In the South Pacific, there’s a set of beliefs which are known as “cargo cults.” While they may seem ridiculous at times to Westerners, they make sense in terms of a society attempting to explain something in terms of that society.
Since the modern manufacturing process is unknown to them, members, leaders, and prophets of the cults maintain that the manufactured goods of the non-native culture have been created by spiritual means, such as through their deities and ancestors. These goods are intended for the local indigenous people, but the foreigners have unfairly gained control of these objects through malice or mistake. Thus, a characteristic feature of cargo cults is the belief that spiritual agents will, at some future time, give much valuable cargo and desirable manufactured products to the cult members.
Many of the rituals mimic what they saw during various times, particularly World War II. There are “airfield,” “control towers,” and so on, all designed to influence the gods to redirect the cargo to them. So what does that have to do with politics?
The recent Supreme Court decision about Hobby Lobby being able to deny contraceptive coverage to its employees, because of … religious beliefs … has caused a major uproar. My opinion is that it’s probably the most weasel-worded, constitutionally questionable decision the Supreme Court has reached in quite some time. As a concept, the idea of a corporation as a person has any number of good features. The way conservatives, and in particular this Supreme Court, have extended that to the realms of free speech and religion are not among them. But, if corporations want to claim religious beliefs as a reason not to provide a benefit for their workers, I have an idea for making them regret it: Make them live up to it.
The news over the past month has had a number of “disaster” stories, and in early January, there was the chemical spill in West Virginia, which left over 300,000 people without drinking water. In the aftermath of this, there has been a lot of screaming by the affected population, along with a round of finger pointing and denial of responsibility by various elected officials. The sad part? Things like these are predictable. The actual incidents and timing may not be, but that something like this will happen is.
There’s a big uproar in the conservative media about “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson’s suspension by A&E for his comments in an interview. Although much of the press coverage is devoted to his homophobic comments, those were only a part of them.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy.
Honestly? I’m not surprised that someone who proudly touts himself as a redneck southern boy would have these views. But what’s interesting is how many people on the Right are suddenly “free speech advocates.” Sort of.
In my previous post, I talked about how Republicans broke an “unwritten rule” when it came to the filibuster. While I’m not alone in saying “It’s about time!” I’m also aware of the various reasons behind the Senate’s unwillingness to change the filibuster rules. This is not, by any means, a “new discussion,” in that filibuster reform has been talked about for quite some time, with serious pushes being made by Senator Merkley over the past two sessions. So why do it now?