. James LeBar, who was the official exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York under the late Cardinal John O'Connor, had faced a similar level of demand, traveling the country in response to the many requests for his expertise.
I would speculate that there is some connection between the Church returning to these medieval roots and the rise of secularism and religious plurality. Church attendance numbers are dropping off, diocese are being forced to close their facilities, and the religious character of America has become less defined by traditional sectarian labels. When the Enlightenment threatened the Church, it dragged fears of witches and devil worshippers out of the basement to frighten the masses. The same thing happened in the 1980s with the Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. And now it's happening again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Week in Blackness: George Bush Doesn't Care About Earthlings

In response to George W. Bush's memoir and his claim that Kanye West's criticism was the lowest moment of his presidency:

And check out this piece by Melissa Harris Perry about Bush's reaction to Kanye's comments. An excerpt:
President Bush describes Kanye West's statement as his presidential low, a personal nadir. Recall that the nadir of American history is the time between 1877 and World War I. These are the decades immediately following the end of Reconstruction. . . . Empirically, racism may be as American as apple pie, but morally, ethically and philosophically, racism is a betrayal of America. In this sense, when Kanye West pointed to the Bush administration's non-response as an act of racism, he called Bush a traitor.

* * *

As an observer, I find the 2010 midterms uncomfortably familiar to the era of Redemption that followed Reconstruction. Current calls for small government and states rights during the administration of a black president sound suspiciously like nineteenth-century efforts to weaken the state so that racial terror could be enacted with impudence against the black men who were then governing. After the aggressively anti-immigrant and more subterranean anti-black sentiments of the healthcare debate and the midterm election, I have wondered if we lost our ability to be shamed by open displays of cultural bigotry and political action motivated by white anxiety.

In this sense I welcome President Bush's comments. At my most optimistic, I can read his comments as an assertion that nothing is more harmful than racism, nothing more embarrassing, nothing more un-American, nothing we must more fully and completely renounce. I know that is not exactly what he said, but I take a glimmer of hope from the idea that President Bush has reminded us that to be called a racist is not a badge of honor.