Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Special Needs" and Relational Inequality

From this post on the Jewish Week's "New Normal" blog
"Special needs terminology is insidiously poisonous.  It seems innocuous, but it corrodes and undermines the very strides for dignity, respect, and equality for which disability activists have crawled up the U.S. Capitol steps, effected the longest Federal agency sit-in in American history, and undergone arrests for civil disobedience at bus stations, legislative offices, and university campuses. We, the disability community, advocate for access and opportunity up until this very day with strength, leadership and determination as a social-political body; as people who have or are perceived as having the characteristic of disability.  We are discriminated against because of our disabilities — our physiognomic or physiological compositions that affect function, behavior, or social interaction — and the accompanying misguided belief that we place undue burden upon society. By referring to “special needs populations” we are reinforcing the charity model of disability based upon anticipated neediness (placing us in a child-like role), the cause of much prejudice.
Let’s proudly own and teach our children to proudly own disability as a characteristic and a demographic that deserves respect and recognition for what we contribute."

The weeks in review

Yes, it's been a while.  Time to play catch-up.

A death in the family :(
I recently lost my uncle, unfortunately.  My kind husband was going to drive us to the funeral, but when I called my sister to invite her to come with us, she pointed out that taking a several-hour car ride so soon after major eye surgery might not be so safe for my eye. So we both ended up missing our uncle's funeral.  :(  The trees I planted in Israel in his memory will just have to do.

A death in the "family" :(
Shortly after my uncle's death, we got word from the leader of an Israeli folk dance session that one of the "regulars" had passed away.  We were pretty shocked, since the person who'd died was probably younger than I, if looks are any indication.  But apparently, she'd been dealing with a serious health problem for over a decade.  How sad.  At least my uncle lived to a ripe old age.

Politics, and other discouraging words
Everybody's dropping out of the Republican presidential race except Trump.  :(

Parshiot (Parashot?)
"Blueprints," followed by "Fashion Week."  'Nuf said.

More weird weather
As a radio announcer joked recently, the weather in the New York City metropolitan area is so unpredictable that one needs a scorecard to keep track of it.  Two Shabbatot (Sabbaths) ago, it was in the teens (about -8-9 degrees Celsius), and most of our congregation's seniors had the good sense to stay home, so we read the Torah and haftarah readings from a chumash yet again, and counted ourselves lucky to have a minyan for Musaf.  Yesterday, it was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (about 10 degrees Celsius).  Go figure.

I'm beginning to see the light :)
Literally.  The gas bubble injected (yet again) during my most recent eye surgery is slowly but surely being absorbed by my right eye. I can now see above the bubble in about half to two-thirds of my eye, and much to my pleasant surprise, I can now see through the bubble to a limited extent.  I can even read a little bit with my right eye.  This is making reading and word-processing on the computer much less of a strain, which is a great relief, since that's what I do for a living.  So far, so good.  Wish me luck, and/or keep Léah bat Esther v'Ozer in your thoughts and/or prayers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Religious politics

Let me link these, before I forget, as I think they're well worth reading:

~ Triumphalist Religiosity: The Unanticipated Problem of the 21st Century--Why the key to the great civilizational clash of our time is understanding faithful people of all religions who must dominate non-believers to uphold their own truth, by Richard Landes. 

"In Paris in 2015, jihadis began with attacks on blasphemers and Jews and ended with attacks on the nightlife scene. Some puzzled about why. Whence this hostility? It seems less incomprehensible when one realizes that triumphalists find any independent infidel, especially those who are enjoying their (immoral) freedom, intolerable."

. . .

