Posts Tagged Political Correctness

Unmasking Frum Women

My unpublished letter to Mishpacha Magazine, 12 November 2016:

Dear Editors,

I found interesting the juxtaposition between last week’s letters regarding Hillary Clinton’s cover picture and Rabbi Grylak’s weekly insights into the parsha.  His essay began with the introduction, “From age three, Avraham was asking questions, challenging the pervading belief system of the time.”

So I’d like to ask some questions of my own.  If I can sit across from a woman at the Shabbos table, if I can pass a woman in the grocery store aisle, if I can survive spiritually crossing paths with the secular women who live in my neighborhood or work in my office, why is my neshoma so profoundly threatened by a picture of a modestly attired woman in a magazine?

And, assuming that there is indeed a reasonable answer, then what about this:  is it not possible — given the mores of the modern world — that some young women and girls in our communities might interpret the exclusion of feminine images from Torah publications as symptomatic of a society that degrades the value and contribution of women, and who therein find a pretext to reject normative hashkofah?  If so, is the gain worth the loss?

I’m no gadol, so these are not my questions to answer.  But I’m reminded of what Rav Nota Schiller is fond of saying, that the Torah allows the Jews to change enough to stay the same.

It’s worth at least contemplating which changes will ultimately benefit Klal Yisroel in the future even as we fiercely defend the traditions of the past.

Yonason Goldson

Click here to see what prominent rabbinic figures have to say on the issue.

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Why are you missing out?

What does the bar-headed goose have to teach us about striking spiritual balance in our lives?  Is the separation of church and state really as fundamental to the constitution as everyone thinks it is?  When is stress really a good thing?

If you’ve been following my new blog, you know the answers.

imagesBut for some reason, the majority of you who follow this blog have not switched over to my main blog yonasongoldson.com.

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I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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My intolerance of faith

The moment the rabbi walked through the door all the students jumped to their feet… and I looked about desperately for a way out of the room.

The rabbi wore a long coat, a wide, antiquated black hat, an untrimmed beard, Coke-bottle spectacles and, incredibly, sidelocks. I knew — I just knew — what was going to happen next: the rabbi would lecture us in a thick German accent and tell us we were all damned to hell. There was no way I could sit through such an ordeal.

Read the whole article here.

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The thought police widen their net

Thank you, Glenn Garvin, for paying attention.  The Miami Herald columnist reports what the rest of us were too preoccupied to notice:

In an order to the University of Montana that they labeled “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” Obama’s Justice and Education departments created a sweeping new definition of sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “verbal conduct.”

(Or, as those more familiar with the English language call it, speech.)

Who gets to define “unwelcome”? The listener and the listener alone — no matter how high-strung, neurotic or just plain pinheaded that person is. The feds’ letter is quite explicit: the words don’t have to be offensive to “an objectively reasonable person” to be considered harassment.

Given that standard of guilt, it’s perhaps not very surprising that the government says anybody accused of harassment can be punished even before he or she is convicted.

Mr. Garvin goes on to identify a partial list of authors whose provocative works stand in danger of censorship under these new edicts:  Shakespeare,  Harper Lee, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and Anne Frank, to name a few.  He then continues:

But surely, you say, surely nobody will take the letter of the law to such absurd extremes. And surely you are wrong: They already have. Brandeis University went after a professor for uttering the word “wetback” during a lecture — no matter that he was criticizing its usage.

A janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was disciplined for reading a disapproving book on the Ku Klux Klan. Marquette ordered a graduate student to remove a “patently offensive” quotation by Dave Barry from his door:  “As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”

So what do we have here?  If someone takes offense, even where any “objectively reasonable person” would see no cause for offense, the perpetrator is guilty without recourse to due process or appeal.

In a land of political correctness run amok, feelings are the ultimate currency of social interaction.  Reason, logic, intellectual discipline, objective reality — none of these mean a thing if there is the slightest risk of hurt feelings.

Or perhaps there is a deeper fear.  Not the pain of hurt feelings, but the pain of having to think, the pain of developing  a work ethic, the pain of personal accountability.  Apparently, the truism of no pain, no gain applies only in the gym and not in the halls of academe.

Is this really what we want for our children?  Is it really what we want for ourselves?  Or are those questions simply too painful to think about?

Read Glenn Garvin’s full article here.

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The death of education?

In his letter of resignation to the Superintendent of Westhill Central School District in Syracuse, New York, vetern teacher Gerald Conti describes a litany of problems arising from the unwillingness of administrators to defend educational values against the relentless pressure of ideology and political correctness.  But the problem does not begin with administrators; it begins with parents, parents with egos so utterly dependent on the perception of success that they prefer to cripple their children for life rather than hold them accountable for living up to standards that will prepare them for genuinely successful lives and careers.

It is difficult to fathom the lengths to which people will go to tear down educators and their institutions when, by doing so, they can deflect from themselves responsibility for their children’s poor performance, attitudes, or behaviors.  No form of malicious gossip, character assassination, or outright slander is taboo, even from individuals occupying the highest levels of communal leadership.

History offers tragic examples of the damage inflicted on individuals and whole communities through irresponsible speech.  Innuendo, exaggeration, and outright lies, repeated often enough, seep into the consciousness of even the most well-intentioned people, until the damage eventually becomes irreversible.

Read the whole article here.

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Friday Flashback — The Public Face of God

“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

This is the wording upon a sign allowed by Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire to grace the state capitol building in Olympia.  The sign rests along side the traditional Xmas season nativity scene.

I find it a little awkward defending public Christian symbolism as a Jew in a country famous for its separation of church and state, but Bill O’Reilly has it right when he brands this kind of moral equivalence (masquerading as respect for the First Amendment) as an attack not upon Christianity but upon the foundations of morality.

It’s with this in mind that I offer a look back on what I wrote concerning the name of God in the Pledge of Allegiance and the heart of a matter that transcends religious sectarianism.

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