In the world of victimization discourse so prevalent on campuses today, for example, triumphalist Muslims have learned that, when attacking the West, they can lead with their glass chin: How dare you offend us so? They can, thereby, maneuver a conflict-averse Western culture into conceding and placating them. The widespread consensus that one should not hurt the feelings of “marginalized and underrepresented minorities,” has been an enormous boon to triumphalist Muslims.
As a result, there’s a significant and troubling overlap between Western sensitivity to minority feelings, and Muslim triumphalist attitudes toward infidels. When our intellectuals distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo, insisting on the importance of not offending Muslims, or our publishers reject things Muslims will find provocative, they insist that this is a show respect and consideration. But while westerners think they’re being generous, triumphalist Muslims see them complying with their demands, behaving as proleptic dhimmi, who submit without even being conquered.
And when Westerners committed to these displays of “respect,” attack as “Islamophobes” fellow infidels who do criticize Muslims as “Islamophobes,” they are, from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslim, behaving like dhimmi leaders have always behaved: silence any dissent within the ranks before it goes public and brings retaliation to the whole community. . . .
By failing to ask for even minimal reciprocity, we have systematically diminished our own democratic public sphere, where we now see a wave of tragi-comic mobilizations of this culture of offense that have strange and (should be) unwelcome echoes of both brown shirts and Maoist “struggle sessions.” These represent the epitome of what a modern, free and tolerant society cannot abide, and they offer triumphalist Muslims an ideal opportunity to demand submission to their insistence that their sensibilities not be offended. Until we understand the magnitude of triumphalism’s deep atavistic wells of desire, the libido dominandi from which it draws its strength on the one hand, and the magnitude of the accomplishment that democratic polities have achieved in pruning it back on the other, we cannot begin to deal with the challenge we face.
And yet, by confronting it, we might begin to figure out what to do. Among other things, an appreciation of the power of raw, pre-modern triumphalism in Islam allows us to grasp how small the differences that separate the “right” from the “left” in Western democracies. . . .  Only when “left” and “right” leave off our narcissism of small differences, and start to act in coordination in the defense of our common values, can we begin to defend democracy and freedom. Only then can we begin to shape substantive citizens capable of tolerance, of granting others the dignity we wish to receive, but also capable, in return, of demanding basic reciprocity, which begins with the struggle against triumphalism. Only that way, can one imagine a relatively peaceful and tolerant 21st century.

~ Why the War of Words About Open Orthodoxy Won’t Matter, by Rabbi Eliyahu Fink. 
"The next generation of Modern Orthodox Jews are Millennials who grew up in a digital world where authority is routinely challenged. Fact-checking teachers was easy even when we had only Microsoft Encarta. Today, Google allows us to fact-check from our phones before the authority finishes their sentence. Now, authority must be based on sound reasoning and meaningful arguments, not fear or shame. Observance and religious practice are still of utmost importance, but the reasons for observance and practice are different. Appeal to authority with Millennials at your peril."

. . .

The assumption that Modern Orthodox Judaism will function as an artificially constructed division of people with a commonly held reverence for an authority is incorrect. Soon, no one will care what Rabbi Gordimer or Prof. Marc Shapiro said about the kashrus of Open Orthodoxy. What will matter is the way religious experiences are constructed. Groups will be determined by common values and goals, not reverence for common authority. Arguments over who is right or wrong about this text or that halachic nuance will have no bearing on who we allow into our social group. Our groups won’t preselect members based on compliance with a specific authority. Individual practice will not be the determinative factor in group formation. That’s why I don’t think the war is relevant. Modern Orthodox Millennials are not invested in the question of whose authority will reign supreme; it doesn’t matter to us."

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Miscellaneous mischief

Serious shredding
Our son having assigned himself the project of helping us pair down our possessions, we had literally years worth of documents to shred.  Seemed like a good thing for a temporarily-disabled person to do, so I did.  For several hours.  Oy.

eBay newbie
All that pairing down left us with goodies to sell, so our son tutored me in the delicate art.  I am now the proud seller of a trilogy of paperbacks.  Not sure that the time I spent packing the book wasn't worth more than the minuscule amount of money that I earned.  Oh, well.

Back to work, birthday gal
I celebrated my return to the office and my sixty-seventh birthday on the same day.  It would have been much more pleasant if my good eye hadn't suddenly decided to become extremely light-sensitive, making staring at a computer screen all day a bit of a challenge.  Guess the left eye got tired of being the only full-functioning one, but there's no other option after three rounds of surgery on my right eye in just over two months.  At least I finally acquired an over-the-glasses eye-patch to keep the vision in my bad eye from distracting me from the vision in my good one without me having to keep my bad eye closed (which is not very healthy).  Check out my new Peggy the Pirate look.  :)

Signing off now, to spare my good eye.
<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>